Ramblings: wines for sad times

We drink wine for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, we drink to celebrate life. Champagne, usually. Other times, we share a special wine — perhaps a Cabernet that has been patiently cellared — to mark the reunion of great friends. A rarity, ideally unpronounceable, would nicely convene a gathering of wine wankers eager for novelty and each other’s fevered impressions. Indeed, I can think of a wine for most occasions, which is part of the drink’s pleasure.

Wines to accompany sadness, though, are in short supply. In such times, one might hit the bottle for its function rather than aesthetic. And fair enough; we’ve all done it. Haul out a fortified, then, for its unctuous caress and spirited comfort. Or swig an obscenely overripe red whose stressed flavours echo the self-destructive desperation with which one, in more private moments, might reach for a corkscrew.

Ah yes, now we’re getting somewhere! Dulling the senses, however, seems to me a missed opportunity. Surely my intrepid journey into the aesthetics of wine would be incomplete without at least trying to find a true depression wine match, ideally as satisfying in its own way as manzanilla sherry with sardines, or Cabernet with rump steak.

So last night, finding myself in a suitable mood for such exploration, I cast my eye around the study in a frantic yet stylish search for candidates. A young, unoaked Cabernet briefly looked promising, more as a competitor to my sadness than as a true companion. In a similar vein, my fucked-up student wine called out, and for a moment I wondered if its myriad technical faults have reached the point where they are now cancelling each other out.

Everywhere I looked, wines leapt forward only to quickly fall back into the reject pile. Giaconda Ergo Sum Shiraz? Tempting, but I couldn’t possibly have done it justice and, as a gift from Chris, I’d have felt worse the morning after for wasting it on my own self-indulgence. A sharp, sculpted Riesling usually hits the spot and seemed the responsible choice. After all, no-one actually gets hammered on Riesling. There’s something about such precision, though, that can steamroll we of a more obviously flawed humanity. Next! Bottle after bottle, I went through everything in my makeshift cellar and found nothing I could bear to open. I would have ruined the good wines, and the bad wines would have ruined me.

So I went to bed without so much as a sip of anything, and woke up the next day — today — with a clear head. Perhaps I found a suitable match after all.

7 thoughts on “Ramblings: wines for sad times

  1. Julian,

    I trust the blue patch is fading and temporary. I think your suggestion about sleep minus alcohol is the most sensible, though I’ve been known to follow one of your earlier suggestions and sip at a fortified, usually while reading a good book. To me the weight and warmth seems to do the trick, along with the thought of the warm summer that produced such a wine.

    • Hi Edward,

      Thanks and yes – they never last very long with me. Just long enough to listen to some Joni Mitchell and really, truly understand her. 🙂 This post seems hopelessly self-indulgent now, but I’ll leave it up for posterity and potential blackmail opportunities.

      Lacking any decisiveness regarding wine, I actually retired with an episode of True Blood, which would have certainly gone better with a nice Muscat. Next time…


      • Julian, I’m sorry that Joni herself wasn’t sufficiently ameliorative in the circumstances. As her #2 fan reportedly once said to her: “before Prozac there was you!”

  2. I, for one, don’t consider this post self-indulgent. I think it adds yet another important level to the overall aesthetic of wine appreciation.

    The problem I have is in the comments. True Blood needs the crassness of a cheap Tawny. A muscat won’t cut it 🙂

  3. …and I’d argue that sad times can sometimes require large amount of memory destroying tequila.

    I can see the attraction in Muscat though. Self indulgent, warming but also life affirming. Ticks lots of boxes.

  4. Indeed Amelia is ameliorative. Though Joni herself has a tendency to self-indulge in her lovelorn (or loveworn) lyrics.

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