38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
The best of this book comes at the bottom of the glass,
This review is from: I Drink Therefore I am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine (Hardcover)
In this book Scruton seeks to combine his interest in philosophy with his love of wine. He laments the passing of the Greek "symposiums" where wine was drunk and important issues discussed. The book is certainly interesting, but it is not the jolly, "good humoured antidote to the pretentious clap-trap" that the publishers promise. At least not until the appendix where he suggests what to drink while reading major philosophers' works which is very funny and well written.
He begins by recognising two people influential in his own discovery of wine, which read a little like appreciative retirement speeches. He then moves on to discussing in detail French wines and then more briefly other wine regions. Here Scruton's knowledge and enthusiasm are evident, but he is something of a wine `buff' and there is plenty of wine-speak in evidence. Thus he suggests that `the best accompaniment to a bottle of fine old white Hermitage is a clay-baked hedgehog' and if you `roll the name Maillol in your mouth while imagining well-shaped buttocks and well-matured wine, and you won't be far from the taste of Collioure'. Not much of the promise of `an antidote to clap-trap' evident here, then. Overall, this half of the book is hard going.
In the second half, things get more interesting as he turns to philosophy and the role of wine and the implications of certain ideas to wine. Scruton is one of those writers who lets much of their character and opinion infuse his writing. He is unashamedly right wing, pro-France, anti-EU and largely un-`PC', and at times his views may cause mild offence to the more sensitive reader (the anti-fox hunting and modern Islamic views on alcohol both get particularly short shrift), albeit with some nice dry humour in parts (he suggests that the rich contribute to the well-being of the world by consuming the most expensive wines and converting it by natural processes to something that will benefit the soil). As you would expect, his knowledge and insights in philosophy are frequently interesting - although a good grounding philosophers will certainly help as this isn't a beginner's book on philosophy.
But the greatest joy of this book is the appendix where he suggests what wines to drink with different philosophers' works. It is irreverent and funny, but at the same time, wise. This, finally, fulfills the promise of the publisher's jacket notes. I would unreservedly award this chapter a five star rating.
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Initial post: 11 Jan 2010 12:24:51 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
So he gets five stars for his appendix?
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2010 09:12:13 GMT
Yes - I would have awarded that chapter five stars as I really enjoyed it (and also I think that chapter most lives up to the publisher's blurb). If the whole book had been like this, I'd have given the book five stars. But I have given the whole book only three stars - mainly because I found the first part (half the book) hard going and too "wine-buffy". The second part - the philosophy bit - it better and the appendix superb. Sorry if that wasn't clear in the review!
Posted on 12 Jan 2010 11:02:48 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
Okay - I can go with that.
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