Sound the klaxon for an own goal? As the founder of Noughty, one the UK’s fastest growing no-alcohol wine brands, and a founding board member of the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association (ANBA) you might expect me to be all over Dry January. This annual give-up-the-booze-fest follows hot on the over-indulgent heels of December, a month where we’re encouraged to eat, drink and – if you believe the carols – be merry.
According to charity Alcohol Change UK, an estimated 6.5 million planned to take part in Dry January 2021, which is a huge number anyway, and even more astonishing when you add up the numbers and realise it translates into 1 in 8 of the adult population. As alcohol can impair the quality of your sleep, cause liver disease and mental health issues, the real surprise should be how readily available alcohol is and why every month isn’t dry.
But there’s a big but. I studied the Wine & Management Diploma at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, in large part because I love wine’s complexity, history, and sense of occasion. I also believe just as strongly that it’s not what you drink, but how much and of what quality. This is often billed as conscious consumerism, but I just like to call it giving AF – why fill your body with trash?
Full disclosure: I’m a lifelong follower of a plant-based diet. And having grown up being considered something of a crank (top questions in childhood: What do you miss about eating meat? Nothing – you can’t miss what you’ve never tried) I’ve seen the plant-based lifestyle move from maverick to mainstream.
It’s the same with alcohol. An increasing number of young adults – and I mean really young; according to research by UCL nearly 30% of 16 to 24-year-olds say they are non-drinkers. Fantastic, and maybe alcohol will go the way of cigarettes. For me though, I’m like my flexitarian husband. He has given up drinking after a serious illness and leads a mainly plant-based diet but has an occasional foray into fish and dairy (he’d be sad to never meet another brie), while I remain a fan of delicious, complex wine and quality cocktails.
This doesn’t mean I gulp it without thinking. I really enjoy whatever I drink, and spend a lot of time discussing and choosing it.