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I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine Audio Download – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover
The witty title of this book gives expectations that are not disappointed. When you have one of Britain's leading philosophers, who is also fluent and witty, writing about his love of wine then the book is one for all lovers of wine. It is not a handbook - so there is not too much about vintages and certainly it is not a catalogue. Scruton tells something of his own encounters with various wines, at Peterhouse, Cambridge, that home of the egregious don, and in different parts of the world. So some interesting people are also mentioned. But the focus is always on the wine and its delights. He gives useful dicta such as "Never drink any fluid that has been kept in plastic." In an amusing final section, Scruton makes suggestions about which wines to drink while reading various philosophers. I have picked up much fascinating knowledge about wine, the sort of things that the ordinary wine book do not mention. I have a reasonable library of books on wine and on philosphy and this book has pride of place in both. Already, have I boughto a second copy since the first one I gave away to another wine-lover as a present.
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Format: Paperback
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...)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this several years after reading an essay by the same author in another book about wine. I believe this one can be read straight through but I read it by dipping into it: checking the legs, the cork, the colour, the body, before downing the contents. It turns out that they are essentially reworked essays Scruton has written over a number of years. They are speculative and provocative, but also informative and, sometimes, moving. Most of all they are surprising and funny. He invites controversy as much as approbation. Some clearly find him tiresome, and dismiss him as a bore, but I like the way he sticks up for people - wine growers mostly - who spend their lives in one place working to produce something extraordinary: independent and local heros against global mediocrity. In Chinon for example he singles out the justly famous, but sadly no longer with us, Charles Joguet: an artist and sculptor who, on the death of his father, came back to run the estate and invested the rest of his life developing it, not to see what he could get out of it but what he could coax it into becoming.
The important assertion running through the work is that philosophers should be judged by the results of their ideas as the winemaker should be judged by his wine. Because these are essays there are some surprising omissions, notably Robert Pirsig, who in the 1960s established Quality as so important in his fabulous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; and Epicurus, whose maxim ‘Life is good! Make sure to enjoy it’ could be the book’s leitmotif. Epicurus also said ‘Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have is among the things you only hoped for.’ So this book is an excellent sherry, an appetizer rather than encyclopaedic, and no worse for that. He certainly suggests some unusual solutions and, like Plato, ‘should always be esteemed – not because his conclusions are the right ones, but because he attempted to prove the others wrong’.
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