Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Importance of Being Fit

It might sound strange and decadent, but tasting wine professionally is actually quite physically challenging. When I’m here at Wine & Spirits, I usually taste between 80 and 120 wines per day, all of which have ragingly high acidity and many of which contain some quantity of residual sugar. It sounds great, but wait until you’ve done that five days in a row.

I was thinking yesterday how important it is to keep in shape if one is going to be tasting so rigorously. It’s pretty obvious when tasting vast quantities of wine that the healthier you are, the better your ability to taste becomes. Equally importantly, you are able to taste a larger quantity, which becomes important in this profession.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t thinking about this while out running 10k, or working out in the gym. I was getting a massage. But to my credit, it wasn’t some wimpy feel-good massage. It was a deep-tissue acupressure massage by an old Chinese woman who could quite obviously break my neck with one hand if she really wanted to. And it was much, much more painful than running 10k.

I am a firm believer in the value of massage therapy, not only for muscular treatment but, in the language of Chinese medical theory, to keep the meridians of the body open and promote the proper circulation of qi energy throughout the body. The reason my massage yesterday was so excruciatingly painful was that I haven’t been maintaining my physical health, and my qi has been blocked and disrupted. That’s something that champagne alone can’t fix.