CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 CARMENERE—Perfect for the antepenultimate Day (unless your mother is going to rip your heart out by “gifting” it to one of the kids’ teachers)

Scarybear says when we see the flash two days from now, we have to immediately fill the bathtub with water. He read that in The Road. Scary adds: Isn’t it typical of our parents that they haven’t bothered to stock up on water or provisions for the coming Apocalypse?

DSCN2776I’d been ignoring the countdown to Armageddon because it’s been feeling like Armageddon already. Plus we’ve had things to do, like planning P’s birthday party at Captain Kid’s indoor hellmouth fun centre, trying to figure out why the middle section of our Canadian Tire Christmas tree doesn’t light up, and getting ready for our holiday road trip to Vancouver Island. What with Santa breakfasts, mall shopping, and the fact that every other kid at school has decided to have a birthday party this week, things are pretty freaking busy at LBHQ. Oh yeah, and there’s this big dump of snow this morning—a phenomenon our city is totally unready for. Traffic is a disaster, there are only a handful of snowplows in the entire Lower Mainland, schools are closing (OMG! Nooo!), and if we get half a foot more of it they’ll declare it an official emergency (like, for real). Yes, we are f#cked when it snows in this part of the world, because it so rarely does. We don’t know how to drive in it, we don’t have the tires for it, braking hard on a skid seems to be a natural Vancouverite intuition, and half the drivers don’t need to be on the road—they’re trying it out for the sheer novelty of it.

Scary says we’re really screwed now because Mum won’t drive to get provisions. This is true—if there’s one person you don’t want operating a car in the snow, it’s my mother. But at least, Scary says, we’ll have snow to get water from when everything goes dark on Friday.

Scary’s obsession with water is starting to freak me out. He seems to have narrowed down his apocalyptic speculations from many (collapse of the vacuum, solar flares, asteroids, rogue black holes, gamma rays, volcanism, magnetic field reversal) to one: nuclear annihilation.mushroom cloud

I wish Scary would read books that weren’t about the end of the world. I would happily lend him a bartending guide or some Nabokov if he’d have it, but he won’t. (Maybe he will in two days, but he says it will be hard to read by candlelight, and that reading will be an absurd luxury anyway.)

Right now, Scary says, it’s important to do Meaningful Things. Society is ending, and we have to treasure those things that are Important. For example, Scary is going to binge-watch Stargate, because that was always his favorite.

“Well,” I said, “I’ve been saving a bottle of CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 Carmenere (2010). That would be perfect for Apocalypse Eve, wouldn’t it?”

“Wrong, weirdo,” he said. “That would be dehydrating. On December 22 we’re going to be rationing water. Don’t expect any extra because you’re hung over.”

Who made Scary the boss of the Apocalypse, I don’t know. How does he even know that wine would dehydrate us? I had no idea myself. Let’s investigate this, my fellow inebriates.

Does alcohol cause dehydration?

OMG, apparently people have known about this for years. Shakespeare mentions it in the Macduff-Porter scene about erections:


‘Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock. And drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.


What three things does drink especially provoke?


Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

He said "cock."

He said “cock.”

Alcohol does make you pee. But why?

The diuretic quality of alcohol is still not fully understood. According to Dr. Karl:

After all, beer is about 95 per cent water and only five per cent alcohol. And the liver converts that five per cent of alcohol into roughly the same mass of water and some carbon dioxide.

So if you drink 200 millilitres of beer, the end result is 200 millilitres of water. But you don’t urinate just 200 millilitres of urine. No! You urinate a total of about 320 millilitres of urine.

What the hell? Dr. Karl says that for every shot of alcohol, you pee an extra 120 mL. Where does it come from, my fellow inebriates?

Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to regulate water levels.

Ordinarily your pituitary gland releases ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) to keep water in the body (based on electrolyte levels and so forth) so you don’t get dehydrated. ADH curtails peeing. But alcohol reduces your ADH production, sending you on multiple bathroom trips. Even if you try to catch up by drinking water, you don’t get to keep that water—most of it will get tinkled out, and you’ll still end up dehydrated.

And, according to Scary, it’ll be your fault if you get hammered the night before Armageddon and end up thirsty. Smart survivalists like himself will be hoarding water and looting grocery stores. (“Idiots like you, LB, will be looting liquor stores and HMV.”)

OMG, Scary is mean sometimes. I do realize there won’t be any electricity. But liquor? Liquor could have its uses.57911_469184923103527_1148624302_n

That bathtub of water is going to get pretty crappy pretty fast. At least it won’t have traces of bathroom cleanser in it, though—it doesn’t occur to Mum to scrub it very often. We just have to get the kids to stop peeing in the tub. Still, within a couple of days of the blast, that water will have all kinds of floaties in it. We’ll be wanting some beer then, I reckon.

But beer’s dehydrating, isn’t it?

Not if you’re already dehydrated. Then other bodily regulatory forces will override the dehydrating effects of ADH, to a point at least. And beer is 95 percent water, so you’ll get to keep at least some of it. “Yeah,” says Scary, “but water would be better, douchebag.”

