Demystifying Alcohol for Women



When I turned 21, I didn’t really touch alcohol. 

Mostly because it is expensive when you are in college, just married, trying to make a living, etc. But I was also scared of it, in a way. I had lived my teenage years under the house of a raging alcoholic who drank unbearably cheap beer, and I can’t say I was too fond of alcohol at that point.

But I also simply didn’t understand the differences between good wine or bad wine. Did I like port at all? What as bourbon besides something that will burn your eyeballs? Does all beer taste like a gutter?

I just didn’t know anything about alcohol when I was younger besides the experiences I had while growing up; and being in lower-middle class America, this was pretty much restricted to lager beer and random wines.

My husband and I have taken our time over the 14 years we’ve been married slowly going through the spirits, and I finally understand and appreciate what I’m drinking. I also know what I like and don’t like now!

There was one night a few years ago I went out with a bunch of women for dinner, and a few of us ordered wine. I ordered Clos du Bois pinot noir, because I was in my pinot noir season then (I’m in a petite sirah season now, but I’ll get to that!), but the other women didn’t seem to know where to begin in selecting a wine to go with their dinner.

I didn’t want to impose on their selection, and most of them chose a merlot. I can totally understand their choice, since merlot is a very safe wine to choose. Over the course of dinner we were discussing wines, and I shared my wine with a couple of the ladies…and the look on their face when they tasted a full bodied wine, compared with a more watery merlot, was a reaction of understanding. Not all wines are the same!

When it came time for desert and they were staring at the port menu, I stepped in and ordered Fonseca 10 Year Tawny Port for all of us. It was so much fun actually enjoying good alcohol with women.

The thing with drinking as a woman is that there is so much more involved than just drinking, which is the obstacle that keeps women from exploring the wide spectrum of alcohol, from mixed drinks to beer to wines.

Women are worried about their health, their diet, how their experiences reflect what they drink, if they drink at all. They worry about alcoholism in their home, alcoholism in themselves, alcoholics in their families.

Even social stigmas are hard to break: are you a woman who sips white wine, or do you enjoy beer, and what does that say about the type of woman you are?

Or do you enjoy whiskey and hard liquor, and how do you drink this in the company of women who don’t drink at all without looking just flat out odd?

Drinking as a woman is a very emotionally charged experience that will reflect who you are in ways you may or may not be comfortable with.Especially with the holidays coming up, there will invariably be alcohol available and offered…

And maybe if we understood what we were offered a little better we wouldn’t be stuck walking around with some glass of mystery drink called Chambord with the promise, “You’ll love it!” when you actually aren’t a Chambord drinker at all.

What I would like to do is to demystify some of these areas for us. I am going to be breaking down 7 areas of alcohol so bourbon will be just as appealing as merlot wine!

The Seven Areas of Alcohol

1. Wine

2. Sherry, Port & Vermouth

3. Beer

4. In The Clear: Vodka & Gin

5. Aged In Barrels: Rum, Whiskey & Bourbon

6. margaritas, martinis and mixed drinks

7. Traditional drinks, like egg nog