Well – I think I may have finally come up with my podcast title – The Winemaking Mama! I’ve been working on my vision board and mapping out what I want it to be… the name was the thing I was struggling with the most! I can’t do “Pirate Princess Diaries” or “Pirate Princess Chronicles” because of Disney, mostly. So, we’ll see if The Winemaking Mama makes the cut!
My husband likes the full title – Wine O’Clock & The Winemaking Mama… That’s probably too long. Short and catchy are always recommended. But I digress…
I’m not writing today about my future podcast. I’m writing about something much more difficult to unpack – women and the wine o’clock habit – and how it has become a problem for many women.
Exhausted mamas, I see you. I’m one of you.
Many of us find ourselves wiped out by early evening (heck, by early afternoon!) and we find our way into the kitchen right on time for wine o’clock. We look forward to it all day. We need it. It’s a kind of reward for the weary.
My husband and I are both in the wine industry. For years I have participated in the enophile’s delight of discovering delicious wines from all over the world. Wine o’clock could happen at any time of the day. But there’s something about the happy hour time when wine o’clock falls in for most – it’s to unwind.
For us, drinking wine at the end of the day was not initially about needing to relax but, rather, about exploration and participating in our professional passion – enjoying wine. We would geek out over special bottles, cool bottles, esoteric bottles, surprising mainstream bottles, and so on. Over time, with a new child and mounting life responsibilities, the luxury of drinking wine for appreciation too soon morphed into our needing the time to unwind.
The thing with wine consumption for me – I would always mean to have just one glass. I would tell myself – one glass only. Or as my grandmother liked to say, “one and done!”
Moderation is key. I was pretty good about keeping to my imbibing guideline. Some days were more difficult than others. Those days included better bottles we were not willing to waste or hold on to for multiple days, or multiple bottles that made their way onto our kitchen counter that we wanted to try. So one glass would become two, or three, or a bottle.
By the time we decided to start a family, I was committed to an alcohol-free pregnancy. I was an older mom-to-be so I felt it was imperative to cut out all the “no no’s” from my diet – including caffeine and alcohol. And I did it. Save for a few glasses of Champagne in my third trimester. It was easy because I didn’t have a taste for wine when I was pregnant – white wines tasted like vinegar to me and red wines were just too much. I could handle a little Champagne, but, it was kind of wasted on me because my palate was not in its prime form with all of those pregnancy hormones surging through my body.
I had no taste for or interest in wine after my baby way born, either. I didn’t drink during his first year. I believe I sipped on a few glasses here and there, but, I could not drink an entire glass of wine.
When the coronavirus hit in March, my baby was fifteen months old, and the stress of our lives and our world drew me back to wine o’clock. It started off innocently enough, with just sips.
My husband and I embarked on a virtual world tour while sheltering in place – and we cooked up dinners with recipes from cities we’d “visit” and we’d pair our international meals with wine. At first, I just sipped. As the pandemic continued to ravage the world, my sips stretched out to a glass, then two. I had the will power to maintain my two glass maximum. But because I didn’t have much of a tolerance for alcohol anymore, I would feel groggy and worse for the wear.
The wine o’clock happy hour did not last long. Here we are at the end of June and I’m back to sipping no more than a glass, as max. And not every day. I sip on wine maybe three days a week.
This isn’t about my exercise of self control. This is about my body’s rejection of something I have loved for years, something I MAKE professionally. My craft is winemaking! How surreal to make wine professionally but no longer to have the desire to drink it with the passion, curiosity and pleasure I once had.
I guess this is my new mantra: I’m a winemaking mama that doesn’t really enjoy drinking wine anymore – beyond sips for personal discovery and professional evaluation.
This is important because I’m not just a winemaking mama. I own my own wine business. I market and sell my wines to stay in business. Many of my customers are wine o’clock women.
I have considered the philosophical “liability” of producing and selling alcohol – many times. I’ve sat with my feelings of guilt and discomfort about it – many times. I have loved ones in my circle with drinking problems and with alcoholism. I have issues with loved ones who make choices that impact me and my family negatively. And I try to be compassionate towards those I love who have problems with alcohol consumption.
