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Jenise

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Cutting back on wine with meals

by Jenise » Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:20 am

Bob and I have decided to cut out wine on weeknights, and boy has that dampened my enthusiasm for cooking. We're getting more done and sleeping better to so in addition to the health benefit I'm not sorry we've taken this step, but not having the added excitement of pairing wine to my food has definitely taken the edge off of meal planning. Which is probably also for the better in that dinners have become simpler calorically speaking, but still.

I almost titled this post "Bored".

And the thing is, we've been doing it the other way for so long that I lost track in a chicken-or-the-egg kind of way of which came first, food or wine, and I'm almost surprised at my malaise. Only in its absence do I now appreciate how the wine-matching part imposed a discipline and set the bar higher; after all, the two courses (I always serve two) needed to work together since they had the same wine in common. Without the wine, there's a sense of challenge that's missing. And where went the challenge, so went the sense of accomplishment in getting that match right.

Of course now I look forward to weekends even more, but I loved the festivity that wine gave to weekdays as if they weren't really weekdays.
Wine and food together made every day of the week equal: every day was special. Every day became like the Saturday nights of my childhood when the best cuts and the fanciest dishes were saved for the only day my roving father would be home, when we would all eat together as a family and Dad's dour moods were mellowed by the Cribari Chianti jugwine that was the only wine ever served in our home.

Not having wine on a Tuesday night takes me right back to the "not tonight, honey, it's a school night" days. :)

Inevitably, enthusiasm will return. Like my cats, I always land on my feet. But gosh, for the moment, it's just a little quiet around here.
Last edited by Jenise on Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Howie Hart » Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:41 am

Jenise, are there meals that you've never gotten around to making because they just don't go with wine? This may be the time to make such meals, such as breakfast for dinner (eggs, pancakes and the like or even dust off the waffle iron) with fresh squeezed fruit juice, or the Tuesday night special when we kids - hot dogs, baked beans, potato chips and milk shakes. Definetely not creative cooking, but it can be fun.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Randy Buckner » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:40 pm

...cut out wine on weeknights...in addition to the health benefit


And what health benefit might that be? I believe researchers have found that moderate red wine consumption is beneficial to the heart. One study found that the antioxidant resveratrol, which is prevalent in the skin of red grapes, may inhibit tumor development in some cancers. Another study indicated that resveratrol aided in the formation of nerve cells, which experts believe may be helpful in the treatment of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and on and on....
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by RichardAtkinson » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:54 pm

Seems a bit Draconian. Why not cut back to 2 week days. Actually, we considered cutting out weekday wine consumption a few months ago. Now, we have wine w/ meals on 2 weekdays

But, after a busy day at the office coupled with a brutal commute, nothing quite beats ending the day with caprese, a loaf of fresh bread & a bottle of chianti with some soft music in the background. Candlelight and good conversation...makes even the worst workday seem special.

Richard
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Carl Eppig » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:08 pm

Agree with Dr Bucko.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by ChefCarey » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:20 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:
...cut out wine on weeknights...in addition to the health benefit


And what health benefit might that be? I believe researchers have found that moderate red wine consumption is beneficial to the heart. One study found that the antioxidant resveratrol, which is prevalent in the skin of red grapes, may inhibit tumor development in some cancers. Another study indicated that resveratrol aided in the formation of nerve cells, which experts believe may be helpful in the treatment of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and on and on....


Find myself in strong agreement.

I actually find myself drinking more wine these days as I try to drink up some of the older wine in my cellar, wines I didn't want to ship.
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Ugh !

by Bill Spencer » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:36 pm

%^)

Agree with the good doctor and our fine chef ... food and wine are inexorably a pair ... cannot even imagine a dinner meal without BOTH ! And then there's the soft lighting, candles, flowers, cloth napkins, good music, pleasant conversation, touching, gazing, etc. ... and besides - wine IS food ! SINCERELY believe you and Bob NEED to rethink this one, Jenise ... you can sleep when you die ... besides - the proverbial "Greyhound bus" could be just around the next corner ... we can't live forever !

Clink !

