Towards an Integrated Discourse of Wine
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Comparative Studies Honors Theses; 2006
Wine, this simple word, denotes a complex subject with a great historical legacy, notions of place as both identity and as containing unique means of production, as well as business and economic considerations; it is affected by the power dynamics of bureaucratic governmental and media institutions, and drinking it is a complex sensual experience which is difficult to articulate. Despite this complexity, some who address the subject tend to isolate components of it for the purposes of their discussion without attempting to understand the greater structure into which their assertions fit. My thesis discusses this framework in the context of Michel Foucault's notion of discourse as the powerful synthesis of the possibilities of articulation, query and understanding that are available about a subject at a particular point in time. The different facets of the wine industry provide a rich and sophisticated discourse, and I suggest that it is often not considered by those who choose to write about the subject. My paper addresses four primary components of wine discourse, namely, language, classification systems, terroir and issues of authenticity. These aspects of wine cannot be fully understood without addressing their relevance to each other. This discourse is actively constructed by a wide variety of people holding different positions in the industry, including producers, writers, distributors, vendors, sommeliers, consumers and connoisseurs. My goal is to contribute to an understanding of contemporary wine discourse by discussing both the shortcomings of a disengaged analysis of the subject and the implications of a unified understanding of its inherent complexities. I have used an interdisciplinary approach which is informed by critical and cultural theory, philosophy of art and linguistics, the physical, biological and social sciences, business, and professional wine writing.
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