A recent report suggesting that James Bond drinks the equivalent of a bottle and a half of wine every day, making him an impotent drunk or a wino if he drank cheap plonk, brings to mind an actual instance of a wine Journalist Bond who I meet often in Italy with a similar habit but which I have been able to change for the better, I hope .
First off, I must clarify the meaning of the term Wino; several people including some journalists mistakenly misuse the term for wine connoisseurs. It upsets me no end when someone says with respect and awe that I am a wino. I always make it a point, as I do now once again that a wino is not a connoisseur, an aficionado or a wine lover. 'Wino' is different from vino (or similar variants) which means wine in many languages, including Italian.
The online Dictionary defines ‘wino’ as an indigent wine-drinking alcoholic - a person who habitually drinks wine as a means of getting drunk. It’s a slang term for a person who drinks excessive amounts of wine, according to Wikipedia. Merriam Webster Dictionary says a wino is a person who has no place to live and who is often drunk and is addicted especially to wine. Urban Dictionary has a slightly wider spectrum and uses it for someone who props up against walls in the street, drinking an unidentifiable drink (it needn’t be wine, could also be spirits, special brew, buckfast or lighter fluid) out of a paper bag whilst swearing incoherently and dribbling. Oxford Dictionary defines wino as a person who drinks excessive amounts of cheap wine or other alcohol, especially one who is homeless.
Do I need to go on and elaborate more?
Some of us would surely claim that the term ‘wino’ would not apply to the suave, sophisticated James Bond who takes his martini shaken not stirred, as immortalized by Sean Connery in the earlier movies. Bond may be fond of Bollinger Champagne in movies like Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace after debuting in ‘Diamonds are Forever.’ He may be a connoisseur sipping Bollinger La Grande Année champagnes in GoldenEye (1988), Tomorrow Never Dies (1989), The World Is Not Enough(1990), Die Another Day (1995) and Casino Royale (1990). (Vintages in Parenthesis)
But according to doctors in England who did a study of 14 Bond novels and find Her Majesty's top secret agent devouring the equivalent of one and a half bottle of wine every day and living the lifestyle of an alcoholic, he could be classified in the category of a wino. The love of the bottle would leave him impotent and at death's door, according to the doctors in Derby and Nottingham, who analysed Ian Fleming’s novels glorifying the hero who gets all the girls.
The doctors charted every drink Bond imbibed in these 14 novels and concluded that he drank about five vodka martinis a day - four times the recommended maximum intake for men in the UK.
In the December edition of BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), intensive care and liver specialists at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust concluded that Bond was "in the highest risk group for malignancies, depression, hypertension, and cirrhosis." If his martinis were shaken, not stirred, it was probably because "Bond was unlikely to be able to stir his drinks, even if he would have wanted to, because of likely alcohol induced tremor," they noted.
"Presuming survival despite the high risk nature of his profession, we anticipate that James Bond's life expectancy would be significantly reduced," they concluded - specifically, Bond should have been dead before he turned 60.
In reel life we have met Bond several times but in real life too, one meets them often. I know a septuagenarian wine journalist who I meet frequently in Italy during various wine programmes designed for journalists and we became friendly over the years. He is a good taster who likes a few glasses of wine with lunch and a lot more with his dinner. Once, when he and his wife shared a table with me, I found him not only drinking wines on the table but also going around and bringing more wines from the other tables with different labels, ostensibly for tasting but actually drinking them during the rather long evening.
Shocked by his capacity and audacity to drink so much wine, I dared to be rude and told him I thought he drank too much. While disagreeing, he conceded he drank two bottles of wine every day! His wife agreed, saying she took a couple of glasses and he drank the rest (more or less the same quantity that James Bond drank every day, on the average, according to this report). I asked him his age (over 70) and with a solemn face pretending to do some calculations in my mind, I told him that according to me and several studies he should have been dead 5 years ago!!! Although I expected a snub and a sneer, both laughed and said I was probably right and we ended the evening with some more bonhomie.
Next time when I met our J (journalist) Bond again, he accosted me and said, ‘do you remember what you said about my wine drinking, last time? My wife became very strict after that and now I have cut down on my drinking to only one bottle a day!’ It was neither a word of thanks nor a feeling of anger-just the statement of a fact which made me feel good. It was still not healthy but at least much more acceptable to the liver that can take only a couple of glasses of wine a day (or the equivalent alcohol). I felt I had done a good deed and achieved something from my usual pravachan (discourse)!
I hope that the UK report would exhort thousands of real life James Bonds to take a lesson and curtail excess drinking. Regarding the other Bonds in my wine journalist community which I feel will castigate me one day for not minding my business and always imploring my journalist friends to watch the quantity of alcohol going into the system through excess wine, I can only tell you what my other favourite James (Brown) said in one of his songs:
It's your thing
You can do what you wanna do
I can't tell you
Who to sock it to
Be a wine connoisseur or a wine lover but NOT a wino.
Subhash Arora, President