Could You Stop Drinking Wine?

Could you stop drinking wine for a month? 
Would it be difficult? Would you be able to let it go with no thought at all to the wines you are missing or the meals that you aren’t enhancing?

Writer Jeannine Stein of the Florida Sun Sentinel has an interesting story about a group of very physically fit people who, on the request of their "coach", attempted to give up drinking for a month. The article is very good and thought provoking. But the most interesting element of the story, to me, is this quote from Lala Alvarez, one of the participants in the month long waggoning:

"I didn’t anticipate the pressure. If I stated that I was staying away from alcohol, that’s when I felt that people were uncomfortable with me not drinking. If I didn’t say anything, didn’t make a big deal of it, they were less likely to notice."

The Pressure!!!

I’ve noticed the same thing on occasion. Usually when, for whatever reason, I tell my dining or tasting compatriots that I’m not in the mood for wine or that I’m only having one glass, they all ask the same thing: "Why?"…And it’s not just a casual "why"? It’s a slightly accusatory "Why?" laced with a bit of concern.

I think this is probably a pretty common occurrence and I think it’s also a way of expressing our natural need for group affirmation as well as the vestiges of prohibitionist thinking that appears to be a natural part of Americans’ souls.

On the one hand, approval and affirmation of your lifestyle is a pretty strong motivator. It surely has something to do with people looking at you askance with drink in hand and surrounded by others with drink in hand and who ask, "Why?!?" But there’s more. Beyond this natural tendency to look at the maverick with an inquisitive eye, we also understand that Alcohol alters us. And there is something about being altered that is both exciting and lascivious? There’s something about consuming a mind altering substance that is "wrong". I know that sounds odd from the proprietor of FERMENTATION: THE DAILY WINE BLOG but here in America with our 21 years of government-imposed sobriety, our MADDs and the media’s attention getting stories on "Binge Drinking" there is a tendency to put alcohol consumption on a slightly askew pedestal.

This gets us back to the accusatory and concerned "Why?!?!"

Lala Alvarez certainly bumped up against the affect of people wanting the other people around them to engage in the same, slightly naughty event.

Why this should be, this importance of the "group drinking together", isn’t that important. It is what it is. What’s more important is how you react to such circumstances. It strikes me that if you are the type
of person who always succumbs to the requests of the group to drink, when you don’t want to,
you probably shouldn’t be a drinker.

That said, could you go without wine for a month?

Posted In: Culture and Wine


4 Responses

  1. Craig Camp - December 13, 2005

    I have to say what I notice most when not drinking (for whatever reason) is that eating becomes a lot less interesting. Not being one who drinks much without food, I seem to have totally integrated wine and food and they seem a bit empty own.

  2. Terry Hughes - December 13, 2005

    The question resonates with me. I’ve been thinking lately of devoting a blog entry to the feeling of “lost purity” that occurred when I first started drinking again after 22 years of total sobriety. Also the feeling of finally fitting in again after years of awkward sobriety.
    Funny–I do recall very well the way some people reacted when I stopped drinking. At first concern and bemusement, later hostility. Time to get new friends.
    I have been drinking wine for four years again, and it’s been mostly a blessing. Few are the evenings I don’t have wine with dinner (like tonight), and, like Craig, I feel that a good dinner without it is missing an important ingredient.
    Could I go for a month without drinking? I guess so; I’ve done it before. But, honestly, I denied myself one of life’s great pleasures for long enough.

  3. allan - December 14, 2005

    The other side of this coin is the pressure the other way. I have friends that I often get together with; light to moderate drinking is usually involved. When one of our friends began drinking excessively at, and outside, these gatherings, we were able to pressure her back to a reasonable amount of drinking.

  4. Kevin - January 6, 2007

    The thing I miss the most about not drinking is the wine I used to drink with my steaks…
    Man do I miss the cabernet! But I just can’t do it anymore!

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