Philosophy of Wine

Philosophy of Wine

The interaction of alcohol and philosophy



1/8/20223 min read

Nietzsche came up with the wonderful insight that, strictly speaking, every human being actually has his or her own philosophy. So it is not so important whether one sees oneself as a Kantian, an existentialist or even as a Christian. The individual life decisively shapes the resulting practical philosophy of the individual.

But in my opinion, despite all individuality, certain philosophical principles can only be understood from the respective cultural area. Hence the fascination and the simultaneous incomprehensibility of Western to Eastern philosophy and vice versa.

But what exactly characterizes the cultural space? Climate, history, social structure…all good and correct answers. But as a native of Mainz on the Rhine, alcohol in the form of wine naturally also comes to mind.

Just as my compositions are like a Mainz wine house that has become music (you sit down at a table with complete strangers, drink wine, eat, talk to everyone and have a wonderful evening with new impressions and possibly new friends), so is the philosophy of the Rhenish Catholicism (“Every little animal has its own pleasure” with a simultaneous well-founded rejection of all radicalism) difficult to imagine without the enjoyment of white wine.

This becomes particularly clear on the short journey from the wine-growing Vorderpfalz to the beer-drinking Waldpfälzer areas.

While the temperament of the people from the Rhine Palatinate seems to be very active, excited and based on a short temper and liveliness, the people from the Palatinate on the hills are a bit relaxed, calm and need a lot of time to get excited.

Accordingly, the philosophy changes with the consumed drugs: the much too small red wine glass fits Hans-Georg Gadamer. Here you can literally feel the will of the post-war generation to only bake small rolls. There’s even more that doesn’t fit together here: Gadamer originally comes from Breslau. But he never mentions anything about the fate of the lost homeland. He seems to have adapted superficially to the Trollinger-like fate of fragmented Baden-Württemberg.

In the time of Hegel‘s hometown Stuttgart, on the other hand, the Trollinger was still a comparatively heavy variety imported from France, which also required thinking in unusually difficult ways.

Speaking of Trollinger: Isn’t there a certain intellectual similarity between the all-devastating world spirit of Hegel and the moral rigorism of the RAF leaders from the same region: Baader & Ensslin?

A West Palatinate beer drinker would never have opened up to such ideas: he would have preferred to remain in the natural musicality of the Kusel region, which developed particularly wonderfully in a talent like Fritz Wunderlich.

The whole tragedy of Nietzsche, on the other hand, can only be understood if one knows his place of birth better:

In the undefined landscape between Weißenfels and Leipzig there is no contour: too cold for wine, too warm for schnapps; you’re forced to dream of foreign, unknown pleasures that you can get close to, but which ultimately never become part of your own nature. Whether it’s the extremes of the Swiss Alps or the rich cultural heritage of Italy, everything longs out of this neither fish nor flesh landscape of non-passing and undeciding.

Had Nietzsche’s thought reached the same extreme, had he been born in Mainz? Certainly not. Goethe, who grew up with cider and lost himself in the Riesling vineyards of Wiesbaden-Frauenstein, would certainly have been closer to him, and he would have stayed more spiritually with Schopenhauer, whose name basically means “the one who drinks a lot of wine”.

Of course, Kant, who eludes any categorization, remains a perennial enigma. But would Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy be conceivable without vodka?How else can the pragmatism of English philosophy be explained than through warm beer?And anyone who has ever appreciated the clearing effect of Japanese sake knows how to absorb the apparently superhuman floating effect of Zen philosophy even more.

All in all, however, it turns out that philosophy found its true heyday in the areas of wine, and to be more precise, in the white wine areas. Whether Albert Schweitzer from the Edelzwicker and Gewürztraminer region, Michel de Eyquem Montaigne from Bordeaux (white and red wine), Rousseau from Geneva (Chasselas), Karl Marx from Trier (Elbling, a kind of Ur-Riesling), the white wine seems to seduce and inspire to promote the Western way of philosophizing.

With this in mind, let’s raise the next glass of wine in the name of philosophy!

#nietzsche #wine #philosophy #beer