foundation and story of a new art
I’m looking for the total moment, not a perfect moment lived within this life, but a moment of such intensity that it creates life. I call this moment outside of time: the sublime.
— Thierry Forbois, creator of the Way of wine
Almost fifteen years ago, watching a spectacular sunrise from the summit of a hill in the French Pyrenees, I had a timeless experience*. A moment of awe. My body, my eyes, and my mind suddenly opened as an extraordinary feeling of peace flooded through me. I had touched the forgotten foundation of life itself. In a single instant, I understood everything that words could never convey. For the first time, I saw: I was at the centre of a miracle, connected to it. I knew then that for the rest of my life, nothing could shake this proof, apprehended so clearly on that hilltop. I was born there. From that instant roots back The Way of wine.
Since then, I have thought continuously about the disparity between the alienation of modern life and the intimacy of spiritual existence, and sought ways to sharpen human sensitivity, and to liberate it from the superficial, fragmented sensations that constitute many people’s lives.
In early 2009, the idea of renewing the way wine is tasted came up to me. In a traditional wine tasting, I felt that too much intervention by the intellect and conceptual analysis of experience, notably by forcing perceived sensations into words, cuts us off from an essential part of the wine-drinking experience. This intrusion of thought into the tasting moment deprives us of what wine most intrinsically has to offer. The conscious mind cannot simultaneously enter direct experience and analyze this same experience. The moment the intellect intervenes to conceptualize or verbalize, it loses contact with the direct experience of what is, and loses as well the sensations and emotions that accompany it. I call this hypothesis the “oceanic principle of the inconceivable,” referring to the feeling of being one with the universe, an intense sensation of communion which many people feel while contemplating nature or a piece of art, the flight of a dragonfly, the beauty of a single blade of grass, or a taste of wine. It disappears the instant the intellect tries to explain it.
In subsequent years, I devoted my time to research the specific conditions likely to favour an experience of awe and, at the moment of drinking a glass of wine, the awakening of this oceanic feeling (some refer to it as “celestial” or “cosmic”).
In 2016, I rendered concrete this idea of a timeless wine experience, during which one could leave the confines of self and open to everything beyond it. From the initial inspiration to achieving the Way of wine took over 16,000 hours of thinking, developing its ritual, creating the vascellum and practicing my art until it was fully mastered. This journey has been long. I did not devote myself to this quest; I lost myself in it. Often, I felt alone, with my family and those whom I hold most dear questioning an obsession that seemed to take so long to finish, it worried them and made them wonder if I’d lost my mind. I had no choice. I didn’t come up with this idea; it found me. Seriously. It was looking for host so it could exist. I was available. And the idea that chose me, of a wine experience so intense that it could open the way to revitalizing the senses and one’s entire being was, I must agree, crazy. I knew from the start that it was madness. But when an idea as beautiful as this comes to you, and the need to make it real possesses you like a thirst, it’s painful not to yield. As Deleuze said, artists don’t create for pleasure; they create out of necessity. That is how it was for me with the Way of wine, which for me has been a gift, and also a curse.
Today, the idea is an actual, unparalleled experience, a living art. For the rest of my days on this earth, I will embody, carry, and transmit this art for the pleasure of other bodies and minds to experience. I’ll do it for wonder. For the simple miracle of joy. For the love of wine.