A terribly serious subject which is rarely afforded the sufficient time to investigate the full complexity of the matter. It is time that we, as an industry, stop this hushed silence and a grin-and-bear-it attitude. The illnesses, injuries and afflictions are acutely painful, akin to contagious viral diseases, and can potentially strike at any time and hit any person in the wine trade.
N.B. We’re not talking about alcohol-related stupidities. Everyone knows someone who as a result of alcohol excess either a) fell over, b) came home and tried to feed their guinea pig a bowl of coco pops or c) felt a strong sexual desire towards sheep.
Each of the following case studies are real-life examples of the direct perils which strike at any moment of the tasting process to even the most amateur wine lover.
Case Study #1: Extreme Thirst
Upon returning from a weekend in Champagne, our John Doe was telephoning a friend in order to recount the various hilarities when he was left gasping for breath, unable to speak.
Diagnosis: During the three days of continual tastings, our victim had been nominated the designated driver. Thus having spat out the wine at the fairs and also having lost substantial amounts of spittle in the process, the victim was suffering from extreme thirst.
Case Study #2: Extreme Hunger
Jane Doe is working behind a stand at a trade show, presenting her wines. At one moment whilst sorting through the used bottles, she feels faint, woozy and light-headed.
Diagnosis: It is only at 6pm, as the tasting draws to a close, that she realises that she has been behind the table all day without a moment to stop and have a bite to eat.
Case Study #3: Repetitive Strain Injury
La Dive Bouteille 2014, a most intriguing case in which Jacques Bonhomme is unable to raise his right arm above shoulder height without triggering a shooting pain down his upper arm.
Diagnosis: our friend Jacques is suffering from RSI in his dominant shoulder from repeatedly lifting a wine glass to his lips. True story.
Case Study #4: Acute Back Pain
Another curious case that occurred during La Dive 2014. Not far from Jacques Bonhomme in #3 was a young lady in a dreadful situation. En effet, she was unable to bend over and reach the bucket serving as a spittoon on the ground.
Diagnosis: For those who are already susceptible to back pain, it is entirely understandable how this can come about. The result of having to lean over and responsibly eject easily over 200 mouthfuls of booze in a day’s work is an excruciating pain in the lower back.
Case Study #5: Secondary Victims
The real casualty – or rather, casualties – from working in the wine industry is undoubtedly, but unfortunately, an unwitting third party. In my case, it is the four pairs of jeans (and still counting!) which have ripped at the crotch while I was lifting cases of wine. Bending from the knees is clearly not advisable!