Reflections on the point of no return
There’s nothing worse than being horribly drunk in public. The aftermath of a good session can be extremely traumatic for even the most seasoned consumers of wine. First, there’s the nagging doubt that you might have done something a bit worse than the things that you can remember doing. Then, there’s the shame that accompanies the things you remember doing. Then there’s the knowledge that from now on when you see any of the people who were present while you were over-indulging, their opinion of you will be forever tainted by last night’s encounter.
However much we enjoy wine, none of us want to be that guy. So what steps can we take to ensure that next time, we don’t go past that critical point of no return, the point at which a civilised conversation with Michael Broadbent becomes an embarrassing scenario wherein after demonstrating how you can interpret different wine grapes through dance, you excuse yourself from Broadbent by uttering ‘Dear God, I think I’m in the matrix’, before staggering off for a tactical chunder?
It’s vital that you can recognise the point of no return. Because everything you say up until this point, no matter how clever and insightful it was, will be eclipsed by the unforgivable jibberish that you say on the other side of it. Thoughtful comments about the ever-changing Chinese market for Bordeaux? Forgotten. Telling Robert Parker you’ve always admired his physique? Remembered, always, always remembered.
However much we’d like to disassociate wine from drunkenness, unfortunately most of us have been in this position at some stage, and so whether we like it or not, it deserves some attention. So us helpful, socially responsible and worldly consumers of wine at 12×75.com would like to offer you ten ways to ensure you don’t go past the point of no return, particularly in the company of the wine industry elite.
- 1. Travel in pairs. Never attend an event on your own if there is someone willing to go with you. That way you can keep an eye on each other and exercise restraint (such as wrestling the glass out of one another’s hand) if necessary.
- 2. Have a safe word or phrase. If your buddy hears you mention malolactic fermentation in a loud voice, that’s their cue to smuggle you out of the room and hail you a taxi before you start hitting on Serena Sutcliffe.
- Find someone who is a bit drunker than you. Point and laugh at them. Encourage others to do so. Then just leave.
- 4. Put your glass down. Make a commitment to cease drinking until the point of no return is just a distant memory. With any luck you’ll start to sober up and talk sense, and you’ll probably find you don’t want any more wine after all.
- 5. Try to pinpoint the worst thing you could possibly do, and take steps to ensure that you won’t do it. And if that means for the rest of the evening you have to remain in a different room from the man with the amusing beard for fear of asking him if you can swing on it, or worse still, just swinging on it without asking, then that’s what you have to do.
- 6. Stick to what you are drinking. The point of no return is often accompanied by port and stilton and/or whisky and cigars. It creeps up on you, because while you are sipping wine, you feel absolutely fine. But as soon as you switch to something else, you’re already gone. Waking up with your face in a stilton is not sufficiently amusing afterwards to eradicate how horrible it was at the time, and the flashbacks to the incidents that led up to it will haunt you forever.
- 7. Just nod and agree. The point of no return is not the time for you to get into a debate about pricing structures or wine additives or any non-wine related topics for that matter– if you can even remember your views, you’ll find that slurred words and incoherent ramblings won’t persuade anyone. Additionally, any diagrams that you produce at this stage to back up your views will look like the contents of a serial killer’s head, so don’t reach for the pen and paper. (See figure 1)
Figure 1: Venn diagram outlining basic food groups. Recreated in MS Paint since original napkin based sketch was incoherent. I suspect I was trying to explain toad in the hole to a foreign person.
- 8. Sit down. Swaying from side to side is most undignified while standing up. Plus you’ll get a better feel for how drunk you actually are when you go to stand up again.
- 9. Eat some food. And I don’t mean small pretentious finger food, nor do I mean ordering in a kebab. The food that will keep you from the point of no return is somewhere in between – and it contains carbs. Eat a lot of it. Don’t get caught stuffing half the buffet into your bag through, Parker will go mental.
- 10. ‘Right, everybody back to mine’ are words you should never say. Do you really want Broadbent and co rolling up to your place, expecting second growths at a minimum, only to find out you haven’t been to the shops for a week and consequently have been mixing Tesco Value Gin with the last of the Ribena insisting ‘you wouldn’t think this would work but it’s not so bad!’? No, you don’t.
Now, there will be times when with the best will in the world, you’ll find that you are already past the point of no return. If this happens, don’t panic. Restraint comes with age and experience – making a terrible idiot of yourself on more than one occasion is the best possible deterrent for reaching the point of no return, so just ride it out, and next time, you’ll see it coming.