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October 6, 2013


I used to swim with a woman named Mimi, whose husband, Tim, was a winemaker. He even named his winery, Clos Mimi (apparently now no longer in business) after her.

One day Mimi reported to me that Tim had gone to a wine auction to sell some of his wine. While she was in the bathroom, he bid on and won half a case of wine.

For $1200.

She was none too pleased.

“It’s an investment,” Tim told her.

“Tim, it’s a BEVERAGE!” she yelled back.


It’s been just about six months since I quit drinking.

After living in wine country pretty much my whole life and working at several wine label printers and getting to know winemakers, I bought into the wine mystique. Wine was special, wine was magical.

Wine has endless different flavor profiles. I don’t believe for a minute that most of the people who have ever said wine has black currant flavors know what a black currant tastes like, but wine is complex and interesting.

You know what else is complex and interesting? Everything. Everything that has a flavor. People who describe bland things as “vanilla” have never slowed down and tasted the true lovely mystery of the orchid bean.

If you pay attention, asparagus has a layered flavor. And lima beans. And bread.

It is just that, as a culture, we have decided that wine is something worth noticing. And it is. But so is everything else.

After six months of not drinking, I have stepped back far enough to see Mimi’s point. Looking at it from here, wine IS just a beverage.

  1. October 6, 2013 19:10

    It is just a beverage, and not a preferred one for me. Unless there was nothing alcoholic left to drink. By then I was incapable of discerning “a fickle oaky finish.” You know, paying attention to stuff was hard for me back then. Wine was just Glug. Glug that was going to finish me with the mother of all hangovers.
    Glad you’re off the Glug.

    • October 7, 2013 21:18

      Yeah, a wine hangover has got to be the pits. I have still never had a hangover!

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 6, 2013 20:43

    10,043 days for me. And for me it isn’t a beverage. It’s a death sentence.

  3. Viviane permalink
    October 6, 2013 21:50

    Exactly. Once in a while, it hurts a little bit that I will not taste Chablis or even apple cider any more, but then I promise to myself I will drink again when I’m 100. And most of the time, I do not even think of it, there are so many tasty things in life indeed !

    • October 7, 2013 21:19

      Is apple cider alcoholic? I was insisting to Mom that apple cider and juice were the same thing…am I wrong? I can’t be wrong, can I?

      • October 13, 2013 13:23

        Depends whose definition:
        1. mass-marketed pasteurized filtered apple cider in half-gallon bottles: apple juice that is ever so slightly darker, possibly with a small amount of token sediment in the bottom (more “natural”!). (in this case, yes! you were right!)
        2. slightly less mass-marketed apple cider that often comes in gallons in the refrigerated section: fresh unfiltered juice-from-apples (they press the apples whole, I think, instead of doing whatever manufacturers do normally to make the clear stuff? it’s often slightly fizzy, naturally) that is not clear. There’s an enormous amount of variation in flavor due to slightly different processes and significantly different apple varieties (whereas on-the-shelf apple juice generally tastes a lot like other on-the-shelf apple juice).
        3. apple cider that comes in beer bottles: fermented product that contains juice from apples (think “wine made from apple juice” more or less?)
        4. apple juice or cider #2, boiled in a pot on the stove with cinnamon and cloves and whatnot, *or* the powdered add-hot-water version thereof.

        Of the four things that I know of called “apple cider”, 2 is occasionally barely alcoholic (like a homemade rootbeer) but normally not (and would be less alcoholic than a milkshake with a lot of vanilla extract in it, for instance; we’re really talking “barely” here, since it hasn’t been deliberately fermented, it just hasn’t been *stopped* from fermenting in some cases), and 3 is a definitely alcoholic beverage that’s generally in the range of beer/wine (it’s pretty variable). I suppose #4 could be made with alcoholic apple cider as a starting beverage (like mulled wine starts with… er… wine), and would thus be alcoholic, but I’ve never seen it done.

        (Do I have geeky parties? Why yes, I do have geeky parties…)

  4. marinkanyc permalink
    October 7, 2013 04:38

    I love this. But not vanilla.

    • October 7, 2013 21:20

      Whaaaat? How do you not like vanilla? It is such a pretty flavor!

  5. October 7, 2013 07:10

    It is just a beverage. You on the other hand, are magical and special.

  6. October 7, 2013 08:19


    This is why I talk so openly about my decision to quit. This is why I’m throwing a sobriety party next month to celebrate three years. This is why I go against the social grain in more ways than just not drinking. Because everything is complex and interesting.

    • October 7, 2013 21:22

      I wish I were in the neighborhood for the sobriety party! I make some great non-alcoholic drinks. I think my favorite, though, is simply Pelligrino with a splash of pomegranate juice and a squeeze of lime.

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