"Smith contends that, contrary to the oft-repeated incantation that taste is personal, oenophilia is not a strictly subjective exercise."
New York Times Book Review

"Looks at the perception and appreciation of wine by an impressive line-up of philosophers and wine professionals. A perfect gift."
The Bookseller

Questions of Taste

The Philosophy of Wine

Barry C. Smith (ed.)

Foreword by Jancis Robinson

New in Paperback

Interest in and consumption of wine have grown exponentially in recent years and there has been a corresponding increase in consumers’ knowledge of wine, which in turn has generated discussions about the meaning and value of wine in our lives and how renowned wine critics influence our subjective assessment of quality and shape public tastes. Wine first played a part in Western philosophy at the symposium of the early Greek philosophers where it enlivened and encouraged discussion. During the Enlightenment David Hume recommended drinking wine with friends as a cure for philosophical melancholy, while Immanuel Kant thought wine softened the harsher sides of men’s characters and made their company more convivial. In Questions of Taste, the first book in any language on the subject, philosophers such as Roger Scruton and wine professionals like Andrew Jefford, author of the award-winning book The New France, turn their attention to wine as an object of perception, assessment and appreciation. They and their fellow contributors examine the relationship between a wine’s qualities and our knowledge of them; the links between the scientifically describable properties of wine and the conscious experience of the wine taster; what we base our judgements of quality on and whether they are subjective or objective; the distinction between the cognitive and sensory aspects of taste; whether wine appreciation is an aesthetic experience; the role language plays in describing and evaluating wines; the significance of their intoxicating effect on us; the meaning and value of drinking wine with others; whether disagreement leads to relativism about judgements of taste; and whether we can really share the pleasures of drinking. Questions of Taste will be of interest to all those fascinated by the production and consumption of wine and how it affects our minds in ways we might not hitherto have suspected.

“Devoted to the deep philosophical question of taste in wine: what is it, and why should we get it right?”—New Statesman

About the Author
ROGER SCRUTON: widely published philosopher and writer, wine correspondent for the New Statesman. He has written books on music, art, architecture, and modern philosophy. KENT BACH: philosopher of mind and language from San Francisco State University who is author of Thought and Reference (OUP, 1994). BARRY C SMITH: philosopher of mind and language at Birkbeck College, London. He is the author of ‘Wine and Philosophy’ in The Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Jancis Robinson TIM CRANE: philosopher of mind and metaphysics at University College London and author of The Mechanical Mind (Penguin, 1997). He has written on wine in The World of Fine Wine. JAMIE GOODE: a trained biochemist and an accomplished wine writer who runs the highly informed website www.winanorak.com. He is about to publish a book on wine with the University of California Press. PAUL DRAPER: chief wine-maker at Ridge Wines, California, and a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University. He was Decanter Man of the Year in 2001. ANDREW JEFFORD: distinguished wine writer and critic. He has five Glenfiddich Wine Writer awards and is the author of an award-winning book, The New France, as well as Peat, Smoke and Spirit on Islay Whiskey. GLORIA ORIGGI: a philosopher who has published widely on the philosophy of mind and language, and on the social transmission of knowledge. STEVE CHARTERS MW: lectures in Wine Studies at Edith Cowan University in Australia. He has written a number of articles on the perception of quality. ADRIENNE LEHRER: a linguist at the University of California at Davis and author of Wine and Conversation. She has analysed and written about the language people use to talk about wine. OPHELIA DEROY: a philosopher who is a member of the Institut Jean Nicod, Paris, and has written on metaphysics.

£12.99 paperback

Buy now

January 2015 paperback

224 pages

9781909930216 paperback

9781904955290 hardback