Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Women and Wine

Huge congratulations to my American blogger friend and fellow breast cancer survivor, Soberat53 (who is now 54) on her ONE YEAR SOBERVERSARY! If you want to know how it feels, then read her fabulous post here.

This weekend two of my favourite things came together in an awesome mashup: Caitlin Moran (one of the best writers around) talking about women and wine (my favourite topic) in the Times Magazine.

Caitlin's brilliant and hilarious article hypothesises that the CIA introduced wine to British women in order to put the kybosh on female emancipation.

The Times, rather meanly, doesn't allow the free sharing of its articles, so here is a summary:

Apparently (and this I did not know), there is an enzyme that enables us to process wine, called the ADH isozyme, which British women (because our society evolved drinking ales, whiskies, meads and gins) don't have much of, but continental women (who evolved drinking wine) do. Men, apparently, also have better ADH isozymes.

This is why, Caitlin argues, British women one by one, essentially set fire to themselves with booze - glowing as brightly as a human tallow candle; singing; dancing; reaching the state of confusion where "ordering another bottle" is the only thing you can think of to "sharpen you up a bit", before finally passing out in the back of a cab.

The next day, the British woman, post-wine, will go through a process no southern European woman would recognise; the kind of hangover so nauseous and laden with dread, the sufferer expects the alien from Alien to burst from their stomachs and run across the room, screaming, killing the late John Hurt in the process.....the kind of hangover that damages your soul. That makes you doubt yourself, entirely.

Ring any bells? It certainly does with me. I know many women who describe themselves as 'allergic' to wine, who have come to realise that it has an entirely different effect on them than other alcohol, myself included.

I could take or leave beer or spirits, but wine.... Wine seeped into my very soul.

So, Caitlin says, from the mid-Eighties, with the rise in female confidence and the introduction of the fancy new wine bars, wine, as drugs do, swept through your community causing havoc....

On aspirational TV shows, women with their hair in a messy bun started drinking a glass of wine "while they were cooking". How is that a thing? Our mums managed to put a plate of corned beef hash on the table without banging back a bottle of gavi. They simply made do with Valium and resentment.

And all the while, the CIA was watching, on CCTV, going, "Excellent, excellent. We've countered the push for greater female equality by introducing a drug that is specifically lethal to women.

They drink it at work, at home, when they're sad and when they're happy, so that they're in a constant spiral of self-loathing and doubt! It's the perfect psychological campaign! Well done us!

So, there you have it. We don't need to blame ourselves any longer! We can blame the CIA for introducing us to the wine witch.

I knew it wasn't my fault....

Love to you all,

SM x


  1. I was so hoping you would post something today! I have been lurking for a while since I began to question my relationship with Alcohol. Your blog has really given me strength and food for thought. I managed 37 days sober. Yesterday I had an awful day and ended up drinking 2 glasses of wine. I'm still not entirely sure (a) why I did it? (b) how I feel about it. Knowing this community is here when I can't talk to anyone else really helps. Thank you x S

    1. Hello S! Thanks for coming out of the shadows, and huge congrats on 37 days. Please try not to be too despondent about yesterday. The trick is to not let it derail you. The wine witch will start telling you that since you managed to have just two glasses you can easily do that again, just once in a while. Before you know it you'll be back to square one. Don't listen! I wrote a post called Falling Off the Wagon, and there's a link to another one called Relapse Stories which lots of readers posted their own experiences of exactly that Loads of love. xxx

  2. Thank you for the shout out SM! It means so much coming from you, as you were a catalyst in my obtaining sobriety. I really couldn't have done it without you. So grateful that your blog was put in my life. I am eternally grateful to you. xo

  3. This makes so much sense! Although I live in the US, my heritage is primarily Irish and British. And I do have an actual allergy to wine! That did not stop me from powering past the allergy, bottle after bottle, regardless of the consequences. Such determination!
    Now that I know about the CIA plot, I am going to work on my naturalization TODAY! I have lazily put off my citizenship quest (therefore, I cannot vote), but no more.
    Thank you for opening my eyes to this plot, SoberMummy. ; )

  4. It's Julia Child's fault. Haha
    Great article and unfortunately who and when did it become completely socially acceptable to drink alone and in large quantities? When wine was introduced to women that's when.

    It is as bad as the government introducing alcohol to the aborigines in Mornington Island for ridiculously low dollar values. Suppression!

    Perhaps the first example is more of a jest than conspiracy but both are still true as to the result.
    M xx

  5. Wow that is interesting. I also feel allergic to wine, and it is the only alcohol I drank. I never touch spirits or beer and could not imagine feeling like a beer or a vodka. The enzyme part interests me.

    At least we are not falling for that trick anymore! As for cooking dinner with a drink, that was me every night. Not anymore.

  6. Great post as always SM. So happy and sober here - so much thanks to you. By the way did you hear Caitlin Moran on desert island discs. Hugely entertaining! Hope you and family all well. Still dying to buy/read your book. Xxx

  7. Funny thing, Im American, but I have the basic roots of my heritage in the UK. I think those genes are the ones that I was lucky to be given. Our past, our experiences, and apparently our pedigree all led us to the same outcome. Thanks for sharing

  8. Gosh that's very interesting and explains a lot!!!

    I used to drink beer, g&t and any wine ( not very picky!) but I would say white wine drinking never ended well and a white wine hangover was the worst ( still not enough to stop me!)

    It's day 81 for me and one of the best things for me is waking up hangover free every morning, and yes some days are better than others but I've got 81 hangover free mornings to be very proud of!!

    My husband used to always say on white wine I was either happy and laughing or crying into my glass! ( within minutes of each other!) So he's very happy I'm 81 days sober too!! ;-) xxx

    Thanks for another fab post SM xx

  9. Hi SM

    So interesting, I can relate to all of it. Since I have been off the wine for 5 weeks, my hormones are getting back to normal. My naturopath said they were all out of whack big time due to my wine consumption. Great post as always

  10. Oh I do so love Caitlin Moran and her pithy stories. I think she nailed that article, will look for it. However if there is something I feel confident about Ms Moran it's that she will not be calling it quits on wine or alcohol anytime soon. If you can point me to the line she eschews alcohol forever I'll do a little side kick (leprechaun style) for joy.
    I think she captures perfectly the morning after and I will share it with my best friend approaching two years sober a month after you SM. She reads The Times so I am surprised she didn't share this article with me unless she missed it.