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Sick in Bed

Posted: Nov 21, 2008 5:35am ET

While the War of the Wine of the Year raged in my blog this week, I was fighting my own battle with pneumonia in my right lung. I am not sure where I picked it up. It must have been somewhere on the West Coast last week. Blame it on the Madonna concert in Las Vegas, or a late party in West Hollywood. It could have been on the flights to get to Rome over the weekend. Or the party I went to in Tuscany the day I arrived home. But the result is a nasty infection.

I have been on two strong antibiotics this week: Amoxicillin and Levoxacin. They make you tired, but I still find time to write between taking rests in my room. There are no wine tastings. There are no winery visits. There are no conversations with winemakers, vintners or wine merchants. My only contact to the wine world is through this Mac that I am writing on.

I am essentially in solitary confinement in my house in the country in Tuscany. It’s gray and cold as I look out the window with nothing but the shades of late autumn and the occasion bird swooping by. My two white dogs, Archie and Annie, are curled up somewhere warm. I might join them very soon.

I was drinking a glass of wine every night with dinner to cheer myself up early in the week, but I stopped. My doctor in Florence said it wasn’t harmful and it didn't affect the efficiency of the medicines. But I can’t believe how much e-mail I have received from parents, girlfriends, and friends saying, " ... and don’t drink any wine."

Do you normally have a glass of wine when you are ill or on antibiotics?

The War of the Wine of the Year was amusing, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of other things more important. I am looking forward to drinking some great wines with friends over dinner when I get better. And you know what? It won’t even be in this year’s list of the Top 100, or any of the prior ones either.

