Wine has become a part of our culture. We celebrate, eat, relax, socialize, wash away our troubles, and unwind with wine. How did wine become ubiquitous in American culture and is it really healthy for us?
The Wine Revolution
The “Wine Revolution” started in the late 60s. It was a drink that represented refined taste and one that required knowledge to be appreciated, whether it was the right temperature, type of grape, or food pairing. In the time of American global dominance, Americans, during this time, also started viewing domestic wine as on par with their European counterparts. Wine was also marketed as the idyllic drink, grown in lush vineyards and the countryside, which bode well with a country growing more concerned about environmental issues.
The French Paradox
Compared to other drinks, wine is seen not only “harmless” but heart healthy. This is due to the French Paradox, which “refers to the notion that drinking wine may explain the relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, despite their fondness for cheese and other rich, fatty foods.” Although there is no causal evidence showing that wine itself is good for the heart, this logic has become ingrained in the American psyche, ignoring other factors of French lifestyle that may be responsible for their health outcomes. Japan, for example, have lower heart disease rates than the French, but they drink more beer than wine.
What Exactly is Drinking too Much?
In the US, “moderate drinking” is generally regarded safe, but currently, we don’t have long-term evidence of how a drink a day for women (two for men) affects our bodies. Nevertheless, drinking is a part of our familial, social, and professional life. Is it rude to not grab a glass of wine to toast during Thanksgiving dinner? Drink a non-alcoholic drink when hanging out with friends? Refuse alcohol when your boss offers you one?
Source | Harvard Health
When it comes to wine in the US, women make up 2/3 of high frequency drinkers—these are women who drink wine more than once a week.
Source | Vice
The Rise of Sober-Curiosity
Being mindful of our drinking habits is a part of a wellness trend, sober curiosity. With businesses catching on, we have seen a growing number of non-alcoholic beverages, the emergence of alcohol-free gatherings and spaces, drinks that have little alcohol content such as Kombucha, or bars that offer elixirs using herbs ( Vox ).
Whether it’s cutting back or giving up alcohol temporarily or completely, celebrities are also now vocal about an alcohol-conscious lifestyle. Anne Hathaway has decided to stop drinking because of her son. J.Lo avoids alcohol for her skin. Calvin Harris has given up alcohol and he feels better and thinks better without it. Blake Lively has no desire for it. Kim Kardashian is also not into it.
As we learn more about how alcohol affects the body, there is a slight shift from using alcohol as a means to celebrate, a way to “loosen up”, or view people who refuse it as uncool or boring.