Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, wine critic Esther Mobley discusses the phenomenon of Dry January, noting that such a concept now exists even in France. Given that French wine consumption continues to fall, perhaps this isn’t as unexpected as it might sound.
In the United States, where we’re drinking more wine than ever before, the notion of Dry January is a reminder that ideas for ameliorating excess have always been with us in the form of fasts, crash diets and outright Prohibition — even if the latter didn’t turn out well.
For Mobley, “responsible drinking” is an everyday consideration, one not confined to a particular month or period.
Those of us who write professionally about booze seldom address the issue of problematic drinking, probably to our detriment. I’m unmoved by arguments against Dry January that focus on the negative impacts they’d have on the wine industry: It’s not my job to defend any industry, and wineries ought to have to win customers’ business in sober-curious times as well as indulgent eras. In fact, it’s in the booze industry’s long-term interest that its customers become introspective about their health.
The reason I’m not doing Dry January, however, is because I consider it a more meaningful achievement to practice responsible drinking year-round.