Kate's Blog

“Want A Glass Of Wine?” (Here’s What To Say Next)

“Do you fancy a glass of wine or shall we get a bottle?”

Picture the scene – you’ve decided to stop drinking. Maybe you’ve quit for good… or perhaps you’re experimenting with a break from booze.
Either way, you haven’t exactly broadcast the news.
So what do you say to friends / relatives / work colleagues who assume you’re still drinking?  
I think there are two things you must do, for an easy life.
I explain all in this video:

Key points:

Remember: you’re awesome

If you can figure out how to not drink at home, behind closed doors, then you sure as hell can figure out how to say no to a glass of wine in a bar. Don’t let your brain tell you a story that this is unmanageable or you can’t handle this.

Be positive about your sobriety 

Don’t apologise or say you’re “trying to be good” – that allows others to try and convince you otherwise. Make your life easier by saying, “I’m really enjoying this break, I’ve not felt this good in ages, I’m not even missing wine…” You can fake that enthusiasm if you need to!

Follow up with a clear request

Being specific about what you want ensures you get a glass of something nice. It also gives the person offering you a drink some clear instructions. People hate feeling like they’re being a bad host or as if they’re doing the wrong thing.

Admit that you’re taking a break

There’s nothing wrong with using excuses like “I’m driving” or “I’m on antibiotics” – I’ve used them all myself in the past. But the problem with that kind of response is that you keep yourself in a stressful holding pattern. The next time you go out, you’ll be offered a glass of wine again.
Trying to disguise your break means you never get the opportunity to be honest and really own what you’re doing. You don’t get to discover just how accepting and supportive other people can be.
If you’d like some 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. 


55 Responses

  1. Thank you Kate, this is so helpful. I am one of your January graduates and am only just beginning to socialise now, in pubs and gardens, as lockdown slowly lifts. Your advice about being positive has really helped. Also, being open about not drinking has made things easier – it’s like a weight off my shoulders, not having to hide it. I’ve had good responses from everyone so far.

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that Lisa! Keep going – you’ll be celebrating 6 months sober in no time! 🙂

    2. Spot on as usual, Kate! I’ve used the “antibiotic “ excuse in a pinch but as you said, I was offered a glass of wine the next time out. Lately I say that I’ve found alcohol just wasn’t agreeing with me any more and that I feel so much better when not drinking. Responses to that statement have varied from disbelief to support but at the end of the day, I must believe in my choices and be strong in that belief.

    3. Hi Kate. I am on my first week of sobriety after finding your website last week. So far I have found it fine and enjoyed sleeping better and removing the focus away from drinking. However with two family events this weekend where drinks will flow, I have become nervous about how to deal with these. I have watched several of your blogs including this one to help me to plan how I will deal with these situations. I am now feeling more empowered to stay alcohol free. Thank you. Now I must act on it.

      1. Well done on planning ahead Sherry, that’s half the battle won right there. Make sure you have a glass of something lovely to drink and no-one will be any the wiser – enjoy 🙂

  2. I am 62 days sober and run into this all the time. I decided to be 100% honest with all my friends and family. Most are quite surprised but to a person have been 100% supportive. I just say, “I’ve decided to quit drinking for good. I realized that as much as I would like to, I am unable to moderate my intake, and so I am quitting for good. I’ve never felt better, and am in this for the long haul.” Then I just order up an O’douls or club soda with extra lime with a splash of cranberry juice.

    1. Being open and upfront about this can be incredibly freeing. Congratulations on your 62 days Diane!

      1. Hi Kate,
        Thanks to you & listening to your blogs I have been sober for 6 weeks, which is amazing for me!
        I have been open with my friends & family & told them I’m taking a break from alcohol.
        Meeting my friends for a post lockdown drink was fine, I drove us!
        I feel so much better for not drinking, I can’t say that sometimes I don’t fancy a drink or that I’ll never drink again, but I’m taking it one day at a time & have no plans on drinking for the foreseeable future.
        Thank you so much Kate x

        1. Huge congratulations on your 6 weeks Donna! Wishing you many more alcohol free days ahead 🙂

  3. Kate Kate Kate, LOVE your latest…I’m so fortunate to have I stumbled upon your course. 270 days in a row of waking up feeling clearheaded. I got
    on track because you lead me. And I followed your graceful lead .
    LOVE saying “I tried going booze free, and I feel great.”

  4. Hi Kate, the problem that I was faced with recently was having people over for dinner and knowing that THEY drink so I had to get some wine in. This was difficult because I have always had plenty (red, white, fizz) in the past but I did not want to buy it and have it in the house.

    1. If I know someone well enough to invite them over for a meal, I know them well enough to let them know I don’t have any booze in the house, and let them know whether they are welcome to bring their own.

