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Wine Appreciation and Alcohol Abuse: How to Avoid Personal Disaster

Vinted on March 15, 2008 binned in best of, wine appreciation, wine health, wine how to, wine tips
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

(images: brainboomer.com, jamieq.blogspot.com)

I work in two professions – Wine Consulting and Playing Rock Music – that pretty much guarantee that I am in close proximity to alcohol (and its potential abuse) a good portion of the time.

I love to drink. Specifically, I love to savor excellent wine (and beer), and admire the nuances, flavors, aromas, and overall artistic craftsmanship that a good drink can deliver. Most of all, I love sharing that experience with others. Wine connects us to a particular place and time, and connects us with each other – not just the place, time, and people that made it, but also the place, time and people with whom we enjoy it when we pop the cork.

And once in a blue moon, I like to overdo it a bit. Because getting buzzed with friends is, well, it’s just plain fun.

Notice I wrote “once in a blue moon” and not “every weekend.” In the rock-&-roll context of my life, I’ve seen first-hand what alcohol abuse can do to individuals, families, and even total strangers that come into unfortunate (and sometimes, in the case of drunk driving, catastrophic and tragic) contact with an abuser.

Genetics and personality traits are very important in determining anyone’s individual predilection towards abuse of alcohol, but it doesn’t help that cultural, and peer pressures (at least in the U.S. and the U.K.) tend to ridicule the appreciation of wine as snobbish, while at the same time aggrandizing inebriation as the height of fun in a social context.

That approach is completely ass-backward. I don’t have any pithy humorous sayings on that topic. It’s just so sad, stupid, and heartbreaking that I can’t make it funny and still respect myself.

Alcohol-related liver diseases (which are notoriously difficult to diagnose until they are advanced) have been on the rise in countries like Britain for years. Whether you drink or not, the rising abuse of alcohol (in the U.S. or the U.K. for example) is expensive for taxpayers and health insurance recipients who all help to fund health care systems that are having trouble keeping up without breaking their banks.

I’m not the first person to touch on how these dangers impact those of us in the wine consulting biz (check out this great series in Men’s Vogue for an example). But I thought I’d add to the on-line discussion by listing the tips that have helped me (so far) to successfully navigate the waters of wine appreciation while minimizing the damage to my liver (and my relationships)…


Abuse Is NOT ‘One-Size-Fits-All. Safe levels of drinking can only ever be approximate. While you may read that having 2 drinks per day is the safe average level of consumption for someone of your weight and gender, these generalized figures don’t take into account your race, family history, or personality type. You can’t treat these as hard-and-fast rules – your safe levels may differ.

All Things In Moderation. If 2 drinks per day is a safe limit for you, that doesn’t mean that abstaining from drinking for one week means that you can safely consume 14 drinks over the weekend. If you are unsure if your current alcohol consumption levels are safe, consult alcoholism.about.com (or, better yet, talk to your doctor).

Treat Professional Settings Professionally. I’ve written before about the perils of industry tastings, so I won’t repeat all of that advice here. Bear in mind that just because free alcohol is available to you doesn’t mean that you are obligated to drink it. When you’re at industry tastings, don’t forget to spit, and don’t use it as an excuse to catch up on drinking that you think you’ve “missed out on” in the past.

Don’t Punish Yourself. If you’re not an abuser, drinking too much once in a long while shouldn’t upset you (unless it’s caused you to do something that you regret). Nobody’s perfect. Just make a mental note to improve the next time. If needed, ask your friends for support. (If you are an abuser, or concerned that you might be headed in that direction, then falling off the wagon is a big deal and might need the help of a professional).

Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstances Drink & Drive. This one should be obvious but amazingly I still know people who do this. This is never, ever safe under any circumstances. If you suspect that you’re going to have more than your normally safe level of alcohol, get someone else to drive – no excuses.

