Dry December: What to drink with What?
Foodies looking for inspiration about wine matching to their latest culinary creation are reading the wrong blog, but bear with me because you might find something interesting.
Sir Roger Scruton is my favourite living philosopher and one of his books, “I Drink Therefore I Am”, is a great favourite. In the final chapter he begins with a word or two about what NOT to drink with What, and lambasts the health fanatics who have virtually shamed us all into not drinking unpasteurised milk, as well as warning us every day about drinking spirits, beer, wine, cola. He continues with a damning condemnation of “the plastic bottle” as the greatest environmental disaster of the century and points out the obvious of roadsides, hedges and lanes in the countryside besmirched with empty bottles of lucozade, cola, mineral water, but also of empty cans of beer, red bull, cider and finally empty glass bottles previously filled with vodka, Bacardi and tequila. It is at this point he twists the knife and asks, “have you ever seen the environment strewn with empty wine bottles”?
He’s really putting us Winos on a higher plain of morality I believe as he now gets into the guts of the chapter of “what wine to drink with what” and proceeds to match wine NOT with food but with …….. philosophers! And why not, because if Salvador Dalí can match wine with his mood, and every Tom Dick and Harry of a wine waiter advises you to try the Argentinian Malbec with your steak, why can’t a philosopher recommend a particular wine to match your reading of Plato’s “Republic”, or Aristotle’s “Nichomachean Ethics”, or Francis Bacon’s “The Advancement of Learning”? Here’s a sample of some of Scruton’s recommendations:
Plato: “There is a dialogue of Plato to suit every wine. A fine red Bordeaux will take you at a leisurely pace through The Republic, while with the Phaedrus a light rose would be more appropriate, and only a bone dry Manzanilla would do justice to the Philebus. The Laws would benefit from a robust Burgundy giving us courage to continue reading. Plato hoped always to provide questions that we understand and answers that surprise us. For this Plato should always be esteemed, not because his conclusions are the right ones, but because he attempted to prove the others wrong.”
Aristotle: “Readers of the Metaphysics will understand when I say that plain water is the only conceivable accompaniment. To swallow the driest book ever written you need plenty of liquid, and an attitude of Spartan detachment as you fight down the words. Before moving on to the Prior Analytics a ginger biscuit might be suitable. Only with Nichomachean Ethics do things lighten up a bit, and here, because the argument is absolutely vital to the concept of virtual drinking as I have been advancing it, I would recommend a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.
Francis Bacon: “The author of The Advancement of Learning was a worldly politician, brilliant essayist, wide eyed observer of the human condition and intellectual iconoclast ……. who taught us to gain knowledge by applying positive predicates via our eyes and ears. Any discussion on his insights should proceed by the comparative method. I suggest opening 6 bottles of a single varietal, say Cabernet Franc, one from the Loire, one from California, one from Moravia, one from Hungary and two more from anywhere it is grown successfully. So now you will have given some proof of the inductive method, and you can now pretend to compare and contrast them, taking notes in winespeak while downing the lot.”
So, there you have it, wine and philosophy almost a perfect match. For those of you receiving copies of Nichomachean Ethics, The Republic, or The Advancement of Learning for Christmas you have the perfect accompaniment. Switch off the TV and settle down in a quiet corner with a good glass of wine. But choose wisely just as you would in matching a Malbec with a steak or a Chablis with an oyster!