Water : A refreshing alternative to six glasses of wine.

Six glasses of tap water : A refreshing alternative to six glasses of wine.

2016 Tap Water, Toronto Municipal Water, Ontario (Alcohol 0%) From the tap $0.00 (if you discount taxes).

Do I drink too much?

I’ve probably drunk too much since I’ve been of just under legal age to drink, although back then it was more along the wobbly and chaotic lines of post-pubescent binge drinking as opposed to the habitual consumption that has become a day-to-day reality for me working in the profession that I do. Indeed, in certain circles, raging alcohol abuse is often seen as an industry standard.

Am I an alcoholic?

I’ve sat down and seriously asked myself that question a handful of times over the past twenty years, and always with the confidential guidance of partners, friends, associates, and Doctors. Every time the answer has been in the negative. And every time the answer has been followed by a realisation that I am undoubtedly a boozer, a heavy drinker… a heavy drinker that would most definitely benefit from seriously cutting back on my yearly, monthly, weekly, daily intake of beverage alcohol. An addict? No.

Do I ever crave alcohol?

Rarely. The only occasions that spring to mind are those where I have been doing exhausting, sun-spanked yard work, and find myself dreaming of ice cold beer lubricating my dust-filled and dry mouth and throat. So if that’s a craving, then yes.

How much is too much?

I don’t really want to go into exactly how much I have been in the habit of consuming on a daily basis. Let’s just say that it’s often a multiple of the recommended weekly intake according to Health Canada. It’s certainly not uncommon for me to knock back eight or ten tall boy cans in one evening at home, and that could easily have been after a full day of tastings. And opening that third bottle of wine for myself, whilst not an everyday occurrence, is certainly not unheard of. I am in no way laddishly bragging about my consumption, it’s simply a reality of my life.

Saying all of this, I’ve been on a two-dry-days-a-week regime for the past four months, and that does make a difference… it’s also incredibly easy for me to adhere to, the only stumbling blocks being the times that I simply forget. Remember I said it was habitual?

What toll has all of this intake taken upon me?

Undoubtedly, over the years, my drinking has negatively impacted my relationships, with an ex-wife, partners, colleagues, and friends. This is something of which I am now fully cognisant, particularly these days, seeing as my wife is a recovering alcoholic who has been dry for some five years. And they said that relationship could never work! We showed them…

Was my body not a toxic disaster?

Blessed with a curious metabolism, my blood work usually comes back with nothing too much to worry about, although in recent years my uric acid index has been getting scarily close to gout level, and hence I have had a number of related aches and (freaking agonising) pains. I’m actually beginning to wonder if this issue has more to do with me severely dehydrating myself on a regular basis, as apart from beer, wine, and tea, no other liquids regularly cross my lips.

I rarely suffer hangovers these days, and at my worst simply feel more sluggish than usual. But I’m not getting any younger, and now, with a two year old boy who continually wants to jump on my chest and belly whilst screaming a theatrical “Ooooooh No!”, I need to be reasonably alert and quick to react to his amateur acrobatics so as he doesn’t land flat on his face or place his foot directly into my gooligongs at high speed.

So I decided to take a bit of a break… and to start drinking water for, basically, the first time. 

Now this wasn’t your fancy mineral water, although I am quite partial to the more mineral-rich sparkling waters such as Badoit or the more saline examples that one can often find in Europe. I’ve been drinking Toronto tap water exclusively for the past two weeks. No beer. No wine. Sometimes milk. But basically just Toronto tap water.

Sometimes I put it through the soda stream, but I’ve come to discover that unfiltered Toronto tap water tastes kind-of iffy with the addition of Carbon Dioxide. Whist our water may be some of the cleanest, it’s certainly not the tastiest, as there is a very distinctive whiff of chlorine emitted from each and every glass, something that 13th Street Winemaker J.P. Colas has been complaining about for years.

Strangely enough, I’ve been drinking about the same volume of liquid though, which has meant that my trips to the bathroom have become a hell of a lot more frequent. My question is, where the hell did all that liquid in the beer and wine I was consuming go to? My urine has changed colour drastically, from a deep gold to almost water white, which reinforces my thoughts on the gout issues being related to my continual and relentless dehydration. 

Having a two week dry spell certainly hasn’t been difficult in any way whatsoever, although I did miss out on a couple of rather good wine tastings for fear that I couldn’t stop myself from tasting just a little drop. I feel recharged, flushed-out, perhaps a little less puffy around the gills, and come to the table with a slightly different idea about the role of alcohol in my life.

I’m not an alcoholic in denial. I drink way too much beer and wine. And I am, from this day forward, going to face that problem head on and make some changes.

4 apples out of 5

(Four apples out of a possible five)

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s off to Tuscany for work tomorrow.