Wine and Temperance: Philosophical Foundations and Historical Perspectives

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Azélina Jaboulet-Vercherre

From an early stage, Azélina Jaboulet-Vercherre made the decision to study history, fine arts and literature. As a historian, she indefatigably searches for original sources which may cast light on the reflections, understanding and the uses of wine over the centuries. She firmly believes in history as a way to bring a paradoxically new outlook on a fancy – and rich – professional world. Since she received her Ph.D. degree (Yale University, 2011), she has been creating series of her own wine and culture courses in various higher education institutions (Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Changins, Sciences Po Paris, INSEEC, Ferrandi), giving conferences (UCLA, HEC, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Parsons), and wine tasting masterclasses (OIV, Paris). In addition to academic and professional articles, she authored history volumes and wine tasting books. Her goal is to create a new wine terminology and to enrich wine culture as a whole. She has been appointed President of the International OIV Award Jury in the spring of 2019 and Associate Professor (Ferrandi, Paris).

Man, in his natural state, is a rational animal, Aristotle contends. Indeed, irrational callings may occur, which may become problematic at a social scale. This has led to the elaboration of guiding organizational principles.

From biblical times to the modern era, the process of fermentation applied to foods and beverages (leavened bread, wine, beer) has been linked to fertility and civilization. However, wine’s inebriating effect have also made it appear as the gateway to the Devil. It indeed alternatively represents a boon and a scourge depending on its uses – and abuses. Once its fumes hit the drinker’s brain, his reason is overcome, putting the good order of society as a whole at risk, thereby enhancing the urge to regulate his behaviors. 

This paper will present the defense of moderation in both pagan and Christian thought, up to the escalation towards legal enforcement. We will investigate the opposite notions of individual responsibility and social control, in their virtuous or excessive dimensions.

This post is also available in French