No words can express the unbelievable joy that I felt last fall when my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first child.
Then came the dreadfully sobering realization that I would be taking a nine-month break from drinking wine.
As the tasting director and senior editor of a wine magazine, one can understand how this might be a challenging notion. Would I still be able to do my job if I couldn’t drink? How would I handle meeting with producers and attending wine events when I couldn’t enjoy the stuff?
The answer was simple, and it brought me back to a frame of mind that I’ve always appreciated, but had somewhat lost sight of as the hedonistic pleasure of consumption gained hold.
Simply taste. Not drink. Taste.
For any wine lover or professional who has taken a hiatus (be it medication, waistline, or like me, a bambino on the way), the reminder that you don’t need to actually consume a wine to enjoy it can be a revelation.
As a wine professional, I was already blind tasting and spitting in the tasting room and at many events. But I was reminded that without the pure enjoyment of consuming a great wine, I paid extra attention to the nuances and complexities that each bottle had to offer.
My senses were heightened, my palate sharpened. My sensory bank was on overload identifying myriad aromas and flavors, weights and textures. I could fully concentrate on a thoughtful analysis of the wine, paying greater attention to each detail and lending better explanation to what I was experiencing with each sniff and sip (and then spit). My senses were never dulled, and my vocabulary remained on point.
Colleagues and fellow diners were overwhelmingly positive, too, appreciating my continued enthusiasm for wine despite looking like a walking house. Only one upscale restaurant scoffed at me for using my fancy personal spittoon at the table, citing a “disruption of the fine-dining aesthetic.” Oh well.
I’ll likely repeat this hiatus now and then—though probably not for nine months—as a reminder to focus on the beauty in every glass to be shared, no matter the situation. And to remember, pregnant or not, that simply tasting good wine is often good enough.
My Comeback Pours
Il Poggione 1997 Riserva (Brunello di Montalcino). Missing my late father and wanting to celebrate my son’s birth with him, I turned to one of the last bottles from his wine collection. I paired it with my first piece of rare meat following my pregnancy.
Louis Latour 2002 Corton-Charlemagne. I’d been holding on to this beauty for a while, and that first post-baby lobster was the perfect pairing for this lush, nutty, golden gem.
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Who said it had to be all wine, all the time? This creamy, chocolaty, roasty pour was a bull’s-eye for my first beer back.