We’ve all done it. There are those evenings after a bad day at work or school or whatever where the only thing that will get us through the evening is a drink. Alone.
There is such a stigma attached to drinking alone, for a variety of reasons. For one, drinking alone implies that you have no one else to drink with, i.e. you are a loser. Or, drinking alone implies that you have a drinking problem, i.e. you are an alcoholic:
But drinking alone is not in of itself a bad thing. It is a useful tool, one of the great friends of mankind. There are times when you need to take the edge off of life, or times when you just want to forget about everything and just get to the next morning as quickly as possible. Obviously, indulging in individual imbibment on a regular basis may be indicative of deeper problems, but then again, merely drinking with other people doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem, either.
And sometimes drinking alone is the best way to drink, as captured so eloquently by my favorite American author, John Steinbeck. In a scene from Cannery Row (which has been quoted a number of times here on Vinicultured), he describes Henri the Artist’s post-breakup ritual:
It had become his custom, each time he was deserted, to buy a gallon of wine, to stretch out on the comfortably hard bunk and get drunk. Sometimes he cried a little all by himself but it was luxurious stuff and he usually had a wonderful feeling of well-being from it. He would read Rimbaud aloud with a very bad accent, marveling the while at his fluid speech.
Yup. This sounds about right.
Drinking by yourself is not necessarily borne of sadness, anger, desperation, or disease. For instance, I drank alone yesterday, but there were extenuating circumstances. First, my girlfriend is on her way to Alaska (she’s halfway through her three-week relocation drive/bar trip). Second, I’m in Wilmington, Delaware (no further explanation required). Finally, I had picked up a bottle of wine from Moore Brothers Wine Company after a wonderful lunch with my vice chancellor, and I couldn’t wait for the weekend to try it out.
This bottle of wine was the 2008 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits from Domaine Olivier Rion ($22). I’m always in the market for nice, basic Burgundies–both red and white–and the associate steered me towards this one. I’m glad he did.
Hautes Côtes de Nuits, as can be surmised from the name, is from a hilly region just above, or west of, the Côtes de Nuits. This region has no premier or grand cru vineyards, and the entire region is the same AOC. It’s not as prestigious an area as much of the rest of the Côtes de Nuits, which means that you can find some terrific bargains.
I opened it up right when I got home. Light, clear color. Fresh plum on the nose. Upon sipping, I was immediately hit by bright, assertive fruit: cranberry and pomegranate. It had great acidity with a delightful mouth-puckering astringency. It ended with a vegetal, herbal finish that wasn’t unpleasant.
This wine went down smooth and was a sheer pleasure to drink. It’s not dark or brooding, and it’s not a thinking man’s wine. But at $22 and 12.5% alcohol, it’s a great wine to drink–alone or with friends.