Sunday, March 15, 2020

[With all respect] A Personal Punch-List for the Quarantined

Right about now, 60 million Italians are most likely climbing the walls, with the Spaniards and the French lining up to do the same. Warm blooded Latins, emotional and often uber-extroverted (well, maybe the Italians and the Spaniards). With a lot of extra time on their hands, what can I offer them, from the perspective of one who about two years ago stopped my world and got off?

I got to thinking what would be a healthy and affirmative blog post in which my brothers and sisters in the wine biz in Europe could be doing right now to get through their time of isolation. So, let’s dig in.



[ Please note: This is in now way meant to minimize or trivialize the crisis many of us are in or will soon be in. Please know this is offered with the utmost of respect for our collective condition and is a way to temporarily find a path we can take from this traumatic time.]

1) The Coronavirus Diet – Now is a good time to shed some of those pounds you have put on from constantly being on the go, in a plane, doing a wine dinner and sitting at a communal table, where all of a sudden 12 appetizers show up (for a party of six) in those endless supplier/importer/distributor/client luncheons. Now you can breathe again, and regulate your intake. Fresh vegetables, whole wheat pasta, simple meals. Green or herb tea in place of the never ending (and usually awful) cup of espresso that really finishes off a marathon meal that you knew, going in, wasn’t good for you. But it was good for business and the relationships in the business, so you did it. And you did it, year after year. Well, now you don’t have to and you don’t have that as an excuse or a crutch. So, get out your notebook or your app and give it a whirl.

Note: two years ago, I did just that and pulled up an app called MyFitnessPal. And for two years I have been faithfully recording everything thing I eat of drink and because of that have lost 13 pounds. And kept them off, with more to come. Think about it, this is a good time.

2) Spring Cleaning – Well, it will be Spring in a few days, so why not start that task you have been putting off? Maybe your room, your closet, your office, your whole house or apartment, isn’t there someone in your community who could use some of the clothes and book and furniture and electronics that you have discarded in your drawers, shelves and closets? Start with what you wear and go from there. Are you really going to ever wear that custom-made suit that no one wears anymore? Maybe a poor soul who didn’t make it through this pandemic and paid the ultimate price could use a good set of garments to wear as he or she make their way into their next life? I know, that’s a little extreme, but now is time to think about those little acts of kindness that will help ease the pain of your neighbors and countrymen and women.

Shoes, especially for the homeless, who are on their feet most of their waking hours? Do you need five pairs of the same Nike walking/running shoe? Think about it. Lighten you load and give someone a leg up in their already challenged life.

And while we’re at it, how about your digital life? Isn’t it time to go through all those files on your computer and external hard drives and give them a good dusting? If you’re like me, you’ve accumulated thousands of documents from work, files, jpegs, press releases, emails and any number of things clogging up your lap top, that you have saved in the name of your “legacy,” that which you will be remembered for in the wine world. Well, let me tell you, that’s not how they’re going to remember you. They will remember the time you looked them in the eye, or when you offered a kindness, or maybe something no-so-kind, and all those things that aren’t “in the cloud,” but which rests in their heart - that’s how they will remember you, that’s your legacy. Not paper, not hard drives, but real, intangible, emotional moments. And if you’re like me, sometimes you did really good, and sometimes you were a real stinker. None the less, clean up your crap, you have the time now.

3) Feeding your mind and your soul – There might not be a cure for COVID-19 right now, and in that we are powerless. And for some of us, it will pass over, while for a myriad of our friends and neighbors, some will not be so fortunate. But you are alive, make these moments worthwhile. Read one or two or all of those books on your tablet or nightstand. Get through that trilogy, read everything you can get your hands on. Read to your kids, your mate, and elderly family member. You can help heal someone’s mind, maybe even yours.

And when your eyes get tired, you can always find a film you wanted to see on Amazon Prime or plundering the secret Netflix codes, or the Paramount Film Vault or Cinecitta Archives. There is a wealth of images, sounds and stories in which to fill up your soul and make you more whole and to get you from obsessing on every statistic that this pandemic is throwing at you. Look, either we will survive or we won’t. That is the deal we make in this life, to see how long we will make it. But, in the end, well that’s the point, there is eventually an end. No need to rush it or to be maudlin or morose about it. Find the resilient button inside of you and reset it – now.

4) Nature is the greatest healer – While Nature might be using this pandemic to heal herself from the plague of humanity, for those of us who have not anthropomorphized the Coronavirus, think a Nature as the great healer rather than the great destroyer. Do you have a garden? Isn’t it time to make it ready for Spring? Oh, you are isolated in an apartment? Do you have a patio? Can you plant, or prune the herbs in the pots, fertilize the begonia, the geranium, or simply watch the Wisteria as it blossoms or the Bougainvillea. It’s the beginning of Spring, take a walk in a country road (walk to the pharmacist in the town over from you, if you’re in Barolo, walk to La Morra. You’re in Siena? Walk to Poderuccio. You get the idea? Take your dog with you, they are innocent creatures. Or ride your bike and go visit a farm, get some fresh milk or some aged Pecorino. Support your farmers, we need them much more then we need the politicians. Or just “be” out in nature, walking on a path somewhere. This is part of your journey; you don’t need to curate it on Instagram right now. It can wait. Just “be.”


Look, you aren’t alone. It might feel like it. This might be the moment when you want to panic. But know this – we are in this together and this will pass. I’m not saying to go out and shake everyone’s hand and sneeze and breather all over everyone. No, be prudent, be sensible, and be careful, right now. But also have hope. This is a trying moment for humanity on Earth. But we will get through this together. And when we do their will be plenty of time for double appetizers, ridiculous amounts of wine flowing on your Instagram feed. But for now, just be in the joy of the moment - one that burns like an eternal flame. No virus can touch that.






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