My Dry January and a Historic Commemoration

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Nick Antonaccio
Nick Antonaccio

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

How have I been persevering? I haven’t fallen victim to abstaining from abstaining. I’ve developed strategies for specific situations. Allow me to share several with those of you who are participating, and those who may consider abstaining in future months.

  1. Out at a restaurant, I pour the first glass as a standard amount. I sniff and swirl, not sip. The waiter won’t ask if I’d like a refill. My friends don’t goad me about abstaining. When someone at the table is ready for a final pour, I offer them my unfinished glass.
  2. If my fellow diners order a cocktail before a restaurant meal or a social gathering at a bar, I’ll order 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 it in a bon vivant style while engaged in convivial conversation and even order a second.
  3. Abstaining at home is 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.

Past the halfway point in my Dry January (or Dryanuary), I’m also finding positive effects. My ability to abstain from alcohol is not as difficult as I had imagined (whew). I wake up feeling refreshed, am getting more out of my early morning gym workout and saving on wine purchases. But I do miss the ethereal experience of savoring the full cycle of wine appreciation and enjoying the full benefit of pairing wine and food.

But it’s only 31 days, less than 10 percent of the year. I can do this. I’d like to think a number of you have taken this challenge. E-mail me with your experiences.

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? (Mothers Against Drunk Driving; the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, a government agency; and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has spent $265 million since 2015.) Their influence is significant and broad-based.

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

What if legislators in Congress realized the popularity of this national temperance movement and began to consider legislation to address their constituents’ concerns?

What if this groundswell gained momentum, resulting in a proposed amendment to the Constitution and 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.

This week we recognized the 100th anniversary of the effective date of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which made it a federal crime to manufacture, sell, transport, import or export “intoxicating liquors.” Wine was included in this ban.

Prohibition was arguably one of the most controversial, and perhaps least enforced, Constitutional laws in our history. It was repealed by the Twenty-first 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 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. 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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