Monday, November 22, 2010

Wine Snob: Expanding My Palate (Soon)

I had one of those days where I woke up in the morning (later than I had intended), realized that I had forgotten about all of the Horace I was supposed to read, knew I could not finish it in time, and just decided to relax for a little while and worry about life later. Unfortunately, that means that I ended up shirking my obligations with both Propertius II and Cerinthus and I feel like a complete loser (sorry guys!).

Since I am still working on my work on dramatic vs. compositional dating of Plato, see my recent blogposts, I spent most of the day looking out my window and re-reading Catherine Zuckert's chapter on the Laws. A good portion of the Laws, in my memory and in Zuckert's summery/analysis, focuses on moderation and specifically a debate between the Athenian and the Dorian views on wine. The Athenians traditionally drank a lot of wine at symposia and civic festivals like the Greater Dionysia. The Dorians, however, according to the Laws, are not allowed to be intoxicated in public. In the Laws, the Athenian Stranger proposes to only allow men over the age of 30 to drink in order to test their character. Overall, the Greek world seems to conceive of wine as an agent of forgetfulness and lowered inhibitions (i.e. to test a person's true character). Since that seems to be the theme of my day (and because we just got the wines for the holidays), I thought I might talk a little about wine.

I do not know much about wine, as I have mentioned before, but I like to learn. My mother found a wonderful site called Garagiste, which is run by a small importer in Seattle who sends wine when the customer has assembled an entire case. We sometimes assemble a single case (one or two bottles of interesting-sounding wines until we have collected  a case) and share the wines with friends at holiday gatherings. The set this year is entirely red wines, and most of them are "mystery wines." Since there has been a great glut of grapes over the past few years on the West Coast of the US, a number of wineries jumped at the chance to "undersell" their wines (i.e. selling them for much lower than the traditional/list price), packaged anonymously, without tarnishing the reputation of their label. I am looking forward to tasting the wine and reporting back on it at some point soon.

Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues High Society
Speaking of wine, while I have been writing this, I decided to revisit one of the movies of my youth (I was raised on musicals of the Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire era), which also involves drinking a lot of wine. High Society is a musical version of Philadelphia Story, narrated by Louis Armstrong and featuring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. I highly recommend it, if you have not seen it (although be aware, there is some seriously 1950s-style moralizing).

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