For most of us, drinking a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino is a special occasion on par with celebrating a birthday divisible by ten or being rear-ended by Donald Rumsfeld in front of a military hospital while 500 beered-up, wounded vets are attempting to set the world record for piñata smashing. As with any comparable special occasion, the drinking of Brunello should be carefully planned and, ideally, conducted under borderline preposterously controlled conditions.
For those not familiar, let me quickly explain why this guide is necessary. Brunello, among the world’s top wines, is produced with select, intensely scrutinized mutations of the sangiovese grape found in a mere 26 square kilometer radius area in central Tuscany, around the city of Montalcino. Over the years it’s become legendary, both for its borderline astonishing exclusivity and price as for its quality. With import tariffs, the price of a bottle is far beyond my budget in the US. But when I’m in Montalcino, my frugal Norwegian sensibilities can just swallow the price of a decent bottle in the local shops. Incidentally, I wrote this guide while enjoying a bottle of Podere Brizio 1999, with a bitch-slapping 14% alcohol content by volume.
So, suffice to say, you don’t take an event as singular as opening a Brunello lightly. When you buy a bottle, they tell you to open it and allow it to breath for two to three hours before drinking. While this is accurate, it’s also a criminally deficient modicum of the sum total of information you’ll be needing on the subject of preparation. In fact, your to-do list, if you want to do this properly, is significantly longer and you’ll need every minute of those two to three hours to adequately prepare your body, mind and spirit.
First you must cleanse the exterior. You will, of course, need to shower. And not one of those four minute showers before work. This is a lather, rinse, repeat kind of shower. Break out the most expensive body wash you own, like something from Brazil made with seaweed, volcanic ash and iguana tongue. Exfoliating is critical too. Try to get your hands on a Balinese luffa, impregnated with thrice distilled kiwi citrus. Then shave your whole body.
Once clean and smooth, do not dress. You must remain naked for the remainder of the evening to properly absorb the Brunello. Or go ahead and put on clothes and ruin everything. Ingrate.
Then you must cleanse the palate. Get a green teabag, fasten it to a toothbrush, get it nice a wet and, yes, brush your teeth with it. This neutralizes whatever crap you put into your pie-hole earlier that day without paralyzing your taste buds with that tartar-control, palate-stomping poison everyone uses now. And don’t you dare touch any mouthwash! Are you trying to make a grown man cry? Because I’ll cry.
Next, decongest your nose. I don’t care that you don’t feel congested. Two hundred years ago, guys would perform surgery without washing their hands because they looked clean. So, just do what I say and 200 years from now I’ll be vindicated and you’ll be super embarrassed if you don’t listen to me. Again, since you have the time, you have the luxury of using an oral decongestant rather than a nose spray that will leave the combination scent of Windex and McDonald’s bathroom in your nose for hours.
Now you must cleanse your mind. Women will want to meditate to soft music for 45 minutes. Men, you watch world-class, women’s beach volleyball on nothing smaller than a 50 inch HDTV.
OK, you’re finally ready. Get into your over-sized, reclining Wine Chair ($1,599.99 from The Sharper Image), raising the legs to slightly above heart level, so blood pools in the torso and genitalia. Then carefully, carefully!, remove your Brunello from the bottle holster. Pour into clear, crystal glass of no less than 100cl in volume. Yes, this looks like you’re drinking out of a fish bowl with a stem, but it’s necessary both for the lunar orbit-caliber swirling you’ll need to do and the expansive surface area for studying and appreciating the ropes.
Raise the glass to your lips, put the other hand on an erogenous zone and… Well, you can figure out the rest.
There. Now you know how to drink a bottle of Brunello. Keep checking back here for my soon-to-be-released video, “How to take a nude bath in Strongbow with Scarlett Johansson,” produced by PBS because it will be, by any definition, a public service.