Foundation of a new art 2.png


foundation and story of a new art


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
Forbois in awe.jpg
In sixteenth century Japan, Sen no Rykiū codified the tea ceremony, setting the essence of the Japanese Way of Tea as it’s still practised today. I like to think that in four hundred years from now, somewhere on Earth, a few eccentric souls will gather around a bottle of wine and, losing themselves in the beauty, grace and delight of the senses, will marvel again, rediscovering the eternal link that unites them to the Universe, the source of life and the Mystery of things... Then, they will experience a joy beyond words, then they will be children, then they will be gods. That’s the Way of Wine.
— Thierry Forbois, The Way of wine manuscript, fragment.

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”).

Prelude and nine movements of the Ritual of the Way of wine.

Prelude and nine movements of the Ritual of the Way of wine.

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.

Thierry Forbois


At moments of wonder, it is easy to avoid small thinking, to entertain thoughts that span the universe, that capture both thunder and tinkle, thick and thin, the near and the far.
— Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Caspar David Friedrich_-Wanderer above the sea of fog.jpg

*A Story of Awe

In the autumn of 2002, needing new horizons, my wife and I left Montreal and the mindset of the times for a tiny village in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. Thirty or so houses perch there on a jutting point of land. It is an area of rough, wild hills lying below a mountainside of green oaks, where human days – far from the gravitational centre of the species: cities caught in trance – still unfold tranquilly, in a sort of blissful state of autism.

We lived frugally on our savings, without a car. Our days were spent outside, picking figs, munching on almonds and drinking Maury. We discovered this corner of the world with the same astonishment as our six-year-old son. My wife was pregnant with our second child, a girl. Every day, nature called to us. I often walked alone through the garrigue and the woods. I loved those wordless hours, plunged in the silence of my mind, listening to the voices of the wind and animals. At night, I wrote. Forgetting myself a bit more each day, I breathed in the world with the most delectably carefree spirit imaginable.

One spring night I awoke. Outside, the light of a dying crescent moon made no dent in the thick of night. My head still half-drunk with dreams, I had a sudden urge to take a nocturnal walk. I quickly left the village behind, lengthening my stride to follow a path through the hills. I was familiar with the path, which led to the rocky mountain range dominating the vicinity. I had followed its desultory twists and turns through the forest many time by day.

As I entered the woods, the moon’s glimmer through the leaves was just enough for me to distinguish my hands. A strange and crazy feeling arose in me, the desire to disappear mixed with the urgency of a rendezvous. Without stopping to think, I left the known path and went deep into the forest’s interior. In the darkness, I walked at a speed that now seems incredible. My feet flew, thwarting the impenetrable blackness, avoiding the hazard of stumps, the claws of bushes, the sharp surfaces of stones, threading rocky indentations, leaping over treacherous roots. An invisible force seemed to be directing my steps, guiding my improbable climb to the top of a granite peak.

At the summit, I collapsed, out of breath. Lying on my back, I heard the drumbeat of my heart. In the sky, stars throbbed. On my feet again, I looked to the East and saw the first quivers of day, that instant when the darkness is tinged with a barely visible blue. And out of nowhere and everywhere, a surreal murmur arose, a silent song predating all sound. The sound wave vibrated through everything, enfolding me and running through me before vanishing into the glimmers of dawn.

I let my mind wander, drinking in the joyous mayhem of the birds bathing in the first light of day, the immanent beauty of the sun. The world contains such harmony, such abundance that I could feel all my worries, my yearnings, my dreams and certainties drop away. My mind emptied of thought. I un-learned who I was.

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.

At the top of that hill as the light broke, I experienced awe. I was born there. My body, my eyes, my mind opened. They would not close up again.


Thierry Forbois

Wine master