The best books take us on a journey and teach us something along the way, sometimes about ourselves, sometimes about the world at large. When you open a book, you open a wonderful, new world created for you by the writer to explore and find yourself in. Some books invite you on a journey across treacherous seas, into unruly saloons in the Wild West, or elegant drawing rooms in St. Petersburg before the revolution. This book, “It’s Not About The Wine!” by Brain Metters, takes you on a journey through some of the best wine regions in France, with history, philosophy, art and people along the way.
It is at times like being on a wonderful holiday from your reading chair through the charming villages of Loire, Alsace and Burgundy. Other times it is a critical look at wine tasting and what we are really talking about when we describe a wine. Other times still, its a survey of wine’s place in culture through links to history, philosophy and art. It is at all times an affable and personable account of 50 years of experience exploring and enjoying the world of wine which is an absolute joy to read.
Through Brian’s many stories of travelling through France tasting wines with his family and friends, one has the sense of actually being on holiday with this lovely bunch of people, soaking up the local culture and making friends with the locals. If not that, after reading one would be completely prepared to plan a trip to Loire, Alsace or Burgundy with his numerous references to wineries, tasting rooms, brassieres, hotels and local festivals. In fact, the next time I travel to France, I’ll be taking this book with me and taking full advantage of his recommendations!
It is also an inspiring way to travel. One can see the influence of Brian and his wife’s Buddhist philosophy in the mindful way they approach their visits. It seems like they really take the time to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy each passing moment with long, early morning walks, leisurely lunches at sidewalk cafes enjoying the local food and people watching, cycling through the vineyards, and talking to locals, building relationships that still endure today. One feels a sense of ease reading these stories without loosing the excitement of exploring new territories and discovering all they have to offer.
For many people, wine can be intimidating, a topic that Brian has recently discussed on his blog: “What use is knowledge in the enjoyment of wine?”. However, reading this book it is clear to see that the best way to learn about wine or deepen the knowledge you already have is through direct experience. With over 50 years of experience visiting wine regions and wineries, talking to wine makers, judging and collecting wine, he has certainly gained an extensive knowledge indeed. This book will teach you about wine- from navigating your way through french appellations, to understanding the affect of terroir, to bio-dynamic farming practices, to starting your own collection- but perhaps more importantly, it will encourage you to walk in Brian’s footsteps, learn from his experiences, and get out there yourself.
All that being said, I have often disagreed with Brian on matters concerning wine through our respective blogs Buddha Walks Into A Wine Bar and Vinthropology, mainly because we have completely different approaches. Based on his experience and knowledge as a organisational psychologist, he is keenly aware of how perception processing works in the brain and tends to approach wine tasting from the top-down with a focus on cognition. With my experience in the arts, on the other hand, I tend to approach it from the bottom-up with a focus on the sensory. Yet rather than our differences dividing us, I believe we have mutually benefited. Speaking for myself, I have learnt a great deal from him and have a lot to learn still!
In the last chapter of the book, Brian indicates three “Priests of Bacchus” who have influenced the way he buys, drinks, appreciates and thinks about wine. I’m honoured to be one among them and touched that my passion for wine has had an influence on someone. Moreover, I’m full of gratitude for the influence he has had on me, on my blog, and on my new venture of starting a wine club. If it hadn’t been for his continued support on my blog, I may well have given up. Beyond that, our conversations have inspired and challenged me to look deeper and embrace different ways of thinking. Currently, he has been a great help in getting my wine club off the ground, something I can only be humbly grateful for. Vinthropology would not be the same without his support, influence, inspiration and challenges.
And so, in the spirit of Bacchus, an interest and passion in wine can lead to great friendships and personal growth. To borrow a line from Brian and the title of his book,
It’s not about the wine!
Please do check out Brian’s blog for posts about wine, philosophy, photography, and much more! Buddha Walks Into A Wine Bar
To find out more about Vinthropology Cultural Association, click the link: Vinthropology Cultural Association in Italy