    2. I would invite you to consider whether you really “had” to get that wine in? If you’d decided to go vegetarian, would you feel you had to cook meat for them, because that’s what you’d done in the past? I think it’s your home… and your rules 🙂

  5. Thank-you, Kate. Great, actionable advice as always. I quit drinking last July, and I’ve used all the temporary crutch responses you mention, and I have moved on to the forward-motion responses. The difference between these two types of responses is similar to your advice about “not having to decide or rationalize about drinking every day” which I love.
    The fact that I’ve lost ten pounds doesn’t hurt, either. I look better, I feel better, and my tennis game has improved, among other things.
    In fact, a few friends and family members have joined me.
    I am also less willing to “let things slide” if I don’t like the way they’re going. I am learning how to handle positive confrontation – a skill critical for adults that I somehow seem to have missed. Drinking enables a lot of sliding.
    I have lost interest in “partying”, per se. Don’t get me wrong – I do like a good socially-distanced gathering, but not so often as before. I recognize that they were often just opportunities to drink. Same with dinner parties with their food-and-wine pairings.
    Now what do we do with ourselves? Cans of worms have been opened, as have new vistas. Lifestyle changes bring further lifestyle changes. I’m eager for more change, maybe more radical. Excited to see what comes next.

    1. It sounds as if alcohol free living truly suits you Patricia! I love all the subtle, unexpected changes we experience in sobriety. Wishing you many more amazing, alcohol free days ahead! 🙂

      1. 149 days Sober and still there was a concern about what to tell friends. I have made the decision to socialise and genuinely felt overly positive whilst there. I decided to tell them all a while before we met and so wasn’t faced with too many difficult conversations whilst there. I know I am doing what is best for me and so I can’t be made to feel bad for that. Good luck everyone and keep going x

  6. I love this. All of this. Unlike comments that I’ve seen so far, I’m not yet on my journey without alcohol but I’m trying to get there and you’re helping so much. I will be making the leap when it’s time for me and you’re giving me the tools to do it!

  7. Another great, upbeat video Kate (and love the background — all that Spring!). I quit drinking just over a year ago (I took your course), and still being in lockdown here in Canada, I have to say the pandemic has been a godsend from that perspective — it’s really taken the pressure off social situations…. because there are none! I’m just starting to get to the point now where I think I could feel comfortable in social gatherings turning down a drink while still enjoying myself. Previously it was more white-knuckling… now the sober me is becoming the new norm. When everything opens up again, I’ll be looking forward to dinner (AF) and a movie with lots of popcorn. 🙂

    1. I love spring too – especially the blossom! Congratulations on your sobriety Edana. When the time comes to go out and socialise, I think you’ll be in a really good headspace for it 🙂

  8. Thank you Kate. This really resonates with me. I have several restaurants where they remember my drink of choice so they automatically assume that I will have my usual Malbec or Cab depending on the restaurant. I have simply said “thank you so much again for your wonderful memory however I am taking a break so would love a glass of Pomegranate or Cranberry Juice in a wine glass if possible” This has been working great!

  9. This is only my third day without booze. I’m 61 and I’ve drunk since I was 16 and for the last 40 years, I’ve drunk every day and heavily for most of those days. I intend to follow your videos and hope that they can help- me
    You have a great way of making me feel better, well so far anyway. I will be going cold turkey as I not been able to admit this to anyone although I’m sure they know. Thank you Kate

    1. Carole, congrats bon your decision. Stay strong. You can do it.
      I come from a family of drinkers. So many memories of me and my sister having to clean up the disgusting adult mess, drinks spilled in ashtrays etc. My brother told our my mom that he used to steal sips while no one was paying attention(he started at 9 yrs old). Long story short he was found dead on the streets of LA(alcohol poisoning ).
      So since Nov , I have been AF(2nd go around). My mom( 80years old), says she is proud of me. I want her to go to her grave knowing this kid (I’m 55 yrs old) will not die the same way.
      It is easier this second time cuz I have made up my mind that moderation does not work for me and I want to be really present for all things, good or bad. Gotta go through the motions sober.

    2. Carole, like you, I come from a family of drinkers – my bro died aged 49 from his own lifetime of drinking- and until I did Kate’s course this past January hardly ever went a day without a drink and some days many many! I’m a bit late coming to this thread but you know what, you can do it. Just take one day at a time and immerse your self in all the help and information available. Kate’s course is literally awesome. You are never alone. Maybe read something like Claire Pooley’s Sober Diaries. It’s funny and engaging. I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined I would go four months without alcohol. It’s not easy but it feels so worth it right now. You will love it when you feel back in control of your life, your brain, your eyes, everything just feels better. You are so worth it and deserve to feel all that.

