Kate's Blog

Do You Genuinely Miss The Taste, Or Is It Something Else?

Picture this: You take a break from drinking and it goes OK… but you miss the taste of wine.

Eventually you let yourself open one of your favourite bottles… Only to discover that it’s nothing like you remembered and doesn’t taste nice.


So do you tip it away? Or do you plough on and finish the glass, wincing your way through it?

What you do next really matters and I explain why in today’s blog…

Key points

Here’s the email I received from Tiffany:

“I got through January without drinking anything but I really missed my wine. I missed the ritual of opening a bottle, the taste of it, deciding what wine to pair with my meal. I got bored of soft drinks, none of them were really any good and this is the main reason I decided to treat myself to some wine. On Thursday I finally let myself open one of my favourite bottles of red. But it didn’t taste how I remembered. It just wasn’t very nice.

“There was nothing wrong with the bottle itself and my husband, who only had one glass, said it was fine. But it didn’t taste great to me. However – and this is the bit I don’t really understand – I still drank it all. I had three quarters of the bottle. Last night I drank again because it was Friday and I drank even more. I feel so confused.”

I remember gagging on it and not liking it. It’s as if my taste buds just knew: this isn’t good for you. This is a neurotoxin. Perhaps if I’d never heard of alcohol before (and hadn’t been conditioned to think it was cool and wonderful), I might have left things there. But truthfully, I was already sold on the idea of drinking before I even started.

For many years, I sidestepped the problem of alcohol tasting gross by drinking sweet alcopops. It took time for me to build up a tolerance to the taste of wine, but when I did, it was such a relief. Wine was so sophisticated and I could pretend to drink for the taste. I found that knowing your way round a wine list is great cover for a drinking problem.

Some people are going to tell me that they genuinely do appreciate wine and they loved it right away and never lose their taste for it. That’s fine. This blog isn’t for those people. This blog is for people like Tiffany, whose email I shared above. She thought she was missing the taste, but found she couldn’t stop even when the taste was disappointing.

If you’ve had a similar experience, you want to pay attention to that. Sometimes we tell ourselves these stories like, “I just miss the taste and I can’t get this anywhere else.” That feels safer and more acceptable than saying, “Actually, what I really miss is the feeling of using this liquid drug. I miss the hit from it, I miss numbing myself and escaping my life for a bit.”

As a sobriety coach, a huge part of my work with women is helping them understand why they drink and showing them other ways to meet their needs. It’s my job to get rid of blockers such as, “I don’t know, it’s just a habit” and, “I just like the taste.” We have to go a layer deeper. If you’re telling yourself you drink because you like the taste, but also find yourself wincing at it, it’s important to acknowledge that and examine what’s really going on.

Need some help to create an alcohol-free life you love? Click here to learn more about my Getting Unstuck course.

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


33 Responses

  1. Regarding the drinking after some time off it’s exactly what you say, it’s not about the taste it’s the fact that it’s alcohol. When I have time off I admit it’s to change my mood, change the routine, feel more energised (initially).

    1. You’re not alone in wanting to change your state in some way, but there are other ways to do that with less harmful consequences. In my online course, I teach the exact tools and techniques you need to lift your mood and regain energy, find out more here: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

    2. Hi There!
      Today is Day 29 No Alcohol and I can’t believe I’m doing this. For so long I have been a loyal servant to this drug and I realize now it has not been loyal to me.
      The mantra “Overcome Fear , Behold Wonder “ keeps me going. I drank when stressed every night but now know the alcohol Kept me stressed! I’m enjoying sparkling waters etc now and do not miss my messed up mornings or sleep !!
      If I can keep going anyone can! Thank you Kate and I do so appreciate your videos and emails!! Happy New Year to All!

      1. Sorry I got off track there. Taste was never the issue for me bc whether I liked it or not I drank for the alcohol effect. I’m trying to find mixing new drinks to try and fill that void and plenty of new self care routines .Im starting to feel good about myself . Thank you Kate

  2. I love reading all these emails they are helping me so much . I have no desire to drink wine the thought of it makes me feel a bit quizzy and I hope it lasts its been 14 days since I stopped drinking and I feel great. Thank you Kate

    1. Well done on 14 days Kath! The first few days are often the hardest, so keep going – the best is yet to come. 🙂

  3. Your videos are so enspiaring (if that’s spelt correctly!) I struggle so much to stop, but tonight’s chat has helped me to get over the 6 o’clock wine witch…… Thank you

  4. I have had the same experience of my favorite wine tasting bad but finishing all of it anyways. I will go weeks without drinking only to open a bottle when the stress of life gets to me. And another yucky bottle of wine goes down my throat. Then it takes at least three days to feel myself again. Not sure why I am so self sabotaging

  5. When I first tasted wine I thought it was horrible but because everyone was drinking it I endured the taste and kept drinking it.

