“I love white wine but it doesn’t love me” says w&h colum­nist al­li­son Pear­son


Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

Din­ner is cook­ing. The kitchen work­top is a mess be­cause you still haven’t emptied this morn­ing’s dish­washer load. your phone is buzzing, it makes you think of the work emails you need to an­swer be­fore you go to bed. that bag of dryclean­ing you meant to drop off is on the ta­ble. En­ter your daugh­ter in full teenage strop de­mand­ing to know where her red jump­suit is. “Mu-um, I need it like NoW.”

you open the fridge, grab a bot­tle of white wine and glug out a large glass. Gosh, that first de­li­cious cold sip is such a re­lief. you re­ally needed that. you take an­other and an­other and soon there’s a de­light­ful fuzzy edge to all the hard things you’re strug­gling to deal with.

Ring any bells? “Drink­ing makes many women feel like we can do the heavy lift­ing in an ever-evolv­ing, com­plex world,” writes ann Dowsett John­ston in Drink: The In­ti­mate Re­la­tion­ship Be­tween Women and Al­co­hol. “there’s this feel­ing of ‘I’m do­ing it all – why shouldn’t I have some­thing for my­self?’”

I’ve had that feel­ing of­ten. too of­ten. Enough was enough. as painful as the thought was, I had to stop drink­ing. look, I am not an al­co­holic, although al­co­holism runs in my veins. My fa­ther drank steadily, and some­times un­steadily – it was a bad sign if he opened a whisky bot­tle be­fore noon – and I feel the pull of al­co­hol like the tide feels the moon.

over the re­cent, glo­ri­ous sum­mer, chat­ting with a friend in the gar­den, we would eas­ily pol­ish off a bot­tle of rosé, and even think about hav­ing a G&t when the wine ran out. It was so hot and we were thirsty. Where’s the harm, eh?

Well, we may not care to ad­mit it, but there’s an aw­ful lot of harm that al­co­hol can do to a fe­male body. My at­ti­tude has al­ways been that the plea­sure out­weighed any po­ten­tial phys­i­cal risks. as a younger woman, I could spend a whole evening in a wine bar with lit­tle per­sonal cost. but as I en­tered mid­dle age, any wine con­sumed the night be­fore would cast a slug­gish, tetchy shadow over the next day.

“un­for­tu­nately, al­co­hol is a de­pres­sant,” my doc­tor friend said gen­tly. she was right. I started to re­ally no­tice how, after the ex­hil­a­rat­ing high, came the crash­ing low. but I car­ried on drink­ing any­way.

sadly, I’m far from alone. british women are now among the world’s big­gest drinkers, match­ing men glass for glass, ac­cord­ing to a study by The Lancet. I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered my­self a light­weight so I was shocked when a full-body scan at a bavar­ian health clinic last year found ev­i­dence of fatty de­posits on my liver. It wasn’t too bad yet, the clinic said, but I needed to take a look at my al­co­hol con­sump­tion.

I was mor­ti­fied. What were they im­ply­ing? I was a re­spectable fifty-some­thing mother hold­ing down a good job, not some alkie in the gut­ter. yet just one of those large glasses of sauvi­gnon blanc I would pour my­self prob­a­bly con­tained at least three of my per­mit­ted weekly 14 units.

one evening, Him­self and I went to a friend’s party where I swiftly had two divine straw­berry mar­gar­i­tas, fol­lowed by two, maybe three, glasses of wine. the next morn­ing, I was mighty ir­ri­tated when Him­self joked about me giv­ing rather loud in­struc­tions on the route home. “Why shouldn’t I help the cab­bie find where we live?” “Er, we didn’t take a cab, dar­ling,” Him­self smirked, “I was driv­ing our car and you sat in the back.”

so sloshed you think your hus­band is a mini­cab driver? oops. since then, barely a drop of booze has passed my lips and I’m en­joy­ing ex­per­i­ment­ing with the many non-al­co­holic sub­sti­tutes. No longer do you have to nurse a bit­ter lemon (a state of mind as much as a drink). seedlip served with slim­line tonic and lots of ice and limes could al­most be a G&t. Dry doesn’t mean dull any more. Women of my gen­er­a­tion got to do our fa­thers’ jobs, but we re­tained our moth­ers’ re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. the re­sult is some­times a pun­ish­ing dou­ble-shift that’s enough to drive any­one to drink. I don’t judge any wife or mother who uses al­co­hol to deal with stress. I did it for years. We do, how­ever, need more hon­esty about why wine o’clock has be­come such a cru­cial part of the fe­male day and why so many amaz­ing women are drink­ing them­selves into an early grave. How sad is that?

I love white wine, but it doesn’t love me. like a man who gives you a bril­liant night, then runs out in the morn­ing, it leaves me gloomy and tear­ful. since I gave up, I feel 10 times bet­ter and, iron­i­cally, much bet­ter able to cope with all those anx­i­eties I was drink­ing to for­get. to any of you who care to join me on the wagon, I raise a glass of de­li­cious (non-al­co­holic) Pome­gran­ate Ne­groni. Cheers, ladies, and your very good health! w&h

I don’t judge any wife or mother who uses al­co­hol to deal with stress – I did it for years

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