Dr Hanneke Wilson, Exeter College Wine Steward, contributed to a BBC Radio 4 programme on the ‘Philosophy of Good Taste’, which aired on Tuesday 21 August. In the programme Barry Smith, Professor of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, investigates David Hume’s theory of beauty. Hume held that recognition of beauty is a conscious act that requires thought, and one which we become more proficient in if we take time to observe and practise. To this Hume added a second idea: that there was an objective standard of taste that would allow us to classify items as more or less beautiful.
Hume’s argument used the example of wine tasting to construct its case, so it was fitting that two minutes 20 seconds into the programme, Dr Wilson is heard talking about Exeter’s wine cellar, which occupies two rooms beneath the College and stores over 8,000 bottles. The full recording of the programme can be heard on the BBC website.
The time-consuming yet valuable role of a wine steward, with its quarterly stock checks and frequent purchasing decisions, is described in depth in an article Dr Wilson wrote for Oxford Today in 2015.