  6. I’ve felt the urge to have a drink but when I think about doing it the feelings of how I felt overwhelmed me. So I haven’t since 1st
    January. I never have done dry January and had already committed to 6 weeks after Kate’s masterclass. I’m doing ok, don’t get me wrong I think about drinking but have found it’s more a habit than anything else. I’ve found some AF sparkling wine substitutes which are probably calorific but when I feel myself looking at the bottles in the supermarket, they’re my go to. I already love the fact I can get up, walk the dog and jump in the car to meet friends without the fear of being over the limit.
    My son said something about what’s the point in drinking nonalcoholic drinks – I don’t have the answer apart from I’m feeling better

    1. The benefits of not drinking continue to enhance every area of your life. From early starts, to having more energy and being able to drive at any time. When you feel better, life seems a little easier. ❤️

  7. Hi Cherill, well done you on a dry January. Maybe the response to your son should be “it’s just a drink…” Should it matter that there’s no alcohol in it? Would anyone question you having a cup of tea without sugar in it, or a cappuccino without the choccie sprinkles? I’ve been experimenting with AF alternatives and there are some good ones out there – mostly lower in calories – so bonus!! Also, you don’t question the 600+ calories in a bottle of wine (plus hangover food!) so I say enjoy your alternatives guilt free!

    1. I’m still with you Kate loving your blogs, I’m now 19 months alcohol free . My life is amazingly different I feel free from this stuff and I can’t thank you enough for making me look at it for what it really is.

  8. Hi Katie I did 100 days af then I decided and got curious about how alcohol would effect me now so I stupidly had some rum and coke it didn’t effect me at first what so ever until the next morning I had a massive headache for 3 days ,I can’t seem to get back on track again I keep thinking ill have a few on the weekend and have 7 or 8 shots and then my body doesn’t process it as before the 100 days why is that?

    1. Unfortunately taking a break from booze doesn’t magically reset your relationship with alcohol. Not drinking for a while reduces your tolerance, so initially it ‘seems’ like you are controlling your alcohol intake, say after Dry January, but it’s just an illusion and very soon you’ll be back to square one. Our ability to process alcohol does decrease as we get older and there are scientific reasons for that which I won’t go into here, but suffice to say the fact is hangovers get worse as we age.

      What you have to work on is unpicking what pleasure, benefit or service you think alcohol provides, because sobriety isn’t about putting your life on hold for a month or a few weeks here and there. It’s about creating a life you don’t want to escape from. ❤️

  9. It is 78 days sober now. Thanks for your emails. I was back and forth for almost 2 years after I first too your course. Wine did not taste good so I “graduated” to Vodka with mixers. I feel so great to have pulled myself out of the pit of numbness with your help. No hangovers better sleep better skin and slimming down! Thanks I finally woke up. Very grateful!

  10. I wrote a letter to Mr Merlo and told him I couldn’t be his friend any more I told him he was a bad I fluency and I always felt dreadful after being in his company I put the letter in an envelope and let it fly away I felt so much better after wards its just a drink that plays with your brain . ( Mr Merlo the Red wine

  11. A similar experience happened for me at the weekend. My son turned 18 and had a party with lots of alcohol in the house. I was so tempted to try just in can of beer, which I did, but it tasted horrible. I had another one and exactly the same. That’s me done!

  12. I’m new to this group and I’m so impressed and grateful. I’m just starting this journey. Most of my life, I have never been a drinker (40 yrs). I hated the taste. It started 2 years ago when family strife went through the stratosphere. A friend recommended a drink now and then. Well when it numbs your pain, occasional becomes regular. So I need some suggestions. I find after a week I get extremely irritable and anxious and turn to the foul tasting alcohol to dumb the pain. I live with my 88 yr old dad and he actually goes and buys me wine when I get irritable. Not helping! But it’s beneficial to him to not listen to my crankiness. It All ties into the family issues. How do I get past this uncomfortable time period? I’ve tried thinking about how I’ll feel tomorrow etc. which I feel like a failure. Any tricks or straight forward advice would be welcome. I need to get over that hump so I can succeed. Many thanks!

    1. The reason you get irritable after a few days abstinence is because you experience cravings as you would after taking any addictive substance. Stopping drinking for a few days and going back to it is repeating the hardest part over and over again and is actually harder than taking a complete break for a while. My blog here explains the concept of being ‘good’ for a few days: https://thesoberschool.com/sobriety-feel-less-awkward/

  13. I am struggling today been thinking about wine I don’t want to drink but just want to switch off, I some bad news and feeling really down

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