Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

My 3-day (un)bender

Posted by Richard Foxall, Oct 4, 2011.

Last week I noticed that I was drinking more, or at least as much as ever, and not really noticing a lot of nuances in what I was drinking.  (No, this isn't about an intervention.  Pretty sure I am handling my ETOH safely, although we had crept up to finish most bottles the first night.)  I decided my palate needed a rest.  So, for the last two days, I have had no wine.  For that matter, no beer or whisky either.  Tonight is the last night, so I'll brush my teeth with Jack Daniels in the morning... or not, but I will have a glass of something tomorrow. 

Anyone else done this?  Anything you noticed?  I don't mean just traveling and couldn't get anything good, I mean a deliberate attempt at seeing if it made a difference?

Any nominations for what I should "break the fast" with?  Can't pick a specific label, but assume I have lots of varietals and blends from most of the major winemaking regions, from the West Coast of North America (WA to Santa Barbara) and Europe from France to, say, the Canary Islands.  None of it is sweet, however.

I've probably not helped the experiment by drinking coffee (and eating a little dark chocolate), but withdrawing from caffeine would land me in a place where I'd never have wine again. 


Reply by outthere, Oct 4, 2011.

Nothing puts me back on track when things are getting unrecognizable like does a Turley Zinfandel. Just something about the Turley spice that wakes my taste buds back up. Considering the weather this week it might be a good call too. Due to the cold and rain I popped an '06 Cabot Aria's last night and am savoring day 2 as I type.

I've taken time off before but never more than 2 days. My wine needs me!

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 4, 2011.

I've gone through something similar latey.  Lot of parties and sub-par wines.  It's hard to keep grinding away like that, and instead prefer to seek quality wines even if less often.

I broke the streak of mediocrity with the nice new Pride Merlot 2009 over the weekend.  So i'll go ahead and recommend a Bdx blend with some Merlot in there.  How about the Little Montebello 08?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 4, 2011.

JD, that just showed up nearby.  I need to get a bottle.  But I have some good Zins around, and with this weather (outthere, JD thinks we overreact to the weather... but of course he's not being rained on while the grapes need picking), that's a good call.  I said no labels, but I can approximate a Turley with something in the basement, I bet.

Any more ideas?

Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2011.

I often take breaks like you've described. What most often causes it is a large Friday night that leads to a bad Saturday morning. I most often then don't drink until Monday or Tuesday. However, there have been other times when I've purposely focused on physical conditioning and stayed away for weeks at a time, sometimes when traveling but even at home. And finally, even without these special events I tend to want to stay off a day or two a week, though that probably actually happens about three weeks of the month, not every.

When I do start drinking again I tend to ease into it more than outthere's rad Turley attack (and you know it's time for a break or a checkup when you can't taste one of those). Un petit coup de blanc is the tradition I start with. A simple white at home before going out, or out already at a bar before heading to dinner. Still or sparkling. Then I reengage virtually all the time with a meal and whatever wine is appropriate for it.

And since there are so many hints in your post, are you actually concerned that you're imbibing too much?  ;-)


Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 5, 2011.

I did this at the beginning of September.  I felt like I had done nothing but eat rich food and drink a lot of wine during the month of August.  So, right after Labor Day I swore off wine and sugary food for ten days.  It was HARD, especially with my boss and the wine council tempting me daily.  ("Oh Laura, you have to try the new vintage of this Brunello, it's delicious!")

I found that it DID sharpen my palate when I started drinking again.  My first wine back was 2008 Retour Pinot Noir, and what an introduction that was!  (Retour is an exquisite Pinot.  Probably one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.) 

Let us know what you break your fast with and how it tasted.

Reply by 1 jayjay, Oct 5, 2011.

i have never tried this deliberately but some years ago after having words with who is now an Ex i poured

about £600 worth of booze down the sink to her horror and never drank again for about 7 years

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 5, 2011.

D: No worries there.  I enjoy drink, and probably do it more than I ought to, from the empty calories point of view, if nothing else, but, dealing with as many addicted folks as I do, I recognize that I don't have the cravings of an addict, nor have I done the kinds of rationalizing/hiding/poor performance things that go with that territory.  If anything cuts into my productivity, it's my addiction to socializing, even here on Snooth. And I have been known to take things directly to the cellar when my wife thinks I'm overaccumulating, but those don't get drunk.  Had a g/f or two with alcoholic parents and that convinced me that I don't want my kids growing up in that environment.

Having just had lunch, I'm pretty far from thinking about what I'm going to have--the gingery honeycake doesn't have a match in the wine or spirits world, IMO.  And, given my workplace requirements right now, I might have to go another day.  At which point, I wil have to go ANOTHER day to Friday, since I have a pot luck to attend at my daughter's school, and I'm pretty sure they have a policy about not having alcohol in the classrooms. I'll let everyone know when I'm done, and whether my palate is keener. 

Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 5, 2011.

I dunno Fox, some sweeter whites might go with ginger honey cake quite nicely.  A Gewertraminer (sp?) maybe? 

Reply by napagirl68, Oct 5, 2011.