%^)
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Re: Ugh !

by Jo Ann Henderson » Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:03 pm

CONGRATULATIONS, Jenise. I applaude your effort and your discipline. One of the things I think we need a little more of in this country is DISCIPLINED BEHAVIOR. Unfortunately, I do not hear a sense of accomplishment and celebration in your decision. Rather, I hear the longing and feeling of loss in your written voice. This may disappear with time, as you have indicated. I agree with you that there is a sense of adventure in putting the ideal foods together with your beverage of choice. And, it feels so adult and sophisticated when we pull it off -- for me, there is little that compares with that sense of satisfaction. To help you through the early days, I would suggest the following:
1. Focus on the accomplishment rather than the loss
2. Replace your food/wine thrill with something that gives you equal satisfaction, but that you didn't do quite as often
3. Engage friends in your cooking and dining circle who are on the same wave you are who can lend you the support required at this time
4. Rethink everything in your life that gives you extreme pleasure and try to list them (top to bottom). If bread and wine are at the top of the list, I agree with some of the others -- rethink your decision and how you might accomplish your goal in smaller, more manageable steps.
5. Stay focused on what works for you. Perhaps you and your partner are in different places with regard to this decision. (Then again, perhaps it was part of the scintillation that this is an experience you shared together!) If the two of you are willing, perhaps the food enthusiast can still prepare those special meals and the one who wants the wine with meals can embibe without it causing frustration in the other. Negotiate!
Keep us posted. Good luck!
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Robin Garr

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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Robin Garr » Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:14 pm

Jenise wrote:Inevitably, enthusiasm will return. Like my cats, I always land on my feet. But gosh, for the moment, it's just a little quiet around here.


You didn't actually ask for comments, although posting here kind of presumes that. ;)

I'm going to sign on with some of the others who are basically asking, "Why?" but take a slightly different tack. First and foremost, I would never question your decision to move toward moderation in whatever manner you feel is right for you. That's a personal decision, and you know best what's right for you.

That being said, though, I join Bucko and others who question the health advantage to falling back to weekend-only drinking, <i>assuming</i> that your daily consumption is moderate.

For me, I faced this dilemma years ago when I realized that my decision was going to require me - and by association, my bride - to drink wine with meals essentially every day for as long as wine is my day job, whether I liked it or not. (And I DO like it!) :)

But that said, a daily wine diet can be a real challenge to moderation <i>if a couple can't finish the meal without finishing the bottle</I>. I don't know how that plays out for you - it may not be an issue - but for us, if the wine was good, it felt easy to share the bottle to the bottom, and it felt wasteful to pour it out. For me, getting past this was the key to a lifestyle that accommodates daily wine without worries: After the analytical tasting, which literally involves only one or two tiny sips, it's one glass each with dinner. <i>Possibly</i> a half-glass refill after, if the wine is really good. But about half the bottle, more or less, will either hit the sink or go into the cooking-wine blend.

We haven't found this resolution hard to keep, and to me, it's much more natural, more enjoyable and frankly seems more healthful than holding off until the weekend and then finishing a bottle with the meal. To me, that approach would signal that I feel there's something vaguely bad about wine, and I don't honestly believe that.

As I said, I don't mean this to sound like I'm second-guessing you. I'm not. Your mileage, and everyone else's, may vary. But that's how I've solved a need to enjoy wine nightly, driven by both preference and work-related duty, and it works for us.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Jenise » Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:52 pm

Robin, we just needed to cut back on calories and make sure Bob gets a good night's sleep. And no matter how many times we have promised ourselves we'll do otherwise, we inevitably finish every bottle we open. And since we generally drink pretty good stuff, and most have some age on them--most are too good to see the inside of a sink or too far along in life to hold over for another day. For now, this really is best, and I'm happy with the decision.

But it does make cooking a little less interesting, which is what I was ruminating on as I sat here in the middle a sleepless night (look at the time on my post) and realized how little I've had to post about lately.

I should add that our social life is such that we rarely go five weeknights in a row without running into a social glass or three, so exceptions are constantly being made. In fact, I have to run and change for today's exception: Bill Spohn's brown bag lunch!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by KirbyB » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:07 pm

Amazing timing of this post!

I just gave up "weekly drinking" for Lent and made the comment to my wife two nights ago how much I miss the wine with dinner. How dinners seem less interesting now that I don't think about what wine to pair with it and tasting the wine as it goes with each bite.

I also struggle with the concept of keeping it to one+ glasses. I don't like to put leftover wine in the fridge for the next night, but honestly the wines I drink during the week usually aren't expensive enough to really ruin them by doing this. If I could move that direction, pour a glass each, then cork and put in the cellar or fridge, then that would be ideal. I just am trying to get away from downing a bottle (between the two of us) every night with dinner. I don't think it's excessive, but feel it's a little much.

But, I feel your pain and your boredom. I like what the one poster said - I am trying to find something else to make dinner interesting or to fill the gap.