If you open up Facebook you’ll see many conflicting articles getting tossed around – especially if Facebook recognizes you as a wine professional or enthusiast. Some will say drinking wine will extend your life, drinking wine is good for heart health to drinking any amount of alcohol is toxic. You get marketing coming from every angle. How do you know what’s true?
I will put on my holistic nutritionist hat and say that alcohol causes inflammation and should be consumed mindfully based on your bio-individuality. Some people should avoid alcohol at all costs. Alcohol is safe for the majority of adults. Finding moderation for your body type, life stage and other bio-individual requirements can be assessed by a healthcare professional.
Today, a new Facebook ad found its way into my feed – “Wine O’clock a Habit?” sponsored by SoberSis (www.sobersis.com). The attractive woman on the video looked like one of my fellow woman’s college alumna in a preppy hot pink t-shirt, pearls and a ball cap.
I’m sometimes a sucker for good click bait. So I scanned some of the posted comments and then clicked.
What struck a cord with me was the normalcy of the behavior this woman addressed. She was describing herself, but she was describing me and many of my women friends who would start the day with good intentions, following mindful practices throughout the day – working out, drinking green juice, thinking good thoughts – and but still finding the that glass of wine at the end of the day. She describes the delicate way wine o’clock controls you.
Psychological connection to wine o’clock gets unpacked and SoberSis has tools to help women break the habit.
This post is not a constructive critique of or endorsement for SoberSis and her tools. It’s about the conversation about women and wine o’clock and an important word she’s using that is not just a smart marketing tool, but a real connection (best way semantics can work out) – and that’s using the word sis.
Women do a pretty good job with reaching out for help. Women do support groups better than our male counterparts. Women seek out community and… sisterhood.
I must admit, it makes me a bit sad when I see the need for this type of program. This isn’t about Alcoholics Anonymous. And I’m not even suggesting a pay-to-play platform for managing a drinking habit is the answer for anyone.
I am simply relating to the problem. I am humbly exploring my role in this problem, as a winemaker and wine marketer and wine seller. In a perfect world I could make, market and sell my wine to women without any concern, assuming my customers all practice safe and moderate drinking practices. But I know better. I know that some women really struggle and secretly wish they didn’t have wine stocked up in their homes as they wait for wine o’clock to come each day. Many of these women wake up in the morning feeling horribly hungover and full of regret. Many will say – no more. Today I will not drink wine but then will arrive at wine o’clock with a full glass.
I’m not sure what to say right now. Because I know there are many sides to the wine o’clock women out there. Some really have fun and feel good about their decisions to imbibe regularly at their special designated time. It’s a feel good ritual no matter how many glasses are enjoyed.
I hate preachy talk about drinking and I avoid it at all costs. To quote my favorite online yoga guru Adriene Mishler (yogawithadriene.com) – “find what feels good.”
I want to remove all judgements about wine o’clock. I’m not sure how I feel about SoberSis’s unpacking of wine o’clock. If her platforms helps some women find healthy balance and happiness and good health that is a win. I hope her message isn’t about making wine consumption a shameful practice.
This encourages me to continue my own exploration of what it means to be a winemaking mama. I can sit with my previous feelings of guilt and concern and reframe them into cultivating positive wine o’clock experiences.
Perhaps I’ll launch a healthy “Wine O’Clock Wellness Circle for Women” group for my podcast subscribers! This may need some word-smithing. But you get the idea. It can be an invitation to come right where you are right now and be well with it. No shame. No guilt. But healthy balance for what feels right for you. If one glass feels right, you are welcome; if four glasses feels right, you are welcome. You just have to be present with your choices and clear about your intentions to bring joy and a little to your life.
Perhaps I’ll invite Adriene to do a yoga opening and lead a gentle mantra about “finding what feels good” when treating yourself to that glass of delicious wine and even have SoberSis chime in about balance and retaining the control you want with your wine enjoyment. I think there’s a lot of potential here to pivot a little, to change the narrative and move from habits that no longer serve us.
This is not for everyone and it’s not meant to judge or shake a finger at those who love their wine their way – I feel compelled to keep reiterating that point. It’s really about Yoga Adriene’s mantra – “find what feels good” – and if you should so happen to shift from your feel good place to another – you can find community and sisterhood as easy as online.