Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Wine and its metaphors

Whenever I attempt to make a point about something wine-related, I tend to roll out my favourite wine metaphor: books. It's easy to equate wine with books: we have our favourite authors and some of their books are better than others; sometimes we just feel like a straightforward thriller, sometimes we prefer something a little more intellectually stimulating. Although I won't go into literary deconstruction theory and its application to wine here (that's another blog post, coming shortly), it is a parallel that has served me well.

Other people like to use works of art as a parallel to wine. Some use other objects of desire or enjoyment or status including diamonds or designer bags.

But the massive problem with all these metaphors for wine is that they don't function unless you assume that you can only enjoy a book for an evening, a diamond for a day or a bag for an hour. Because essentially, wine self-destructs.

Other metaphors some (in fact there are more than 'some', I have met quite a lot) people like to use is that of a woman or a woman's body - you know: 'a woman is like a fine wine' or 'a New World wine is like a woman with fake breasts'. While I can understand the aesthetic rationale (wine/women as objects of desire and pleasure) behind this parallel, it often seems to me to say more about the person saying it than it does about the wine.

Think I'm being over-sensitive on this issue? Well, a woman last night told me a winemaker once said to her, 'a vine is like a woman: the more it suffers the better the outcome'.


As I was writing this I thought I might have hit on the perfect metaphor in applying the 'wine is a woman' metaphor globally, removing the implied desire and 'saying wine is a human being'. Indeed, we are the product of the vine (nature) and the winemaker (upbringing), we are geographically similar, and we age similar to fine wine.

But the aptitude of this depends on your vision of the human being. If, like so many people, you believe that human beings are essentially the same the world over, then the metaphor is holed below the water line.

You'd also have to say that you only get 12 chances (a case of wine) to see an old friend you met once when s/he was a child.

Yet again, it's a good metaphor but perfect it ain't.

I was going to end with one of those lovely and typical blog endings: 'do you have a perfect metaphor for wine?' but I don't want to be disingenuous. Unlike 'all the world's a stage', I don't think any metaphors for wine are capable of being extended.

Well that's a whole morning wasted.

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At 16 March 2010 11:59 , Anonymous gurnseyboy said...

The metaphor of women for wine is indisputable. For example, the lower quality product will often arrive in plastic, commonly with a garish label. And while all will be intoxicating, at the 'cru classe' end of the market it will be the witiness, the style and character which will take precedence. But it will be in the closure that the ultimate quality is revealed.


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