Steve Ritchie
Atlanta, GA —  November 21, 2008 11:03am ET
Get well soon, James! When I am sick, I really lose any desire for wine. I usually go pretty bland with the food and drink across the board. For me, the pleasant warm buzz from a few glasses of wine is just not appealing when my sinuses are doing the "buzzing."
Massimo Marinucci
November 21, 2008 11:39am ET
James,Alcohol in general will likely dehydrate you and just make you feel crappier all around. When I am sick, the last thing I could think about is to drink wine. Hope you get better soon.Max
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  November 21, 2008 11:44am ET
Personally I find that drinking wine is more about how you feel, not physically, but your mood. If you enjoy a nice glass with dinner then go ahead, it's like a piece of chocolate in my opinion, it doesn't matter if your sick.
David Nerland
Scottsdale —  November 21, 2008 11:47am ET
So did you family & friends also tell you no cigars? I never drink wine when on antibiotics. Drink alot of water.
James Suckling
 —  November 21, 2008 11:52am ET
LOL Yes "Sleep, rest, and lots of water" were also included in their get well wishes. But a glass of 2001 Cacci Fabius tasted good the other night! Wine is more than 90 percent water.
Tony Wood
Brighton U.K. —  November 21, 2008 11:59am ET
Hi James,So sorry to hear of your plight.I had pneumonia a couple of years ago, and I felt like hsti. Just make sure you get physio after to clear the lungs. I think you should partake of a daily glass otherwise theshock to your system could be beyond repair. I arrive in Cortona tomorrow, thanks for the comforting weather update !
Jayh Henchen
Rochester, NY —  November 21, 2008 12:10pm ET
Hope you are better soon, pneumonia not a good thing to have.Take care!
November 21, 2008 12:38pm ET
Isn't wine the best medicine ever? James, drop the antibiotics...
Bert Pinheiro
Baltimore Maryland —  November 21, 2008 1:00pm ET
James I remember last January when I went to Las Vegas and had caught a cold just before I went. The doctor gave me a prescription to take before I went. I asked him if I could drink wine after I took the medication and he said that the three pack of pills I was taking before I went would be in my system long enough and I should be able to drink wine. My wife then asked me why I asked him that question and I told her that I was not taking the pills if I could not drink.Thank goodness I could drink because I found a bottle of Casanova di neri reserva 2001 at the hotel.
James Suckling
 —  November 21, 2008 1:02pm ET
Nice one Bert. Don't tempt me with the Casanova 2001. I told you my first wine I drink when I am better will not be a WOTY!
Farhana Haque
Queens, NY —  November 21, 2008 1:53pm ET
Yikes! Never any alcohol while on antibiotics! It'll eat away at your liver. Or is it your pancreas? Intestines? :PHowever, if I do find myself sick without need for drugs, a little wine always helps me feel a little better. Hmm, maybe a lot would make me feel a lot better! :)
John Osgood
New York, NY —  November 21, 2008 2:00pm ET
Best wishes on a speedy recovery James.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  November 21, 2008 5:04pm ET
Get well James! Wine can't help you recover from pneumonia, so by default you shouldn't put your body under any additional stress. Alcohol, like caffeine, is a poison of sorts that can actually be beneficial under other circumstances. Get some rest. At the very least your judgement of the wine will be impaired until you get better!
Pierre-olivier Lepage
Qc, Canada —  November 21, 2008 5:11pm ET
Wine is the last thing I'd have when I have a cold. Stuffy nose, sore throat, cough... mixed with wine? beurk! I'd rather have a warm chicken and noodle soup! Get well!
Bob Golbahar
Los Angeles —  November 21, 2008 6:12pm ET
James,It seems that you are thinking ahead for the 2009 "WOTY" is that what you are thinking of drinking? Any perditions?Sorry to hear you are sick! Get better soon, we need your guidance and "taste buds" Best, BG
Bob Golbahar
Los Angeles —  November 21, 2008 7:00pm ET
James... A famous quote...."I have enjoyed great health at a great age because everyday since I can remember I have consumed a bottle of wine except when I have not felt well. Then I have consumed two bottles."-A Bishop of Seville
David A Zajac
November 21, 2008 8:08pm ET
It really doesn't matter to me if I am sick or not, wine is a daily ritual and yes, I drink even when I am sick. Mind you, not much, maybe a glass and usually the wine is cheap as there is no use in opening a good bottle when you really can't appreciate it, but there are so many positive side affects to wine, I always figured it helps kill the bad bacteria...cheers and I hope your feeling better soon.
Jason M Meyers
Medford, NY —  November 21, 2008 9:14pm ET
Awwww...poor baby...let's see-does that mean no 1990 Salon on the balcony at breakfast, magnum of La Tache with the wild mushroom tartlet at lunch, and no complete Petrus vertical dating back to '61 with the Victoria's Secret calendar girls for dinner? Just because of a little pneumonia? C'mon James...man up.
David Peters
Mission Viejo, CA —  November 21, 2008 11:29pm ET
James....I'm praying for your speedy recovery. I had some serious surgery on my jawbone in Sept this year. First thing I asked my surgeon as he was writing the Rx for antibiotic was "can I drink wine while on the Amoxicillin" ? He said sure, go ahead,it shouldn't affect the effectiveness of the antibiotic and it would probably help me feel better and less moody in my recovery. He said studies have shown that people recovery from illnesses more quickly if their spirits (pardon the pun) are up. Happy people are healthier people and get well quicker........don't give up those little things in life that give you pleasure unless your doctor specifically warns you not to drink or eat anything that would give a negative interaction.
Darcy Kelley
Toronto, ON —  November 22, 2008 12:23am ET
I picked up bronchitis while in Bordeaux last month, shortly after gorging on very botrytized grapes in Sauternes. At the time, it escaped me that ingesting bacteria could lead to a bacterial infection. At some point in my past, I did actually go to high school and university, but it didn¿t help at the time.I was off wine for the last 3 days of my trip ¿ no desire to enjoy wine and I could not taste anything. But after getting back home ¿ still with bronchitis ¿ I had a helluva time at an auction tasting, featuring several vintages of Margaux, Haut Brion and Lafleur. I wasn¿t going to miss that for the world. And, because my palate was holding up and the sinuses were clear, it was a wonderful evening. But, gala tastings aside, when I¿m on meds, I push beer and wine to the side, and drink a few pots of green tea each day. That works for me. Get well, James!
James Suckling
 —  November 22, 2008 1:43am ET
Jason. No Petrus or Salon, but the model girlfriend is fine if I stay inside...
Lorenzo Erlic
victoria canada —  November 22, 2008 11:29am ET
James: Hang in there, your tastebuds are much needed yet, the rest of you too of course... do you feel any different about the L'Eglise Clinet 2005 now than before? It seems to be rocketing amongst the wine market, assured immortality seems a lock. The rest... OMG I tried the 2005 Chateau Faugeres last week, it was the BEST WINE EXPERIENCE EVER! Possible that 2005 Bordeaux has been...underrated?
James Suckling
 —  November 22, 2008 12:20pm ET
Thanks man. The L'Eglise 2005 is still a superlative wine, although I had a less than perfect bottle in London about a month back. I tasted it at the chateau in early September and it was great. The Faugeres 2005 is excellent but look for the 2003, which is the wonderful wine now to drink.
Dick Barnett
Hoover, AL USA —  November 22, 2008 12:30pm ET
I always let my tastebuds be my guide. If your body says yes, then go for it.
Clifford Brantley Smith
Portland —  November 22, 2008 1:46pm ET
After a bout with the flu and strep throat this past year I feel for you James. For me I tend not to drink wine when sick simply because I lose my sense of taste and smell. Of course once I feel like I'm on the mend its not long before a bottle gets uncorked. Take care and get well soon.
Jason M Meyers
Medford, NY —  November 22, 2008 7:19pm ET
He's back...there you go, James - that's what I wanted to see...Get well man.
Richard Robertson
November 22, 2008 9:42pm ET
Jason,Sounds like you need to have a great Saturday night. I recommend the following:Go to the wine cellar and select a bottle of Boone's Farm for your girl and a PBR for yourself: My guess is that yours is in one of 3 places.1) In the cooler under the trailer.2) Out back in the shed, or3) In the back of the truck.I would recommend the bottle of Boone's Farm since I hear that last week was a great vintage for the latest bottling. I think James S. gave it a score of 2, Harvey gave it a score of 4 (mainly due to the fact that it has a screw cap enclosure), and James L. gave it a score of 8 since he heard it was a great new Napa bottling from a heavily financed owner. James M. didn't have time to give it a score since he is sunning in St. Barts and I don't think Boone's makes a rose.Enjoy!!!
Mark Lewis
Napa —  November 23, 2008 2:11am ET
When I feel like crap then I reach for an interesting libation. It is widely available and has bright cherry flavors with a very long finish. It is called Ny-Quil. It can be served at room temperature in a cordial glass, or the 30ml plastic cup. I have found the stemware does not effect the taste whatsoever. Feel better James...
Dennis D Bishop
Shelby Twp., MI, USA —  November 23, 2008 10:58am ET
James, I hope you are back to your tastings and winery visits soon. It is hard to be away from that which you love. However, now you can find the little pleasures of being secluded. Read that book you have been meaning to get to, search the web for a great new recipe, and when your palate allows and you are up to it, enjoy the solitary pleasure of a nice bottle of wine, consumed over two days. This is time for adventure, not remorse.dennyb
James Suckling
 —  November 23, 2008 11:01am ET
Thanks for the kind words. This weekend has been like that. Looking forward to a glass of wine soon!

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