Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Confessions of a Wine-Neutral

The fruit of the vine has many functions in human society, and one of them is as a signaling mechanism. Wine is the sign of Good Times Here. Stock photography is full of smiling people raising glasses to each other, clearly having the times of their lives, and we buy that because we understand on some level that Drinking = Some level of bliss.

Maybe this is only a thing you see if you happen to move in the circles of womanhood, but there is this meme that women love wine. Love it. If you're out with the girls, you're drinking. If the kids are wearing us down, we're having a glass. Is it too early to start drinking? people ask one another, ha ha. If you're a woman and you're not having wine, you're probably wishing it was time to pour yourself a tumbler.

This is all very amusing, of course, but it's mostly meaningless to me. I'm going to come out and say it: I'm not all that into wine. I don't hate it, of course. I drink it when it's offered, and sometimes I even prefer a glass with dinner. Having wine with friends is fun, though it's more the friends than the wine. I can tell when I've had just enough that I feel easy and relaxed, and that's nice, I guess. It's not a torment to drink it.

But to tell the truth, the taste of alcohol is really something I can take or leave alone. If I've had a hard day and I open the fridge, and I'm confronted with a choice of a bottle of crisp white wine or a bottle of flavored sparkling water, the kind that's just water that smells of lime, I'm going to choose the sparkling water, because I like it better. If I'm on my own, no social compunctions, I'm picking water. I'm a slow drinker, always a glass or two behind everyone else, and that's the way I like it. If I hear myself slurring a word, I put the glass down and I'm finished.

But you know, I feel like I'm outside of some great brotherhood of man, where everyone is loving their alcoholic beverage and counting down the minutes until their next drink of vinous goodness. I do like a hard cider, and there have been times where I've thought, "Oh, hey, I have a hard cider in the fridge, yay!", but as I can only drink half of one before it goes flat, there's a natural limit to the fun there. I'm trying to think if I've ever walked to a bottle and poured off a glass just because it was there, or because it was 5:00, or because I needed a drink, and... I'm not coming up with much.

And I start to wonder: is this all just a big marketing scam? Are there other people out there, like me, who really could care less? (Don't get pedantic on me here; we all know that "could care less" and "couldn't care less" mean the same thing, phrasewise.) Are there others who join in the joshing about the vino and then go home and make a cup of tea instead? The whole purpose of the internet is so that like people can finally find each other and band together. Wine-Neutrals, stand with me, and raise a glass of the non-alcoholic beverage of your choice, the one you pick when you really have your druthers. Cheers.


August said...

This has a lot to do with having a good family life.

Anonymous said...

II do sometimes feel left out of something I don't understand, but it's an island of my own choosing. I grew up as a child of alcoholics, so even the possibility of doing that to my own kids outweighs whatever social/emotional benefits drinking might provide.


Karie, the Regular Guy's Extraordinary Wife said...

Not a big wine drinker, nor much of any alcohol. I do tend to like "sweet drinks" but not with any regularity. If we are out with friends or celebrating, I might order a drink with dinner or at a bar (naturally). But home I'd rather just drink water or some fruit/tea combo.

Anonymous said...

Child of an alcoholic here, married to a heavy drinker. I hit a wine sale one summer, bought 20 something bottles of wine at $3 a pop, and I hate to say it, but they were gone in a month. It was a nice summer, but I didn't especially like who I was then. Made a big effort to back up, rebuild my tolerance, and now, one glass puts me directly to sleep, and then wakes me up intermittently for the rest of the night. It's just not worth it anymore.

Not sure I'm an alcoholic, but definitely have the tendency to over drink. I think that summer woke me up to the possibility that I could easily go down an expensive and destructive path with alcohol if I work at it. And I tend to keep it to myself (even trying to minimize the signaling) when I'm working at it.

The wine-brags, I think, signal not only good times, but bad times. They say, "I have reasons to drink," even if the person doesn't act on it.

Alcoholics drink in good times and bad, whether they have reasons or not.

mandamum said...

I like cider, but like you I tend to make it through only half the bottle. I prefer tea (except during pregnancy, when it makes me nauseous, boohoo) or sparkling water of pretty much any kind. For me, the wine-as-celebration is a symbol and only a symbol.

When I got to college ("where beer is the fourth member of the trinity" - guess where I went) people around me were telling me I would get used to the flavor of beer, and of alcohol generally, but really - why? If it's good for me, I might work at it until I get to appreciate the peculiar whatever-it-is, but just for a supposed treat?

In grad school, we had "tea" M-Th, and then "wine and cheese" Friday afternoons, which included a lovely selection of cheeses and bread/crackers... oh, and some things to drink, over on the side there, if you were so inclined. Near the end of my time there, the beer people won a concession, and the wine monopoly was over.

Personally, I prefer the virgin types of most drinks too - the alcohol seems to ruin rather than enhance the other flavors. (And if you need to cut the sweetness of a coke, why not cut it with regular seltzer instead of rum?) But I've always just assumed I was odd that way, and happy to stay odd :)

Kate said...

