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Pinoiriste Syndrome

An updated Blast from the Past in the PinotFile Volume 4, Issue 11, 2004

Friends have lamented that once I introduce them to great Pinot Noir, they lose interest in drinking other wines. Once their heart pounds over a premium California Pinot Noir or their psyche is enthralled with a Vosne- Romanee, they are hooked. Everything else pales in comparison. These lucky, but confused individuals are suffering from what I have termed the “Pinoiriste Syndrome.” This syndrome is closely related to the “Gourmand Syndrome,” first described by Marianne Regord PhD of Zurich and Theodoc Landis MD of Geneva in a medical report titled, “Gourmand Syndrome: Eating Passion Associated with Right Anterior Lesions.” The syndrome is defined as a newly acquired craving for high quality food with an onset dating to an injury, tumor or hemorrhage of the right frontal brain region. This site in the brain is where both the olfactory system and our emotional center are located, and where a number of addictive behaviors originate. I have postulated that a strikingly good Pinot Noir significantly modifies the physiological and psychological nerve functions in the anterior frontal brain, causing a hopeless addiction to fine Pinot Noir.

Far-fetched you say? Tannins in Pinot Noir combine with starches during digestion to produce serotonin. Altered serotonin levels in the brain may produce a euphoric buzz. Although Pinot Noir is far from the most tannic wine, its tannins seem to have more of a brain-altering influence. Histamine and tyramine, which are present in Pinot Noir in small amounts, have the effect of dilating blood vessels and increasing the systemic and psychological effect of euphoria.

The pheromones of the Pinot Noir grape are very closely related to male pheromones. All the aromas in the Pinot Noir grape such as spice, musk, earth and barnyard are associated with the principal male smell, andosterone. Truffles, vanilla and oaky smells of Pinot Noir aged in oak barrels are also andosterone-like. These smells open the door to desire.

Complications of the Pinoiriste Syndrome including a hoarding instinct. When a sufferer finds an ephemeral Pinot Noir, he will not share it with others and will attempt to hoard it in his cellar. He may put aside his Bible and instead religiously read the PinotFile. To the pinoiriste, Pinot Noir becomes more of a religion than a grape. When out socially with friends, pinoiristes may begin to throw out phrases like, “Texture of Persian silk,” or “Like beef stew on a bed of roses,” or “Enough t (tannin) and a (acid) to fill a chorus line.”

Wine cognoscenti are seeing an epidemic of Pinoiriste Syndrome. Once the mystique of Pinot Noir has taken hold, the sufferers are constantly searching for that tantalizing experience, always dreaming of that jammy strawberry fragrance, that voluptuous mouth feel, the concentrated cherry flavors, and the exquisite finesse. As Canadian writer Konrad Ejbich said, “It is heaven in a glass, smelling like great sex and tasting like the ripest strawberries, raspberries and black cherries all at once.”

Further research is ongoing, but not very seriously, because who really wants a cure?

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