Keirkegaard & Self Medicating with Wine
Even more depressing than finding one’s self embracing Kierkegaard’s aesthetic life of jumping from transitory experience to transitory experience in an attempt to stave off a life of boredom, is the somewhat similar strategy of dealing with the boredom of life by pretending that self-medication with wine is actually the act of connoisseurship.
Every now and then you meet a person who at first glance appears to have all the signs of being a genuinely curious wine person who simply wants to experience the intricacies of wine; who wants to learn and learn through tasting. Yet you quickly discover that this person is merely using the idea of loving wine and what it represents as an excuse for regular consumption of alcohol without the appearances of being a full blown, card carrying alcohol.
It’s a very depressing encounter. And, it’s an encounter one surely has more than once if you regularly run in wine circles.
I had another such encounter the other day when I ran into an old acquaintance at a wine store. I went to school with this fellow. He was browsing through the high-end side of the Domestic Merlot category when our eyes met and we instantly recalled each other from another time. Lunch was demanded we both agreed.
This fellow knew wine. He loves wine. He loves wine so much that as our cars arrived at the restaurant together and parked he first directed me to his back seat, open a briefcase, and pulled out a chilled, half drunken bottle of Montrachet from a very good producer. He offered me a clean Riedel right there in the parking lot, poured me a glass and made me try it. NO…He made me drink it:
"Hey, it’s Montrachet, we’re not spitting."
This guy hadn’t spit since 1999.
At lunch he ordered three bottles of wine because, "they don’t pour the interesting stuff by the glass."
He drank most of them.
I got a call from him a few days later asking if I wanted to accompany him to the Family Winemakers of California tasting: "If you go toward the end of the tasting they’ll pour more of the ‘under the table’ bottlings’"
I’m not totally against the idea of self medicating…especially with Montrachet. But there is something altogether creepy about camouflaging one’s dependence on alcohol to get through the day with a veneer of connoisseurship.
Kierkegaard’s argument that most people’s lives are a struggle against boredom by jumping from encounter to encounter has the ring of truth to it. That’s depressing enough even without delving into the man’s observations of how to overcome this situation. What’s worse is when one person’s dismal and alcoholic-laden strategy for dealing with this dilemma makes your own legitimate interest in wine appear to be something just north of pitiful; something that could turn you into an old acquaintance if you aren’t careful.