I don't like alcohol. I don't like beer, wine, or liquor of any kind. I just never acquired a taste for it. Mom & Dad never had to worry about me sneaking out and drinking when I was a teen...it just wasn't going to happen with me. Fortunately, most of my friends were the same. They either chose not to drink, or they didn't like it. I certainly tried it, but I just didn't care for the taste, so I stayed away from it.
When I was 22, the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs, the last time the Pirates were in the postseason. It was the last time the Pirates finished a season with a winning record, beginning a professional-sports-record 20 years of futility (that's a story for another day). However, in '92, they were in the playoffs. It was Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, all tied up at 2 games each. My Pittsburgh uncle got us tickets for the game. We were pretty excited! The night of the game, we arrived at Three River's Stadium and we found out where our seats were located: behind home plate, but all the way up at the top of the stadium, literally the 2nd to last row! I have my share of fears, but one of my greatest is a strong fear of falling. Sitting that high up in the stadium put me in a panic!
So there we were, tailgating in the parking lot with 50,000 Pirates fans, gearing up for a big game, everybody was excited, hanging with my father, 2 uncles, and 3 cousins, and all I could think about was having to sit up at the top of that stadium. I don't recall who it was, but, since it was obvious to everyone I was preoccupied by this situation, someone suggested that I get wasted before the game and I would likely not worry about it anymore. And, since it was a sporting event in Pittsburgh, and we were tailgating, there was no shortage of beer available. So I drank one beer, and, sure enough, it relaxed me enough to no longer worry me, and the game was very exciting, a big win for the Pirates (in fact, the last playoff win for the Pirates for the next 20 years). Bob Walk pitched a complete game shut-out, and the Braves and Pirates went back to Atlanta to finish the series (the Braves won 4 games to 3 to go on to the World Series). I was nervous, but I was able to handle my fear of falling and enjoy the game.
While I didn't go on to regularly drink beer, and in fact barely ever drank again, I did come to the conclusion that alcohol could help relax me. But as time went on, and I got older and wiser, I reached a point where I didn't drink another drop of alcohol for at least ten years. I had no interest, and I was never in a social situation where I needed or wanted to drink. And I still hated the taste.
After getting thrown a few curve balls at my life, I found myself battling a lot of stress, and it was having an impact on my health. I had a scary time with high-blood pressure, and am now on medication for that. I have a fairly stressful job, which hasn't helped, either. So, one evening, I was chatting with my father and he suggested that a glass of wine each day after work would probably help me "relax". Plus, he said, he had heard it could be good for my health. I discounted the suggestion right away, and said that really wasn't an option, that I didn't like the taste of alcohol and I would have to look at another way to deal with my stress.
A couple of months ago, I happened to be at a store right next to a wine outlet. I figured it couldn't hurt to take a look, so I did. I was completely overwhelmed! I had no clue what to look for, what I might like, or what kind of wine was any good. So I looked around and bought four bottles in a variety of colors, not spending any more than $30. I took them home and decided to try a little taste test. I poured a little bit into four different styrofoam cups, and took a few sips of each one. They were HORRIBLE. Not just typical I-don't-like-alcohol horrible, but they were so bad I didn't drink another drop and proceeded to pour them all out. I decided to look up each of them online and discovered that I had actually purchased a couple of fairly decent wines, and a couple that you wouldn't give your worst enemy, rotgut horrible. I continued to do some research and figured out what kind of wines might appeal to me, and which one's I should stay away from. It was educational, but I still wasn't sure if this was even going to help me.
About a month ago, I found myself near another wine store, so I decided to check it out, with my new found knowledge of wines. Again, I was completely overwhelmed, but I at least had some idea of what to look for. So I found a few bottles, again not spending more than about $30. One in particular looked like it had promise: it was a chocolate wine. It looked like Yoohoo. They had about 300 bottles in a nice display at the front of the store, so I figured it must be good.
When I arrived home, I decided to look them up online to see what I had. I took the reviews with a grain of salt, since I knew from experience that, just because it received high marks, I wouldn't necessarily like it. Interestingly, the chocolate wine received the worst reviews. Once again, I got out my little styrofoam cups and did my little taste test. And, once again, they were all horrible. Except the chocolate wine. I was actually able to stomach this one. I think the bottle lasted about two weeks. I only drank a little bit each time, and certainly not everyday. I also have no clue whether or not it was helping me to relax. I haven't decided whether to continue my experiment and try some other wines, or just forget the whole thing. While the chocolate wine was okay, I'd still rather have a Yoohoo, or even a glass of Ovaltine.
So that's my wine story. I'm open to suggestions for other wines to try, but I really can't promise that I'm going to like any just because you like them.