I'm doing this just for kicks. I think in the long run, I'll still open a bottle fairly regularly during the week but will continue to show restraint and not always finish the entire bottle.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Hoke » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:13 pm

Robin, we just needed to cut back on calories and make sure Bob gets a good night's sleep. And no matter how many times we have promised ourselves we'll do otherwise, we inevitably finish every bottle we open. And since we generally drink pretty good stuff, and most have some age on them--most are too good to see the inside of a sink or too far along in life to hold over for another day. For now, this really is best, and I'm happy with the decision.


First, thank you for welcoming us to help psychoanalyze, second guess and offere comments on your lifestyle decisions, Jenise. :D

I find it interesting that you seem---and I stress the word "seem" here, since as Robin points out we weren't privy to the discussions that wnet into this decision, and are simply bystanders here----to have been unable to exercise the small disciplines (not finishing the entire bottle) and so decided to impose the large discipline (denying wine during the week). Draconian, but effective.

It's always a problem, the wine as a daily part of your life thing. And that's because it is, essentially, inconvenient, especially in a household of two. The old standard definitions and sizes (a 750ml bottle is sort of what a couple of people will drink at a full meal) simply don't fit in our version of the modern lifestyle. And there aren't many easy alternatives available, as re-sealing/chilling/whatever add an extra complication to what should be a simple process: enjoying a glass or two of wine with a meal as a standard feature of daily life.

It's unfortunate, really, that you have to take such draconian steps that seriously alter the fabric of your daily life, and that obviously have provided great pleasure and have enhanced your overall enjoyment of life.

Since I believe that moderation in moderation is good, I'd suggest you consider:

...designating one night a week, Wednesday being the perfect midweek night, as wine night, thereby allowing you to continue your love of wine/food pairing to elevate the humdrum nature of meals (dining, versus eating/refueling)

...stocking up on half-bottles! Using half bottles during the week, or when you are dining en famille, would solve the problem of over-indulgence and not being able to resist finishing the bottle. And there are more and more half bottles...good half bottles, not bland crap...available currently. Save the full bottles for the weekends or the parties.

Or you could just do what the ancient Romans used to do, and just binge and purge. Heck, bulimia is all the fashion right now anyway! :wink:
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Thomas » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:26 pm

Seems like a perfect reason for allowing bars or retailers to sell us wine from a cask and into our own container. That way, we can go get just the amount we want to drink for dinner, and maybe even have a selection so that we can find a wine to pair with the dinner.

Did I just post that or was I dreaming out loud???
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Bernard Roth » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:58 pm

I guess different people have different ideas of moderation.

My wife and I typically drink 3 bottles a week - one white, one red, and one of any color.

At dinner, she drinks maybe 2-3 oz. I drink 4-6 oz.

I wonder whether you and Bob could get the same enjoyment from wine if you agreed to stop at 1/2 bottle, saving the other half for later in the week.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Bob Ross » Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:06 pm

Jenise, some personal experience that may be helpful.

From time to time, I stop drinking wine for two or three weeks, primarily because as an obsessive personality, I need to prove to myself that I'm not addicted to the alcohol and that I can stop drinking alcohol.

There's always a sense of loss for a couple of days, but then I start feeling pretty good -- sleeping better, more energy, less dozing near bedtime, keener attention span.

And, when I start enjoying wine again ... it's marvelous -- it tastes better than I remember. For me, going cold turkey for a 15 to 20 days has been an important and enjoyable part of the entire wine experience.

I hope you and Bob find some positive aspects in your change of life style. I also applaud your willingness to share with us all.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Jeff Yeast » Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:16 pm

Leslie and I share some of the same concerns as Jenise. We have been on a quest to find an acceptable boxed red wine that, while we're not expecting it to be great, would be pleasantly drinkable for weeknights, and we could portion out a 4oz glass, saving larger quantities and better bottles for the weekend. Unfortunately that box must only be for sale in El Dorado, because we haven't found it yet. Does anyone have a suggestion for a decent boxed wine, after you stop laughing of course. :lol:

I will make note of this though: A 3.5oz glass of red table wine contains around 75 calories. Easy enough to cut out somewhere else and enjoy the wine.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Hoke » Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:20 pm

If you can find it, Jeff, Brocard does a box of "Jurassique" Chardonnay that is from Chablis, and it's pretty good. And not expensive either.

If you're okay with CA wines, the Black Box is okay---but it's not the original, becasue Constellation bought out the entrepreneur that started the company..
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Thomas » Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:24 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Jenise, some personal experience that may be helpful.