I don't especially love wine. It's pleasant, but I don't tend to find myself wanting it more than any of the alternatives. Port, though--I'll have a small glass of port if I have it in the house. Or a shot of ouzo or sambuca. I do rather like the warm buzz of a strong drink. I don't drink much or often though because I'm very cognizant of being the only adult in the house, even if all the kids are in bed.

Normally the only alcohol in the house is a bottle of rum so I can offer guests a rum and coke and so I can make myself a hot rum milk punch in midwinter or a mojito in summer.

mandamum said...

... And when friends around me start the "is it too early to start drinking" routine, it doesn't sound like fun - rather like tears glossed over with a joke.

Jenny said...

I enjoy a glass of wine while I don't love beer. A good cider is nice.

But I have never really been a member of the drinking culture because we really can't afford it. I don't see how people have a glass every day without it obliterating the food budget. If we had a glass of wine every day, the cheapest it could be is around $100 a month. That's significant in my world. The same thing with drinking at restaurants. Seven dollar drinks? Are you nuts?

Then I remember that most people don't live in a state controlled by an unholy alliance between teetotalers and the liquor lobby. It's crazy expense because they want it to be. It suits their purposes.

So I guess you can say I'm a Wine-Neutral, but more out of necessity.

MrsDarwin said...

I think it's true that harder circumstances could drive one to crave the comfort of alcohol, but I do think it depends on the people. My parents had a much more difficult and unhappy marriage than I do, but neither of them drank. My dad is a teetotaler, doesn't even like the taste of alcohol, and my mom only has a glass of wine socially.

Mandamum, I agree that joking about wine does often sound like a socially acceptable way to say that you're crawling up the walls right now.

Sweet alcoholic beverages are something that doesn't appeal to me at all. I can enjoy a glass of wine, and I can tell good wine from cheap wine and prefer the good, but the kind of sugarballs served up as women's cocktails. Sweet wines don't do it for me either.

It's not that I don't like alcohol, but that I never crave it, so when I drink it, it has to be something worth drinking.

Emily J. said...

This is timely - I was just talking to someone about how it seems like everyone in southern California is a wine addict. Guess it's not just here. I can see how the ready availability of decent inexpensive wine and beer makes it easier for our generation than our parents' (Pabst and Boone's?) to drink regularly. I agree, that the statements like "I can't wait for that glass of wine" is often an expression of a desire for comfort of some sort. Do people have a harder time now dealing with boredom/suffering/loneliness? Just conjecturing, or idealizing the past. I like some wines, beer, and liqueurs like sambuca and limoncello, but I'm too cheap to drink them often. And in awkward social situations, I have a tendency to drink more than a should, an inclination I'm not proud of. My real guilty pleasure is a cold diet Coke. I know they are horrible for you, but they taste so good on a hot day. And I'm addicted to coffee, but recent research says caffeine may stave off Alzheimer's, so I'm not inclined to break the habit yet.

Anonymous said...

I've never gone crazy for alcohol and I do think there's a strong socialization and marketing component to a lot of drinking that goes on. On the other hand, I'm a recluse who doesn't watch TV and I've found myself drinking wine more often as the years go by. I guess I could go for the idea that it's one of the essential, magical bounties of God's earth.

That, and Jack Daniels.

Marisa said...

We got five bottles of wine for Christmas. One was given away, one I had a glass or two of but the flavor was rather bitter and the other three are sitting on the counter unopened. I like wine if I'm going to have a glass of something, but honestly I prefer a hard lemonade or a glass of Arbor Mist. But we like to joke we spend more money on not drinking than drinking. We'll buy a six pack of beer, two will be consumed and the rest will sit in the fridge for months. I don't understand the constant stream of alcohol culture either. Now, caffeine, that's another story.

bibliotecaria said...

I grew up in a teetotal household, so I just never really developed a taste for it as a first choice. I do drink it, and recently I've been trying out some of the hard liquors, with an attitude of exploration, but it's still the occasional thing for me, not an everyday drink. Water is my default choice, honestly. And the attitude of relaxation=alcohol... um, no. Coffee or tea or sparkling lemonade is more likely to be my choice for that.

Anonymous said...

I don't drink wine often enough to tell good from bad (other than to the extent of "I like it" or "I don't"). But my mom and her boyfriend love it, and drink it all the time, and go wine-tasting (here in California) often, so I very much enjoy getting together with them and drinking what they consider to be good wine with good food. In that context I almost always enjoy it immensely.

But I rarely drink it alone. My wife doesn't drink at all, so if I open a bottle of wine it will likely go bad before I can finish it.

Amber said...

I used to drink a little wine to keep my husband company, but he stopped a little over a year ago and I haven't had any since. I don't miss it.

Son Mom said...

I don't care for the taste of wine - I actually never developed the taste for any alcoholic drinks, though will occasionally have some champagne at a celebration. My family are social drinkers, and I presumably would have been also, but by the time I was of drinking age, I was engaged to my husband, who is Asian and inherited a complete intolerance to alcohol. (He most likely has two defective copies of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene - people who have one copy are often known as having the "Asian flush" reaction). It never really seemed all that fun to be the only one having a drink, so I never developed a taste for it. Ironically, I developed rosacea later on and these days would most likely turn quite red myself every time I had a drink!