Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 8.30.07

Yeah, sure, wine is good for you, but are you good with wine?

Stop the presses! New headline: Good wine correlates highly with the probability of concupiscent conjugation! (Translation: enhances chances of getting laid.)

(My editor, when I read her my lead, came back with, “Does anybody NOT know that?” Swell. Way to spike a scoop, Chief.)

Sillyshit, of course. Actually, I was just getting tired of all the hoopla about wine and health: Wine protects against heart attacks and strokes, delays the onset of Alzheimer’s, extends life, prevents tooth decay, treats male-pattern baldness, even cures bad taste in music and clothes. OK, those last couple I made up, but the point is that all this yak about wine and health is certainly well and good for an aging population — in fact might be very happy news indeed — but it fails to get at the essential driving forces of species success, the burning issues of reproductive youth: Will good wine deliver better sex?

Sadly, definitive certainties are not on the table just yet, but surely social scientists will be leaping at research grants as they become available. But even before the learned pros launch their studies, I’m willing to wager heavy dough that wine (good wine) will prove itself a stronger predictor of procreative scoring than, say, beer (even good beer) — after, naturally, statistical weighting for the vast amounts of money and hormone-driven anxiety expended by fraternities and sororities in colleges across America in stocking “keggers,” most of which probably produced, statistically speaking, huge numbers of hangovers and very little actual sex. I’m also willing, if some street-savvy scientist will calculate the correlations, to wager that good wine succeeds in generating hoppin’ hook-ups more often than even brand-new Bully Dog exhaust or diamond-cut spinners on the hooptie.

In the competition of copulative corollaries, wine, I’m fairly sure, will score well relative to various other substances, with some reservations for those new designer drugs intended strictly to facilitate the making of “the beast with two backs” (nasty image, perhaps, but of Bardly vintage). Wine has some advantages, admittedly, particularly its long and venerable history, reaching back into the dim mists of pre-civilization and continuing through the hands/heads of scads of our greatest philosophers and poets.

Wine has biblical, even pre-biblical, roots. Wine probably originated, heaven-sent, in or near the Middle East and spread rapidly through the Mediterranean, transforming lives and culture as it went. The Greek pantheon of gods included Bacchus, god of wine, and offered women their own celebration of wine in the annual Bacchanalia, a time to drink and get riotously rowdy (vestiges remain in certain Spring Break rites where, according to rumor, some folk actually do get laid).

Without getting too tangled in sectarian orthodoxies, suffice to say that most of the Abrahamic religions disapprove of sex (strongly, outside of marriage) and wine (variously), but the connection between wine and religion did result in some positive outcomes relative to sexuality. For one example, a good Catholic monk, Dom Perignon, is credited with the insight that led to the all-time, number-one vin d’amour, Champagne (and arriving at a party gripping a brace of Dom Perignon bubbles still correlates favorably with probable success in getting bedded with a warm body). On making his discovery, the saintly Dom cried, “Come quickly, I am drinking the stars.” Too, a kind of subterranean view of the connection between God and wine has persisted through the ages; the great American patriot and inventor Ben Franklin is on record as saying “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” And we like the hoary Russian proverb: “The church is near, but the road is icy. The bar is far, but we will walk carefully.”

One of the classic scoring lines is attributed to Omar Khayyam in the Rubaiyat: “A loaf of bread beneath the bough, a flask of wine, a book of verse — and thou.” A shortcut is offered, for the reading-challenged, by Robert Louis Stevenson: “Wine is bottled poetry.” Shakespeare, vintage Bard, suggests possible supplements to the wine: “Love is a smoke made by the fume of sighs.” We’re wondering about the smoke part; might be another study. Still, the “loaf of bread” raises a flag.

Wine works its wonders with good food, inducing all its best health-enhancing effects and, most important, revealing flavors and hidden charms. We suggest a variety of nibbles: tray of toast rounds and little jar of black caviar, maybe Kalamata olive tapenade, fresh tomato bruschetta, selection of mild cheeses, assorted cold meats, maybe a few grilled veggies on a plate. Obviously, doses of garlic and onions are counter-indicated. And nothing too heavy; the goal here is neither paralytic intoxication nor post-feast slumbers. We seek to appease hungers of the belly and encourage hankerings of the heart.

If the ends are clear — a glorious snogging — means might be hazy. And if wine is the adjunct method, the question lingers: Which wine?

Clearly, cheap wine, like cheap beer and gaggy aftershave, will most often fail miserably, resulting in an early night and aching researches into self-relief. Start with a commitment to highest quality allowed by budget and/or credit. Then, know or discover the tastes of that person who stirs your yearnings.

• Great Champagne (no cheap shit) opens intimate conversation like no other drink; the best are airy in effect, subtle in flavors and recognized reducers of inhibitions. Cate Blanchett: “Can I have my Champagne now?” We clear?

• Novices to wine tend to like whites with a touch of sweetness; good German Rieslings or tasty Gewürztraminers with a couple points of residual sugar could be the entry.

• More advanced tastes invite Big Reds — cabernet sauvignon, syrah/shiraz, merlot — but for punch-per-ounce nothing rivals a monster zinfandel, which offers the added bonus of higher alcohol levels.

• Certified sophisticates: You’ve seen the film Sideways. If Miles can make it, anybody can, and pinot noir is the bliss-bringer. Great pinot is also gender-loaded, with descriptors like “robust, masculine” or “delicately feminine.” Sexist B.S., sure, but other virtues abound; pinots are low in acid, easy to quaff, cozily versatile with various nosh.

Couple of caveats: Wine comes with warning labels — women who are preggers ought not drink, don’t drive, like that — but no notes bearing on critical issues of erotic outcomes. However, libertine lore reminds us that too much wine may have deleterious effects, particularly on male performance, and no one wants to hear another whining lament about lust’s labors lost. Moderation is the by-word. Ignore the words of poet John Osborne: “It is widely held that too much wine will dull a man’s desire. Indeed it will, in a dull man.” Don’t run the risk. (And note that performance-enhancing drugs don’t work well with excessive drinking; might get hopes up but little else.) Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, wrote, “Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.” Crooner Julio Iglesias, of all people, brings us home: “Love is like wine. To sip is fine, but to empty the bottle is a headache.”

Good health and good loving: Clearly, wine offers the cure for what really ails us.


SWITCHIN’ IT UP FROM THREE-BUCK CHUCK Wine 101: A course for the newly legal

TASTE OF THE TOWN Cleanse your palate and get to know your local winos

WINE AND SEX: STARTLING REVELATIONS! Yeah, sure, wine is good for you,
but are you good with wine?

WHAT TO DRINK NOW Some local wine guys talk late summer imbibing

HERE’S A HEALTH TO THEE Is wine good for humans or not? Hunh?

MAGICAL BIRTHDAY TOUR Benton County puts out for the happy occasion

WHEN CAN I GET MY ALCOHOL FIX? Area winery schedules