The Coming Taste of Wine

Tastebuds1 Over the years there were some people who, upon learning that I was a smoker, became very interested in getting me to quit. When they learned I worked in the wine business, they almost inevitably crafted a "stop smoking argument" that looked like this:

"Tom, you're in the wine business and really NEED to be able to taste and evaluate wine. How can you do that when you are layering smoke over your palate. If you quit, just imagine how much more sensitive your palate will be. Just imagine how much more you will get out of the wines you are tasting"

It's not a bad argument, but honestly my first reaction to it was, "hey, I can taste wine with the best of them. There's nothing wrong with my palate." The fact is, the most acutely sensitive part of my palate has always been its reaction to textures. I have long made determinations about wines based on the texture they deliver. Thinking about it now, this may be because my sense of smell and taste have been dulled by Pall Mall Light 100s.

That said, the anticipation that I will be opened up to a new world of taste sensations upon quitting smoking is a very strong motivator as I work through this transition from smoker to non-smoker. Unfortunately, by all accounts I'm going to have to work through a few other things first. Experts tell me that I'll experience the following:

1. Weight Gain
It's a result of feeding the oral fixation and, they say, the fact that foods now taste so good. I really don't want to gain weight.

2. Constipation
Wonderful!! Apparently, nicotine has a laxative effect.They say its a temporary condition. But that's all I'm going to write about this.

3. Withdrawal Symptoms
Yep. They nailed that one.

4. Irritability
I'm told I should avoid stressful situations for a couple weeks. Otherwise those close to me will be exposed to a touchy disposition.

5. Insomnia
A little bit of this has already kicked in. But there are good drugs for this, so I'm not worried.

After the constipation and irritability are gone, I should be in a good position to start to evaluate whether a smoke-free palate is indeed a better palate. As I type, I'm formulating a plan whereby I can test the idea that food and drink will taste better and be more intense once the smoke and nicotine no longer inhibit communication between my taste buds and my brain. I'm imagining putting wines of supposedly complex flavors in front of me and pairing them with foods that are said to both contrast and compliment the wines. I'll need to rely on palate memory to determine if there is a real difference.

I'm looking forward to this experiment

Quitting Smoking: Day 3 Update
The mind still imagines a cigarette between my lips and smoke rushing into my lungs. These are real, vivid images that turn into compulsions as quickly as the snap of the finger. Have consumed two small lollipops already this morning in fighting off these desires. Regular and very deep breaths help too, as does the consumption of copious amounts of water. So far, concentration is good this morning. Need distractions. Good ones. Really good ones.

9 Responses

  1. juegos de estrategia - October 27, 2009

    i dont want gain weight too!! +5kg hehe

  2. Phil - October 27, 2009

    Keep at it Tom, we’re all rooting for you!

  3. Thomas Pellechia - October 27, 2009

    After you find out about the palate thing, tell Andre Tchelistcheff.
    Oh wait: it’s too late for that.

  4. Dylan - October 27, 2009

    You can also combat any weight gain by making sure the foods you’re eating a healthful. Almonds are a great high protein, low fat snack. And, of course, exercise is a great distraction as well as a means to lose/maintain weight.

  5. El Jefe - October 27, 2009

    1. Sometimes a celery stick is just a celery stick. Carrots too.
    2. Drink more red wine. Keeps you regular.
    3. Know that these must diminish over time.
    4. Will anyone really notice a difference?
    5. See #2.

  6. Charlie Olken - October 27, 2009

    Eating lollipops will do more to dull your palate than smoking–which I gave up years ago at the “advice” of my wife-to-be.
    There are drugs for everything you are worried about. You will give up smoking but become a hypochondriac.
    We will still love you if you go back to smoking–but we won’t want to be around you when you do.
    I never heard that red wine keeps you regular, but what the heck, it can’t hurt to find out.
    It’s thirty-seven years since I quit smoking. It is about seventeen since I had my last cigarette. Fortunately, those occasional lapses never made me a smoker again.
    A frequent member of my CGCW tasting panel is a smoker. Among his claims are that a cigarette between flights reduces tannin build up. I keep suggesting bread sticks as an alternative to him, but he does not listen.

  7. vinosseur - October 28, 2009

    It is said that your palate will improve once you quit smoking. This being said, you will have to retrain your palate to taste wine, since flavors will most likely be more intense. I have known smokers (in the wine business) that when they quit smoking, had to do just that, learn to taste again.
    Stick to it because it will be worth it in the long run and of course the health benefits are obvious!

  8. peaches - October 28, 2009

    This is great news!!
    The insomnia, I’ve got you covered.
    Constipation? Heck drink more water and Fiber One cereal.
    Irritability? What’s 2 weeks?
    Do it without the patch. Those are devils in disguise.
    We will all be so proud of you!
    Perhaps its your new love? I hope it works!!
    We’re all behind you.

  9. vinska klet - November 12, 2009

    Really, cigarettes gets all the flavour out of the food. When i stoped smoking, even a simple cracker tasted better.

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