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A Wine drinking Teetotaller

Posted: Wednesday, 21 December 2016 17:02

 

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Blog : A Wine drinking Teetotaller

Dec 21: I have been teetotaller for so long in my early formative years that most people I know overlook the fact that now I am passionate wine aficionado for various reasons, although I drink wine moderately and do not drink any other alcohols including beer and hard liquor. I have in fact even coined the term ‘Vinotaller’ for people in my shoes and hope more would join this club.

I was at a congregation last week with old friends from my alma mater IIT Delhi, where many of us met after decades. It was good to know many of them knew about my passion for wine and the work that I have been doing and were receiving my eNewsletter delWine. But I was surprised that many of them still believed I was a teetotaller who only preached about wine but did not drink.

I took pains to explain to everyone that I was still an anti-alcohol person (implying merely that I was not into hard liquor and was against people getting drunk after consuming hard liquor and then misbehaving or driving drunk), though I am tolerant of people drinking controlled quantities of quality hard liquor. I do drink wine; taste plenty of wines at international wine competitions or wineries, sometimes over 100 a day. But I also believe in drinking moderately; despite the fact that alcohol is a natural product of fermentation of sugar, alcohol beyond a certain level is harmful for the body including lever, kidneys, arteries etc.

It is true that I was a teetotaller before I started imbibing wine. This could be the genesis of the confusion too. I remember several years ago a senior journalist interviewed me for India Today. I was shocked when I got several phone calls from friends and acquaintances after it was published. They wondered how I could be the President of the Delhi Wine Club I had founded and still be a teetotaller. I had clearly told the interviewer that I had been a teetotaller until I started drinking wine- and I drank only wine. That confused him enough to label me a teetotaller.

In fact, I have coined a new term which I hope will be accepted by the word dictionaries slowly. Vinotaller is a person who is basically a teetotaller but drinks wine and only wine which has natural alcohol.

There could yet be another reason for the confusion. I have coined a term- ‘Wine is not alcohol-it has some’. I imply that wine is not sharaab though a vast majority does not agree with my view point. So when I say wine is not alcohol, people take me for someone who does not imbibe alcohol at all and brand me teetotaller which is not correct.

I had also an onerous task of convincing people that tasting 100 wines a day can be par for the course, especially at international wine competitions where the average number of samples tested can be 50-120, although I must confess my palate feels tired and my senses start getting numb after 60 samples or so. I had to explain to them the tasting process of See, Swirl, Sip and Spit routine.

I also believe that if you meet a teetotaller, let him be and do not try to push him/her to change the drinking habits and switch to wine. Undoubtedly wine has health benefits when taken moderately (another sore point with the detractors who believe it is not possible to quit after a couple of glasses of wine) and is a food drink.

I can honestly say I am not a teetotaller but a Vinotaller and would love to see the tribe grow. With millennial group growing in numbers, it would be encouraging to see many of them, especially women turn Vinotallers.

Subhash Arora

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