In the middle of all these passionate discussions on wine, and all good things in life, I can't help thinking about something else - the potential hazard that comes with our common passion.
A friend of mine recently died. At the age of 45. The sadness is
difficult to grasp. He was a member on Robert Parker's bulletin board and posted
regularly, though not lately, as his passion in life - wine - turned
into a beast that finally killed him. He died an alcoholic. It wasn't just his
passion for wine that killed him but rather a combination of factors
that together created a negative spin on his life, where one thing lead
to another and where what was once really just a beloved passion seemingly
turned into the means to drown his personal sorrows with alcohol.
Something that finally killed him. Unfortunately very unexpected. I
thought of calling him this month just to see how he was doing. Now I'll
never get that chance. Maybe not until we reunite in some better place
one day and continue our passionate discussions on wine. Unfortunately,
it so much resembles a great but sad movie, Leaving Las Vegas.
I would like to tell you about my friend. He wasn't rich. But he spent
good money on some quite expensive wines because it was his true
passion. And...he didn't drink them alone but invited me and other
friends to share his passion. I remember him opening the 1998 Bollinger
Vieilles Vignes Francaises just for the fun of it, because he was
curious how it tasted and was eager to share the impression with his
friends. Or when he opened the legendary 1990 Giacomo Conterno Barolo
Monfortino, because Barolo made him happy and he wanted to surprise us.
Or when he opened 1998-2000-2003 of Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Da
Capo one evening, just for comparison. He was the kind of guy who, when
he had some good wine, was happy to make them come to good use by
sharing with his friends.
I think he enjoyed life most, from a vinous persspectve, when he had a
glass of Burgundy in his glass (and yes, the few occasions I've been
offered DRC at a dinner, it was at his home) or just a great German
Riesling and the occasional Barolo.
His path in life reminds me that we, passione wine lovers are no doubt a risk category in that our passion can turn
into a negative destructive force if we are left alone - especially with
easy access to alcohol since most of us have a wine cellar. It strucks
me that the line between a passion and a destructive behaviour can
become very thin and fragile when you bump into great personal
difficulties in life and start spiraling us downwards. And speaking of
inreased levels of risk, I also feel that we, more than the average Joe,
are exposed to another possible fatal finale of our lives from
the fact that although most of us are responsible persons who spit at
wine tastings when we happen to visit friends and travel by car, there
are those moments when we take some shortcuts because the wines are
simply too good to spit. Although we know we'll be driving home late at
night in the dark.
I mention this not to point finger to anyone but to urge everyone to
embrace our wonderful passion and live life to the fullest but at the
same time I want to say:
Please, take care of yourself. And each other.
And don't forget to use wine to celebrate life and above all...share good wine with good friends.
Finally, here's one for you, my old friend. I have no idea if you even would have liked this song but still, I picked it out for you. Please, rest in peace and if I ever
happen to come to heaven, don't finish all the good German riesling and
Italian Barolo until I get there.
I miss you.