Here's What's Missing from the Sober-Curious Movement
Can we speak for a moment about something that’s beautiful?
Here it is. Ready?
Wine. Wine is beautiful.
You’ve seen, I’m sure, all of the consumer media attention being paid right now to abstinence, and sober-curious, and the valorization of non-alcoholic beverages to the point, arguably, of demonizing the enjoyment of wine.
This is a problem for two reasons.
For one, wine is our business. Our livelihood depends on making and selling wine. Overly valorizing temperance and non-alcoholic beverages does not help our industry to thrive.
A second reason is that the enjoyment of wine is not, actually, demonic. Wine is beautiful.
This week I’d like to hover for a moment right there, on the enjoyment and the beauty and the pleasure of wine, because that’s what’s missing, I think, in the conversation right now.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the pleasure of wine in the sense of, “Woohoo, let’s drink!!!” I’m talking about pleasure in the sense of knowing what we like, and what makes us happy.
Over-consumption is at the opposite end of the spectrum from pleasure and happiness, because to be numb (and drunk) strikes me as an avoidance behavior. Mindfully consuming alcohol, though, and being really present with it dials up the experience of pleasure.
Those two things are at opposite ends of the spectrum, I think: over-consumption on one side, and mindful, pleasurable consumption on the other.
The tipping point, of course, is when we keep dialing up the pleasure (because it feels and tastes so good), and when we keep drinking too much at any one sitting. The alternative is more frequency — spreading the pleasure out over time — rather than more volume at once.
It’s the difference between what we know about health and wellness, and what we actually implement in our day to day behavior. There CAN be too much of a good thing (like wine and alcohol) but only when we’re past the point of being able to recognize that “good thing” and the pleasure of it.
Wine is beautiful, and thank goodness for it. Not really because it helps our industry to thrive, but because it’s a chance to tune in on pleasure and what makes us happy.
I wish for more of that, for all of us.
What We're Reading:
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We need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.
Meet the Tribe!
Our community is only as strong as the company we keep, and here we meet some of the folks who make our profession so dynamic.
Morgane and Bruno Le Breton, of BLB Vignobles (Combaillaux, France)
Years in the Industry:
Bruno: Since 1991, my first vintage! I spent my first three vintages at Domaine Saint Hilaire, Montagnac. Morgane was born there, and then we moved closer to Montpellier at Domaine de la Jasse. Today I own Domaine de la Jasse and Domaine Montlobre, and I have a great wine tourism project at Domaine Montlobre.
Morgane: Can I say I’ve been in the wine industry my whole life? Considering I grew up between tractors, harvest after harvest, following the team in the vineyard and having to smell every wine my father tasted… I officially joined the family business in 2014 on a part time basis, and full time in 2017. I always say that my father is a winemaker and he made me a wine lover!
Our Biggest Challenges to Wellness:
Bruno: Clearly, as a winemaker, my job is 100% related to alcohol drinking. My biggest challenge is to organize my agenda around wine tasting and receptions with the flexibility to keep time for sport and rest. I am involved in many organizations where I have the chance to be inspired by people from the wine industry but also culture, sport, environment, entrepreneurship and so on…
Morgane: I’m often told that I must be working 24/7 since I’m working at home in a family business. But actually, I try to keep time for everything. Time to work, time to rest, time to go out, time to sport, time to read… And this is my challenge: to accept frustration sometimes and be okay with the fact that I can’t do everything everywhere with everyone. I just have to think of what is good for me.
How We Keep It Together to Stay Well:
Bruno: I keep one or two days per week without any alcohol. But even at home during our meals I have a spitoon so I can enjoy wine without being obliged to drink it. If case you're wondering, yes! I do feel the exact same pleasure. We are lucky to have beautiful landscapes in the South of France and I bike at least once a week. This is a privileged moment with myself where I exercise but overall where I think. I also walk a lot in the vineyard with Berny, our dog.
Morgane: I love photography. This is a real "me time" where even if I’m with friends I like to take a step back and enjoy the moment looking at them, waiting to catch their real smile. I try to run at least twice a week, not for a long run but High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) so I keep it short but I get the pleasure (and aches) from training. I practice Pilates at home on the other days. I have never been fond of makeup, cosmetics and everything that you should apply on your skin to improve something. But for a year now I try more and more natural products: my mother makes a lot from our own garden. I love making the product from scratch and enjoying a real moment by myself knowing what I thank my body for.
Let’s Meet Up!
As work life has it, we are traveling over the next few months and would love to see you.
Attendee at TEXSOM Sommelier Conference in Dallas, August 18 to 20 (Beck)
Speaker at Dream Big Darling in Paso Robles, September 15 to 17 (Cathy)
Emcee at Australia Decanted in Lake Tahoe, Oct. 6 to 9 (Cathy)
Presenter at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, February 25 to 29 (Cathy)
Presenter at the Future Wine Expo in Santa Rosa, May 12 and 13 (Cathy)