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In Vino Veritas

Text written for the show “In memory of Nicholas Santoleri” Cantina Casa Santoleri, 2011

In vino veritas

What does this saying mean? Superficially it is used as an ironic reference to the drunkenness caused by excessive wine consumption which may lead to the confession of unspeakable truths. Yet it may also be understood to mean: The truth lies in wine. Not a truth relating to the drinker, then, but a truth inherent in the wine itself, something in wine which tells us (and not which makes us tell) the truth. So, in this new guise, what is the “truth” that lies in wine? Its belonging to the earth, its ability to provide such a detailed account of it that it seems truthful. Nothing to do with the praise of nature as a creator of absolute and immediate truths, on the contrary; the perception of truth as a capacity for narration and invention which summons us to appear before it for a banquet at which we will witness its performance. So it is the truth that resides in wine, telling us of the earth, which drives us to speak personal truths that we keep hidden. But this can happen only if the wine itself contains a truth to be passed on, if it can tell us something, a story which is   as plausible as it is visionary. The combination of these two elements, the plausible and the visionary, lie at the heart of that narrative mix with which I try to engage every time I encounter wine and thank it as I drink.

In memory of Nicola Santoleri, viticulturist and wine maker in Guardiagrele, Abruzzo.

Alfredo Pirri

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