Wine and the Transcendentalists

The transcendentalist movement was a philosophical and literary movement that emerged in the mid-19th century in New England. It was characterized by a belief in the inherent goodness of people and nature, and the belief that individuals could transcend the limitations of society and tradition through self-reliance and intuition. Wine was a popular subject among the transcendentalists, who saw it as a symbol of the natural world and the spiritual journey of the individual.

The Transcendentalists and Wine

The transcendentalists were a group of writers, philosophers, and poets who were inspired by the natural world and the power of the individual spirit. They saw nature as a source of wisdom and inspiration, and believed that humans could find meaning and purpose in the natural world. Wine played a central role in this philosophy, as it was seen as a natural product of the earth that had the power to connect individuals to the rhythms and cycles of nature.

One of the most famous transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote extensively about the connection between wine and the natural world.

In his essay “Nature,” he writes, “Wine is as helpful to a healthy mind as a healthy body, for it provides a temporary escape from the burdens of society and the self.”

Emerson saw wine as a way to escape the limitations of society and connect with the natural world, a way to experience the transcendentalist philosophy of self-reliance and intuition.

Transcendentalists: Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American Essayist

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American Essayist

Similarly, the poet Walt Whitman saw wine as a symbol of the natural world and the spiritual journey of the individual.

In his poem “Song of Myself,” he writes, “I drink the wine of life, and love the wine of earth.”

Whitman saw wine as a way to connect with the natural world and the divine spirit that exists within all things, a way to experience the transcendentalist belief in the inherent goodness of people and nature.

The Transcendentalist Wine Culture

The transcendentalists were not only interested in the philosophical aspects of wine, but also in the culture that surrounded it. They were known to gather for wine parties, where they would discuss philosophy, literature, and the natural world. These gatherings were seen as a way to connect with like-minded individuals and to experience the transcendentalist philosophy of community and self-reliance.

The transcendentalists also appreciated the artistry of winemaking, seeing it as a natural process that was connected to the rhythms and cycles of nature. The poet Henry David Thoreau wrote extensively about the art of winemaking, and even made his own wine from wild grapes that he gathered in the woods around his home in Concord, Massachusetts.

The Legacy of Transcendentalist Wine Culture

The legacy of transcendentalist wine culture continues to influence American culture today. The natural and organic wine movements that have emerged in recent years can be seen as a continuation of the transcendentalist philosophy of connecting with the natural world and experiencing the transcendentalist belief in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Wineries that emphasize sustainable and organic farming practices, and that produce wine in small batches with minimal intervention, embody the transcendentalist philosophy of self-reliance and connection to the natural world.

Want to read more? Try these books!

Transcendentalism Collection- Thoreau’s Walden, Walking & Civil Disobedience, Emerson’s Self-Reliance, Nature & The American Scholar, Bryant’s... The Transcendentalists and Their World

Categories: This Day in Wine History | ArticlesBy Published On: February 29, 2024Last Updated: February 29, 2024

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