Some thoughts on my scribbles about booze



I began writing these weekly columns in March 2011. I have since written more than 400 installments in which I’ve expatiated on nothing much more than fermented grape juice, cocktails and grain alcohol. Despite the frivolity of topic, these columns, of which this is the last, have been a labor of love.

Since the beginning, I have never strayed too far from H.L. Mencken’s dictum: “The more rational man knows that there is something even more important in life, and that its name is living.”

This is to say, I have composed my thoughts here around the simple proposition that, whatever else one’s enthusiasms for repast or relaxation, there remains no agreeable substitute to lubricating one’s meals and social entertaining with, to quote Mencken again, “ethyl alcohol in dilute aqueous solution, suitably flavored and aged.”

Another guiding thought, this from the always wonderful and salubrious pen of P.G. Wodehouse: “There are moments when one needs a drink. Are there moments, indeed, when one doesn’t?’”

In the course of my scribbles on booze, I routinely gave voice to my inner geek, ever mindful of the fine balance between holding interest and inducing slumber. I’ve pontificated on the minutia of this and that and waxed prolific while plumbing the depths of simplicity.

In my little articles here, I’ve celebrated, hopefully in as tasteful a manner as one might reasonably muster, all the attendant joys of hooch and the pluses and minuses of intoxication — of being “oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto,” as Wodehouse succinctly put it.

Other apt entries from the Wodehouse lexicon I’ve lovingly borrowed over the years: awash; lathered; illuminated; ossified; pie-eyed; polluted; primed; stewed; stinko; squiffy; tanked and woozled.

As the mood took, I’ve crusaded against all manner of the drinks trades’ hawking marketing hokum, and castigated banal “artisanal” flummery. Emphasizing individual subjectivity and the virtue of conviviality, I’ve striven to promote the happier traditions and responsibilities associated with being either host or guest. I have, likewise, tried to educate palates and fine-tune organoleptic faculties, at times nearly breaking the thesaurus’ spine to enliven the most simply stated judgments of taste.

In my more explicitly instructive moments, I have tried to lay out useful approaches for pairing wine with both food and occasion; and doing so without straying — I hope — into the officious. I have, similarly, tiptoed at times into faithfully adumbrating and even elucidating halachot relevant to hooch, though only ever offering a précis, never a presumptuous verdict.

All of this, and so much more, I have struggled to do in in my column in the general promotion of enlightened bonhomie. Hopefully, I entertained, at least occasionally, in the process.

Readers are still welcome to email me questions on wine and booze — [email protected] I will make every effort to reply in a timely manner. With a glass of wine in hand, and a decanter of Laphroaig 10-year-old waiting patiently, affectionately, on the sideboard, I wish all my readers a hearty L’chaim!

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