Bill Zacharkiw on wine: My summer of drinking less

I lost weight, feel better, and the real bonus was that when I did drink, I was able to afford better wines

Drinking less — and better: It’s much easier to justify dropping $40 on a great wine or $80 on a bottle of Champagne when your shopping basket isn’t overflowing with bottles already. JOEL SAGET / AFP/Getty Images

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For the past few years, I have used the first column of September to recap the best wines of the summer. But looking back, while there were some great wine moments, I realized that I drank a whole lot less wine than usual — and less alcohol in general.

This was not a conscious decision. It just happened. I lost weight, feel better, and the real bonus was that when I did drink, I was able to afford better wines. I probably spent close to the same amount of money on wine, but it’s much easier to justify dropping $40 on a great wine or $80 on a bottle of Champagne when your shopping basket isn’t overflowing with bottles already.

I have known something was up for awhile, that maybe there was some sort of societal shift going on. Some of my friends — who crack open a bottle of wine with the same ease as they do a soda — took part in #dryjanuary, a campaign started in 2013 by a U.K. charity called Alcohol Change. Sure, a week of sobriety after a particularly festive December is always a good thing. But a whole month? These guys?

I have been bombarded with articles about how younger generations are drinking less. Most of the articles and research comes from the alcohol industry as they try to see where future profits might be coming from. Maybe that was the reason Constellation Brands, a wine, beer and alcohol giant, invested $190 million in cannabis company Canopy and why Molson is working with Quebec cannabis firm Hexo to create a new line of drinks.

A new term is popping up more and more as I peruse the internet. It’s called “sober curious.” I received an invitation to go to a bar that actually doesn’t serve alcohol. A bar that doesn’t serve alcohol? Isn’t that called a juice bar, which isn’t really a bar at all? I do know that many bartenders now offer elaborate drink concoctions that are alcohol-free.

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What is happening here? While some point to the legalization of cannabis as a reason, especially among younger generations, the decline in alcohol consumption, beer especially, has been going on for a few years. It might just be that people want to be healthier, and I believe it started with food and is now seeping into what we drink.

Many people I know have changed their diets. They are becoming more active. Generation Z and the millennials don’t think twice about it.

So what does the future hold? In an interesting article by Forbes wine contributor Cathy Huyghe, she interviews French winemaker Bruno Le Breton, who alongside a doctor who specializes in alcohol addiction created the Responsible Drinking Charter. It goes beyond simply promoting temperance and focuses on why we drink wine and what makes it special. After all, Le Breton says, “You don’t drink and enjoy a glass of wine the same way you drink and enjoy a shot of vodka.”

I see a future of drinking less, yet drinking better. I did it this past summer. It has been a revelation. Personally, I can easily give up that shot of vodka.

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