Intellectualizing Wine…Just Do It!

My golf coach recently confirmed what I think I already knew: "Tom, you’ve got to get out of your head."

Translation: my proclivity to live in my head and to think too much interrupts my need to execute really well a body-driven activity on the golf course.

Thinking about my coach’s advice with regard to golfing, I realized that I’m going to have to work very hard to accommodate him, because I’ve always found much more pleasure in intellectualizing what I do than simply doing.

Wine and drinking is a perfect example. I can’t stand the idea of simply drinking a glass of wine and just letting it flow down my throat, letting the droplets fall where they may without thought. I NEED to think about what I’m doing.

Even today as I heard reports about the coming warm weather later this week and into the weekend, I immediately began thinking about drinking Pastis by the pool. But it’s not enough that I think about that pleasurable moment in the future, note that I’m looking forward to it and move on until I pour my Pernod on Saturday. No, Tom needs to think about the what this coming Pernod Moment means, what it reminds him of, what it says about the changing seasons, how best to enjoy that coming moment. And I’m not talking practical considerations. I need to think about what it means.

It’s a nasty affliction I have, this over thinking things, because it clearly prevents me from becoming a more accomplished Golfer. But I think it’s only a case of being a nasty affliction where physical activity is concerned, not where drinking is concerned.

If you don’t think about your wine (or drink) when you drink it, then it merely becomes and alcohol delivery vehicle. When you think about the drink, at least you have the opportunity to be a contemplative drunk, if not more.

But it’s really the traditions that have grown up around the production of wine and wine’s incorporation into local cultures that have made it the heady, intellectual libation it is today for many. Wine can be a cultural translation tool that happens to also make one wobbly. Any Culture, remember, is an entirely mental construct that starts with language, is grounded to territory and is at its best when translated for those who reside outside of it. All this happens in the mind. Wine is a near perfect translation tool.

It seems to me that to simply gulp the stuff is to negate the higher purpose that wine can serve. This notion might appeal to some as placing wine on a pedestal too high. I can see that view. But I can’t accept it. The fact that wine provides a marvelous springboard to contemplating people, places, dirt, history and taste makes it particularly worthy of being on a pedestal.

Now, my golf swing is another thing entirely. No pedestal for it. No explaining its often absurd lines either. Perhaps if I can learn to leave my head behind as I swing a club, it will create more room inside there for indulging in the pleasures of the mind where wine is concerned.

6 Responses

  1. Arthur Przebinda - May 12, 2008

    Wine is a far more rewarding – if equally costly – hobby than golf.
    Although, having tried it once, I can vouch for the cathartic value of taking 300 little balls which never did anything to you and bashing the hell out of them.
    Nicely written, Tom.

  2. Thomas Pellechia - May 13, 2008

    As I found myself saying recently over on my blog:
    Passion brings out the poetry in us; obsession brings out the dark side.
    For me, as long as thinking, dreaming, and talking about wine is from passion and not from obsession, then I’ll remain happy.
    As for golf: I’ve engaged in a number of sports over my lifetime. That particular one produces more drowse than a bottle of wine and six sleeping pills…

  3. Heloisa Fialho - May 13, 2008

    I agree, quality wine is worth pondering.
    However, and mostly for people like me, with “shallow pockets” (i.e. not able to enjoy quality wine), sometimes we just need to unwind after a hard day or find ourselves alone reading a good book in a cold rainny afternoon – and in such occasions wine is to me more than an “alcohol delivery vehicle”: it’s a mate.
    “A contemplative drunk”: hilariously true!
    Quality writing, as usual.

  4. Rich - May 13, 2008

    You are on to a good point. Coincidentally, page D1 of today’s Wall Street Journal has an article on mindless eating. To quote: “Most people don’t think about what they’re eating — they’re focusing on the next bite,…I’ve worked with lots of obese people — you’d think they’d enjoy food. But a lot of them say they haven’t really tasted what they’ve been shoveling down for years.” The concept of “mindful eating” — eating just a few mouthfuls, and savoring the experience — is “far more satisfying than eating an entire cake mindlessly”. The approach has roots in Buddhism. You have brought this concept to wine. Thanks for your thoughtful post, awakened one! P.S. I also golf, but not as frequently as I taste wine.

  5. Jennifer - May 25, 2008

    I applaud your interpretation of wine as a near perfect translation It has been used throughout history as just that. In today’s environment the effectiveness of translation is directly related to the level of education the translator has. Your insightful article failed to mention the element of knowledge investment. I recently completed my Sommelier Diploma Program with the International Sommelier Guild and I must admit that it has been a life altering experience for me and my thirst for great wine.

  6. David Harden - June 27, 2008

    Am hoping to borrow your deadly succinct wisdom on contemplative drunkeness as a “Quote of the Day” on 7/3. Spent 20 minutes trying to figure out trackback, only to discover that Blogger doesn’t support it. Great post.

Leave a Reply