Sunday, October 23, 2022

Friendship, Alcohol & Your Best Life

uring the past three years, it seems as if time has slowed down. I know that’s not scientifically possible, but still something has changed. And as the world comes out of its self-imposed confinement, our values have shifted, at least for some of us. In the wine world, and most likely beyond, how we relate to one another, to material items, and our quality of life, they are all intertwined.

Three aspects are occupying my attention of late:


What an eye opener that has been. For one, when you change professions or transition from the working world to the world after, one undergoes a transformation that, like parenthood, there are paltry clues provided. I’ve talked a lot about transactional relationships on this blog, and never has it been more acutely shown to me that I have fewer of those types of relationships than when in the working world. Not complaining, just observing. It’s not like when one is on social media and trying to amass a load of “friends.” No, this is the analog version, slower, deeper and with less bullshit than the virtual ones. This is where you find out who is really in your corner, not just lobbing a 👍 for shits ‘n giggles.

Recently reading a book by Nina Totenberg, called Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships.Early on in the book she writes:

“Ruth didn’t teach me everything about friendship. I’ve had other wonderful teachers, expected and unexpected. All of them have taught me that friendship is precious, that it involves showing up, that it involves supporting and helping, that it is not always about the grand gesture, but rather about the small one. It is about extending the invitation, making space at the table, picking up the phone, and also remembering. Friendship is what cushions life’s worst blows and what rejoices in life’s hoped-for blessings. It can sometimes be as simple as a hug when the hug matters most.”

I’ve been lucky to have a couple of those friends, especially during the double whammy of Covid and retirement. I’ve also noticed that folks who I thought were my friends, well let’s just say their definition of friendship isn’t probably the same as mine or Nina’s. Unanswered emails and texts notwithstanding, many folks just haven’t shown up. What am I going to do, hound them? Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they can’t be bothered. Maybe their life is so full of other priorities. I’ve resolved to let ‘em be, except in cases where my not “showing up” could be interpreted that I no longer give a shit. I do, but I also know my ice cream is melting. I’m not chasing the impala across the savannah. It’s a fine line.


I never realized just how destructive the wine world was, and continues to be. Recently I was reading about an up-and-coming wine writer and on their “about” page they noted among their many interests in wine writing and wine tasting that they drank copious amounts of Champagne and Burgundy daily. I did a double take. Really? Not to be virtue signaling here, but it struck me oddly. Copious?

Alcohol is, after all, a toxic substance, and too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. I would hope an editor might take that person aside and suggest another word like “adequate” or “agreeable,” so as not to suggest that binging on wine daily is an activity we should aspire to.

Still, many of us yearn to feel better. And alcohol, like drugs, and sex, and power, and access, can impart exultance.

While wine has alcohol, it isn’t the reason for loving wine. But try and convince an alcoholic, especially an intelligent and well educated one, to buy into that proposition. To some, it’s simply irresistible.

I have a list in my head of all the people in my trade who died young. It’s a rather long list. Most of them were sudden, like a car accident or a suicide. But those who had an illness, the ones I talked to in their last days, not a one of them would’ve traded a day for a drink. The only copious amounts of anything they wanted were more days, more heartbeats, more life. Not more Barolo.

Your Best Life

These days it’s easy to see our “friends” somewhere exotic, with a bevy of wine bottles, presenting us with the latest version of their best life. Right now, they’ve finished with their romantic glamping vacations in Phuket and Porto Cervo, and now we’re seeing other folks who are bloodletting their Italian/French/Portuguese/you name it wine country trips. Great food, always with the best friends, in glamorous and serene settings. It’s like everyone has turned into Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen, and are tanning poolside at The Riviera in Palm Springs in 1969 - having the best sex, drinking the best wine and eating the best food - living their best life.

But even MacGraw and McQueen had to come down to earth from time to time.

Not so on Earth in 2022, where all we see is the bright side of the moon.

Look, we’ve all just been through an epoch that set the world on its side. And it isn’t done yet. Like I recently said, there is some major shit going down every day on earth.

So, I’m not buying into the “my best life” bullshit. Is it a deflection from the real world, an avoidance? Or, are folks just getting back to their life, as it should be? I’m just not picking up the tab for that version of reality.

So, saying all that, what in hell crawled up my ass, you might ask?

Simply, that I am re-evaluating life, starting with friendships, alcohol and living one’s best life. I want to keep and grow my deep friendships. I want to love wine, but I don’t want it to be my sun and my moon. And I want to explore what life has to offer, but with a mind to the reality that there are those of us, some of them friends, some of them in the wine trade, who don’t have the freedom and the privilege that many of us have in the Free World. I want to be more mindful of their plight and responsive to it so that they too can find a way, someday, to return to their best life, their friendships and their families. And, yes, over a table with fresh and healthy food, and where delicious wine flows again.



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