Kate's Blog

Taste, Tolerance And Triggering Posts

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook last week:

“After Dry January, my first glass of wine tastes like 80 per cent whisky.”
It’s interesting because I’ve met people in long term sobriety who still mourn the taste of their favourite alcoholic drink. 
They really feel they’re missing out… but they’ve never stopped to consider whether their taste buds might have changed!
The end of Dry January always brings up a few interesting issues.
Over the past week I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about taste, tolerance and triggering posts…
So I wanted to tackle it all in this video:

Key points


Many of us have a story about loving the taste of wine and feeling deprived of that in sobriety. Appreciating the taste of alcohol – particularly wine – is a very socially acceptable reason to drink. 
Think back to your first drink after a break from booze. If you winced at the taste of your favourite wine, but you forced it down anyway, then you’re not truly drinking for the taste. 
You’re drinking because you want the effect of the drug in your system. It’s harder to admit that, but it’s really important to be aware of what’s driving your actions. 


After Dry January, or any break from booze, your tolerance to alcohol will be lower. This means you won’t need as much to feel the effects, so you’re more likely to be able to just have one or two drinks and then stop. 
Don’t let the tolerance trick convince you that you’ve “reset” or “learned to moderate”. And don’t beat yourself up if you later find yourself needing more and more to get the same effect. 
It’s not personal – you haven’t won or lost some willpower battle. When you’re using a powerful, addictive drug like alcohol, craving more and more of it is a predictable outcome. I talked about moderation here.

Triggering posts

If you’re struggling to change your relationship with alcohol, it can be frustrating when other people boast about how easy they found Dry January. 
Remember, being able to take a month off drinking doesn’t really mean much. Besides, what people share online only reveals a fraction of what’s really going on in their lives.
I think we’re lucky that we get to do this work and find a healthier way of handling life. Many drinkers will never get to experience just how amazing an alcohol free lifestyle is. So they’re the ones missing out, not you!
Looking for help and support to quit drinking? Click here for details of my online 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. 


22 Responses

  1. Totally agree about the taste. When I was pregnant I really missed it and yearned for a glass of wine. When I finally drank again, after my son was born, it was a disappointment. Sadly that didn’t put me off though… I wish i’d left it but I carried on. Now I’m struggling to stop again.

    1. Hi Alex, it sounds like you learned something important here regarding the taste. If you’re struggling to stop – and you’d like some help to feel good about alcohol free living – I can help. Here’s some information about my online course, which guides women through the first 6 weeks of sobriety: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

    2. The biggest change I noticed after dry January is how you can be a slave to your mind… I convinced myself that cinnamon tea was a perfect aid to a cold winters evening in January but all of a sudden when February hit I convinced myself that red wine was a perfect compliment to a cold winters evening!! It’s ridiculous really… I’m back on it this month with no booze Monday to Thursday.

      1. Another brilliant piece thank you. The taste issue is me to a t lol. I would think but I really love the taste of red wine or a certain beer. I done a few weeks without alcohol in January in actually bought McGuigans zero Shiraz which I really enjoyed still having that nice relaxing weekend feeling pouring a glass etc. But I thought I really missed the taste of real wine. So rather than buying usual 3 for £15 I bought mini bottle of Shiraz talk about being disappointed it tasted vile. I couldn’t believe it all in my head about taste all along.

  2. I have been sober for 75 days. I have a couple of bottles NA wine that I have been drinking in my wine fridge, next to some bottles of “real” wine. My husband went to open a bottle and get me a glass. I had a sip and knew right away that this was not my NA wine, as it tasted terrible! I had gotten used to the “fake” wine and actually was enjoying it.
    We threw out the rest of that bottle. I was very surprised that I did not enjoy the taste of the “real” wine and realized that my taste buds have changed.

