WORLD OF WINE: Holidays are for pleasurable but responsible drinking

The holiday season is upon us with ever more opportunities to consume alcohol in greater quantities. While I celebrate the moderate consumption of wine based on the pleasure that such consumption brings, I temper my promotion of wine with the reality that I have an alcoholic son.

For those of us who get genuine social enjoyment from moderate wine consumption, these next weeks will mean seasonal camaraderie, and the joys of celebrating life.

In the early 1900s, male alcohol consumption was such a high with young men that it gave impetus to finally getting the Volstead Act (formally called the National Prohibition Act) enacted to enforce the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture and sales of alcohol in 1920.

This of course led to bootlegging of liquor for the next 13 years, with failure of stopping Americans from drinking, and women showed up with their male companions in the speakeasies in the cities around the country.

The 1920s heralded in the right for women to vote, and with that vote came a newly claimed independence, which was manifested in the “flapper girl” persona who flouted essentially all the principles their mothers and grandmothers had attempted to instill in them; drinking, smoking, risquedresses, promiscuity and a rebellion of all that had been the hallmark of a real lady just 10 years earlier.

Studies showed that in the early part of the 20th century, men were twice as likely as women to drink alcohol, and up to three times as likely to do it to a harmful level.

Recent global research using data collected since 1948 of more than 4 million people shows a convergence in gender habits over the last century, as essentially there is almost no difference found between today’s young women and men. Will this data give rise to another era of “prohibition” of retail sale of alcohol? I think the lessons learned with the earlier attempt at government coercion proved how foolish that was.

According to an October 2016 article, here are four signs of alcohol dependence:

1. You worry about where your next drink is coming from and plan social, family, or work events around alcohol.

2. You have a compulsive need to drink and find it hard to stop once you’ve started.

3. You wake up and drink — or find you want to have a drink in the morning.

4. You suffer from withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you have a drink.

Make the upcoming holiday season one of joy, not regret.

Ron Smith, a retired NDSU Extension horticulturist, writes weekly about his love of wine and its history. Readers can reach him at