The profussor has a question for all of you. This would be another great time, if you are a reader and have yet to comment, to speak up and let your presence be known.
When you eat dinner, either at home or at a restaurant, what do you have to drink? And what goes into that decision?
I am curious. Is it wine, water, juice, beer, milk, soda, cocktails, seltzer, tea, coffee, spirits, or perhaps you don’t drink anything? Do different beverages fill the bill at different times or with certain foods?
Since I am asking, it’s only fair that I give you a peek into life at the casa del fussy.
As I am sometimes inclined to do, I’ll start my answer several years in the past. One day, I was eating lunch at the house of some friends of the family. Their precocious daughter noticed something strange I was doing, and called me out on it. She said, “You don’t drink when you eat.”
She was absolutely right. But I never thought it strange. I would eat. And then if I were thirsty from my meal, I would drink afterwards.
Discovering wine not only opened up a whole new world of experiences, but it also changed the way I ate food. Still, change is never easy. In the early years of my wine journey I might have had a sip of wine before eating, and realized at the end of the meal I had barely touched my wine.
Seriously, I had to train myself to drink wine. I would take a bite of food, and try to remember to have a sip of wine. Take a bite of food and then another sip. Bite. Sip. Bite. Sip. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard.
The very act of introducing wine into my dinner routine started to transform me into a more thoughtful eater. I started to eat more slowly. I began to think more about how the food tasted. I stopped in between bites to take a big deep breath in to smell the wine. Deep breaths are inherently relaxing.
Sometimes the wines would be special. On occasion the wines would be very special. But for the most part the wines themselves cost less than ten dollars, and sometimes they would be less than five. Which is not to say that they weren’t good. They were, and some were very good.
I was never a fan of Trader Joe’s infamous Charles Shaw label that came to be known as two-buck chuck. Only once did I come across anything under than $4 that was any good, and that instance had to do with the closeout of a small winery after the proprietor died. But I digress.
The dinners themselves didn’t need to be special either. We had been told that champagne goes with everything. And we decided to put the axiom to the test one day when we brought in burritos. Champagne was a surprisingly good match with burritos. Although I have to say here that caviar totally overwhelms champagne. Caviar is really best paired with vodka.
Sadly these days I am not drinking wine as regularly as in the past. No small part of that has to do with losing a good source for very inexpensive but interesting wines. All-Star, BJ’s, Exit 9, and Empire may have a few deep discount values every now and again, but do not hold a candle to Trader Joe’s, Grocery Outlet, and sometimes Cost Plus.
But part of the problem is getting old. It would be challenging for Mrs. Fussy and I to drink a whole bottle of wine at a restaurant and make it back home in one piece in time for the babysitter. On local Albany wine lists I have not seen a lot of restaurants offer half-bottles, and I have had some bad experiences ordering wine by the glass.
Still, at least once a week we will have a bottle of wine with dinner. But regardless of whether we are drinking wine, beer, a food-friendly cocktail, or even just seltzer the original exercise of introducing wine with meals continues to have an effect on how we eat.
If drinking wine with meals is not a part of your weekly routine, I encourage you to give it a try. See what happens. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t need special glasses. It doesn’t have to be snobby. Just open yourself up to the sensory experience: the color of how it looks in the light, the smell as you take a deep breath in from your nose, the taste of fruit, and notice if it changes after you had a bite of food.
Should you need any help, you know who to ask.