A Progress Report on My Dry January Experiment

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GrapevineAt the beginning of the month, I vowed to join the Dry January movement, abstaining from alcohol for 31 days. I hope you considered this challenge as well.

How have I been persevering? I haven’t yet fallen victim to abstaining from abstaining.

I started off rather tenuously. During the first few days, for a fleeting moment, I even worried that my pandemic-long inclination to imbibing at will may have catapulted me down a path to dependency. By the fifth day I was back in control of my mind and body, even building momentum and confidence toward the remaining 26 days.

And then came Jan. 6. Many of us found ourselves horrified at the debacle in Washington. I felt myself descending into the temptation of pouring a glass of wine to relieve the stress.

Notwithstanding the shocking events before me, I diverted my thoughts to rationalizing how to cope. A small measure of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon? No, I did not succumb. Just a single shot of single malt Scotch? No. A splash of one of the very low-alcohol hard seltzers? Almost. But no, somehow, I persevered.

How did you fare?

The urge to imbibe ebbed and flowed for several days. But I’m back on track.

I’ve developed several coping strategies. Allow me to share them with you.
  1. When on a celebratory Zoom event, I’ve become adept at sleight-of-hand. I pour a standard portion of a glass of wine. I sniff, swirl and sip. Then I spit, not swallow (off camera).
  2. My alternate tack on Zoom sessions is to prepare a mocktail. These non-alcoholic drinks mirror many of the sophisticated new cocktails on beverage lists. I can raise my mocktail glass for a toast, sip and swallow in a bon vivant style and even enjoy a second.
  3. Abstaining at the dinner table is the most challenging. Wine enhances so many dishes and influences my palate to appreciate food on a unique plane. I must admit, our longstanding family tradition of Friday night pizza, wine and a movie without a bottle of red is quite unfulfilling. Alas, I have no clever alternative. Reluctantly, tap water it is.
  4. For other occasions, mineral water with a squeeze of lemon, or one of the flavored natural seltzers, is a reasonably acceptable substitute. And always in a Champagne flute.

Here at the halfway point in my Dry January (or Dryanuary), I’m also finding positive effects. I wake up feeling refreshed, am getting more out of my early morning gym workout and saving on wine purchases.

It’s only 31 days, less than 10 percent of the year. I can do this.

But now I’m beginning to think of the potential momentum created by Dryanuary.

What if the movement started to grow across all drinking-age generations, but especially among the self-declared alcohol abstainers of the millennial generation?

What if the movement began to spread to organized groups averse to alcohol consumption and who espouse temperance? Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been invested in this movement.

What if popular support began to grow and a national march on Washington was held, further creating an awareness of the negative effects of alcohol consumption?

What if legislators in Congress began to consider legislation to address their constituents’ concerns?

What if this groundswell gained momentum, resulting in a proposed amendment to the Constitution brought to the public for a vote?

What if it passed?

Preposterous, you exclaim. Not in an enlightened society of diverse opinions, practices, preferences and beliefs. 

But can history repeat itself? In 1920, the 18th Amendment was enacted, which made it a federal crime to manufacture, sell, transport, import or export “intoxicating liquors.” Prohibition was ultimately repealed by the 21st Amendment, the only amendment to suffer such a fate.

The nation was under the alcohol ban, not for the equivalent of a Dryanuary, not for an entire year, but for 13 long, dark years, straining the very fabric of our society.

Consider all the facts, weighing them carefully as you consume wine and consider its effects on your health and sociopolitical lifestyle.

Nick Antonaccio is a 45-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years, he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member and program director of the Wine Media Guild of wine journalists. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at or on Twitter @sharingwine.

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