Cheers!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #43 – Wrap-Up

Vinted on March 13, 2008 binned in wine blogging, wine blogging wednesday, wine review

Hey everyone – the wrap-up of articles for Wine Blogging Wednesday #43 has been posted over at the Wine Life Today blog. Check it out – the wine bloggers involved wrote some great stories and reviews for this WBW.

The topic this time around was “comfort wines” and Joel over at WLT has done a great job summing up the submissions. I’m also very humbled by the kind words Joel offered up describing my article. Thanks, Joel!

Apparently WBW #44 will be hosted by the venerable Gary V. over at Wine Library TV. God help us! J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! (just kidding, Gary).

Cheers!

Announcing "Tales of the Purple Monkey!"

Vinted on March 12, 2008 binned in Tales of the Purple Monkey, wine review


Inspired in part by El Bloggo Torcido’s Take Your Rubber Chicken to Work Day, as well as Jill’s plans to introduce a plush toy version of her wine bottle mascot at domaine547 – and, to be more honest, to give myself an excuse to play with my baby daughter’s plush toys (hardly fair since I’m raiding them before she’s even out of Mrs. Dudette’s belly!) – I give you Tales of the Purple Monkey.

From this day onwards, Purple Monkey will appear in all full-length post wine reviews here on 1WineDude.com, though it’s not yet clear if PM can write the reviews or not. Who knows, I’m always lookin’ for guest posts so I may give it a shot, or at least let him screech out his thoughts on the wine and note them after my review.

And come to think of it, screeching monkey howls will actually make my goofy reviews appear more professional and traditional in comparison so in the interests of selfishness you gotta admit that one is too good to pass up!

Purple Monkey does not yet have a name, so I’m opening that up to any and all readers. If you want suggest a name, shout it out in the Comments.

Cheers!

Oo-ooo-oooo-ooooo-ooooooo-ooooo-AAAAAAK-AAAAAK-AAAAAAAAK-AAAAAAAAAK! EEEEEEGK! EEEEEEEGK!!
(translated: Purple Monkey thanks you)

PLCB Manifesto (Oh! Glorious PLCB! Defender of Wine Monopolies!)

Vinted on March 10, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, PLCB
(image: deviantart.com & leinz.co.uk – seriously edited by Dude)

The follow excerpt is taken from an newly unearthed document, titled “The PLCB Manifesto” found unearthed under an old shed during a septic tank excavation in the outskirts of the PA state capital of Harrisburg. Or maybe not.

A spectre is haunting Pennsylvania — the spectre of Monopoly Wine Sales. All the Powers of old PA have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Wine Maker and Consumer, Retailer and Oenophile, Chester Radicals and Philadelphian “grape-spies.”

Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Monopolistic by its opponents in power? Where is the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Wine Monopolies, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

The history of all hitherto existing Wine Sales is the history of class struggles.
Grape-grower and glass sipper, wine retailer and booze purchaser, vineyard owner and restaurant-goer – in a word, dumb and dumber – stood in constant opposition to One Wine Retailer, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary non-re-constitution of the wine industry at large, or in the common miasma of free trade…


The on-line wine-buyer, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all child safety, and familial idyllic relations. It … has left remaining no other nexus between vine and drinker than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment” … for so-called fair prices, veiled by free trade illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation … Constant revolutionizing of interesting new wine styles & lower prices due to evil competition, uninterrupted disturbance of all monopoly conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the free trade epoch from all earlier ones … All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober (ha-ha) senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his vines.

When, in the course of development, wine choice and free trade in wine buying have disappeared, and all wine sales have been concentrated in the hands of One Monopoly Association of the whole state of PA, the public power will lose its political character. If the wine buyer populace during its contest with free and fair trade & competition in wine sales is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. Uh… wait a second, not sure I follow myself on that last sentence.

Anyway, we control your wine choices. We control your wine prices. We have limited your wine buying options because we know you best, we are here to protect you from the menace of free trade, fair prices, buying power, choice, and the deviance of competetion!

OH! GLORIOUS PLCB! DEFENDER OF WINE MONOPOLIES!

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