At the Bibich Winery’s booth at this year’s BeoWine Fair, I had the opportunity to meet one of the great charmers, poets and philosophers of wine, Mr. Darko Petrović Skradinjanac. After a rather long and pleasant conversation with him about the concept, essence and harmony of wine, Petrović, although reluctant to grant interviews, nonetheless agreed to answer a few questions for Svet Vina, for which I am immeasurably grateful. The interview was conducted during this year’s Belgrade Wine Fair (BeoWine) and the Novi Sad Wine Salon. In order to fully preserve its authenticity, we are publishing the conversation in its original form.
S.V.: Listening to your thoughts on wine from the philosophical and metaphysical standpoints, without trying to sound pretentious, in some way I see you as the successor to the work of the brilliant Hungarian writer Béla Hamvas, who, at least in these parts, is revered as a great philosopher of wine.
D.P.: I consider Béla Hamvas my spiritual mentor when contemplating the phenomenon of wine. A great philosopher. When we consider the circumstances in which he lived and which surrounded him, his significance to the modern development of thought becomes even greater. He fostered awareness of wine with its own principle using magical poetics like a veritable wizard. Continuing his line of thought, I attempt to conceive of the essence of wine as a necessary confrontation with, or perhaps better stated, enhancement of the conventional view, which defines wine in its physical manifestation, in its materiality, outside of the relationship with its intrinsic spiritual principle.
The conventional view, based entirely on sensory perceptions and rationality, sees wine as a real thing based on its material presence, which is a pure illusion. Why? Because, eternally oscillating or transient materiality is only substantive but not real, as this is only the world of things, while extrasensory principles or laws are those upon which reality exists, they are immutable and that is why they are real. They govern the material world.
Imagine if I were to prove your essence through your physical, chemical parameters. Your height, your weight, the colour of your hair, eyes, the way you dress and a thousand other similar data points. What have I actually said about you? Nothing. By contrast, when I experience your emotions, your thoughts and feelings, then I say, “Oh, this is a man with a big personality, I’ll stake my life on it.” That’s also how it is with wine. The mystery of wine lies primarily in the experience ahead of any form of rationality, which are dead ends, except for those which, having embraced intuition and instinct, move in the direction of extrasensory levels.
Universal awareness as a constituent of time, i.e., the endless present, implies a higher level of awareness or abstraction than naked materiality in its physical manifestation. And here Béla Hamvas, in a poetically unique and enchanting manner, inspired by wine as a harmonious structure, i.e., “harmonized noble intoxication,” raised high a cup of ruby tender wine, revering human nature in the context of the supreme law of nature, the law of continuity, eternity or the Divine Principle. The mystery of life is nothing other than resolving one’s own finality, ascertaining how to be eternal.
(…) ’tis the morn; full of wine, a goblet make: The sky’s revolution delayeth not; haste make. Before that ruined this vanishing world becometh, With the cup of ruddy tender wine, us, ruined make. From the east, the cup, the sun of wine made appear; If pleasure thou seek, abandoning of the sleep make.
So said Hafez, certainly one of the greatest poets of all time, in the 14th century.
From Darko Petrović’s photo archive
S.V.: Béla Hamvas classified peoples by their preference for wine or brandy. According to him, the vinous peoples are the FRENCH, SPANISH, ITALIANS, GREEKS and HUNGARIANS. Since these assertions were made one hundred years ago, would Béla have revised his opinions today, keeping in mind that viticulture and wine production have massively expanded throughout the world in the meantime?
D.P.: Man is an integral being of nature. Everything that exists in the Cosmos exists inside him. At the level of contemporary inductive awareness, man is not even aware of this. A major barrier on this path is the illusion of the material world that man cannot break down by sensory and rational categories. That is why he uses his instinctive and intuitive cognition to find the way to his concealed essence, his permanence, by using an “unmoved mover” or stimulant. Here I am speaking in the context of wine or brandy.
Béla Hamvas conceived of wine as the “harmonious noble intoxicator” which has the power to meld one’s own consciousness into one’s own supraconscious and subconscious through a transpersonal act. Such an experience of one’s own totality necessarily conveys man to a higher level of awareness. This is why there is the saying “In Vino Veritas” or Béla’s statement that “ultimately only two remain, God and wine,” etc.
