I Paused My Wine Subscription for this Happier Happy-Hour Solution

published Aug 9, 2022
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non alcoholic wines next to wine glasses on table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

At the start of the pandemic, I did what most decided to do in order to cope. I got into baking, of course, and tried my hand at knitting. I took a virtual watercolor painting class, and cleaned out my closet. I bought one too many books. But before you think I made nothing but zero-strings, life-enhancing choices in the midst of such disarray, know that I also went in on this offering: a wine delivery service. 

Every month, I’d fill out a form detailing the type, origin, and flavor profiles of a worldly wine selection as if I were receiving stamps on a passport that was otherwise collecting dust. I tasted bottles from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Napa — which, even though is relatively close by in comparison, felt equally exotic on day 124 of quarantine — and paired them with whatever meal and Bravo cast was on the docket for the night. It felt fun for a while, even comforting. I started to think I needed a glass (or two) of wine as part of my routine, which coming from someone who drank sparingly before the pandemic, was certainly a switch.

At the same time, I noticed that I wasn’t sleeping as soundly, a fact I couldn’t squarely blame on — gestures widely — nor was my skin as clear as it used to be. It took me longer to wake up in the morning, too, and I felt much more tired in the afternoon. Once I realized that I also stopped baking, knitting, and painting, but I held on to my wine subscription, I decided to make a change. 

I put a pause on my wine subscription and started looking for non-alcoholic substitutes for afternoon happy hours that still felt festive. Sometimes just putting lemon slices in a pretty glass of water worked just fine, as did whipping up smoothies to drink with oversized neon straws.

But my favorite solution so far has been to slice up cucumber, watermelon, strawberries, or grapefruit, and stick them in a small water dispenser on my countertop. I’ll fill a glass with ice, pour the fresh concoction about halfway to the top, and then finish things off with elderflower tonic water. If I’m feeling even fancier, I’ll add a paper umbrella, too. Then I’ll sit outside as I sip, preferably with sunglasses on, and hopefully have a yet-to-be-read book by my side. Who needs wine and Bravo when you can have something like that? (I’m just kidding, I still need Bravo.)

I have nothing against wine, I just wanted my relationship with it to return to feeling like a special treat rather than a common occurrence. And maybe it’s because of the fresh produce, or the dispenser, or the paper umbrella, but my non-alcoholic happy hour feels like a habit I won’t mind keeping for the foreseeable future.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: After Pausing My Wine Subscription, This Solution Is Making My Happy Hour Happier