They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

 I’m going to dispute that.

You see, I always knew how much I liked wine.

To me, there’s not a lot of point having beef ragu without a glass of barolo to go with. A bowl of bouillabaisse is pretty much bankrupt without some salmon hued Bandol rose on the side. And what’s a roast chicken sandwich, cut into thirds with the crusts nipped off without a glass of champagne to sip?

It goes without saying that I drink a bit.

(Quick caveat- not to excess- there’s nothing I find more difficult to be around than seriously intoxicated people. It makes me panicky in the same way that confined spaces and public speaking do other people).

More like, I drink frequently.  It’s a rare night when there isn’t a glass of wine poured to complement the meal. Without, it feels unbalanced, like you’re only wearing one sock.

Maybe it’s a socialisation thing. I grew up with wine around, which was consumed in perfect civility. A bottle being opened was both a mark of celebration and a point of conversation.

I knew the sound of white wine splashing into a glass at 6pm meant it was time to put the books away and watch the news with Mum.

My step siblings and I would often crane our necks to see what my step father would pull out  for Sunday night dinner. We always knew that when he took his time choosing it was going to be something good.

And while I can’t  tell you off the top of my head what my Dad’s favourite meal is (except for a frustration with cous cous, he likes almost everything),  I can tell you that special occasions call for Chandon and that his preference from the cellar is a cheeky bottle of pinot noir.

The first time The Hungry One met my Dad, he turned up with a bottle of Tasmanian pinot nervously clutched in his left hand. “Is this ok?” he asked me. I knew then that he’d be fine.

These days I’ve learned through action research that a crunchy day is often smoother after half a glass of pink wine with lunch. A sunset looks better when seen through the lens of campari and blood orange. And a  proper dinner deserves a proper drink.

Which is why I’m scraping around at the moment.

When a doctor says to you ‘I don’t want you to drink while you’re on these antibiotics’, I’m prone to nod and smile a little. Sure, sure. I won’t drink to excess. I don’t, you know, so you don’t have to worry.

But when three doctors down the phone at a dinner party confirm and say “You really can’t drink on those ones”, then you take it a bit more seriously.

Three days in and I’m a little sick of sparkling water. It’s water. But it’s sparkly. I get that. The novelty is wearing off.  

I’ve tried adding lime juice and muddling mint. That made it a little more interesting. For a day. Now I’ve moved onto soda water jazzed up with lemon  and cranberry juice.

Later in the week I’m going back to iced herbal teas- I’ll see how that goes.

I never thought I’d miss the days of our rogue soda stream so much.

Luckily I’ve only got four days left.  Which calls for some celebrations come Saturday.

I might just go and put some champagne on ice. 

Jazzed up soda water with lemon and mint

Take a handful of mint leaves. Take to them with a mortar and pestle until they’ve become a little smushed. Put them in a tall glass with some ice. Squeeze over the juice of a lime. Top with soda water. 


Any other suggestions for virgin drinks to tide me over will be very very gratefully received.