My typical Friday ritual included racing home, tumbling onto the couch, ordering take out and binging on my favorite TV shows (this was pre-Netflix). This ritual would be incomplete without a cheap over flowing glass of wine, or more honestly half bottle of wine. After de-stressing in my gluttony I would slowly drift into a tipsy sleep, only to be abruptly awoken by my phone ringing. “Get ready!” a friend would say, “I’m coming over to pre-game.” At which point I would roll off the couch, crawl into the shower and transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly. We would go out, drink more, paint the town red and as Drake would say, I would “live for the nights that I can’t remember with the people that I won’t forget.”
Something somewhere changed and forgotten fogs of epic nights were no longer enough; I wanted to remember every moment with my favorite people. Celebration took on a different meeting and Friday nights meant family, friends and unforgettable conversation. Perhaps the true change was brought about by the fact that I now held the true power, crowned DJ of my own party. Perhaps it was because my liver simply couldn’t take it anymore as I crept closer to the far end of the millennial spectrum. Somehow, somewhere along the road, memories had to be preserved and de-stressing did not call for wine.
A wave of awkwardness still falls over me when I think back to my high school health-education class, where discussing sex, drugs and alcohol would leave a room filled with hormonal teens, awfully uncomfortable. I particularly remember the day the teacher led us through the different signs of alcoholism. I remember these signs every time I come home after a long day, kick of my shoes, walk into my kitchen, scavenge for the bottle opener, pop myself on my couch, pour myself a glass of wine, sniff, sip and ahh, release an unsettling breath of ease. At this moment I would remember drinking alone is one of those signs my teacher cautioned. A slight worry would cross my mind and then quickly disseminate because it would only just be one glass of wine and having just one glass of red wine a day is good for you right?
Many researchers have found that red wine can:
1. According to the American Cancer Society an active antioxidant in red wine called quercetin helps induce cell death in certain cancers.
2. A 29 year long study showed that red wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or vodka drinkers.
3. Red wine tannins contain procyanidins that help prevent heart disease.
4. An antioxidant in red wine called resveratrol protects against cell damage and prevents mental decline from ageing
Although, many other researchers have pecked alcohol as a cause for diseases like cancer, anemia and cardiovascular disease. Most researchers agree that alcohol is not good for our health; the debate is how much becomes truly dangerous? Some researchers argue that drinking one glass of red wine a day could help prevent diseases, others argue that drinking just one glass can lead to the development of potentially fatal diseases. A recent study found that even women who were reportedly light drinkers were still at high risk for breast cancer. So is that daily glass worth it?
Having a glass of wine alone or with friends has become habit in many of our cultures. It is how many of us relax and socialize on a weekly or daily basis. Historically, in many of our cultures, wine was enjoyed during times of important celebration like weddings, birthdays and great victories. Although, today drinking alcohol has almost become a necessary prescription for any social interaction: first date, after-work, business dinner, girls night out. Perhaps even more dangerously alcohol, usually wine, has become a normalized prescription for stress. I blame Olivia Pope, as much as I love her fearless courage, impeccable strategizing and elegant ensembles, her lone liquid-binges on fine wine may have contributed to international increases in wine sales. So I ask again is alcohol really a safe way to unwind? Right now we do not know for sure but given all the mixed messages we should certainly be precautious. So why not opt for a mocktails, and night outs that call for sober karaoke, good food, good conversation and good friends.
Bonding with our families, friends, business partners and even ourselves can and should be unorthodox, and certainly does not have to revolve around a glass of wine. Yes, alcohol can be an effective social lubricant but there are many other healthier ways to connect. Another tactful liquid lubricant, we so often ignore is sweat. Sweat operates in a similar manner to alcohol. You loosen up your limbs, you’re vulnerable and this breaks down barriers allowing for bridges to be built. So why not go for a boxing class and grab lunch for your next get together?