The clock turned over to 3:00am. Ralph barely noticed; he was totally lost to the Internet, following link after link, conducting search after search. “This has to be it,” he murmured to himself, not even noticing that he’d spoken aloud.
He’d been working his way through the professor’s notes. It was pretty gory stuff; fungal infections that get into food crops. In this case, mainly corn. He’d been mildly revolted to find that some cultures considered the infected corn to be a delicacy, and prized it highly. Blech! He didn’t even care for mushrooms, let alone fungus-infested food.
Apparently a rare variant of the fungal species responsible had just been identified. This new variety preferred to infect grapes, and had a particular fondness for several species of grape popular among vintners.
“The descriptions are all the same. That can’t be a coincidence.” Intensified intoxication, with eventual onset of mild hallucinations. Mild at first, anyway. If what he was reading was true, there was a subtle ramping-up of the effect over time and continued imbibing.