Transition From Smoking to Non-Smoking

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
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Randy Bowman
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#1 Post by Randy Bowman » April 30th, 2018, 8:29 pm

I learned to drink wine as a smoker. Developed my palate as a smoker. Now, for the 3rd or 4th time, I quit smoking. Should be easier this time as there is no where near the stress. Carrie quit with me. Two weeks in, the wines we know and love are bad. Tonight, we opened two bottles of the same wine because we thought the first bottle was bad. The second bottle was better but didn't taste like I remember, but we hadn't tried the wine in over a year, so, memory or taste buds? Opened our go to everyday Pinot, Luli, that we've had several times since we quit smoking and yes, tonight, it tastes different.

Looks like I get all new wine experiences. Then Carrie reminded me that I could hide my own Easter eggs and meet new people every day as the regulars come in, so take my tasting notes more of a grain of salt than you previously did.

PS. Anybody else have similar experiences after quitting smoking? Willing to admit them?
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#2 Post by George Tita » April 30th, 2018, 8:46 pm

First, congrats to you both! As a former smoker, I had similar experience. My enjoyment of bigger styled wines diminished greatly. Cigar/cigarette smoke seemed to enhance the enjoyment of oaky cabs. Now, without the tobacco, "cigar wines" have lost their appeal.
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#3 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » April 30th, 2018, 9:10 pm

Drink more Maison Ilan.
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#4 Post by Chris Seiber » April 30th, 2018, 10:52 pm

Never been a smoker, but I’m curious in what way the wines taste different. Can you articulate the difference beyond just good/bad?

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#5 Post by Andrew Hamilton » April 30th, 2018, 11:05 pm

George Tita wrote:First, congrats to you both! As a former smoker, I had similar experience. My enjoyment of bigger styled wines diminished greatly. Cigar/cigarette smoke seemed to enhance the enjoyment of oaky cabs. Now, without the tobacco, "cigar wines" have lost their appeal.
+1. When I started drinking wine I was a pack a day reds smoker. Aussie Shiraz and Cabs were all the rage for me then. Looking back my palate realignment to Old World high acid wines (Burgundy and Piemonte predominately) came when I stopped smoking. Curiously I don't think I've ever formally made that association until just now.

Congratulations for quitting, it's not easy. Kudos.

All the above said, Barolo and Toscano cigars pair exceptionally well.
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#6 Post by Mattstolz » May 1st, 2018, 3:22 am

congrats on the decision to try again. good luck as you go through the process!

I dont have any personal experience as far as tasting and quitting goes, but definitely the right decision. I like your wifes suggestion for how to approach it.

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#7 Post by edwardmilstein » May 1st, 2018, 4:36 am

Quit smoking everything 15 yrs ago ( 1 1/2 non filter a day ) and found my sense of smell only got better,but don't remember any palate issues. When I quit coffee ( caffeine ) 2 yrs later , any urge for a cig went with it. ( so I'd recommend a slow wean off caffeine , if you drink it ) Started coffee sometime later and the urge ( or dreams ) never came back. Allowed myself some cigars recently ( after 12 yrs ) but still no urge for a cig. Good luck. Cigarettes were my biggest mistake of all time, and also the toughest to fix. Bravo. Congratulations- you can do it!!!!!!!!
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#8 Post by Drew Goin » May 1st, 2018, 4:41 am

Congratulations on quitting!

I have to ask for clarity's sake: was there any extended abstinence from drinking wine between your quitting of smoking and now?

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#9 Post by David Glasser » May 1st, 2018, 7:34 am

Congratulations Randy and Carrie and good luck! It will be interesting to see where your palate preferences settle. I’m not a smoker, but those I know who’ve quit tell me it took 4-6 months before the changing perceptions stabilized.

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#10 Post by Peter Simpson » May 1st, 2018, 4:02 pm

Randy and Carrie, you have my sympathy. I quit three years ago and still occasionally feel the urge for a smoke!

The first six months were the worst, and I actually reduced my wine consumption a lot during that period. I found my willpower was definitely reduced after a few glasses of wine, and the temptation to go outside for an after dinner smoke was almost overwhelming. So the easiest way to overcome that was not to drink anything! Also making sure there were no cigarettes readily available in the house or in my car was another way to help fight the urge.