  3. I think you’re amazing and I’m beyond thankful for all I have learned from you. Yours is a mighty calling, leaving in its wake many a healed soul. Thank you, Kate. ❤️

    1. What is the pleasure, benefit or service you feel you get from this drug? That’s a really good thing to journal on and understand. Once you know what it is you’re projecting on to alcohol, you can start doing the all important mindset work on this. I’m happy to help you with that – here’s how we can work together: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

  4. Unfortunately, I still love the taste of wine! After dry January I’m trying to teach myself about moderation. I find I’m hopeless when it comes to social pressure from close family and friends. I have had one evening this week enjoying a couple of glasses of wine recently, and using all my determination to restrict my alcohol to once / twice a week. I hope I succeed as I really appreciate a nice glass of wine with my meal. I’ve learned a lot about managing the social pressure, and your videos / advice, Kate, have been invaluable with this. Thank you ☺️

      1. Hi Kate
        I will read it! I will let you know my comments after I have read it. Thank you. I’m looking forward answers and wonder why others can manage one glass and that’s it. Perhaps your article will answer that? Thank you.

        1. Interesting the social media side of it, I can appreciate what you say about going back to alcohol and it being a disappointment, when I did DJ 2019 I had a wedding in the February and was scared to touch wine again, but eventually I did at the wedding and beyond. This Dry January is different because I haven’t set a goal but I’m in no hurry for a glass of anything, and want to do 100 days and take it from there. I would love not to touch it again because I have a thyroiditis and feel that my energy levels are good, and I don’t wanna lose that good feeling.

          1. 100 days is a really good goal to be heading towards Kate. Give yourself the gift of staying sober long enough to reach that point (and feel how much better and easier it is!)

  5. Thanks for a really interesting video, Kate. You made some excellent points. You may be interested that after six months without a single drink last year, I tried a sip of Cabernet Sauvignon and I thought it tasted disgusting! However, a sip of cold Sauvignon Blanc was actually quite nice! It made think that there may also be a link here between alcohol and sugar cravings/consumption. When I was not drinking, I began to eat a lot more cakes, sweets etc, and had to rein that in. Maybe I liked the “sweet” taste of the wine? Anyway, I did not start drinking again, but it was an interesting experiment and reaction.

    1. Most chilled drinks can be made to taste ok – that’s why cheap lagers are served ice cold. Well done for not going back to drinking!

  6. Hi Kate, Could not agree more about the taste.
    When I first started drinking at 14, I drank whiskey with loads of coke. Coke to sweeten the disgusting taste of whiskey. The more I drank, the less coke I put in. My taste buds were getting accustom to the poison. When I got older it was cooler to drink wine and I remember staring with sweet white wine. Oh the hangovers there. Older still it was soooo much more sophisticated to drink red wine and I distinctly remember not liking the taste at all and they getting accustom to it.
    As for moderation, I know that does not work for me. I have tried it and as you said in your post here, I start back slow and then build up to where I was before. The thing that scared me that when I had a break and then went back to the poison I would often end up drinking more every night.
    I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement but last year I found you and I have not looked back. I did your getting unstuck course in October 2020 and am now in the Sober Club. Amazing women there. Supportive, kind and courageous. They are my safety net. 138 days AF today and counting. Thank you Kate. I could not have done this without you. Love and hugs to you x

    1. I had a similar journey with sweet alcoholic drinks, before moving on to sweet wines and eventually the drier stuff. Thank you for your lovely comments Sue – I’m so pleased to see you at 138 days and I’m delighted to hear the course helped you! 🙂

  7. Kate, I couldn’t agree more with this video! Everything you say here is bang on. I am alarmed by how quickly I develop a tolerance when I go back to drinking and also the taste for it – i.e. loving the kick I get from having a really boozy drink and find myself craving it.
    None of my friends or family would ever describe me as an alcoholic or even probably a heavy drinker but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel enslaved by it and unable to truly take a break. For example, I’ve never taken more than 6 weeks off alcohol since I was 15!! and have vowed to do dry Jan for the last 5 years and never made it through a week. It is just what you say it is – a drug.

  8. I have decided to stop drinking I need to I am a whole different person when I drink I turn nasty I argue with loved ones and am totally fed up by it all now but I’m also scared to give up I just don’t get why I am so nasty to people I love when drinking

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