Friday, June 19, 2009

whining & dining

Nope, no complaints here, I just like homonyms ;) ahem, nerd. Anyway, I'm so glad you enjoyed my last post! I couldn't be happier to join the overwhelming positivity in the blogosphere lately. As for tonight, I've got something else on my mind.
Alcohol. I was never a party animal but I do like to drink and I used to do it a lot... quite often and in large quantities. Before turning 21 I lived the cliché college lifestyle, especially as a freshman.
Never before had cheap beer and liquor been so readily available. And jungle juice at my disposal? Oh my! I was going out like clockwork, Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights party-hopping across campus, drinking for the purpose of getting drunk and having a fun time "because of it."
And yet, the entire concept that alcohol is the way to have a good time is crazy. As a culture I believe we are conditioned to be attracted to binge drinking. Alcohol is a taboo, the drinking age is strictly enforced, and like many teens, I simply wanted to know what all the hype was about. 

It is only since going abroad have I really come to fully comprehend exactly what makes it so special... vino, wine, and vin, in particular. In the past year I've visited the vineyards, learned about the process, and tasted many bold, crisp, dry, fruity, structured varieties. 

I've found that, indeed, wine is more than an beverage, it's in a class all it's own. From a nutrition standpoint, it contains the most antioxidants (polyphenols) and the least amount of empty-sugar calories compared to all other types of alcohol.

Plus, with a meal, as it should most often be drank, it has the power to enhance flavors and increase pleasure of the ritual of eating. A fact of which the French and Italians may be best known for appreciating  but I've found to be practiced countless other places as well.
Wine is meant to be enjoyed and savored, as is the fleeting lightness it brings. Of course I am certainly no expert, and even with my new love for wine, I have not completely forgotten about the other alcoholic options.

From time to time, with a spicy dish, on a hot summer day, a dreary evening, a situation just calls for a quality beer. Perhaps a Heineken, Guinness, or Corona with lime?

And, I'll admit that when it comes to liquor I'm slightly partial to Chilean pisco, or even better, tequila, in the form of a shot or a mixed drink which can occasionally be a delightful thrill.

A certain 21st birthday, for example, brings celebratory meaning to the drinking experience and there's no doubt in my mind that it should be enjoyed to the fullest. But it's after alcoholic indulgences like these that I'm reminded why I usually choose not to over do it.
When my body tells me that it's had enough, I've had enough, it's as simple of that. Besides, the majority of research shows that moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who either abstain from drinking all together or do so too heavily.

Now that I can legally indulge in a glass of wine, a bottle of beer and/or the rare mixed drink I will but only when I truly feel like doing so. I've discovered that it's important to respect alcohol in the same ways that I claim to respect myself. Salud, cheers, and bon santé!

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