I’m afraid I can’t completely agree with Logan on wine’s role as the progenitor of all pretentiousness – though I think I prefer to call it connoisseurship. I mean, I agree with his assertion that wine very likely did begin this crazy art of picking favourites and arguing about them. But I can’t agree that that was a bad thing. Discussion and creation of hierarchy, even in comestibles, is what inspires quality, and, though too much attention to detail in anything can be irritating, if wine is what brought us to the perfection of the chocolate-making process, to those tiny, obscenely priced jars of caviar or, hey, even to Calvin Klein and Emilio Pucci… I think I’m okay with that. They’re status symbols, which is kind of silly, but because of it, they’re obscenely good.
I’ve made batch after batch of almond macaroon trying to get them right. People slave over paintings and poems and dance routines and plays for NO GOOD REASON other than the fact that they know that the finished product will be enjoyable. Connoisseurship is really just a reaction to that, and argument is just expression of preference, perhaps with a change in mind. Considering that, I don’t think you can really condemn any argument comparing two like things – even if those things are coke and pepsi.
Moving on, something I was surprised by in our reading, and found really interesting, was the fact that Greeks and Romans diluted their wine. There was a lot of talk about moderation and trying not to get drunk, and my first reaction was that they were sort of soft to have to dilute their wine at parties. But what’s stranger is that it sounds like economy – as though there was a motive of preservation of supplies, which is strange considering what an expensive treat wine was. If you could afford it, why would you a) be trying to conserve your stocks or b) make this special, special drink weaker and therefore, I expect, less enjoyable?