It's cold season once again, and it's amazing how frustrating an arduous batch of germy bacteria can be -- especially if you have to use your nose for a living. I recently fell prey to the evil, stick-to-your-lymph-nodes cold that's permeating the Southeast, and for the first time in my life, tasting wine was something I dreaded.
Feed a cold, starve a fever? Or is it feed a fever, starve a cold? At the time, it didn't matter, since my nose couldn't smell anything and my senses were taking a three-week hiatus from their normally enthusiastic exploration of fermented grape juice.
Taste is completely related to smell. To see what I mean, simply hold your nose and take a swig of wine. It's kinda awkward, but you'll get the hang of it. You won't taste squat. Nada. If you're still not convinced, do the jellybean trick: 1) Hold your nose. 2) Pop in a brightly flavored jellybean and start chewing. 3) Notice the flavors floating on your tongue. 4) Before you swallow, let your nose open and notice the change.
So for the past three weeks, I've been lying prone on the couch, unable to get my job done. The army of untouched bottles stared me down every time I looked at them, derisively taunting me and my stricken palate. When I was finally released from flavor prison, I gleefully drank to my heart's content ...
and perhaps I need to continue.
A Spanish study in 2002 said red wine will actually prevent a cold. For one year, researchers followed the respiratory condition of almost 4,300 participants. Scientists surveyed their health, noting their average weekly consumption of alcoholic beverages and a host of other factors that might influence susceptibility to colds -- stress, vitamin intake, smoking, frequent proximity to kids. Compared to non-drinkers, men and women who downed an average of more than two glasses of wine each day saw a 40 percent reduction in their risk of developing a cold. Among those who drank red wine exclusively, it took only 8 to 14 glasses a week to achieve the apparent benefit.
But here's my problem with that: Aren't I living proof of the inaccuracy of that report? It's not like I don't drink red wine. But perhaps I need to be drinking more. Every day. Good news for all of us!
But I also thought that having a cold allowed me to drink all the skanky wine that has found its way into my collection. The gag gifts of Strawberry Hill, Mad Dog 20/20 and Mateus could finally go down the gullet.
Genofranco 2003 Nero D'Avola Sicilia (Italy). SW = 1. $10. Smooth, fun juice from this ancient grape from Italy. Light, bright raspberry and tart cranberry greet the tongue, with an underlying earthiness that follows up the sip. 3 stars.
Moon Dog Acre 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Southeast Australia. SW = 1. $10. Woody eucalyptus and dark, peppery red cherry define this wine. This is a full-bodied food wine that, after about 10 minutes, will open up into a chocolate-covered cherry experience. Fantastically inexpensive wine. 4 stars.