In Defense of Drinking Alone

12 Aug

We’ve all done it.  There are those evenings after a bad day at work or school or whatever where the only thing that will get us through the evening is a drink.  Alone.

There is such a stigma attached to drinking alone, for a variety of reasons.  For one, drinking alone implies that you have no one else to drink with, i.e. you are a loser.  Or, drinking alone implies that you have a drinking problem, i.e. you are an alcoholic:

But drinking alone is not in of itself a bad thing.  It is a useful tool, one of the great friends of mankind.  There are times when you need to take the edge off of life, or times when you just want to forget about everything and just get to the next morning as quickly as possible.  Obviously, indulging in individual imbibment on a regular basis may be indicative of deeper problems, but then again, merely drinking with other people doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem, either.

And sometimes drinking alone is the best way to drink, as captured so eloquently by my favorite American author, John Steinbeck.  In a scene from Cannery Row (which has been quoted a number of times here on Vinicultured), he describes Henri the Artist’s post-breakup ritual:

It had become his custom, each time he was deserted, to buy a gallon of wine, to stretch out on the comfortably hard bunk and get drunk.  Sometimes he cried a little all by himself but it was luxurious stuff and he usually had a wonderful feeling of well-being from it.  He would read Rimbaud aloud with a very bad accent, marveling the while at his fluid speech.

Yup.  This sounds about right.

Drinking by yourself is not necessarily borne of sadness, anger, desperation, or disease.  For instance, I drank alone yesterday, but there were extenuating circumstances.  First, my girlfriend is on her way to Alaska (she’s halfway through her three-week relocation drive/bar trip).  Second, I’m in Wilmington, Delaware (no further explanation required).  Finally, I had picked up a bottle of wine from Moore Brothers Wine Company after a wonderful lunch with my vice chancellor, and I couldn’t wait for the weekend to try it out.

This bottle of wine was the 2008 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits from Domaine Olivier Rion ($22).  I’m always in the market for nice, basic Burgundies–both red and white–and the associate steered me towards this one.  I’m glad he did.

Hautes Côtes de Nuits, as can be surmised from the name, is from a hilly region just above, or west of, the Côtes de Nuits.  This region has no premier or grand cru vineyards, and the entire region is the same AOC.  It’s not as prestigious an area as much of the rest of the Côtes de Nuits, which means that you can find some terrific bargains.

I opened it up right when I got home.  Light, clear color.  Fresh plum on the nose.  Upon sipping, I was immediately hit by bright, assertive fruit: cranberry and pomegranate.  It had great acidity with a delightful mouth-puckering astringency.  It ended with a vegetal, herbal finish that wasn’t unpleasant. 

This wine went down smooth and was a sheer pleasure to drink.  It’s not dark or brooding, and it’s not a thinking man’s wine.  But at $22 and 12.5% alcohol, it’s a great wine to drink–alone or with friends.

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3 Responses to “In Defense of Drinking Alone”

  1. Rachel August 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    I agree. From a psychological standpoint, drinking by yourself does not mean that you are an alcoholic or alcohol dependent. People who get drunk frequently, damage property, get violent, pee on cars – that’s more of a problem than someone drinking alone at home. But for people like yourself, who like to enjoy a nice glass of wine after a long day, that’s acceptable.

    Ok so quick story: When I went wine tasting this past spring (first time for me), I met a couple who were in their 60’s, married for about 30 years. They were the happiest and sweetest couple I’ve ever seen in my life. Their names were Joan and Gary. In addition, they both looked much, much younger than 60 and I asked them what their secret was. Their response, no joke: “it’s because we’ve been drinking wine every single night for the past 25 years! Before we met each other we used to drink wine alone, but one day we ran into each other and found someone to enjoy wine with forever!” That night, I go back to the villa that I was staying at and they sent bottles of wine to be delivered to my door! Aww!

    Anyway, the point is that you may be drinking alone now, but you never know – you might be sharing that bottle of wine with someone special in the near future! Whether it’s the love of your life, your friends or your family!

    • vinicultured August 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

      Thank you for this very thoughtful comment, Rachel. It’s nice to know such generous people are out there in the world!

      While drinking alone has its time and place, I would only drink the best bottles with company!

      • Rachel August 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

        No, thank YOU! Your recent posts have really resonated with me, and I appreciate how it’s linked to societal matters. Nice to see that side of you come out 🙂

        Random question for you: Where can you purchase wine low in sulfites or no sulfites added? Or does that not even exist since that defeats the whole purpose? Thanks!

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