You may have recently seen the New York Times story about the anglicized version of the Finnish word kalsarikannit. The translation, and the trending hashtag  that goes with it, is #pantsdrunk. It’s part of the Finnish of knowing you’re going nowhere, taking your pants off, and drinking at home. Perhaps this quarantine has got you a little more pantsdrunk than usual. Me too. And for me, more wine and more time means more contemplation. Here are some thoughts I’ve gleaned from my time with more time.

Bite the bullet and buy a case. As someone who buys wine frequently, one of my simpler joys is walking into a wine store, perusing for as long as I’d like and walking out with one or two bottles. But since going to the store has become a somewhat terrifying experience for people, now is not the time to buy a bottle or two. It’s time to buy a case or two. If you know you are going to drink anyway, keep the store employees and yourself a little safer by not going in there twice a week. Most stores will give you as much as a 20% case discount. Buy in bulk to advance a future pantsdrunk. While I have frequently mentioned a) how cheap I am and b) how my wife and my favorite cheap wine is the La Vielle Ferme (which you can buy in a box for like $25, by the way). I have moved on. I have a new favorite cheap wine. And, as an Italian-American, I’m proud to say I’m rediscovering my heritage and my new favorite is an Italian white from the land of my forebearers: Abruzzo. It is Tenuta i Fauri Pecorino. You may know the cheese called Pecorino. As is so often the case, wine from a place and food from a place pair perfectly, and this Pecorino wine and Pecorino cheese are a match made in heaven. Or in Italy. I have also converted my wife to this delightful and freaking cheap bottle. I saved 20% and I bought a case.

I bought a case while dressed as an astronaut. You see, Northampton has enacted an ordinance where face coverings must be worn when social distance cannot be ensured.

It just so happens that I have an astronaut costume that I purchased a few years ago to wear on my annual March for The Food Bank of Western MA. Given that I already have this full-face-shield helmet, I might as well get some extra mileage out of it. I love those cute homemade masks but have-helmet, will-travel. I now leave the astronaut costume in my car. And, whenever I need to walk into a business, I suit up. I suppose I could just wear the helmet but in for a dime, in for a dollar. I put on the orange jumpsuit and the NASA gloves. I love when I see the employees who are still putting themselves on the line at these essential businesses crack a smile or whip out their phones to steal a photo. Perhaps it brings a little joy to the madness. It’s also surprising to me when employees ask if I actually work for NASA. Come on. It’s clearly a janky halloween costume but I appreciate you believing in me to the point where you think I could actually be an astronaut. It’s long been a dream of mine. And I’m never more star struck (pun intended) than when I run into the REAL astronaut, Shelburne’s Cady Coleman.

But back to “The Case of The Case of Pecorino.” I hauled the twelve bottles in from the car, threw the astronaut jumpsuit in the laundry, and proceeded to begin the #pantsdrunk with my wife, Melissa. While Melissa enjoys wine, she doesn’t obsess over it like I do. But her reaction to this Pecorino was unlike anything I’ve witnessed from her. “I know this smell,” she says while sniffing the wine. “It smells like something from when I was a kid…” This is when wine gets fun. It is challenging you to experience something. It is a breath, or in this case a whiff, of fresh air. And during this time when it can be hard to feel engaged or hopeful, the scent of nostalgia can be a powerful force. “It smells like Cabbage Patch Kid!” But not just any Cabbage Patch Kid. “It smells like the babies. No. The PREEMIES!” The Pecorino does have a subtle baby powder nose. And a zesty lemon taste. “I think my Cabbage Patch baby’s name was Brent Allen,” she opines. I paired the Pecorino on two different nights with two Italian staples: carbonara and pan-seared gnocchi. It was wonderful.

As an Italian-American, I had made it a 2020 goal to try and fall in love with Italian wines. I have. But 2020 has turned out much differently than any of us-Italians, Americans, Italian-Americans, could have anticipated. When we’re faced with such chaos and uncertainty, we long to go back to what we know. To what comforts us. To when we had control. And when we can manufacture that feeling, it waters (or wines) our souls. Italian food does that for me. And this less-than $10 a bottle Pecorino from Tenuta i Fauri enhances that familial culinary experience. The smell of the Pecorino reminds Melissa of her Cabbage Patch Kid and transports her to a simpler, less troublesome time. A time when it seemed normal for baby dolls to have their creator’s name tattooed on their butts.

I have heard this period of time we’re in referred to as “The Great Pause.” It has given many of us more time to stop and to contemplate. To ponder the memories that waft from a glass of wine. To savor what matters most. And it’s given some of us more time to get pantsdrunk with the people we love. Buy a case of this Pecorino. Save the 20% because your economic future is uncertain. Strip off your astronaut jumpsuit and hunker down for a pantsdrunk with someone you love. Salud.