  10. Hi Kate I’ve just watched your blog and I must say I’m feeling some of those anxieties as my holiday to Cornwall in 3 weeks time with my friend is getting closer, it will mean meeting up with my brother and his partner who are serious drinkers and it’s been pretty messy in the past when I’ve been to their house and had a evening drinking just about anything that will flow, I know there will be some eye brow raising and maybe some disappointment especially as I haven’t seen them for 2 years. I’m ok with everyone else it’s my big brother I feel like I’m letting him down and I know that sounds daft
    I still feel good about not drinking this year and don’t want to mess up.
    Take care lovely
    Gayna x

    1. If you take ingredients for a favorite “mocktail” or AF drink of choice and serve yourself, once the others have had a drink or two they probably won’t even notice.

      1. Thanks Ellie, I was planning on taking some mock tail ingredients on holiday but hadn’t thought of taking them to my brothers.

  11. “… and focus on yourself, instead.” The most important words you said. I must keep remembering that I’m doing this (125 days AF) for ME, because I want to and I’m the one benefitting so whatever I choose to say to someone else in the moment doesn’t really matter too much. This is a gift I’m giving myself and I’m so happy I’ve finally decided I’m worth it that I will have no problem being enthusiastic about anything I decide to say!! Hurray! Thank you, Kate, for all your inspirational words.

  12. Great post, Kate! I was reading an old email last night that I had sent a drinking buddy 10 years ago. I was suggesting that maybe we not drink the next time we met up, but I went on to say or have ‘less than 8 drinks.’ to make it joke-y but also I could not really envision a meet-up with this person without drinking, and frankly, I felt judged to choose not to drink Fast forward, we’re barely in touch, but I am sober, 6 years soberversary next week. I have my self back: priceless.

  13. Thank you, this video is very informative with some very appropriate answers.
    Very much needed at this time.
    Thanks much!

  14. Thanks for this post Kate. I just missed out on your April course but have soaked up as much advice you have posted and I am day 23 sober. I have tried before but always said to friends and family I was having a break. This time I am saying, I don’t drink any more and I feel fantastic.
    I appreciate your help, Kate.

  15. I love your concrete ideas for handling this situation. I was very nervous about turning down alcohol for a long time after I stopped drinking. It just seemed like such an ingrained part of socializing, and I didn’t quite have the words down pat. Maybe, truthfully, I wasn’t sure that I was all-in on the AF approach to life for a while after I quit. But I am all-in now! I have told nearly everyone that knew me as a drinker upfront that I have made a big change in my life and feel great about it, so the offers aren’t even there anymore. But it took me almost a year to come around to that, and now I think I should’ve done it sooner. I also have taken to bringing a bottle of AF beverage to gatherings set at someone else’s home, just in case. People who didn’t previously know me as a drinker really don’t need more than a “no, thanks, I’ll have whatever is AF”. It took a long time to work through this, and yes, lockdown allowed me time to feel stronger in sobriety. I am bracing myself for summer fun this year, AF!

    1. It’s great to hear that this has got easier and easier since you told people about this change. Congratulations on your sobriety Catherine!

  16. Hi stranger… I’ve been so busy catching up on all levels since I was vaccinated, that I rarely have time to really take the time to comment… Wow, it’s so nice to hear your voice, and listen to more of you’re coaching videos. It has been almost a year for me.. I was a July 6th struggling lady when I began your class. Kate, I don’t have the words to express how awesome I feel. I still have my 3 month checkups with my Oncologist, but my lab work has improved beyond any expectation I could have wished for. So this fall, it will be 2 years since my last treatment…and it’s all because of building my immune system from not drinking. So for me, telling someone I don’t drink any longer as I want to be cancer free… AND feel so good! I suppose occasional I’ll think….. ok, I’ll treat myself to a really expensive glass of wine. But it doesn’t take long for me to realize how wonderful life is being AF….. Anyway, know the UK is still struggling with the epidemic. Stay well…. So many of us need to see that smile and words of wisdom. Fondly

    1. Glad to hear you’re well and healthy Sandra! Looking after your health following your treatment is so important 🙂

  17. 9 days sober. On my 2nd day I was invited for garden drinks with 3 friends. I said I was on an alcohol break. The other friend said she too didn’t drink during the week. The host decided to postpone until after my 6 weeks but I explained not drinking alcohol did not mean not socialising and that I’d love to see her. We did all meet and have a lovely catch up. I’m enjoying finding acceptable AF alternatives. I’ll review after 6 weeks.

