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…
Can you relate to this?
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.”
What did you think of wine the first time you tried it?
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.
Before you get too angry…
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.”
Why this all matters
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.