In this world of illusion, take nothing other but this cup of wine. In this playhouse, don’t play any games but love. – Hafez
Béla mentioned the French, Spanish, Italians, Greeks and Hungarians, and even us Balkan peoples in the context of vinous nations, because these are nations through which a culture of wine developed. But since awareness of wine as a harmonious beverage had not yet developed in the conventional view, Béla rightfully referred to this as a prehistoric era. Genuine history begins with the self-awareness that wine is a spiritual principle in the form of a harmonious beverage. As noble harmonic intoxication, it takes us ad hoc from materiality and sensoriness directly to our soul, our concealed totality, where we are one with the Cosmic Principle of continuity, in which dimension of higher awareness we overcome our own finality. For Béla Hamvas, wine is definitely the beverage of the eternal now, the past, present and even future now, “the Divine Potion.”
S.V.: What is wine, in essence?
The concept wine implies a complete synchronization of the wine’s structure according to its underlying spiritual principle of harmony. Everything else may not be called wine, but rather simply a vinous structure.
The essence of wine is to drink wine, and the golden rule of wine is: “Imbibe me in moderation.” Normally this is not written on the goblet, but it is etched into the consciousness. This means that one who is not aware of this is in no condition to drink wine. By literally fleeing from oneself, one conceals oneself behind wine. Many will say that the wine was weak, for it got them drunk. This is a blatant lie. Their addled heads got them drunk, to employ a humorous turn of phrase.
Both man and the grape vine contain the innate spiritual principle, that ideal principle of transmutation of energy, i.e., harmonized fermentation, which is why the civilizations of Antiquity, and even before, revered fermentation as something divine.
The conventional wine market, i.e., the wine mainstream, has actually only scratched the surface of wine’s essence. To pour wine on one’s taste buds, to perceive it, memorizing its physical and chemical parameters, and then spitting it out, convinced that they have perceived what wine is, that is impermissible from the standpoint of the wine’s essence. First, all physical-chemical parameters, the 1,350 that are known and the additional unknown two thirds, have a fluctuating and inconstant nature, and as such they cannot have any real significance. Because if they were real, if this were true, then every normal would produce ideal wine. Naturally, that can’t be. Second, we are only aware of a very small objective number of physical/chemical processes in interaction with nature that create new physical and biological qualities in grapes every year.
The primary, secondary and tertiary fermentation of wine express its variety, or pedigree, as an introduction to that wine. Time itself, as an absolute principle, has the power of constituting the harmony of enzymatic processes as the general and core essence of wine. Without harmony, wine is just a physical and chemical structure, pedigree as an introduction to the wine is still not wine regardless of how many components are structured. Why? Because only wine as a harmonic noble beverage has the power to synchronize the human soul. This is why wine is the Divine Potion. This is why the wisdom of Béla Hamvas, who fostered awareness of wine as the principle of synchronization, persists.
Thus, wine implies a condition in which all physical and chemical components, known and unknown, are balanced and harmonized to the maximum degree by the internal extrasensory spiritual principle of wine, the principle of time. Only such wine, guided by the wine-maker’s vision, his spiritual (emotion / thought / feeling) compatibility, his experience, instinct and intuitive perception of the extrasensory principle of time, or rather the principle of continuity from which he himself is structured, is wine. Only this kind of wine possesses, as I like to call it, the wine’s halo, as a confirmation of it as the Divine Potion. Without its halo, wine simply remains a physical and chemical structure of vinous pedigree. Wine as a positive set of facts does not exist, nor is it possible.
That individual who manages to become identified with the Divine Principle is called a saint, and that’s why the halo around his head represents the objectification of this principle as a general human good. That is also why the wine which manages to identify, or balance, all components of its structure, known and unknown, with its own deep-seated spiritual principle of wine obtains a vinous halo. A vinous halo is infinite tenderness, like the most perfect Chinese silk or velvet, that degree of synchronization in which all parameters are balanced to the utmost, where it is impossible at any moment to isolate one component from the whole, as every component expresses the whole. In nature only infinite tenderness constitutes the energy of eternal duration or continuity.
This is why in the principle of wine we revel in all of those wine-lovers and spiritual adventurers, who over endless sleepless nights melted into the harmony of wine, exploring their being and spirituality.
