In Fritz Allhoff (ed.), Wine and Philosophy. Blackwell (2008)

John Dilworth
Western Michigan University
The highly enjoyable experiences associated with drinking good wines have been widely misunderstood. It is common to regard wine appreciation as an analytical or quasi-scientific kind of activity, in which wine experts carefully distinguish the precise sensory qualities of each wine, and then pass on their accumulated factual knowledge to less experienced wine enthusiasts. However, this model of wine appreciation is seriously defective. One good way to show its defects is to provide a better and more fundamental scientific account of what is involved in wine appreciation. In order to do so, I outline a novel, evolutionarily based theory of perceptual consciousness that explains why there must be imaginative as well as analytical kinds of experiences of wines. In addition, imaginative wine experiences, unlike typical imaginative artistic experiences, may be shown to involve highly individualistic, improvisatory elements that help to give wine drinking a unique place among the recreational arts.
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