From time to time, I stop drinking wine for two or three weeks, primarily because as an obsessive personality, I need to prove to myself that I'm not addicted to the alcohol and that I can stop drinking alcohol.

There's always a sense of loss for a couple of days, but then I start feeling pretty good -- sleeping better, more energy, less dozing near bedtime, keener attention span.

And, when I start enjoying wine again ... it's marvelous -- it tastes better than I remember. For me, going cold turkey for a 15 to 20 days has been an important and enjoyable part of the entire wine experience.

I hope you and Bob find some positive aspects in your change of life style. I also applaud your willingness to share with us all.

Regards, Bob


Bob,

If you were to try not to eat dinner for a week would the outcome be either a sign of a weak willpower or a sign of a strong addiction to food? ;)

One time I needed an experiment done on me that was connected to potassium levels. The doc asked me if I could stop drinking wine for a month (he said wine interrupts or lowers potassium absorption, or something like that). I asked if he meant week but I heard month.

No, month is what it was. So I stopped for a month. I missed wine mainly because it is part of my dinner enjoyment. After that experience I made peace with the idea that I love wine with dinner, and since I am addicted to food for dinner, then why shouldn't I be addicted to wine for dinner.

My point: alcohol addiction is a far nastier thing than having two glasses of wine with dinner every day of your adult life. i don't think that your experiment shows you are not addicted to wine; it shows that you have will power.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by TimMc » Sat Feb 24, 2007 2:52 am

My two cents...

America has become the obsessive-compulsive poster boy of abstention in direct opposition to rampant consumerism. This is in a futile effort to justify all that we do consume.

And I think it is a direct backlash relative to the consumer orientation of our society. Thanks, in large part, to the commercialism of anything you care to name. We are victims of our own capitalism and unchecked self-gratification.


First we idulge after which we abstain.


I'm as guilty of it as the next guy.
Last edited by TimMc on Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Celia » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:38 am

Jenise, baby, I'm so with you. I don't want to be, but I also don't want to be faaat, and that's what I was when I was drinking every night. It's not the calories in the wine, it's the "oh, it's ok to eat the wheel of cheese, it won't hurt me" that used to accompany the second glass. :)

I know all the health benefits, and I have no doubt that they're right (I know large people with remarkably low cholesterol - something they attribute to moderate red wine consumption) - it just doesn't work for me. I also can't eat the prescribed small handful of nuts a day either - simply because I can't eat one handful of nuts, it always ends up being several. We all have to do whatever works for us individually.

I wish there was some way to portion out a bottle so that it would last four days - a glass each for Pete and I each night, but I'm in the same position as you, mostly aged wine which won't hold that long. Maybe we could experiment with ziploc bags and the freezer... :)

Can't make any suggestions foodwise, but you have my empathy !
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Larry Greenly » Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:18 pm

celia wrote:I wish there was some way to portion out a bottle so that it would last four days - a glass each for Pete and I each night, but I'm in the same position as you, mostly aged wine which won't hold that long. Maybe we could experiment with ziploc bags and the freezer... :)


Not Ziplocs--simply use plastic water bottles and freeze the leftover wine. It won't hurt it. No need to throw it away or drink it all.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by TimMc » Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:23 pm

All things in moderation, I guess.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by Jenise » Sat Feb 24, 2007 1:47 pm

Oh please, folks, stop trying to figure this out. I did not intend to put my life on display, really really really, and I won't do that further by defending this choice. It's not broken, it doesn't need fixing. Bob has more energy without, and that's all that matters.

Sure wine enhances most food, but I have to say that we really don't miss drinking wine every day. What I, as the chief cook and cellarmistress, DO miss is planning for the interaction of wine and food. It's something I've done every day for so many years it's become a reflex. Meal planning starts shortly after I get out of bed and goes on in the background throughout the day. Taking wine out of the equation means I have half as much to plan for and fewer challenges in the planning I do. Wasn't complaining, just ruminating aloud on that on a night when I couldn't sleep. Figured some of you would relate.

Celia, you certainly do. The relaxed atmosphere that wine creates and the flavors of wine itself certainly leads, at least at our house, to eating more cheese and planning for other foods we would be wise to have less of.
Last edited by Jenise on Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cutting back on wine with meals

by TimMc » Sat Feb 24, 2007 2:52 pm

You're right, Jenise....and I apologize if I offended.


I guess it's just how I'm wired: I'm programmed for "rescue" not "bystander." :)
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