“Wine comes in at the mouth, And love comes in at the eye; That’s all we shall know for truth, Before we grow old and die. I lift the glass by my mouth, I look at you and I sigh.” – William Butler Yeats
S.V.: Do you agree with the opinion that a wine-maker, no matter how much expertise he has, cannot make a good wine if he is not a good man?
D.P.: Very simply, disharmony does not resonate with harmony, they repel each other, they do not overlap. Malice emerges in disharmony. If a disharmonic soul could make a harmonic wine, I am certain that wine would not exist. In other words, many engage in wine-making, but very few of them manage to make a harmonic wine. The career of a wine-maker is very short. It takes an average of 15 years to become a wine-maker, and in the remainder of that life such an individual can make a maximum of 7 to 10 harmonious wines. When contemplating the ideal wine, Rudolf Steiner correctly observed that wine needs about seven years to become a harmonious wine. Anyone can engage in wine-making without any problems, but there are truly few wine-makers. Thus, only a person who manages to reach a level of vinous harmony can be considered a wine-maker.
S.V.: The eternal theme: pairing food with wine. Before, certain stereotypical rules or principles also reigned here, but today, in an era of molecular cuisine, “everything is paired with anything.” Today presentations of wine without pairing it with an adequate dish are increasingly rare.
Both oenology and gastronomy rest on the same spiritual principle, the principle of harmony, or, in other words, the principle of continuity. One and the other only make any sense according to this principle. In the context of the human diet, both are truly the most sophisticated relationship between man and nature. The mainstream, or conventional thought, still has not come close to comprehending this. The phenomenon of pairing wine and food is only fulfilled in those attempts that correspond to the question of what to eat/drink, why eat/drink and how to eat/drink. And such attempts are truly quite rare. This set of problems is rather complex and deep and requires separate consideration. Perhaps we can delve into this topic on some other occasion.
S.V.: Yet another theme without end: women and wine.
The deepest sense of a woman plays out in her femininity. This is a supra-rational category imposed upon man, but exclusively in the experience, as the highest degree of harmony. Thus, femininity is the deepest poetic expression and as such the sole metaphor in the explication of the vinous halo. The halo of infinite tenderness. I repeat, infinite tenderness as the supreme principle of continuity, the sole energy which has a perpetual duration. I advise all women of the world: imbibe the harmony of wine in moderation and there will be no end to your femininity.
THE VINOUS SOUL
To you who partake of me, I now, with each droplet, give you my counsel: Do not become obsessed with the semblance of my formal content, But while consuming Me in moderation, seek your Soul in Yourself! In it, You and I are One. On this basis, all hearts beat as one! I remind you with joy that your existence is not just a mere fact, but rather a special gift! So, by drinking me in, you free yourself!
DARKO PETROVIĆ SKRADINJANAC
S.V.: And in the end, tell us please, where and how did your spirituality of wine emerge, and why have you been proclaimed a wine savant?
My spirituality of wine emerged from my twenty years of friendship with the young charismatic Skradin wine-maker Alen Bibić, of Bibich Wines, as an inspiration of the essence of wine and the spiritual principle of wine. In his wine-making charisma he unconditionally believes and is fully aware that absolute nature rests in each individual grape. This experience which he carries deep within himself, in his intuitive and instinctive knowledge, is that ultimate and deepest dimension that conceals his secret as a vintner. This is that dimension which conveys his wines toward the phenomenon of harmony. This is not a rational dimension and it cannot be taught. You either have it or you don’t. We are in essence two parallel worlds, of wine-making and philosophy. His mission is to make wine and bring it to full harmony, and my mission is to engender awareness of the being of wine, or rather its spiritual principle. This relationship between wine and thought is as complementary as it is not. But we have both, each in our own way, attained that level in which wine has truly opened its essence as the Divine Potion. This is probably the only winery in the world in which each drop of wine created in the vision and soul of its maker pours over into the spirituality and philosophy of wine. Bibich Winery is a small operation, but it has immense credibility in the world. Throughout this entire time, inspired by wine as the “Divine Potion,” we create friends of wine in all parts of the globe, from New York to Belgrade, in an authentic, spiritual, simple and unique way.
The nickname “Wine Savant” was given to me after a very successful presentation of wines in New York by Americans who were delighted by my spirituality and philosophy of wine.
Interview conducted by: Gojko Radanović