When I go on a strict carb-free diet to drop some lbs quickly, I will avoid all alcohol for a stretch.  When I'm ready, I still return to my favorite wines.  The things I have noticed have more to do with generalities rather than specificity to a certain wine or varietal.  I notice the alcohol more... it can be a bit overwhelming at first, even in wines that I believe are not big on the ETOH nose.  I also taste the wines as "bigger" or "fruitier" than normal.  After a couple of days, those effects go away.

I also think I may be slightly reactionary to the histamines in wine.  My sinuses clear up during that time too. :-)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 6, 2011.

I think we all probably react to the histamines in varying amounts.  Even if I imbibe a small amount, my wife says I snore when I have wine, but not other bevs and not when I abstain.  Too bad she has had other sources of insomnia over the last couple days. She's going to be gone next week, so I'll imbibe with impunity then.  Of course, that will mean drinking alone, unless you count the kids, so what does that say?  (Actually, when she's gone, I use a beaker from my mom's old lab and parcel out 250 ml a night, so a bottle lasts exactly three days.  Gotta stay extra sharp when I am managing the banshees all by myself.)

BTW, had to come back to the office last night, and have a school function that included dinner tonight.  Looks like the Un-bender will go until Friday. But the thread has been fun, and worthwhile in its own right. I wasn't sure anyone would care enough to respond.  For that matter, I wasn't sure how many of us have ever gone more than a day or two without wine on purpose!

Reply by dmcker, Oct 6, 2011.

I stand by my earlier comment about your obvious concerns, Fox! They pop out repeatedly. ;-)

Had my first wine since Saturday night last night (that's Thursday over here, though come to think of it one glass of tempranillo did sneak in on Monday). Started with a glass of txacoli (still a little warm and plenty humid in Tokyo) at a tapas bar on my way to meet a couple people for steaks. Then had some Stump Jump (uh, not my choice...) with a NY strip.

The Txacoli was vibrant, and cut through the dust on my tongue from a long day of meetings pretty well. Stimulated my nose, invigorated my palate, and served as a perfect mentalmode-shifting catalyst. The Stump Jump was clearly recognizable for what it was, every bit of its nose and palate clear. Which basically means much more clearly lacking than if I'd had it day 9 of a couple of weeks straight drinking, mixed in with several other bottles....

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 7, 2011.

Okay, tonight's the night.  Chicken parm on the menu, so I am thinking sangiovese in some form.  Unfortunately, I don't have any chianti in the house. But I do have a few bottles waiting at Vintage Berkeley.  Guess I'll stop by before I go home.

Reply by napagirl68, Oct 8, 2011.

Foxall... so are you passed out drooling on the couch yet??? :-) :-)

What sangio did you end up having with that chick parm???

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 8, 2011.

Kids decided they wanted roasted chicken instead of parm, so it was the traditional PN.  We had a 2005 Maysara from Oregon that I bought from Garagiste.  A nice bottle, very Oregon--cola, lots of fruit, some oak but not a ton.  Not super restrained.  I've had it before, gotta look at my notes and see what I rated it, but I think it was not quite as good as before--not a lot in the nose, but the finish was good.  Wish I had opened it earlier, as it benefits from some air.  Alas, Kol Nidre and ballet and rushed timetables... Because my folks came over, we polished off a second bottle, a 2009 Banshee from Santa Lucia Highlands.  I thought I was getting into it too soon, but it was good, long finish, lots of fruit, all red.  I think it's a negociant in Cal that K&L works with, haven't seen it anywhere else, but very nice.  I'm going to take a look and see if they have more. 

I'm writing this, so I haven't passed out on the couch.  Even drove my wife down to the Paramount to go to Temple.  Traffic was insane--it's first Friday/Art Murmur, plus the Smashing Pumpkins, plus Kol Nidre, so Uptown Oakland is packed. No there there? Guess again.

Reply by zufrieden, Oct 9, 2011.

Temperance as a philosophy is bunk.  However, health is a good thing.  I would not not recommend temperance in love, intellect or passion - unless life-threatening.  And for the record, I am pretty sure that we all have the same concerns; balance is inveviatable in any biological organism.  Just try to remember that those visceral desires are part of you - they make you what your are - a person sensitive to those wonders available to the human anlmal.  Wine is a glorious thing that evolution has bestowed upon us to enjoy so... enjoy, but with a special responsibility to continue as a productive, useful human being.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 9, 2011.

Well said Zuf, i'm reminded of a tagline used by an old native american acquaintence of mine..."Walk in balance'll pay off sooner or later".

Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 10, 2011.

JD, I definitely like that tag line.  Moderation in everything leads to overall health, in my humble opinion. 

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 19, 2011.

Well, after Oktoberfest on Saturday and an impromptu but awesome dinner part on Sunday, i've taken to the 3 day un-bending this week in prep for Thursday's tasting.

I should expound on Sunday night...had a 2001 Valdicava Brunello which was stunning, even though the guy who brought it that it was slightly corked. He also brought a 2001 Chateau Montelena Cabernet, and the hose had a nice 2009 Sancerre. This kind of stuff pretty much never happens to me, so it was well worth grinding through a difficult and unusually busy work week.

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