I farewelled my drinking legs in style this weekend.
But there are worst places than the Hunter Valley to find out that you’re a pussy.
Not even the enticement of membership to my favourite winery, Scarborough Wines, a life-long ambition of mine, along with the purchase of twelve bottles of my favourite Chardonnay (now safely stashed away from Kurt in the boot of my car), can change the fact that my body refuses to play ball when it comes to alcohol.
I know we’ve had a good run, and unlike all my previous, very silly, failed promises when I said that I would give up drinking because I was worried I might have a problem (!), I won’t be giving up anytime soon, however I might concede that I need to push down a tad more gently on the throttle.
It just proves that life’s a bitch, because first it takes our looks, then our bodies, our tolerance to wine and finally our brains. Phone number for the Euthanasia society handy, anyone?
Like those first grey hairs in your pubes, it’s got to be one of the most debilitating side effects of middle age when you notice those first signs of your alcoholic tolerance slippage, forcing you to approach old age with dementia as the only viable means of forgetting. It’s your body’s way of reminding you that you have lots of confused, bad-assed hormones and a predisposition to premature death unless you listen to it and cut the fuck down.
And for those who care…
According to Science Of Us and Cari Romm, ‘one of the major reasons for a hangover is that you simply become less efficient at processing your drinks. Each drink you force on your poor body takes about an hour to break down. Doing so is a multi-step process: First, a liver enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase transforms the alcohol you’ve ingested into a compound called acetaldehyde. Next, another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase breaks that down into acetate, which then becomes carbon dioxide and water. When you’re 21, this process acts as a fairly well-oiled machine. But over time, our levels of the necessary enzymes decrease, meaning acetaldehyde — which is a highly toxic, nasty chemical — spends more time hanging out in your system, causing headaches, mouth dryness, nausea, and a host of other symptoms. ‘
What this means in practise is that we’re too fucking old to be having fun.
Also, ‘As they grow older, people may also build up more body fat, which leaves them more susceptible to alcohol’s effects. Fat doesn’t absorb alcohol, meaning someone who has more of it will have less space for booze to dilute — it’s the reason women, who generally have more body fat than men, also tend to have lower tolerance. The body also loses water with age — you have more water in you at 20 than you do at 40 — which, again, means the booze stays more concentrated in your system. ‘
As you’ll be aware from my past moans of frustration here on this blog, this pussy-liver condition of mine has been looming for a while, but being the stalwart that I am, I’ve chosen to ignore it thus far, in much the same way I’ve ignored advice about being too old to wear leggings and keeping my hair long.
For those of you still in denial, the symptoms start with noticeably worse headaches and flu-like symptoms the morning after, even after you’ve resorted to finer wines in desperation or an attempt at other drinks in search of that perfect elixir to provide a comparable buzz without the dire consequences.
The delightful young cellar hottie at Keith Tulloch Wines told me that hangovers are due to the amount of sulphur in cheaper wines, but I’ve tried expensive and organic wines and they’re just as unforgiving and generally the latter taste as gross AF.
Which is why I suspected that last weekend’s trip to the Hunter Wine Valley would be a test. Sobriety is not exactly a viable option on a two-day wine tour, accompanied by a man about to turn fifty and still searching for the secret to his life, and three young adults, excited as puppies about getting shit-faced with their parents, at their parents expense.
Remember those halcyon days when you too possessed the superpower to drink all night, get up in the morning and start all over again?
I was uncharacteristically careful. I volunteered as the responsible driver to some of the cellars (the ones I knew made shit Chardonnay), sipped at tastings and tried to pretend that I didn’t hate everyone. Although it nearly killed me to spit away the majority of each glass in the spittoons.
And then we reached the afternoon, parked the car at our beautiful house and walked through the lush vineyards to our local cellars – (a tad of misrepresentation there as there are no leaves on the vines in the winter, but fortunately the cellars have plenty stashed away).
And no judgment, but by the time we walked back home that evening I was actually seeing kangaroos, NC was cuddling Kurt and the Astronaut had sneakily set up Twenty Questions on the dining table – he was that confident about winning. Which was very fortuitous as it turned out because it distracted the old man’s middle-aged whinging about the Liberals not winning.
Anyone else feeling a little vulnerable that we still don’t have a prime minister?
And as I tucked into a vat of cheese, bread and cold meat, I was having such a good time that I thought I’d got away with it.
Until the next morning when I woke up at dawn to balloons in the garden, and a humdinger of a hangover that not even our cholesterol-infused breakfast, several sneaky black coffees and gallons of water could alleviate.
Was it worth it? Of course.