A disturbing, yet factual, feature of the modern world is the disappearance of the wine-fuelled lunch. Perhaps a glass or two is imbibed at a week-end midday nibble or on workdays by office-types who had received their retrenchment notice at 10.00. In which case the drinking will start before the restaurants open.
Returning to the office aprés lunch with a spring in the step and Merlot on the breath is these days about as acceptable as asking the new girl at accounts if she buys her underwear at Fruit&Veg City. Hence the daylight lit restaurant tables featuring – only – glasses of mineral water or Coke Zero instead of the row of red and white wine bottles and bowled glasses, like they used to in days of yore.
A drink or two at lunch is, however, as civilised as it has always been, namely for the past 6 000 years. For the following reasons:
- Wine tastes better at lunch: At 12.30, your palate is still alive and alert, inquisitively probing for flavour and excitement. This is why that glass of cool Chardonnay or brooding Shiraz exposes its full spectrum of tastes and aromas to a lunch-time diner. Said diner is, thus, at the midday meal able to truly appreciate the wine as well as the magnificent manner whereby it complements the food that has been chosen to accompany it. Later in the day the case is much different. For by 18:00 one’s palate has been subjected to the sensory-deadening onslaught of myriad foodstuffs and liquids. All that coffee, the wolfed-down sandwiches at the office desk and the pellets of chewing-gum have splashed and trodden all over those delicate taste-buds. The senses are tired and overfed and sated, leaving little with which to assess a fine glass of wine. Because the bright-side of day was far better for them.
- Stomach juices: The stomach consists of a complex set of linings, gut and nerves, with especially the Oriental societies believing it to be the most important physical feature after the brain and that these two biological fundamentals are related. With its thrust of acidity and its life-affirming zest, wine has proven to be a healthy and ideal way to perk-up that sleepy gut of yours which has been lying coiled and drowsy after the morning’s stodgy bowl of Corn Flakes and milk. Pouring two sips of fresh Sauvignon Blanc or Grenache Rosé onto that pile of guts, tissue and fat sitting in your belly instantaneously wakes-up the stomach, allowing it to continue the rest of the day in a state of rude health which should culminate in the next morning’s spectacularly satisfying bowel-movement.
- People look better: One of the reasons for a day at the office being approached with a sigh of trepidation and the onset of slightly grey melancholy is the prospect of enduring the presence of those irritating pricks with whom you have to spend the day working. The sweating financial director with garlic breath grimly requesting explanations of your expense account. That detailed-obsessed secretary, lined with fine facial hair, who keeps asking you to redo the PowerPoint presentations you crafted for the Creative Director. The messenger in the hoodie and with the neck-tattoo who insists to, at every instance, ask for a loan to buy the latest Manchester United soccer-shirt – apparently for his ailing grandmother.
- Well, there is nothing that a three-glasses-of-wine lunch cannot do to sort this bunch out. The warm glow of alcohol-paired Pinot Noir or Riesling does not only put a lift in your mood and an ease in your disposition, but also makes the world – including those three miscreants – brighter, happier and better to be in. And if that does not boost your own productivity, nothing can.
- For moderation: Ironic as it might sound, lunch-time drinkers are actually more restrained in terms of total alcohol-consumption. This is because that half-bottle of wine at lunch sends a message to the central nervous system alerting it that its human-owner has begun its daily alcohol-intake. When said human arrives home, the bout of earlier drinking will have a profound effect on the imbibing set to occur for the rest of the evening. Had the human not consumed any wine at lunch, said person – tense, tired and thirsty from the day’s toil – will jump onto the bottle like an Ace Magashule protégé on a BEE tender. What will follow is big, fast drinking of the substantial kind leading to an overall increased intake of liquor with all those known negative long-term health and socially unacceptable effects.
The lunch-time drinker, whose senses have already met with the day’s wine intake, tends to take a more controlled, tempered and relaxed approach to the bottle resulting in more moderate and easier drinking of the totally civilised kind.
Bon appétit and cheers. To the world.
- Earl Dexter
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