A long time ago, they called Joey Buran “The California Kid.” His whole life prior to 1984 had been devoted to his dream of winning professional surfing’s most prestigious event- the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii. Above all he wanted glory, a modest payoff for his years of training and hard work. At almost the exact same time as his final heat ended, having just won, a tropical rainstorm moved through and sent everyone on the beach packing. Instead of victoriously hoisting the winner’s trophy overhead, basking in the admiration of his fellow surfers while thousands of scantily-clad, adoring fans cheered and waited for autographs, Joey sat on the beach- alone, and wet, and devoid of the praise he so desperately deserved.
I feel like that’s what happened in last month’s MWWC35 to the winner @thedrunkencyclist. His victory was eclipsed (yeah, I just did that) by a series of tragic events- wildfires in Sonoma/Napa, hurricanes in the Gulf coast, flooding in Europe. Allow me now to formally congratulate the winner, Jeff “The Drunken Cyclist.” Cheers! So what if even the most phlegmatic conspiracy theorist might be moved to investigate potential “home cooking” that allowed the creator of the contest to win the contest- transgression or not, I’d be certain the Russians were somehow involved! But it doesn’t take away from the fact that his modern adaptation of “Video Killed the Radio Star” for the wine world was a compelling piece and worthy winner.
Having not won, and not even being the “first loser,” a term us Gen X’ers spitefully refer to as second place, I’ll probably receive some kind of participation trophy GIF that I can paste on my non-existent blog. And if there is a silver lining, it’s that I won’t have a sophomore slump (this being my second entry and all, and technically, to slump you need something to slump from). I’m stalling because where do you start with a word like environment, especially in terms of wine?
I’m guessing the smart wine folks will write about environments, micro-environments and seemingly endless combinations of environmental factors, both natural and made-made, that affect growing, harvesting, and vinification of wine grapes. Some might even discuss the distinct environmental subtleties of wine markets as they relate to manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers. Still others might tackle the elephant in the room- The Environment. And I’m going to let them, because they’re more qualified. I would just end up throwing the word terroir around a bunch of times and boast about how I know the addresses and hours of operation of every wine and liquor store within a 100-mile radius from my house- impressive I know, but hardly the stuff of winning wine writing.
The environment I want to talk about is unequivocally the most important of all environments and arguably most influenced by our choices. The human body- unique, complex, adaptable; harboring trillions of tiny living organisms and more importantly, a final dumping ground for wine produced as a result of all those other environmental factors I mentioned above. Ecologically speaking, our bodies are not environments but rather ecosystems- who am I to split hairs (technically, The Environment is also an ecosystem)? Both are often used interchangeably, and if they weren’t, there would be no basis for my article.
What happens when we introduce wine into our bodies? Some people (likely drinkers) laud the benefits- reduces risk of heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cataracts and colon cancer while boosting the immune system, bone density, cognitive function brain function and longevity. Oh, and it’s great for your skin! The thing is, no one can really prove it. Sure, the statistics are there, but as a former university professor of mine always said, “Statistics are like bikinis- what they reveal is provocative, but what they conceal is vital.” And the vital part here is that wine needs to be drank in moderation. By moderation I mean 1 glass daily for women and two for men, and by glass, I mean 4 ounces, and by 4 ounces I mean significantly less than you or I normally pour ourselves.
So, the question is, how do we moderate our wine drinking in order to achieve maximum benefit to our bodily environment, especially those whose financial livelihoods come from drinking wine? The temptation to overindulge is ever-present, but fear not, through years of trial and mostly error I’ve developed a highly effective, albeit non-proven strategy to make sure we don’t overdo it. I call it:
ON THE LEVEL
I’ll describe each briefly below using “Manifest Result” which is what you achieve on the surface, and “Latent Result” which is the underlying byproduct of following these instructions. Let’s begin:
M – MORNINGS
Mornings are for coffee. Don’t drink wine before noon and for the love of all things holy, stay away from wine-infused coffees.
MANIFEST RESULT: You’ll end up drinking at least 3 cups of coffee
LATENT RESULT: Jitters (but that can also be from lack of wine)!
O – ON THE LEVEL
Be honest with yourself . . . and others. Why are you drinking wine? Because you like the taste? To get drunk? To impress someone?
MANIFEST RESULT: Any psychologist, at least the ones I pay for, will tell you the sooner you come to terms with the “why,” the easier it is to limit your intake to a healthy level
LATENT RESULT: Being honest is generally considered a good thing and will likely help in most of your relationships
D – DRINKING PARTNER (that’s Drankin’ Patna if you’re T-Pain)
If you find yourself alone in the dark, drinking whatever you have, straight out of the bottle that you hid under your bed, you’re not going to be successful in moderating your consumption. Don’t drink alone. Find a drinking partner, set firm ground rules, and drink together.
MANIFEST RESULT: You’ll be accountable to each other. It can be all about the wine and not the drinking. In addition, it’ll stop you from drinking on those days when nobody’s around.
LATENT RESULT: Doesn’t hurt to pick an attractive drinking partner. Anytime wine is involved there is potential for tomfoolery (wink, wink).
As often as you can, pair your wine with food, even if you don’t know all the “how-to’s.”
MANIFEST RESULT: You won’t just be consuming alcohol
LATENT RESULT: You’ll find that wine enhances your meal, and you’ll eventually learn what wine/food pairings best suite your tastes
R – ROUTINE
Commit to an exercise routine 3-5 times a week, preferably early mornings.
MANIFEST RESULT: If you know you have an early work out, you won’t be boozing heavily the night before
LATENT RESULT: You’ll get all buff, and get checked-out by other buff people at the gym- who doesn’t want that? Plus, it’s good for your body’s environment
- A- AGUA
Drink water- a lot of it throughout the day. No need for further explanation.
T – TASTING
If you’re going to do wine tasting, make sure they’re public tastings- you can still invite your drinking partner, but make sure there are plenty of other people there too.
MANIFEST RESULT: Peer pressure at these types of events insures that most people initially spit out the wines that they taste, at least for an hour or so. After that, it generally digresses to no-holds-barred.
LATENT RESULT: By spitting wines out, you may actually be able to taste and analyze wines beyond the second glass.
E – EDUCATION
Learn about the wines your drinking- the grape(s), origin, year, terroir (you knew I’d get one in there), etc. I call this “Let’s Play Doctor.” Doctors see people naked every day. We take comfort in thinking that they’ve extensively studied private parts and they’re not weird about it. And while they can appreciate the beauty of the human form, first and foremost they’re learned professionals with a job to do. Play doctor when it comes to wine.
MANIFEST RESULT: You’ll find it’s more about the wine than the drinking
LATENT RESULT: You may learn to better appreciate the wines you’re drinking the more you know about them