When living in Spain, July and August mark the time of year that I patently hate as everything grinds to a halt–doubly so when there are the now annual strikes at the airport. While August afforded me the chance to hop up to the Faroes for a much-needed trip on far-northern shores (great place for outdoor tourism btw), July saw me ensconced in the village while the editor of this publication was away on a work assignment. Time in a small Iberian village cast adrift in a wine region with two dogs and a cellar stocked full of wonderful wines may sound great to many, but it presents me with great dilemma: to drink, or not to drink?

In the house we have these blessed inventions of the Eto as well as the Coravin. I am of a mind that when left to my own devices and a wonderful bottle of wine looms large in front of me, I’m liable to finish the whole thing off by myself in an evening. I’m a big guy but I fully admit that this isn’t the healthiest of preoccupations and a wine bottle is definitely best when shared between two.

Let’s try Dry July?

This got me to start thinking that maybe it was time to try something new which I’m calling Dry July–the rhyming aspect of this should make it a win. Yeah, I know it’s derivative of and completely stealing the concept of Dry January with the caveat that when you step back and think about it, Dry July makes a great deal more sense.

While I completely agree with the core premise of Dry January, which is to drink less, I feel that it’s a bit misplaced on two counts. The first is that this feels far too Christian based in that you’ve sinned for December and New Year’s Eve and thus you atone for it throughout January. Somehow thinking this month away from booze will pay off a debt owed to overindulgence is misguided however as the detrimental effects of drinking too much alcohol are cumulative.

The other large issue I see with January as the month of choice to abstain is this is prime time for drinking red wines given that it’s cold in the Northern Hemisphere. Big, bountiful, full-tannin red wines are great this time of year, without having to do any chilling like is pretty much de rigueur for the summer. That and the days are short, the horizon is bleak and dammit, I just want to stay inside with good wine and a warm dog on my lap. Also, my birthday is most miserably placed in the middle of the month and I’ve no interest in dealing with the inevitable click on the mortality clock, whilst without wine.

These would be the points in favor of taking Dry January and making it Dry July instead. I’ve generally not felt like drinking much alcohol anyways in July as the days are long and the garden needs tending. That and instead of atoning for December, you can actual prepare for August when most people take the bulk of holidays anyways. And, if you’ve decreased your tolerance for alcohol due to a month off it, you’ll probably find that you drink less in the month following.

Also, Dry July is much more a state of mind instead of a hard-fast rule. With no major holidays before and after July, you can wind into it and out of it if you want. If you’re in the US and find that July 4th can’t be had without booze, well, you can just start a little later. This all seems a lot more spontaneous and organic than saying three Hail Marys and rising from the confessional month of January, supposedly sin free.

Preach unto others…

The reason I bring it up is because I did indeed give this a go during July. I fully admit that I love wine. In fact if there’s no wine as an alcoholic choice, I often choose not to drink anything as beer and spirits don’t give me this swirl of mystery and bottomless preponderance that wine does. So in the first week, I did miss wine but after that, I found that I missed it a good deal less. It helps that there are no tasting events during July as I would have probably missed wine more but as it sat, it really wasn’t on my mind and the heat played a large part in that.

Also helping things was that I gave up cheese at the same time. Cheese really is from the Devil’s tit. I mean, how is it so tasty, yet so fattening and more to the point, how does it taste even better with wine? That’s just unfair. But, in not eating cheese, it probably helped to quell the wine urges as well.

Otherwise, I did my normal walks with the dogs, a regular bit of treadmill and that was it during the month of July. Did this redefine my life? Not really. Sure, it seems that I dropped 3kg but I don’t know if that was the wine, the cheese, the cheese and wine, or just losing a liter of liquids a day through the sweat at the back of my knees alone. Unfortunately I don’t have a control version of myself that kept guzzling wine and shoving cheese down his gullet to measure against.

But if nothing else, I did end up with longer, more productive days as when you don’t spend a couple of hours in the evening with a bottle of wine, there’s suddenly a great deal more free time. I also woke up a touch earlier which is a bonus when it reaches 30C by 10 in the morning.

So if you feel you want to cut out wine and booze from your life for a month, I highly suggest that you give the secular Dry July a try instead of making your life miserable during January which is when you could most likely do with a drink more than any other time of the year.

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