Just because we are wine critics does not mean we are not allowed to get pissed. There. I said it. Pissed. Drunk. Blotto. Gesuip. Mullered. Moertoe.
Call it what you will, but if you regularly partake in the joys of Bacchus, chances are you are going to get trashed. Not all the time. Perhaps not even occasionally.
But once in a while, after a little horizontal tasting, followed by a dinner where your hand nabs the re-filled glass too enthusiastically, thy shall be reminded that wine gets you hammered.
Yes, I’m talking to you. You, the creator of poetic descriptions for the ethereal, transcendental qualities of a classic Left Bank Bordeaux. And you, the wise taster who after a few sniffs, swirls and spits of an unknown wine can tell us the cultivar, producer, vintage and the colour of the underpants the wine-maker was wearing when the free-run juice was being siphoned off.
That’s you for you: have been pissed, could be pissed while reading this and will be pissed sometime in the near or distant future.
And no. There is nothing wrong with it. Actually, isn’t it strange that in all the prose written on wine, the “P” word is never mentioned. We judge the smell. The colour. The taste. The mouthfeel. The entry. The finish. The fruit. The sweet. The sour.
But never do wine writers bring in the effect on the sixth sense. Namely that calming, relaxed state-of-wellbeing which occurs once the tasting and sipping and swirling has been done and the alcohol has been flushed over that bit of grey matter called the brain.
The great Swepie le Roux of Domain Doornkraal in De Rust came closest. Whilst promoting his beloved Muscadel he would hammer on the importance of the drink’s affect on the psyche.
“Muscadel plays an important role in allowing one to ensure successful social encounters,” Swepie would say. “You arrive at a social event, and let’s face it ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ even if you know half the people there, you will never be at your best. Until you have a snort of Muscadel, of course. The alcohol and sugar give you a mental boost, allowing your brain to muster the correct amount of confidence and rational thought to make of you a successful presence at such a function, thereby assisting your contribution to society as a whole.”
Personally I can only really judge a wine after it has allowed me to ravish half its bottle. By then flavours and aromas have evolved. The body and structure have changed. Not only as a result of the wine “airing” or “opening up” ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ as the boffins would have it ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ but because all my faculties have now had the opportunity of appreciating the wine.
After three glasses, my brain has been perked by the alcohol, placing me in a substantially better position to holistically appreciate the wine’s complete set of intrinsics. This is, incidentally, why most people actually drink wine. Because after a glass or two, you like it more. Not only for its myriad flavours and aromas, but because the 12% to 15% of alcohol has transformed your thought, philosophy and frame-of-mind to a different state, one different from the first sip.
You deny, you lie.
So let’s hear it for alcohol. It is there. It is why we drink. It is why we like wine.
And I’ve never seen anyone saying “cheers” or “good health” before popping a double wheat-grass and cranberry smoothie.