Lest We Forget the Booze

Something we don’t talk about much, when we talk about wine: the fact that it gets us buzzed, and even drunk. The wine journey, as typically discussed, is about every single imaginable facet of tasting, smelling, growing, producing, bottling, and marketing wine, except for the all-important fact that it’s an alcoholic beverage, and that drinking alcoholic beverages makes us feel good.

Wine, in particular, has the power to make us feel very, very good—that blend of modest alcohol with deliriously beautiful flavors. It’s on my mind, I guess, because I drink wine every night of the week, often two or three (or many more) different wines, and although I do spit occasionally, and set up multiple-bottle tastings in which I’m trying only to taste, I also swallow. And my love of wine has a lot to do with the way I feel after I swallow, and swallow again, and swallow some more. It has to do with an end-of-day drink, and that sense of relaxation, and the way that relaxation opens me up to wine’s taste experience, and the way that taste experience draws me into more swallowing and more relaxation and a kind of welling goodwill toward the world and everyone around me.

But I also find myself palpably buzzed as I’m lying down to sleep—weighing a thousand pounds against my bed, talking happily to my wife, and quite aware that I’m a little bit drunk. And that’s when I start thinking about this whole wine-loving world we’re all a part of, and these magazines and websites we all read and share—Wine Spectator, eRobertParker.com, Decanter, etc.—and how they form, at their core, a community of drinkers, devoted to the pleasures of a uniquely interesting, healthful, and joyous form of moderate alcohol consumption. I guess I’m saying we might ask ourselves another set of questions about wine: not just how many flavors we can identify in the bouquet, but how it makes us feel, and what about our lives—and a zillion human lives, from time immemorial—sends us toward that feeling again and again.

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