Good luck to both of you, and your mutual support system should be a big help!
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#11 Post by Brian S t o t t e r » May 1st, 2018, 4:07 pm

Congrats on quitting! Just remember, each time you quit increases your chances of quitting for good. Think of all the wine you can buy with the money you save from cigarettes :)
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#12 Post by mattcitrang » May 1st, 2018, 4:08 pm

Congratulations and continued success in your endeavor. It’s a difficult habit to quit.

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#13 Post by Anton D » May 1st, 2018, 4:58 pm

Randy, that is so interesting.

Please keep track of then and now impressions!

I will be very interested in seeing where your palate goes!
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#14 Post by Cris Whetstone » May 1st, 2018, 5:41 pm

Congrats to the both of you. [cheers.gif]

I have no personal experience but I have heard others have similar issues with tastes changing or needing some re-calibration. I'm guessing it's going to be a matter of time as others have indicated above.
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#15 Post by Randy Bowman » May 1st, 2018, 7:04 pm

Three days ago I noticed my sense of smell was improving, despite my allergies and allergy meds.

Tonight we are opening a 2015 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast P/N. We know and love the wine so it will be a measure we start with. Last night I could smell alcohol/chemicals in the first wine. Tonight's KB, I smell black fruits. Subtle but there and the first sip is also black fruits accompanied by some heat.

The first thing Carrie noticed was that she could smell towel in the glass. I used a brand new towel when I washed the glasses today. Ten minutes later, I think I smell towel in my glass. She had to have planted the thought.

The wine is opening up with black cherry and blackberry, a finish growing in length and some acidity to clip the finish. Overall, it is the KB I'm used to. The fruit flavors may be a little "cleaner" and it may taste a little sweeter to me. Carrie drinks it faster than she used to so it must taste good to her.

30 minutes open, it is black cherry start to finish and has gained weight.
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#16 Post by Robert Grenley » May 1st, 2018, 8:51 pm

George Tita wrote:First, congrats to you both! As a former smoker, I had similar experience. My enjoyment of bigger styled wines diminished greatly. Cigar/cigarette smoke seemed to enhance the enjoyment of oaky cabs. Now, without the tobacco, "cigar wines" have lost their appeal.
Parker is or was a smoker I have heard.
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#17 Post by Anton D » May 1st, 2018, 9:19 pm

Randy Bowman wrote:Three days ago I noticed my sense of smell was improving, despite my allergies and allergy meds.

Tonight we are opening a 2015 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast P/N. We know and love the wine so it will be a measure we start with. Last night I could smell alcohol/chemicals in the first wine. Tonight's KB, I smell black fruits. Subtle but there and the first sip is also black fruits accompanied by some heat.

The first thing Carrie noticed was that she could smell towel in the glass. I used a brand new towel when I washed the glasses today. Ten minutes later, I think I smell towel in my glass. She had to have planted the thought.

The wine is opening up with black cherry and blackberry, a finish growing in length and some acidity to clip the finish. Overall, it is the KB I'm used to. The fruit flavors may be a little "cleaner" and it may taste a little sweeter to me. Carrie drinks it faster than she used to so it must taste good to her.

30 minutes open, it is black cherry start to finish and has gained weight.
That is awesome.
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#18 Post by David K o l i n » May 2nd, 2018, 4:35 am

Well done, Randy and Carrie. I was a pack a day smoker when I was in wine retail, and I found that I couldn’t critically evaluate wines during the short periods I had quit - I was used to tasting though the filter of smoke. When I quit for good 25 years ago, it did take my palate (mostly my sense of smell) 6 months or so to recalibrate fully. It didn’t effect the wines that I preferred though.

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#19 Post by David Cohen » May 2nd, 2018, 5:28 am

Ex smoker (15 years ) pack a day plus a few cigars daily. I noticed my sense of smell and taste shift/re calibrate after quitting and for a while thereafter. Expanded my wine and food likes (and dislikes) I was not dealing with the smoke/tobacco odors anymore. Still enjoy those big cabs however.
For those struggling with wants of cigarettes after quitting or struggling with quitting smoking might I make a book suggestion. Allen Carr Easyway to stop smoking is a self help type of book which for whatever reasons works awesomely well. My copy is signed by me and handfuls of friends and family who had read it. Only 1 of those signatures ever had another cigarette. Very fast read as well.

