- Marco Giovanetti
Wine and Art: an ideal match
Wine and art appreciation
Something that always pairs well with wine is art. It is easy to become passionate about these two extremely interesting subjects. Wine and art have much in common concerning the artistic value of both and the sensing process in which they convey aesthetic feelings. On the one hand, wine stimulates the participant via the sense of taste while art creates emotion through the cognitive process. In addition, the enjoyment of art & wine tackles the issue of taste and its competencies.
The Aesthetic Value of Wine
The aesthetic value of wine must be discussed in the framework that wine tasting and drinking are everyday mundane activities. Wine is tasted by people during their daily lives, and wine’s value and excitement are that it infuses the boring with a feeling of mystery and inconsummate beauty. In addition, wine is a sophisticated passion that has a magnetic property to gather people and foster a sense of community. Wine’s main purpose is for us to slow down, enjoy time and focus on the moment, to recognize the intrinsic value of life’s simple moments. However, it does it in real-time in the space the consumer lives and plays. Wine beautifies the ordinary, providing a window of the sacred in the profane. Wine’s appeal must be understood in that framework.
On the other hand, Art is not meant to be consumed only for what it is. It is meant to stimulate the cognitive process because it allows viewers to draw their own emotions and pull from their personal experiences when viewed. It is very powerful in this way and it naturally develops critical and innovative thinking skills. Art also imparts many important qualities such as listening, observing, and responding to multiple perspectives. Traditionally, art appreciation practices have focused on ocular experiences in which what is seen is king. However, the canon is expanding the definition to include physical sensations such as gustatory food & drink experiences to inquire into the “taste of art”. Scholars argue that artists who incorporate the subject of food in art challenge mainstream assumptions giving rise to an artistic counterculture. In the canon of art history, the avant-gardes movements have incorporated food into the field of art materials transgressing its use of merely object representations.
Taste and cultural competencies
If art arouses emotions through the sense of sight, then wine will play a similar manner through the sense of taste. This ability enables winemakers to produce their wines with complexity and freshness, impregnating their bottles with memories, thoughts, energy, harmony, colors, uniqueness, or elegance, all elements that can capture the senses of users during their experience. The wine drinker with their different cultural backgrounds and previous experience lead to different wine interpretations that variates from user to user. Then the experience of wine can be linked to art enjoyment currents through emotions or ideas that arise from both.
One aspect that wine and art have in common is the question of taste. Voltaire defined taste as the cultivated natural ability to prefer the good over the bad. Taste can also be seen as the human predisposition to match pleasure with beauty and imperfection with disapproval. In addition, the German philosopher Bumgarten expanded the concept by stating that taste is sensed rather than understood intellectually. The definition was further examined by Dumas, Baudelaire, and M.F.K Fisher arguing that physical taste was inferior because it was related to the body and intellectual taste superior because it was related to the mind. This is an outdated aesthetic criticism way of thinking that embodies the anxiety of separating between amusement and the seriousness of intellectual inquiry.
The real value of contemporary aesthetic criticism resides in the actions and judgments that validate them embodying cultural and practical competency. In wine and art, cultural competencies are the notions and experiences that the participant brings in wine tastings and art appreciation. In wine, these include the different styles, vintages, etc. In art appreciation, these include the different art movements, iconography, and so forth. In parallel, practical competency is the ability to discern the relevant elements of the experience of wine and art. In addition, practical competency involves the accumulated comparative experience of other aesthetic objects of the same category. In developing competencies whether, for art or wine, peer experiences are equally important whether the participant encounters them in conversations, books, or tasting notes. These experiences are important because they relate to the notion of intersubjective validity which is the capacity of a concept to be accurately transferred between different individuals. Hence, all aesthetic judgments about wine or art go beyond being informed personal responses to the objects of sensation to claims meriting the attention of others.
Wine in Art History
In art history, wine has been featured in many art objects throughout history, from ancient murals of bacchanals to medieval harvest tapestries, Roman and renaissance feast scenes to modern still lifes. Over the centuries and across cultures, wine has been used as a signifier of taste, class, gastronomy, and the divine. Its varied depictions reveal its varying cultural significance. For instance, in the painting, The Glass of Wine by famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, sharing wine illustrates the theme of courtship in Dutch painting. In addition, in Caravaggio’s Bacchus, a carafe of wine is used to conceal the self-portrait of the Italian artist (Difficult to see it with the naked eye: successive restorations have not spared it) and illustrate the theme of egocentrism in Baroque art.
To conclude this article relating the aesthetic relationship between art & wine: in both passions, the notion of taste is primordial to building the foundations of a critical evaluation framework. Furthermore, this taste framework embodies the cultural competencies of the participant which comprises a theoretical but also social learning component as well. To finalize, a recent trend to enjoy the pleasures of both art and wine come in the form of “sip and paint” sessions. These classes consist of informal art training sessions where the participant learns how to draw and paint an artwork while enjoying a glass or two of wine. The benefit of these experiences is that wine tasting while painting fosters the creative side of people.
Author: Marco Giovanetti
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