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Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine Hardcover – October 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019533146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195331462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This collection of essays springs from a recent London congress of wine experts investigating what, if any, words might possibly convey the sensual experience of drinking wine. These disquisitions on the ways humans discriminate among similar bottlings, evaluate their experiences, and communicate those experiences to one another summon the very specialized lexicon of philosophical aesthetics. To the uninitiated, this quest for a vocabulary of wine verges on the effete, but to connoisseurs, this effort lies at the heart of their craft and constitutes the sole way to share a unique and evanescent experience. Although the essays in this collection focus on wine, the insights and conclusions can apply to food in general as well as to any other aesthetically grounded endeavors. The serious wine drinker seeking deeper knowledge and a more meticulous appreciation of his favorite beverage will take from these essays a glimpse into deep and subtle structures of the human mind. Knoblauch, Mark

Review


"Questions of Taste is enjoyable to read and clearly written with references at the end of several essays."--L.E. Erickson, CHOICE


"This is a book best read with a glass of wine in hand The wine will also be a good study aid, allowing you to read test the ideas the moment they are presented."--New York Times


"The serious wine drinker seeking deeper knowledge and a more meticulous appreciation of his favorite beverage will take from these essays a glimpse into deep and subtle structures of the human mind."--Booklist


"The net effect is of an enjoyably thought-provoking curiosity."--Wine and Spirit


"The questions it wrestles with intoxicate the mind."--The Times Higher Education Supplement


"[The contributors] prove themselves well up to the task of situating wine-centred questions within a larger framework of questions about taste and perception, subjectivity and objectivity, and aesthetic appraisal more generally."--The Times Literary Supplement


"This collection adds an engaging set of voices to the conversation with ten nicely matched essays on wine.... The potential readership of this book is wide.... this book is both a serious and an enjoyable contribution to the philosophical study of a subject that is itself both serious and enjoyable: wine."--Christine Korsmeyer, British Journal of Aesthetics


"This collection of essays is a gem, covering topics such as what we mean by 'fine wine', how we translate flavours on to the page, and the interaction between wine and the brain."--Tim Atkin, The Observer


"This collection of insightful essays addresses the experience, the language, taste, art, more. Drink and think."--Newsday.com


"This compilation of lucid essays by top philosophers, a linguist, a biochemist, a winemaker and wine critic addresses such questions as: Does the experience of wine lie in the glass or in the mind? Does a wine expert enjoy wine more than a novice? How much should we care what experts say about a wine?"--Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette


Customer Reviews

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Dear philosophers and wine lovers THANKS !
Teddy Florent
It even has a chapter on intoxication - most writers seem to miss that aspect of wine-drinking!
Comte Ory
Clarity, simplicity, and emphatic - the true virtue of the good book.
Art Pacho

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Elio Distaola on December 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A friend had recommended this book to me and, although I enjoy wine and lite philosophy, I have to admit that I was at first daunted by the title. But after another friend, a sommelier, told me that I had to read it, I finally bought it--and loved it! I didn't expect that I, a non-philosopher (though a wine lover), would be able to keep pace but I'm glad to report that I was wrong.

You'll find within this book's pages the best possible presentation of what many may deem a highly subjective topic. What's great about this particular collection of essays is the obvious thought that the editors put into their selections, and how these pieces frame and address the issue. This collection masterfully guides the reader through tricky territory, not in an attempt to find out who's ultimately "right," but to help readers better understand the questions we really ought to be asking. They also address the conditions, both physiological and psychological, that predispose us to these "questions of taste" in the first place. For example, what is meant when we talk about a "fine wine" and why does this phrase carry so much authority? Is taste in us, or is it in the wine? Do experts actually taste things that others can't?

The one thing I want to stress about this book is that, despite the heavy questions it takes on, this is a totally accessible read. Best of all, the quality of writing and thought is not sacrificed in the process. I'd feel more than comfortable recommending this to both the serious and the amateur oenophile. I think that the only people who can walk away from this book without having learned something valuable and new are the editors...

Buy one for yourself, and ten more for your thinker/drinker friends--they'll thank you for it!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Comte Ory on December 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A very witty and interesting philosophical guide to wine. It's great to see prominent philosophers not just writing about the usual abstractions but considering the serious puzzles that confront wine-lovers: how can we have a shared vocabulary for describing how wine tastes? Is there really such a thing as expertise in wine-tasting? It even has a chapter on intoxication - most writers seem to miss that aspect of wine-drinking! Definitely the most orginal book on wine I've read. I recommend it especially to people interested in the "wine wars" (Robert Parker vs. the Europeans). It helped me think about the underlying issues (though I didn't change sides afterwards!).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Flippy on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wouldn't recommend this book unless you are either philosophically minded (i.e. have a background in philosophy) or enjoy scholarly essays. This book is not an introduction to wine, it is not about families in vineyards, about wine lovers and wine-makers sharing their personal tales about wine and the wine experience (although Chapter 10 does focus on Ridge winemaker, Paul Draper and his opinions about wine and wine culture - if you can pick this book up at the library, just read his interview with wine writer Andrew Jefford. It is the most accessible part of the book, revealing the depth and passion of a widely-read, world traveled California winemaker).

If you took a philosophy class in university and didn't enjoy it, I suggest something else. This book is dry, reminiscent of philosophical journals I had to read as an undergraduate. As much as I loved this book, treasured each individual essay, I know it isn't for everyone. The book doesn't focus on grape varieties, doesn't talk about the history of wine, etc...

But again, I loved it. Ten essays, all of them focusing on the philosophical questions circulating around wine appreciation and apprehension. There is discussion about the science of wine, the science of the brain, subjectivity vs. objectivity. If this gets you going, I recommend this book. I found the reading fascinating but slow going, often pausing, putting the book aside over some of the more difficult to grasp concepts. Each essay is worth several reads, if not to enjoy the prose and the arguments but to further dwell on the questions presented. The one question I still come back to: is wine art? Roger Scruton would argue against it as would Tim Crane in this volume.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Teddy Florent on December 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dear philosophers and wine lovers THANKS ! what a wonderfull time I had reading Question of Taste : the philosophy of wine. I particulary enjoyed the multi-talent approaches and review of the wine world, no matter you're a wine expert or a great philosopher to learn, think, smile... and almost taste.
The NY Time review is what triggered my choice (if you don't believe my enthusiastic comment, check the NY Time review).
Question of Taste is the first book on the phylosophy of wine... but it won't be the last of my christmas gifts (what a perfect one !).
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