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#20 Post by scamhi » May 2nd, 2018, 5:43 am

congratulations on quitting. The adjustment curve will be short and hopefully your life longer
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#21 Post by Humberto Dorta » May 2nd, 2018, 6:51 am

Congrats guys!
Bad news for you though...I started drinkig a lot more French wines after I quit smoking. The KBs of the world though still appealing on a day where bourbon would be, are no longer what I want to drink on a daily basis. Too much of a good thing, now that I can smell and taste lol
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#22 Post by dteng » May 2nd, 2018, 6:18 pm

So...can we finally get some fine Burgundy in that store??! ;) :P
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#23 Post by Randy Bowman » May 2nd, 2018, 6:42 pm

dteng wrote:So...can we finally get some fine Burgundy in that store??! ;) :P
[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

Actually, I think we have 2 or 3. We just don't talk about them because we don't know how to pronounce the screwy names.
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#24 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » May 2nd, 2018, 6:43 pm

Randy Bowman wrote:
dteng wrote:So...can we finally get some fine Burgundy in that store??! ;) :P
[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]
Again, drink more Maison Ilan
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#25 Post by Matthew Brown » May 2nd, 2018, 6:53 pm

Bill Tex Landreth wrote:
Randy Bowman wrote:
dteng wrote:So...can we finally get some fine Burgundy in that store??! ;) :P
[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]
Again, drink more Maison Ilan
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#26 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » May 2nd, 2018, 6:56 pm

Hate is such a strong word
It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would be doing it if it were easy.

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#27 Post by Randy Bowman » May 3rd, 2018, 7:37 pm

Lay's Barbecue chips do taste like dried BBQ sauce instead of red salt. If that's an improvement. Carrie ate the Doritos Nacho Cheese chips so fast I didn't get any, but she can't describe any flavors.
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#28 Post by C. Bowman » May 3rd, 2018, 8:07 pm

Rivers Marie Pinot tastes as good or better than I ever remember. Yum!

Dan, BYOB (Bring Your Own Burgundy) [stirthepothal.gif]

It's been an exciting adventure to revisit wines we've loved and some we still do and others are "WTF were we thinking?" the adventure continues [cheers.gif]
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#29 Post by Kirk.Grant » May 3rd, 2018, 8:12 pm

I remember shifting away from the "big reds" for a period of time after quitting smoking and drinking more white wines. Eventually my palate shifted back after I got used to things...but there was definitely a part of wines I was missing because my palate was so torched as a smoker. I think you'll get and understand wines with subtle nuances more now if your experience is anything like mine. Just give yourself some time and a little patience.
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#30 Post by Randy Bowman » May 3rd, 2018, 8:22 pm

Kirk, what's kind of funny/odd is I would notice some spice or flavor in a wine neither Carrie nor the wine rep would notice when they were showing the wines. Later, when we researched the winemaker's notes, they were describing the spice or flavor I noticed. I think some of those winemakers were smokers.
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#31 Post by dteng » May 4th, 2018, 5:50 pm

C. Bowman wrote:Rivers Marie Pinot tastes as good or better than I ever remember. Yum!

Dan, BYOB (Bring Your Own Burgundy) [stirthepothal.gif]

It's been an exciting adventure to revisit wines we've loved and some we still do and others are "WTF were we thinking?" the adventure continues [cheers.gif]
BYOMagnums which I still have Carrie...
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#32 Post by Randy Bowman » May 4th, 2018, 7:21 pm

2014 Kanzler Family Vineyard Sonoma Coast P/N. Carrie tests it and says it's fine, so I pour. My first three sips were chemical/alcohol weirdness and it burns on the way down. Try chewing the wine, swishing etc., and some fruit shakes out so it is now black cherry/chemical/alcohol. Notice I also have no sense of smell tonight. After 30 or 40 minutes either the wine or my taste buds settle in and it's the wine I remember and enjoy.
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#33 Post by Randy Bowman » May 5th, 2018, 7:55 pm

Revelation or musing? Tar on taste buds from cigarettes conceal high alcohol levels AND the high alcohol levels are required to remove tar slowly from the taste buds. It may be the taste buds opened up versus the wine opening up.

