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Mastering the millennium lifestyle

By Greg Sherwood
E-mail: Sherwood@cis.co.za
September 2000

You know you are indeed living in the modern millennium age when one actually feels guilty about taking time off work, taking a holiday, taking a sick day (when you are genuinely sick in bed), or making plans and arrangements that are not related to work or ones professional life in anyway! However, this phenomenon is now a fact of life. The more we grow to accept it and embrace it, however reluctantly, the more we lose sight of what life is really all about.

Everyone will surely agree that we were not put on this earth to work ourselves into the grave, while in between, if perhaps we catch a few spare moments, we might find time to take up an interest, hobby or activity that does not ‘enhance’ chances of a promotion at work.

Admittedly, it is not easy trying to break out of this mould, for once it takes a grip of your life and lifestyle, it’s about as easy to stop as it is to jump off a racing high rise roller coaster. Well, fortunately, within the mad frenzy of the work-orientated lifestyle, it is still a necessity to eat and drink. Thankfully, the practice of popping a white pill for breakfast, a green pill for lunch, and a red pill for dinner are still things only seen in obscure Stanley Kubrick movies. But for how long?

Striving to simplify our lifestyles and clear out the clutter can of course be taken too far. However, this simplification does not necessarily imply making fast food faster and convenience stores even more convenient. More and more, time-challenged professionals are discovering the deeper pleasures to be found in a simple, healthy, well-prepared meal and a great bottle of wine to match. Cooking and eating has started to take on therapeutic, stress-relieving characteristics, while the selection, purchasing and consumption of wine has started to double as a handy hobby or interest. No earth-shattering lifestyle changes are required either, merely a slight refocusing of a portion of one's energy supplies.

A direct consequence of this new movement to raise the profile of wining and dining to a higher level (whether at home or out at restaurants) has been to change wine drinking trends among consumers. Not only are we all drinking better, generally more expensive wines, but also consumers are searching out more exciting, non-traditional styles of wine, from more obscure regions around the globe.

So, for those time-challenged yuppies out there who are ready to make a break with take-aways and plonk, here are a few foolproof pointers to help make the transition a little easier:

  • Never be scared to try obscure wines, like new wave Spanish and Portuguese reds, Alsace whites, German Rieslings, muscular reds from Southern Italy, and basically any South African offering, red or white, that does not have "Springbok" in the name.
  • Always open the bottle before you start cooking and proceed ‘a la Naked Chef meets Keith Floyd’ for best results.
  • If possible, give the high street supermarkets a miss (for a while) and try buying some of your wines from smaller wine merchants in the city, or en-route to and from work. Contrary to popular perception, prices are reasonable, quality and choice is often more exciting, and most do stock an interesting array of reds and whites in the 5 to 10 range, not just the hundred pound plus investment wines of Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite, Margaux and Petrus, etc.
  • Buy a handy pocket wine guide to read a few brief points about the wine you buy, including its country of origin, its maker and wine style. All acquired knowledge, however brief, will impress colleagues at power business lunches in the city.
  • However, try not to turn every dinner into a piss-up, as most if not all the positive energy one generally receives from a healthy meal and an exciting bottle of wine that far exceeds expectations, is quickly lost if a second and third bottle are also cracked. There is always tomorrow.
  • And if you find you are having a really bad day and basically have the attention span of a goldfish, fall back on the fail-safe option of a nice bottle of chilled French Champagne. (25 pound plus Grand Marques are not always necessary. Give some of the better 12 to 15 pound producers a try.)
  • If at all possible, try and match food and wine at all times for best results.
  • If you are not a big wine drinker per se, but enjoy the stickies, look to the Noble Late Harvest Rieslings and Muscats of Australia, the Chenin Blanc or Rhine Riesling NLHs from South Africa, the Beerenausleses or Trockenbeerenausleses of Germany, or else the vin doux naturel Muscats from Southern French appellations, to end your meal with instead of coffee.

While the above suggestions are neither new nor profound, the message that lies in their simplicity is certainly valuable for all. Eat, drink, enjoy!

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