While my high school peers gulped down cheap beer from their parents’ basement stashes, I was wearing WWJD bracelets and silently judging them.
My youth group era eschewed anything “lukewarm,” instead opting for extremes. (Or, as we said in the ‘90s, eXtreme!) Being extreme for God meant staying far away from anything that could potentially lead down a dark road. If sex before marriage was sin, nix kissing too. And maybe dating altogether. If you disagreed with a company, boycott it. If an album had swear words, run it over with your car.
Though my dad kept red wine in the basement and advocated moderation in all things, I thought of things the youth group way. If it’s a sin to get drunk, don’t drink at all—not even champagne on your wedding day. Eventually, I tried a strawberry daiquiri, which I consumed with Dad on my 21st birthday. It turned my cheeks rum red and made my head spin. I had no desire to do it again.
A couple years later, I met Starling Castle Riesling. It tasted like honey and sunlight and joy and lightness—all the things that were missing in my life just then. That was the year that I was trying to feel my way through a dark, undiagnosed depression and a soul-crushing church search at the same time. Life felt heavy and bleak, but the wine—the wine made me float. I started drinking wine, and all of the sudden my black-and-white world got a whole lot more complicated.
As a memoirist, when I tell the stories of my life, I have to talk about my journey with alcohol, which started with that first glass of Riesling almost a decade ago.
I love wine. I love the complex taste of it on your tongue, the nuances that I can sense but not name. It brings out the flavors ...1
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