  18. Thank you so much, Kate! I love the suggestion of being positive about deciding to be alcohol free and then asking for a drink! This is good. Even before lockdown was over I was telling people that I stopped drinking in January and haven’t gone back, so they are forwarded! I said it made me sluggish and depressed, and that I’ve become a morning person and get so much more done! I also mentioned that I’ve gotten into mindfulness (also true). Boundaries don’t need to be negative things… this is so helpful. I had tried to quit drinking for years and it’s always social occasions that made me stumble. It’s really about self confidence. Thank you so much.

    1. I think self confidence really is important. And knowing that you are enough, just as you are… no matter what other people think or do.

  19. Thank you Kate. This is so helpful and I will bookmark this. I’m now 95 days sober and I have been watching your videos as part of my strategy to stop drinking. I’ve been to a few small social gatherings recently and I absolutely agree that being positive about not drinking is vital because it immediately stops any pressure from others. I’ve still been offered a drink but out of a place of politeness and friendship and after I’ve already established I’m not drinking so turning them down wasn’t hard. Plus I was at a place where my sobriety was longer established in my head. I’ve found that when I say I’m not drinking there immediately follows a discussion about how little everyone else drinks now, how they’ve cut down etc etc! I never suggest or comment about other people’s drinking. That is their business and you are right, it says a lot about them and nothing about me.

  20. Hi Kate I am really struggling at the moment, had 10 days AF then I got upset about something and to to drinking over it. know all my triggers and keep falling for them. I have been sober today and catching up on your calls and they help alot and listening to the other ladies and their stories, Thw situation is that really really do not wish to drink alchol anymore and am sorry I ever ever started.

  21. Hey Kate,
    This is really eye opening for me. I had a big bender last night and am totally wiped out now. I’ve never considered giving up drinking because I go for long stretches drinking nothing or in moderation, so haven’t questioned my relationship to alcohol. With everything reopening, I’m realising I find it hard to say no and in fact become the ring leader in drinking more more more in social situations. It’s costing me – I’m building a business and time is so precious, I’m gutted to waste any to hangovers. Watching this video and realising I can say no, I can avoid the whole slippery slope has given me a LOT to think about. Thank you

  22. Thanks for the great advice. I was in your January course, 127 days NA today! My friends haven’t nagged me about it, they aren’t even asking about it. I told them one time and they have respected my decision. Even so, still find myself offering reasons why I’m not drinking. Not quite sure why I’m trying to defend my choice. Is it just for my peace of mind?
    You’re video has made this come to light. I will stop.

  23. Thank you Kate , such good advice. I have old friends coming to stay with me next weekend 22 May and I was already plotting how to avoid not buying wine . Yes it’s my home , they are lovely people , so why not say before hand, really looking forward to seeing you, will cook up a storm but because i’m not drinking now you might want to bring some wine for you or you can try my AF , it’s really quite good.’ Have to admit though i’m not going to find that easy to do. May have to play your video a few times more.

  24. Thank you so much for this blog and all your support to create the sober school. I saw you speak at PLF and every word resonated. You’re giving me the hope of a clean, healthy life without stigma or shame. My children and family will be much happier with an always sober me. I come from several generations of alcoholics and I keep thinking I can drink in moderation. The result is always the same. Hangovers and regret. I’m ready to feel fantastic and sober. Thank you again.

    1. Hi Nancy, I’m so glad we crossed paths! I hope my story helped you to know that you can live a happier, healthier life without booze… you don’t deserve to stay stuck in this cycle of drinking and feeling bad. Taking a proper break from drinking would be a great place to start with this. It might just be one of the best things you ever do for yourself 🙂

  25. It doesn’t sound very long but 39 days sober for me. I feel great and have found it much easier than I thought. The improvement in my mood, anxiety, skin, eyes, confidence, finances and most importantly relationships is huge. I’m so scared to drink again that I know I won’t.
    I’ve been very open and honest about having to stop but My problem is silly comments to me from people who are drinking at parties, like ‘imagine being that boring!’ Or Jesus you must have been on a bad road if you have to give it up for good! Or the latest as designated driver was ‘god, sober and a clean car… what’s next’. I’m very uncomfortable hearing these.
    Positive thing is that I am able to deal with it now. I can flip it over and ACTUALLY remember what was said. I’m in a better mindset and I’m allowing myself to be nervous and annoyed sometimes. Telling myself it’s ok to allow these feelings.
    The positives listed plus so much more far outweigh the negatives.
    I realise everyone gives up alcohol for different reasons but mine was that I couldn’t control my drinking. My new flash card everyday is
    ADDICTION is giving up everything for ONE thing. …
    RECOVERY is giving up one thing for EVERYTHING. ❤️
    Thanks for all the support here and best of luck to anyone taking my journey

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