An early reviewer of the writings of DH Lawrence remarked with some degree of accuracy and exasperation: “For Mr Lawrence, everything is always like something else”. In the belle epoque of Edwardian Britain, when a kind of debonair confidence made all knowledge unproblematic, it must have been puzzling for a stolid Times of London reviewer to have a chap come along insisting that things could only be understood by appreciating their likeness to other things.Read this whole article here, a discussion of writing about wine.
This probably explains why there was never much writing about wine in those days. Wine is always described as being like something else. This is appealingly post modern. If a chardonnay tastes a bit like a peach, what then does the peach taste like? A chardonnay? And if so, what does either taste like? If you must describe the Van Loveren 2001 limited edition Merlot as being “chocolately”, does it mean that chocolate tastes like the Van Loveren Merlot? And if we like the Merlot on account if its tasting like chocolate, why don’t we eat chocolate instead of drinking wine?
These are questions of a profound epistemological weight. They reflect the uncertain status of anything we claim to know and understand. If I don’t understand the meaning of a word, and I look it up in the dictionary, I see it explained in other words. Those other words, in case I don’t understand them either, are explained by yet further words. There is no absolute point of reference. So where does knowledge begin? Aren’t we all just refracting meaning around from one word to another in a pleasant verbal gavotte to fill in the time as we wait for death?
Such are the existential problems confronting the wine writer.
Language, Truth ... and Wine
From the New English Review: