What’s your poison?

In the US thirty years ago, wine drinking was passe. It was seen as vaguely pretentious, the province of connoisseurs and poseurs.

(One of the alcohol books I read recently went into the history of this quite a bit. The growth in the alcohol – especially wine – industry is almost entirely due to an increase in women’s drinking. Men’s rate of alcohol intake has remained fairly steady. Scary.)

I can attest to feeling the shift toward wine somewhere in the mid-90’s. Suddenly wine was everywhere. So when I started drinking daily ten or so years later, wine was a natural choice. Europeans drink two glasses of wine every day, don’t they? Tannins are good for your heart. It also seemed to fit with a persona I wanted to create – that of a mom who wore motherhood lightly, who didn’t let it become my defining characteristic.

Wine was great. So how did I get to brandy?

There were a few reasons. What started it is that I bought a bottle for a recipe. The recipe called for two tablespoons, and after that I had a bottle sitting in the cupboard which would be a pity to waste.

The second is that I got a kick out of the way brandy is talked about as having medicinal value, especially in British fiction of the 19th century. “She’s had a shock – fetch the brandy!” This is part of my Xer heritage – the notion of being hip by taking something hopelessly stodgy and lame and enjoying it ironically. (Hipsters going bowling is the ultimate example of this.)

But here’s the real reason, the main reason: wine wasn’t doing it for me anymore, it wasn’t giving the punch I needed. I also had to drink so damn much of it. It was getting conspicuous. Brandy, with its higher alcohol content, enabled me to drink less for the same effect. Brilliant.

I read somewhere, have no idea if it’s true, that hardcore alcoholics all end up drinking straight vodka as their preferred drink of choice. No messing around. And I’ve certainly read personal stories from drinkers who drank cooking wine, mouthwash, cologne … you get to a certain point, it doesn’t matter what form the poison comes in, as long as you get it.



7 thoughts on “What’s your poison?

  1. Oh my gosh. I think I might be a 59-yr-old hipster! I’ve been trying to get someone to tell me exactly what a hipster is for years and now I think I understand:))!

  2. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/02/wine-sales-women
    “Women buy 80% of bottles drunk at home…prefer to drink it alone, in the bath.”
    I just preferred to drink it alone, period. That and the cooking sherry that sometimes didn’t make it into the recipe without having to go out and buy a second bottle.
    Surprisingly, to myself mostly…well, that’s not true, it probably surprises my family too… there is a bottle of merlot currently in the house that is not even whispering my name these days.
    Go figure.

  3. I had always drank beer, occasionally, sometimes to excess, until I hit the ripe age of 54. My wife does not approve of drinking and I only did this when she was not around. When I turned 54, life/work was becoming unbearable, so one day, I bought a pint of Vodka and found that it would mix with anything. I was drinking all day long but was still functional. It got to the point where I started drinking Vodka straight from clear water bottles. Nobody knew until I started losing control and was heading for rock bottom. My wife did not realize I was drinking until I came home from work, one day, stumbling drunk. I had already realized that I was in trouble and tried to quit on my own but could not control myself. The people at work had also noticed and I was told to get help or get lost. The whole drinking episode had lasted only 2 years but I spent the next 2 3/4 years to get to now, where I’m almost a year sober. During one point of my recovery, I had been sober for 6 months and decided to try a beer, since I had always been able to control that. That led to a relapse of beer drinking for 2 months. That was my last relapse, ending 3/3/14. So now I know, that any type of alcohol is my poison. I won’t even try food/deserts if it has any type of alcohol added. That’s how fragile I feel. Then again, I feel stronger because I recognize my weakness and have the strength to avoid my poison.

  4. I was a wine and vodka drinker.
    Not anymore!
    I loved reading Ann’s book, too!
    Nice to read your blog!
    Peace and Hugs,

  5. I was mainly a wine drinker, but hubby was a jack guy. Eventually I just started drinking that too. We could buy bigger bottles.
    Slippery slope.
    Fortunately we both dropped that habit. Sober has been good to is. It is worth the effort.

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