“I miss my nose.”

It’s Friday, early afternoon, and I’m prostrate in bed, wheezing, aching, coughing, and sniffling. This, perhaps by way of apology for my prolonged hiatus from blogging, though believe me I didn’t choose this, and wouldn’t. I’m not the selfy-taking type, but were I, you’d see a disheveled, unshaven man in sweat pants with a wet towel over his eyes and a bright red, bulbous schnoz, a lazy dog somewhere nearby, and a lamp turned off because somehow even light is painful. Oh, what the hell. Behold my glory:


I’ve been sick since Sunday, as I mentioned in previous posts. What I didn’t mention is my rapidly dissipating fantasies about immortality. I used to feel, perhaps even be, invincible. No injury or sickness put me out for very long, with perhaps a few dramatic exceptions. Yet now, I get what feels like a common cold, and I’m completely incapacitated. I took Monday off, hoping to recover, then slogged through Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, until at last yesterday between Zooey being sick, Sonja having recovered, and my own illness coming on stronger than ever, rendering me in a pathetic state somewhere between moderate pain and narcolepsy, I put up my white flag yet again and surrendered to my condition. The majority of today has been spent asleep, and almost all of it in bed. Gatorade, dried apricots, and oatmeal make up my entire diet for the day. I’ll stop here — I know we’ve all been sick before. You’ve probably had it worse than this. But there is one observation I’ve made that is worth sharing with my wine-loving readers.


Earlier this week, inaccurately thinking myself on the mend, I attended a meeting where there were being poured the wines from a couple of wineries we represent, in particular Apriori, one of my favorite Napa Valley labels. I was familiar with most of those wines, intimate with a few, and yet when I tasted them… nothing. I had to converse about them from memory alone, speaking in vague and transparent generalities. As is often the prudent position, I largely kept my large mouth shut. I didn’t feel terribly ill in that moment, but with beautiful glasses of wine in front of me, I quickly realized how bad it must be. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc tasted like licking a board, and one of my favorite red blends might as well have been a glass of plum juice. It was eye opening, and not long after, here I am bedridden.

I did a little research, and by that, I really mean that I Googled it, and learned little I didn’t already know. When you have a cold, your nose is stuffed up, and without your nose you can’t taste well. Knew that already, but thanks. Still, I can’t help but be fascinated by just how dramatic it all feels. I’ve had a minor cold before and tasted wine, realizing then that it tasted “off” and that this was really due to my condition. I have never, however, had my palate simply stripped from me like this. I couldn’t taste any of the food I ate yesterday, the same today. I can’t smell flower, the garbage, or any other familiar scent. I have been completely disarmed, and it is forcing me against my will to take a break from drinking wine.

An hour ago, I cancelled an appointment for tomorrow morning so that I could sleep in, my lone hope being to recover well enough to take part in little Zooey’s first birthday party tomorrow. I had thought of serving wine in honor of her milestone, but given that neither she nor I is likely to enjoy it much, perhaps we’ll stick to punch and cake. I do look forward to seeing her demolish that cake. If you need a take-away from this story, let it be this: The next time you get a cold, take a break from drinking wine. We put so much effort into making wines show well, aerating and decanting, aging them in our cellars, pairing them thoughtfully with fitting cuisine, and after all that it just doesn’t make sense to me anymore to approach them when I’m not at my very best. Dear God, let me never catch a cold on a flight to Sonoma!

Cheers to your health everyone!


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