Perfect wine and the Paradox of perfection
We had a perfect meal; we drank the perfect wine … What is perfection? When is perfection? Is there perfection or near perfection in food or wine?
Let us try to define perfection: is it conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere;? Or is it: excellent or complete beyond practical or even theoretical improvement: a perfect meal, or is it: entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect dish; the perfect wine. . What is perfect?
The oldest definition of “perfection”, goes back to Aristotle. In the Metaphysics, he distinguishes three meanings of
the term perfect, or variations to one meaning, but in any case three different concepts
1. Which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;
2. Which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better;
3. Which has attained its purpose
The parallel existence of two concepts of perfection, one strict (“perfection,” as such) and the other loose (“excellence”), has given rise — perhaps since antiquity but certainly since the Renaissance — to a singular paradox: that the greatest perfection is imperfection. This was formulated by Lucilio Vanini (1585–1619). The paradox of perfection is that imperfection is perfect, applies to cooking and oenology in the same manner it applies to technology. Thus, the irregularity in semiconductor crystals (an imperfection, in the form of contaminants) is requisite for the production of “perfect” semiconductors. (loosely aided by WIKI) The solution to the apparent paradox lies in a distinction between two concepts of “perfection”: that of regularity, and that of utility. Imperfection is perfect only when that irregularity is useful. In short, very often the accumulation of small imperfections lead to perfection
But before the Renaissance paradox there was the fact.
That of Dualism and “Daoist” or “Taoist” belief that the “whole” is a combination of its contrasts: there’s no good without evil, light without darkness Yin and Yang…Hence the perfection of the whole is relying on the imperfection of its parts. Eastern philosophy does not look at the imperfections within the “perfect” as a paradox, but rather as a ,, where two opposites co-exist in harmony and are able to transmute into each other. So balance is what it is all about!!
Think of “…the wine is perfectly balanced” or “…the dish is well balanced” or even “…an amazingly balanced meal ” these all contain numerous balancing factors which are often opposing to one another in character shape taste flavor aroma and color, are not necessarily in even quantities and their assembly creates the “Perfect” balance which is a combination of a variety of imperfect irregularities that contributes to the perfection of the end product be it wine dish or a whole meal (with or without the wine).. The solution to the apparent paradox lies in a distinction between two concepts of “perfection”: that of regularity, and that of utility. Imperfection is perfect in technology, in the sense that irregularity/imperfection is useful. This applies always to cooking and wine making. The term “perfection” is actually used to designate a range of diverse concepts. If perfection is, broadly a state of completeness and flawlessness and in food and wine balance is the “gate” to perfection let us look (in this post), at the components in the balance of wine: A balanced wine is considered to be in proper harmony of acidity, fruit, sugar and tannins. A wine may show many good characteristics, but it will not be complete in other words perfect!!! unless it is balanced.
Balance is a wine characteristic quite unrelated to flavor of wine, it means that the alcoholic strength, acidity, residual sugar, and tannins complement each other so that no single one of them is obtrusive on the palate.(from The Concise wine companion, by Jancis Robinson). All the imperfect components “meet” to create perfection i.e. the perfect wine! A paradox? Not at all. Why? Because anyone of us had a perfect wine on a day or a perfect meal and not just once but we tend to “describe” it always as a “near perfect” I guess we are afraid to “reach” perfection, after which none would look or taste or smell the same?
Should any great wine be the Nadia Comanechi of wine? A perfect 10 on all counts?
Or is a perfect wine, the wine you felt was perfect for that moment? Personally as a complete hedonist I prefer to sense a special wine I am having as a source of pleasure and self-gratification. Therefore I had and will have many perfect wines. I am not sure that all the “perfect” wines some of which listed were always perfect on the occasion (some of which I “heard” of and some I did have), like Chateau Cheval Blanc 1928, 1947 0r 1961? Fonseca Vintage Port 1927 1948 1977? A bottle of Krug 1982 or Mouton Rothchild 1945? Latour 1982 or many other that are considered top scorers, perfect wines 100 points from all directions, many of which I had over the years were perfect on the occaison for various reasons, but rather a wine you had which at the time and till this very day is unforgettable hey? Like the Roumier. Chambolle Musigny. “Les Amoureuses” 1982 I used to have as a special treat and every time whichever the occasion was had this magic touch of a perfect wine,
or a 1995 Bollinger that knocked me down with its completeness and is not up there with the so called or considered “greats”, or La mission Haut Brion 1976 some of which were waiting in a dark corner down my cellar and was a celebration and had the grandeur of a mythical genie in a bottle, or the 50 bottles of NV Krug and 6 magmums of Cos d’Estournel 1986 I served at my 50th birthday, even the oxidized 1962 Maison Noemie Verneaux Mersault Charmes I had not long ago with friends had all the components that make a great wine certainly after 48 years in the womb/bottle. So many others come into mind of good (that’s all) wine bottles that were perfect on the day.
I feel lucky to have had the chance to have them with the company of people I like or with just the right food and never on my own! A perfect wine bottle is something to share and admire in company not alone!
The Wineguide is urging you to write in your very own perfect wine or wines. It is a great pleasure to relive those moments, Try it and see.
I await for your “perfect wines” with anticipation and curiosity.