Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Fascinating in parts; snobbish and bigoted in others
on 19 August 2014
I thought this book's title (and subtitle) promised much, so gave it a whirl. Professor Scruton is a superb writer, and I found myself alternately fascinated, amazed, and laughing out loud much of the time. Early on, for example: "'You are my tutor,' I blurted out, overcome with confusion. Dr Picken looked at me silently. 'I feared as much,' he said at last". His mastery of English equips him to give us most exact and convincing accounts of the many good (and some bad) wines he has drunk down the years. Most readers will find themselves unable to afford - or even to get hold of - the wines that he recommends; but we can still learn a great deal from his descriptions of their flavours, and the feelings they induced in him.
Like other reviewers, I thoroughly enjoyed the witty and well-informed appendix "What to drink with what". It was the second part, where the author turns from a preoccupation with wine to his stock in trade - philosophy - that lost me. Apart from his patronizing dismissal of the Muslim prohibition on drinking alcohol, which seems reasonable enough but which he tries to argue out of existence, he keeps uttering flat and unqualified fiats on matters that I would consider value judgments. And then there are his frankly mystical remarks about how a wine somehow conveys spiritual qualities simply by being drunk. If I didn't respect Professor Scruton so highly, I would classify those as exactly the kind of "pretentious clap-trap" to which this book is supposed to be an antidote.
However, if you enjoy wine at all, and if you have any interest in ideas and philosophy, you should enjoy "I Drink Therefore I Am". You'll be royally entertained, amused, provoked, and greatly informed. Just be prepared to experience some moments of serious irritation along the way! (And maybe that's what you should expect from a professional gadfly...)