Most people like to drink alcohol, whether it’s beer, wine or liquor. These beverages lubricate social gatherings, relax people (numb them sometimes) and allow the bonds or the handcuffs of propriety to be released and put aside. Alcohol gives some people courage. I have had enough drunken stupors to know that I don’t like the hangovers, the embarrassing behavior, or being really sick. Like one New Year’s Day in high school, when I was the only band member who couldn’t and didn’t perform at half-time in the Orange Bowl–I was still dizzy and nauseous and in bed!

I have had plenty of beer in college and after to know that it fills me up till I am bloated, and I don’t care about telling an ale from a lager. I do know that I prefer foreign beers to the popular domestic ones, which are too thin for me. But aside from one trip to Ireland, where I longed constantly for a Guiness at the pub while I was touring (and probably would be an alcoholic if I lived there), I can usually pass.

That helps keep the weight off and the body healthier. Most people, however, need their drink.

I bought wine by the case when I first moved to Manhattan and had seen enough movies and sophisticated magazines promoting the mantra that any cool professional man knows his grapes and the good years to order. At one point I believed I could taste the minerals from particular French soil. I loved certain vineyards and knew lots of the best years. But after those many glasses at dinner, I was falling asleep when I wanted to read. So I stopped drinking every night.

For decades I have watched people twirl the glass, smell the bouquet and swish the delicacy in their mouths. Some talk incessantly about it, collect it, offer it with pride, and I appreciate their passion. Read the rest of this entry »

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