Two views on wine appreciation. The first from the introduction of an academic book edited by Prof Barry Smith called Questions of Taste: The Philosophy of Wine, a volume that collects perspectives from philosophy and cognitive science on how we understand the qualities of wine:
Do we directly perceive the quality of a wine, or do we assess its quality on the basis of what we first perceive? Tasting seems to involve both perception and judgement. But does the perceptual experience of tasting – which relies on the sensations of touch, taste and smell – already involve a judgement of quality? Is such judgement a matter of understanding and assessment, and does require wine knowledge to arrive at a correct verdict?
Some philosophers would claim that one cannot assess a wine’s quality on the basis of perceptual experience alone and evaluation goes beyond what one finds in a description of its objective characteristics. According to these thinkers something else is required to arrive at an assessment of a wine’s merits. This may be the pleasure the taster derives from the wine, the valuing of certain characteristics, or the individual preferences of the taster. Is there room among such views for non-subjective judgements of wine quality?
And the alternative view, from The New York Times review of the same book:
The rhetoric and rituals of wine appreciation are sometimes said to be the alimentary equivalent of lipstick on a pig: they are meant to give an attractive sheen to the ugly business of getting drunk.