I gave up wine more than a month ago, just before all those great studies that announced how great it is for you and how you should have at least a glass a day for optimum health. Red wine is just part of the alchemy – along with fruits, veggies, olive oil and fish – that is part of the Mediterranean diet. A glass each day promises to make you as sturdy, robust and long-lived as a Greek goatherd.
So why would I give it up? The reason is simple: it doesn’t do for me what it is supposed to. For starters, once a bottle is open it is very difficult to stick to just one glass like the Mediterranean diet recommends. The liquid left in the bottle beckons. My Italian grandfathers could drink anyone under the table and heartily indulged in heavily fortified homemade wine from unmarked bottles. The Velazquez painting here shows what I feel like after more than one glass.
Wine also toys cruelly with my sleeping patterns, making me sleepy enough to zonk out on the couch during Law and Order-SVU, then waking me at 2 a.m. It toys with my judgment…after a glass or two I feel invincible enough to attack the junk food cabinet, convinced that nothing I consume will matter and that my body will take pity on me since I am too buzzed to be responsible for myself. After a few weeks of daily wine drinking I feel like these gals.
Finally, wine toys with my moods, making me feel as sunny as the Sardinian coast, then stupid as a tottering mountain goat, and finally – after a few days – like this:
For all of the above reasons – plus the fact that my husband decided to go on a diet six weeks ago – I gave up my daily ritual of pouring a glass of wine (or more) just before dinner. Now I brew tea. It’s not the same. For Twilight fans, it’s the equivalent of the Cullen family preying on animals instead of humans. Or for carnivores, giving up animals for vegetables.
Tea is pinched and disciplined; wine is florid and impulsive. Tea is Downton Abbey’s dowager countess; wine is a young Sophia Loren in a peasant dress. The ritual of setting on the kettle and listening for the whistle is pleasant and relaxing, but can’t compare to uncorking a bottle of Viognier or Brunello. The Zen of Celestial Seasonings will never replace memories of wild nights spent with Robert Mondavi. Going without wine – especially when it’s one of the few vices that has been touted as so good for you – feels like missing the bus that took all your friends somewhere fun. Yet my moods are better and I think more clearly if it’s just an occasional treat rather than a lifestyle, and my husband feels the same.
So now I save wine for special occasions. Those include restaurant meals, dinner at a friend’s or relative’s house, dinners when friends and relatives come to our house, holidays like Christmas and Easter — and what the hell — the ramp-up days before and denouements after, Groundhog Day, Arbor Day, Martin Van Buren’s birthday, etc., etc.
Have any of you had to give up wine? How did it make you feel?