My best friend and I just redrafted our rules on what was reasonable wine consumption for our girls night when I came across an article on Huffington Post Women about a love affair with wine. (Original article can be found here) It struck a chord. I read it and sent the link to my friend. Then I sat down at my computer and decided I need to write.
I was a very late bloomer when it came to alcohol. I honestly waited until I was twenty- one to drink. My wild birthday festivities included Chinese take out with my family and some Kahlua Mudslide. After dinner I poured a small glass, took a few sips and passed it off to my dad.
For the next couple of years the only thing I found that I liked was Mike’s Hard anything or Smirnoff Ice. I was mocked by friends when we’d go out for drinks, even sometimes teased by bartenders for my choices. Despite the fact Mike’s and Smirnoff were basically sugar water with a splash of alcohol I would have one or two at most.
By the age of twenty four I was working in a hair salon alongside women who were in their thirties and forties. These women drank and they would invite me out for drinks after work on Saturday. They’d have martinis or cosmos, or wine. I remember taking their advice and getting a lemon drop martini. About two sips into it I was clinging to the bar stool. I did not have the tolerance for this sort of thing but I was determined to learn. They seemed so fabulous and cultured, having a drink after work, talking about life and love.
To their credit, these women helped me to embrace ME. To realize that everyone walks their own path in life. Which is why I enjoyed our after work drinks so much. Over time I could have a martini (or maybe two) with them. It felt great to have female friends to go out and have a drink with and vent about everything and anything. While they taught me to drink martinis or other mixed drinks I couldn’t seem to embrace their appreciation for wine. I couldn’t get past the taste of it.
A few years, a couple of career changes, and a freshly broken heart later I started waitressing at an Italian chain restaurant. It was a requirement of all persons of age to sample our signature alcoholic beverages, including the wines. Somehow, having wine at 7am, something clicked. I suddenly liked the taste of it. I felt like I had advanced to womanhood: I liked wine. Granted I started drinking white zinfandel when I’d go out before graduating to Rieslings, Pinot Grigios and then Chardonnay. My girlfriends and I agree wine is typically a journey. Thanks to my best friend I moved over to reds and now mainly drink Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine absolutely become a source of bonding. To this day, my best friend and I can’t tell you how we became friends. We worked together and somehow that led to going out for drinks after work. When she left our mutual place of employment to go on to her “big girl job,” we agreed to meet at least once a week for drinks.
Weekly drinks became a time of bonding. I can agree with complete certainty that alcohol is a social lubricant. After a glass of wine (or several) you find yourself spilling your fears, your deepest darkest secrets, your hopes. I can recall coming home after drinks playing back some of the conversation in my mind thinking, “I can’t believe I admitted to that.” I quickly shrugged it off knowing that confession is good for the soul.
My story, my growth as a person, is intricately woven through countless hours and bottles of wine between friends. That comforting feeling of having just enough that breaks down inhibitions and frees the speech and mind. There is something so classy about having a glass of wine with friends..
When my grandmother passed away last year my best friend was over that night with a couple bottles of wine and a decadent chocolate cake. Every night for probably a week after her death my closest and dearest friends came over with wine and drank with me, allowing me to ramble about my grandmother. The funny stories, the sadness over her death. Wine was a coping mechanism and a bonding tool.
The combination of girlfriends and wine has been my strength, my tool for growth, my source of comfort. It’s a delicate balance that has helped me to analyze heartbreak, dreams, failures, and realizing my worth. However, like all things in life, too much is never a good thing. Something that my best friend and I have had to draw the line with very recently. Somehow one bottle between friends was easily becoming two and scarily dipping into bottle number three. Honestly at that point I couldn’t even tell you that the wine made me feel good because it made me feel ill. It led to poor decisions. It led to us proclaiming “if it is just the two of drinking our limit MUST be two bottles of wine.”
Our most recent girl’s night we did follow that rule but decided that is still one bottle too many. Two women, two bottles of wine still equals “I drank a whole bottle of wine on my own,” and that is far too much. The head ache and nausea the next day, the poor decisions, it sickens us both. So our new rule is: two people on girls night = one bottle of wine max. I know we will succeed because while we enjoy drinking wine together it is not a necessity. It’s a want, an enjoyment, a way of relaxing together and reconnecting. Wine may be a delicious indulgence but we all need our limits.