Wine – sophisticated beverage or rotting fruit juice?

What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

This blog serves partly to cleanse my inner self of all the negativity I put it through as a result of binge drinking for twenty years, but I hope that it also acts as a catalyst for others to question their own relationship with alcohol and maybe set out on the path to change.

Some memories that I recall from the alcohol-fuelled existence I endured for a fifth of a century are painful to write about, although ultimately, this blog is making me feel better, happier, more balanced. Writing is the best method for me to throw out my feelings and give them a good shake, before replacing them in a more structured and productive way. In doing so, I hope that what I write about resonates with, and helps, others who have their own battles with alcohol to win.

My thought for the day goes like this; on Sunday I picked up my daughter from a swimming party and drove home through an area that we used to live in several years ago, when I was probably close to my worst in terms of booze. We drove past an off-licence, the one where I used to buy most of the wine I drank, the one you see in the picture here – The Dram Shop.

The place where I spent literally thousands of pounds on rotting fruit juice

Now I am not apportioning blame to the people who own or run this shop – they’re merely representing society’s overriding perception of wine and its place in our lives. It’s just that now I don’t drink, I see wine for what it really is; overpriced, up-its-own-arse liquid made from rotting fruit; its warm, fruity notes and buttery textures, its opulent style and crisp, acidic tang, all flamboyant semantic creations dreamt up by people who are at once in denial about alcohol’s characteristic, first and foremost, as an addictive drug, and who are primarily after making a quick buck.

Inside this off-licence, the walls are made up of shelves of dark wood, stacked to the rafters with bottle upon bottle of ‘quality’ wine. The assortment of wine on offer is divided in to country or area of origin, so you will see labels bearing the words ‘South American,’ ‘Chilean,’ ‘Bordeaux,’ ‘Australian,’ ‘New World,’ and so on, each with a short description of the individual wine and its supposed taste. The staff are well-equipped with knowledge about their produce and are quick to leap to your side to suggest a ‘complex, yet delicate Chablis,’ or a ‘Gewurztraminer, rich with a honeyed sweetness,’ should you demonstrate the merest hint of hesitation.

Inside this shop, I fooled myself repeatedly about my addiction to alcohol. It mattered not that I had just stumbled in there after sinking a few beers in the pub down the road, only to buy yet more of this poison we call alcohol to drink when I reached home. Forget the fact that I had already superseded the government’s recommendation of alcohol units per week, four times over, and was about to add to my intake substantially through the consumption of a crisp Pinot or a velvety Merlot.

I was a wine connoisseur; I knew my Chablis from my Chardonnay, and I was happy to pay through the nose for a damn good bottle of the stuff. It is only now, with the benefit of many months of sobriety behind me, that I see wine and the way that its drinkers perpetrate the myth that it is somehow refined, elegant and sophisticated, for what it really is; one of the cleverest and most effective examples of marketing ever developed in the Western world. I am eternally grateful that I woke up and smelled the Cabernet Sauvignon, so to speak, once and for all. 

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