When (Will) Science and Sheer Will (Please) Collide (?).
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
Did you know that the brain actually retains more information while you are drinking wine?
Neither did I, but this is something I desperately wish someone could either prove, or just make true.
I say this because in some bizarre-o moment of straight crazy, I decided to pursue more school. Obviously parenting two small loonies + two senile Shih Tzus, while working full-time, making at least *some* effort to stay in shape, trying to maintain some semblance of a loving marriage and (marginally) keeping my house from becoming a complete dump was not enough to keep me busy. I needed more.
Yep, I actually sat on my bathroom floor one morning before work, trying to apply mascara/not stab myself in the eye while my one-year-old climbed aggressively back and forth across my lap and yelled at me because I wouldn’t let him eat my expensive set of makeup brushes, my three-year-old had a full-on, snot-flinging meltdown because his sock was suddenly “ALL POKEY!!!!” and at least one animal barked incessantly at the wall, and thought, “You know, this just doesn’t feel chaotic enough.”
And so, I did what any wine-loving mommy who also happens to work in wine would do in this scenario. I went back to school. To study MORE WINE.
To place this in context, I did two years in a professional wine program in Italy before embarking on what is now almost a ten-year career in wine, so it seems a bit rich to decide I needed more wine information. However, anyone who works in wine or has developed a passion for it knows it is an industry that is quite simply stunning in its vastness. You can truly never know it all, and the more you learn, the more you realize not only how little you know, but just how much you probably have zero idea what the hell you’re talking about most of the time, despite everyone’s insistence on your expertise. Case in point HERE.
Inspired by a few seminars I took at this year’s SommCon (yep — it’s a “Con” for wine nerds), I woke up one day and decided I needed to become a Master of Wine. For those of you who don’t know, there are currently only 352 of these in the entire world. And, regardless of my industry experience, I am so far away from achieving this I may as well just apply to medical school and try to become a neurosurgeon instead, as that’s probably more likely to prove successful for me.
Nevertheless, I am a woman of extremes (see above re: more chaos), so I have set this as a long-term goal (And there it is. In writing).
My education and current line of work notwithstanding, I unfortunately lack the formal pre-requisites to even come close to applying to the Institute of Masters of Wine. So I have to start somewhat from the beginning — with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, or WSET. They will let me bypass the first two levels, but not the third, which is a prerequisite for the level 4 “Diploma” program, which is, in turn, a prerequisite for application to the Master of Wine candidacy.
Basically, I’m going to be on so many old people meds by the time I even get into the program, that I’m probably not even going to be allowed to drink, let alone be qualified to pass the damn exams.
And nevertheless, I persist.
Don’t get me wrong. Part of this is so that I can actually say with a straight face, “Sorry, babe, I can’t help with the kids right now. I need to study.” And then lay out six bottles of different wines to practice my “tasting” technique at noon.
It’s work, I swear.
But here’s my dilemma:
I am not a morning person. Getting up early to study before my little hellions wake up is as likely as me getting up tomorrow and not only looking like Beyoncé, but singing like her too.
I insist on having a glass of wine put in my hand mere seconds after arriving home from work. My husband knows what’s good for him (and safest for the kids), and usually has it pre-poured for this exact moment. On weekends, I often like to enjoy a glass with lunch.
Regardless of how much hoping and praying I do on the matter, last I checked, there is, in fact, no scientific correlation between how much wine one consumes and the amount of information one retains while doing so.
The combination of these three truths leaves me in a bit of a pickle. I sit in bed at midnight, wine, laptop and textbook in-hand, simultaneously blogging, studying, Facebooking, Family Feuding, and having battles of will with whichever kid is randomly middle-of-the-night crying, in order to get it all done. Actually remembering anything beyond the top six answers to “Name a word or phrase that begins with ‘pork'” would be icing on the cake.
But I’m not sure this is sustainable. In reality, how the hell am I supposed to do this without failing my exams, getting fired, getting divorced or putting my kids up for adoption? It’s hard, it’s boring and there’s no time. I’d way rather mindlessly scroll through my newsfeed while sipping my ninth glass of wine without the pressure to analyze it using the “Systematic Approach to Tasting” (that this is shortened to the “SAT” is appropriate given it shares the same tedium as the equally horrifying college admissions process), and enjoy the fact that no one is talking to me, touching me or barking at me.
Here’s a little snippet from my WSET textbook, “Understanding Wines: Explaining Style and Quality”:
What in the actual fuck?
How can something I normally love so much suddenly be so dry (no pun intended)? Wouldn’t you want to drink if forced to read and somehow retain that? Especially after going twelve rounds with a toddhole who is giving you “TWO THUMBS DOWN, MAMA” because you won’t let him have nothing but chocolate chips “IN A BLUE BOWL!!!” for dinner?
He’s a real charmer.
And so I’m putting it out there: Let’s challenge ourselves and our schedules. Let’s push past the boundaries of what makes us comfortable, and reach for what makes us better.
In other words, let’s find a science-based relationship between wine and information retention.
I don’t think they teach that in my textbook, but god knows I’ve got time to learn it.