In Japan eight is a lucky number. And in just eight days we’ll be living the last day of the second millennium anno Domini.
Lest we get all puffed up about our historic destiny eight days from now, we should modestly bear in mind that exactly 1,000 years earlier inhabitants of this planet preempted the thrill of being the first “anno Dominis” to kiss a millennium goodbye. Anyone who was here then, if still here now, might be tempted to say that if you’ve seen one millennium come and go you’ve seen them all.
Promoters of Millennium 2000 might agree. In case you hadn’t heard, Millennium 2000 promoters planet-wide are scaling down their once-grandiose plans for ringing in new everything — year, decade, century, millennium. Maybe the whole thing has all been too much for everyone to contemplate, under the drumbeat of progressive contemplative pressure.
Chances are a lot of people have grown weary of all the millennium hype and tripe, and who could blame them? Time is an illusion. Come Jan. 1, 2000, the sun will rise, dawn will lift and day will fade into dusk until the sun sets and night falls — the same old scenario.
Wine, though, happily is no illusion. Year after year, century after century, it endures, improves and proliferates. Thanks to modern technology, in our time grapes can be grown and wine made in more places around the world than ever before, with better results.
A millennium ago — indeed, as many as seven millennia ago, in ancient lands such as Moldova — people made and drank wine. They still do, of course. We are now in the Golden Age of wine, a period when technology, enlightened thinking and talented traveling winemakers, predominantly Australian and English, have combined to elevate the possibilities of the grape and the quality of commercial wine in both the Old World and the New World.
Now, that’s something we can celebrate in earnest as the coming days wend their way toward 1-1-2000. That, and the fact that so much progress has been made in the field of organic wine containing neither pre-harvest nor post-harvest chemicals.
In the next few years we may well see the food and wine worlds increasingly divided more sharply and belligerently into two warring camps: organic (or biological) vs. genetically modified. The lines of battle, in fact, have already been drawn. I’m confident that organic wine will win and help furthur the trend toward healthier things for human consumption.
Having said that, what’s so lucky about having eight days until New Everything Day? That’s easy. If you’re looking for Champagne, the classic French bubbly produced in the Champagne region northeast of Paris, you might need all eight days to find any — and then you might not.
So where does that leave you, if you’re in a sparkling wine frame of mind? That’s easy, too: Think about sparkling wines of other kinds, such as Luxembourg’s Bernard-Massard and Vinmoselle, French Saumur, Cremant d’Alsace, Spanish cava, Californian (Wente Bros., Mumm’s Schaumberg) and German and Austrian Sekt. And if anyone asks about your Sekt life, tell them it’s none of their business.
The camera rolls. It’s now Jan. 1, 2000. You’ve overindulged in wine (and whatever) and your size seven plus-alpha head feels as though it couldn’t be forced into a size-one hat. Then what? I’ll invoke some personal experience. I’d hardly gotten off the plane in New York City years ago when I was invited to a party thrown by a publisher. He instructed me that if I thought I’d drunk too much I should take a glass full of fizzing Alka-Seltzer immediately before turning in.
“It’ll neutralize everything,” he said, and how right he was. It does work. Bromo-Seltzer does, too. Other suggestions abound. One of my favorites is to drink water between alcoholic indulgences, before going to bed, and on rising. That helps. So does eating. At a party, eat before you drink, even if not a lot, and maintain a discreet eat-and-drink equilibrium.
“Starve a fever, feed a cold,” it’s said. Yes, and feed a hangover, too. Nothing heavy or greasy, I’d say; it will simply put an additional strain on your already overwrought viscera. Have some cereal and fruit. Don’t smoke; it will further complicate the supply of blood throughout your booze-stricken body.
Another thing you needn’t bother to do is drink a lot of coffee the morning after. Although I’m essentially a tea drinker, I do love good coffee, and not least its aroma. But if you overdrink and you then drink coffee intending it to be an antidote to a hangover, you’ll always be doomed to disappointment. Coffee will simply make you a wide-awake drunk.