“It’s quittin’ time!”

“Who says it’s quittin’ time?”

“I say it’s quittin’ time. It’s quitting time!”

David and I have had this exchange more than once, not only about working too much but also about over-imbibing.

Both David and I work in the wine and food business. We’re Frequent Flighters who’ve logged a lot of mileage both producing and attending professional wine events. We spit a lot. It’s allowed and appropriate.


But sometimes it’s tough, especially when the day involves tasting many wines at different events. Last week we had a triple header- three tastings in one day. I was clearly not able to keep up with David who steered me out the door and home after “Round 3.” Rule #1: When your husband weighs 70 pounds more than you and has a steel tank for a stomach don’t event attempt to keep up with him.

With warm weather approaching, many of my fabulous wine drinking gal-pals are icing down rosé and fizz for picnics, al fresco dinners, barbecues and other summer soirées.

Knowing we all want to be regarded as luscious and not lushes, I share my professional tips for practicing safe sips.

If you are attending an event:

1. Eat lightly ahead of time so your stomach is not empty. I don’t care how good the food will be; coat your stomach before you go. Dinner may take a while to be served.

2. Take small sips not large gulps. Instead, slurp water to avoid gettting sloppy. I suggest drinking one glass of water for every glass of wine to ward off dehydration and also slow down your alcohol consumption.

3. Speaking of slowing down: It’s not a race to the bottom of the bottle.  Savor the wine. Inhale the aroma, but not the liquid. Go slowly. Note: Waiters love to “top off your glass” so they can sell you more wine. We usually just ask if we can pour our own.  It’s important to know your limit. Reality check:  According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines moderate alcohol consumption for women is one 6 ounce glass a day (2 for men).

4.  If you feel woozy in the heat, drink more water, back off the wine and put something simple in your stomach. Find shade to sit and bring down your body temperature.

5. Have a buddy system. It’s always good to have a friend (or spouse) who knows to lean over and murmur these essential words in your ear: “You are slurring.” It’s as important as “Check your teeth.”

6. Corks a poppin! Keep the wine out of the direct sunlight! This may sound obvious but I could tell you stories about events with popped corks and cooked wine.



If you are serving wine at an event

All of above apply so you’re not the Hostess with the Mostest hangover. But here are some other tips:

1. Offer spit buckets or opaque 8 ounce cups in case someone wants to taste (or drink more water). Professional wine events have them. I like having them as options for social events as well.

2.  Six ounce pours are the norm, not to the lip of the glass. It’s wine, not milk. (Although we often refer to Champagne as “mother’s milk.”)

3. Look at the alcohol content in the wines you check. Some wines have lower alcohol content. The average alcohol by volume (ABV) is 11.6 percent. I am sharing a helpful entertaining guide from Real Simple Magazine. You can also read more about how how much alcohol is in wine at this article by WineTurtle.com

4. If dinner isn’t going to be served for a few hours have plenty of hearty hors d’oeuvres. In my opinion crudités and cheese have never worked well as food offerings at professional wine tastings, and I feel the same way for dinner parties.

5.  Offer quality non alcohol options for anyone who cannot drink. fresh iced tea, sparkling water, fresh sodas, nothing artificial or too sugary. If you notice a guest is not drinking do not ask “Why aren’t you drinking?” Just ask, “What can I offer you to drink?” A person’s decision not to imbibe is a private matter.

6.  Have a list of local taxi and car services on hand for anyone who may not be fit to drive home. If a guest has had one too many quietly offer to call a cab, ask a friend to drive her home or provide a sofa for her to stay overnight. Do not let her drive and do not let her argue with you about this important decision.

People have asked me if you are obligated to serve a wine a guest brings as a hostess gift. The answer is “not unless you want to.” I’ve see guests bring everything from cheap plonk to expensive vintages as gifts. I would prefer not serving either at a party unless the invitation called for “special vintages.”  Either way, put the wine aside in another room and not on the counter where a guest may open it and start pouring away.

Finally, alcohol affects each person in different ways. There are several influencing factors* including:

  • Age.
  • Gender.
  • Race or ethnicity.
  • Physical condition (weight, fitness level, etc).
  • Amount of food consumed before drinking.
  • How quickly the alcohol was consumed.
  • Use of drugs or prescription medicines.
  • Family history of alcohol problems.

* Source: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#standDrink

Listen to your body and know your limits.