Sunday, August 24, 2014

Drinking wine alone

Wine is about sharing. Sure – we all know that phrase. In wine it’s second nature to enhance the experience by sharing. Today’s psychologist and coaches speaks about how important it is that other people are witnesses to our life. We live stronger when we give something to other people and they act as a catalyst for our sensorial systems. Wine is no different. The joy of being with likewise passionate people is revitalizing. I live for this – it’s part of my wine loving DNA.

I couldn’t live without “sharing”. However the daily practicalities are of course producing some logic obstacles. We are (well I am) constantly frightful busy and always short of time. So I do actually drink a lot of wine on my own…well almost…technically its most of the times with my wife, but it’s the moments were I completely alone and decide to open a bottle a wine, I want to speak about. I also want to speak about why, especially big tasting events, is not always heaven to me.

Let’s go back to the month of May this year….

My wine mates and I (plus 3 other friends) were at one of my favourite restaurants in Copenhagen. Own wine – Chef table – Rock 'n' Roll. It couldn’t go wrong. But it did. I didn’t have a good time and not only did I have alcoholic hangovers the next day – I also felt like a melancholy zombie. When my brain started to function again, I started to put together my state of mind puzzle. Why did I feel so miserable? What went wrong?

There were three reasons.

Firstly – I often build expectations to an event like this. I am confident it releases some traces of dopamine and increases my adrenalin. That’s why you often hear the remark of people who look forward to events like this, as a child looks forward to Christmas Eve. Good or bad tasting…well often the day after feels hollow and slightly melancholic.

Secondly is a “demon” I have seen before, which relates a little to the first one. The demon is a kind of seven deadly sins – well at least three of them: Lust, Gluttony and Greed. Sadly there is a tendency, that lack of moderation can kill the intimacy for me. Erotic turns into porn. There are too many impressions to digest at a +20 bottle wine tasting with +20 courses of food and +10 people to talk to. You have to prioritize and somehow I have never succeeded to put together the perfect plan. Something has always suffered and killed the overall impression.

Third is a new “troll”. The troll is about different opinions. Despite I think you can learn a lot from tasting with other people and understanding what makes them tick, I am not always in the mood of constantly hearing their and my opinion on wine. Especially if it comes to just focussing on the most significant diversity of each other’s taste. Sure such a debate is interesting, but it requires time to obtain the important nuances. You don’t have that time at such events, where you have to focus on so many things. Sometimes I just want to “be there”. Catching up with friends, I might not have seen for a long time. The wine can even be secondary. It’s simply just about confirming your friendship. So it annoys me, when I sometimes feel in a situation, where I am forced to express my own opinion. At this above-mentioned tasting event there were such a situation. One of the attendees, whom I don’t know well, expressed his opinion about natural wine. He told me about a purchase of a mixed 12-bottle case (all natural wine), from an importer I know well. Now I don’t own or have a passion for these wines he bought, but I have tasted them before. He explained that half of them were good, 3 of them were so so and the last 3 were undrinkable. Then waited for me to say something, especially concerning the 3 undrinkable ones. It was like he had invited me to take part of a discussion, as he must have thought of me as an ambassador of both natural wine and the guy who imports them. So what do you say to that? I didn’t say anything. I didn’t care really. Leave me alone, dude.  

Drinking wine alone.

I love drinking alone. It’s peaceful and aesthetic. When I am alone with wine I can crawl into my own little cave. On one hand I pay attention on all the details of the wine and the ambience around me. Paying attention makes you see nuances, which is muted if you don’t pay attention.  On the other hand, I also like to be absorbed in a kind of no man’s land, where I don’t pay attention to anything. It’s important to create this bubble, which I often do by listen to music, watch a good movie or look in my many photographic books. Wine and the alcohol affect is not an escape from the challenges you have in your life. This is important to understand. Wine and alcohol is not the solution for a stressed life. I never drink wine, when I feel stressed. However I use eight hours a day crunching numbers and try to navigate and beat the financial markets. I simply get nuts, if there is not a contrast to this and have found out that wine creates a path to my other half brain and opens a window of creativity.

So what happens next - when the wine is in the glass and the ambience is set? We talk– the wine and I. Oh yes. I like to talk with the wine. Wine is like a small individual “person” and I see my role as someone trying to understand he/she/it. The only way to understand is to listen and make conversation. Such a statement sounds like mumbo jumbo – I know. Yet I would bet we each have our way of “communicating” with wine. The conversations are highly interesting. They swing from love at first sight >>> instant trouble >>> puzzled >>> intellectual >>> meaningless >>> eccentric >>> seductive >>>…….etc.

Sometimes it happens that the experience and the ambience created, takes my mind to an almost transcendental state. It’s far easier for me to let go when I am alone. Is wine a drug? I have never taken any drugs, but I imagine there are some similarities, when this transcendental mental state takes control. These moments come and go and shift in their strength, but at their peak, it’s at moments like these I feel most inspired in my life.

The silence and the intimacy are also magical. It’s again the relationship/conversation between you and the wine. Yes – there might be issues, which you don’t like about the wine, but then again you have something to “talk” about. The wine is not flawless – and so what? I am far more forgiving when I drink alone. When you taste wine with other people, I think we have a tendency to quickly conclude on aromatic profiles, use a lot time “nailing it” – praise those who “won” and quickly move on to the next wine. This is a big mistake if you ask me. The best way for me to understand a wine is after I have drunk a whole bottle of by myself.

Don’t ever give up drinking wine with friends, your loved ones and with other people – but don’t forget to drink wine alone either.