Okay, so what about our bottle of CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere? Maybe we should drink that tonight rather than on Apocalypse Eve.

But OMG, according to my mum, it’s not our bottle. “That’s for V’s kindergarten teacher.”

Holy crap, we’re giving our wine away to teachers??

“We really like V’s teacher.”

This is the end of the world.

Concha y ToroWe’ve had this CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere before, and it is luminous. Inky and full-bodied, it wafts generously layered aromas of black cherry, espresso, leather, and floral notes. Decadently concentrated yet incredibly complex, this Carmenere is epic on the palate—supple and smooth, structured and long-finishing. This wine is a powerhouse of fruit orchestration, commanding your attention from first to final, reluctant sip (if you had an absorbent paw, you could get the last of it that way, knowing no one will be operating the Maytag after December 21). And at a $20 price tag, this CONCHA Y TORO offering is all the more magnificent.

Personally, I think V should be doing long division and reading Beowulf if we’re giving her teacher this particular bottle.

“LB, don’t be a dick,” said my mother.

“He can’t help it,” said Scary.

BODEGAS CASTANO MONASTRELL (2010)—worth keeping on hand for the End of Days

My Fellow Inebriates,

The four-year-old recently took the scissors to Glen Bear, who ended up with a surprisingly restrained fur trim, which nevertheless prompted my mum to put the scissors in a high-up cupboard until the “paper only” rule is better internalized by the kids.

Thankfully not Glen or any of us

Glen has fewer brain cells than I do, which puts him into the negative numbers, but now he also looks like a dork. And even though he doesn’t care or really realize what happened, I’m shaking in my fur. It could have been any of us! And who knows? If the kid had been feeling especially demonic, Glen could have been decapitated.

Rattled by this incident, I started thinking about how illusory our sense of safety is. If you’re enjoying computer access and have the leisure to read an alcoholic bear’s ruminations, it’s a good guess that your basic physiological needs—food, water, air—are taken care of, as well as security concerns such as shelter and privacy too. But as my friend Scarybear likes to remind me constantly, we are just one semi-apocalyptic event away from chaos.

For me that event might consist of scissors-wielding kindergartners, but Scarybear is thinking about much larger destabilizing events. We talked about asteroids (and hemorrhoids) recently, but Scary finds the asteroid scenario, in all its preventability, boring. He’s thinking a gamma-ray burst will do us in this year.

Of course gamma-ray bursts occur all the time. They’re invisible to our eyes, which means we’re blissfully unaware of the daily gamma flashbulb that goes off, bathing our little blue marble in gamma radiation and then winking out. These bursts are 10 quadrillion times stronger than the sun. They don’t even come from our own galaxy—they come from other, distant galaxies (a long time ago, hitting us now) and are thought to be caused by collapsed stars merging. Wow!

So, Scary says in the brief pause he takes from snarfing an entire container of ice cream, what if two collapsed stars in OUR galaxy merged? OMG!

Uncertainty is frightening. I feel exactly the sort of trepidation Scary does about gamma-ray bursts when I’m considering buying a new bottle of wine. Like lots of wine drinkers, I have “go-to” wines that are always reliable; they hit the sweet spot between price and quality that allows you to feel good about dropping $15 to $20 in your local booze shop and pounding your purchase in front of the TV. It sucks to go out on a limb and come home with some barnyardy vinegar and have to drink it knowing you could and should have bought one of your old reliables.

So when our friend Robert came over with one of his old reliables, I took notice. BODEGAS CASTANO MONASTRELL (2010) certainly hits the sweet spot on price ($11.97) and boasts a reasonable alcohol content (13.5%). Made from 30-year-old monastrell (mourvedre) vines, this Spanish table wine is opaque and violet with a fresh berry nose. In the glass it sports generous legs and likewise coats the mouth with a plush, hearty mouthfeel. Stone-fruit top-notes and structured tannins make for a satisfying palate pleaser with a moderate to long finish.

BODEGAS CASTANO MONASTRELL is striking for being unassuming. The flavors are balanced without jockeying among themselves for prominence, which makes the wine undistracting—an excellent choice for a party, an involving conversation, or a really gripping episode of Breaking Bad. And if you’re fretting about the End of Days, BODEGAS CASTANO MONASTRELL can help you relax.

Not Scarybear, though. He was freaked out by Glen’s dorky haircut and worried about his little humans getting ideas about performing ursine surgery, so he transferred all this worry to thoughts of Armageddon—gamma rays especially.

He has a point. The Milky Way is pretty big and pretty old, and collapsed stars aren’t so easy to detect, never mind two of them spiraling into one another. Even if it happened a thousand light years away it would look like a second sun on our horizon, and our atmosphere would get cooked. With our ozone layer fried off, we’d all get skin cancer, but even if we hid indoors, the burst would annihilate all the ocean plankton, destroying the basis of our food chain.

Scarybear figures this could happen any time, meaning that it has already happened in our galaxy and the deadly burst is racing toward us at light speed, ETA Mayan End of Days.

Which means we have just 306 days left to stock up on some reliable wine.

What’s your “old reliable” at the liquor store? Are you stocked up?

In case you were wondering what happened to those decapitated bears