For the second time we opened a daily drinker and thought the wine was off, both being the only "bad" bottle we ever had from the producers.
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#34 Post by Marcus Dean » May 5th, 2018, 8:01 pm

your palate will be all over the place for around 12 weeks, or least that is what happened to me

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#35 Post by David Glasser » May 5th, 2018, 8:24 pm

Not just the taste buds, Randy, but there are all sorts of changes going on in your nose, throat and respiratory tract that will affect your sense of smell.

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#36 Post by Robert M yers » May 6th, 2018, 3:25 am

I’m waiting for a Kraft Mac and cheese TN.

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#37 Post by Sanjay Shampur » May 6th, 2018, 7:25 am

Congratulations! I smoked for close to 30 years but never heavily - 3 packs a week usually. I quit about four years ago, and rarely miss it.

My palate has definitely changed since I quit smoking - until I saw your post, I had not given any thought regarding wine preferences being influenced by this. I did however note to myself, that the food starting tasting a lot better. I was never a fan of rich foods, but I used to be able to eat a lot more of it before quitting smoking than I can now.

After seeing your post and other replies, I think I can confidently say that my tastes have definitely changed. Part of it also is my evolution as a wine drinker, but generally, over the last three years, I have come to prefer a lighter bodied wine. I seldom enjoy wines with high ABV or highly extracted fruit, and I think part of the reason is that now I taste things in those wines that I did not before.

Congratulations again and I hope there are no relapses - took me three tries to finally kick the habit.

Cheers.

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#38 Post by Randy Bowman » May 7th, 2018, 8:16 pm

Robert M yers wrote:I’m waiting for a Kraft Mac and cheese TN.
Believe it or not, it was better than I remember.

Tonight is a day short of 3 weeks. The 2015 Paul Hobbs RRV P/N we opened was spot on for both of us, so maybe we've settled in. A rep shows up and pours us a glass of Diora La Petite Grace P/N from Monterey. It tastes like coffee, (Syrah). Carrie checks to see if it's the area of the Los Alturus vineyard from Belle Glos. Yes. Next door neighbors.

I think we are getting there.
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#39 Post by Randy Bowman » May 8th, 2018, 7:33 pm

Hahn SLH Piinot Noir is just stellar tonight.

From the salt and pepper thread a revelation: We have cheese and crackers with our wine and tonight the crackers tasted saltier than usual.
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#40 Post by Randy Bowman » May 11th, 2018, 7:48 pm

At almost 4 weeks, wine seems to have settled in for the most part and we are enjoying the wines we liked even more.

Food is becoming an issue now. More flavor both good and bad while salt is being identified as an over used ingredient. Sorry, Kraft Mac & Cheese with a couple slices of American Cheese slices and bacon bits tastes better than ever. [wink.gif]

Carrie makes a chicken piccata that was always good and now is stellar. She makes a rice with sauteed onions, roasted garlic, smoked paprika and oregano with a chicken base that is so complimentary to, yet so different from the chicken piccata you can't stop eating it.
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#41 Post by Randy Bowman » May 11th, 2018, 8:16 pm

Well I stand corrected on how wine tastes. Had a familiar wine tonight that has totally different set of components than it did a month ago. Fortunately the components are pleasant but I would not have recognized the wine in a blind tasting.
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#42 Post by Mike Maguire » May 11th, 2018, 9:41 pm

Randy Bowman wrote:At almost 4 weeks, wine seems to have settled in for the most part and we are enjoying the wines we liked even more.

Food is becoming an issue now. More flavor both good and bad while salt is being identified as an over used ingredient. Sorry, Kraft Mac & Cheese with a couple slices of American Cheese slices and bacon bits tastes better than ever. [wink.gif]

Carrie makes a chicken piccata that was always good and now is stellar. She makes a rice with sauteed onions, roasted garlic, smoked paprika and oregano with a chicken base that is so complimentary to, yet so different from the chicken piccata you can't stop eating it.
Congrats Randy, keep it going [cheers.gif]

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#43 Post by Arthur Gamon » May 12th, 2018, 11:50 am

Randy, congrats on the path you have chosen. Following you with great interest, even though I don't smoke.

BTW, will Carrie share her Chicken Piccata recipe??
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#44 Post by Randy Bowman » June 1st, 2018, 7:52 pm

My sense of smell is improving. Unfortunately, it seems to be at its best at the most inopportune times. I'll leave it at that.
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