Raise a glass, but don’t overdo it

Nobody wants to drive drunk. Nobody wants to endanger the lives of others or themselves by getting behind the wheel after having a few too many. Nobody wants to lose their license, go to jail or be fired from their jobs.

Drinking and driving just isn’t worth it.

While this is the case all the time, it’s especially true this time of the year when there are many holiday parties and get-togethers combined with poor weather and darker evenings.

The role of a wine columnist, however, is not necessarily to preach. Rather, we would like to offer a few tips for how to avoid getting drunk and the shame of being hit with a DUI.

The first tips are obvious:

•Decide on a designated driver before you leave for a party where alcohol will be served.

Take a taxi home.

But many will say that these are designed to take the fun out of an event, and someone should be able to have a glass or two of wine during dinner with friends.

With that in mind, here are a few more thoughts:

•A few hours before you leave for an event, start your car and walk around it, looking for headlights or taillights that are out. Police will use a burned-out headlight as an excuse to pull you over at times of night when someone might be driving drunk. If you have any alcohol on our breath, that’s a signal to give you a sobriety test. Remember that you can be hit with a DUI even if your blood alcohol level is below 0.08, so don’t give police any reasons to pull you over.

Avoid predinner cocktails and stick to wine. The alcohol level is way lower, and the wine actually goes with the food (unless you’re talking about olives and pearl onions).

Before your first glass of wine, drink at least 8 ounces of water. Wine writer Dan Berger says this will get your kidneys in functioning mode, and water will already be in your system and ready to dilute any alcohol you consume before it hits your bloodstream. He further suggests drinking at least 8 ounces of water for every 6 ounces of wine. This has the added bonus of virtually eliminating any hangover effects the next day.

Start with lower-alcohol wine, such as bubbly. As you progress to higher-alcohol wines, drink less from each glass.

Eat everything on your plate, especially high-protein foods that will slow the absorption of alcohol and dilute what is in your system. If you eat rich, oily foods before you drink, your system is likely to absorb less alcohol into your bloodstream.

Regulate the amount of wine in your glass. If you’re pouring your own wine, stick to just a couple of ounces at a time. If someone else is pouring for you, ask them to stop before the glass is more than a third full.

During a multicourse meal, take no more than a sip or two to see how each pairs with the food.

If you are at an event that will last three or four hours, drink less and less as the evening progresses. Try to stop consuming alcohol at least an hour before you plan to leave and switch to water and coffee.

Girth matters. If you’re smaller, you likely cannot absorb quite as much alcohol. Additionally, women absorb alcohol differently into their bloodstreams, so they need to be even more careful.

The best way to not drive drunk is to avoid situations where you drink more than your body can handle. Wine is an agricultural gift from nature. Treat it with the respect it deserves, not simply something to guzzle.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For more information, go to www.winepressnw.com.

More in Life

From Jasper to Banff: A Canadian adventure in an RV

Jennifer Bardsley plans to take her family on two-week roadtrip through Canada in a tent trailer.

Skippers share sea stories at Marysville speaker series

The Bellingham couple will talk about charter cruises on the historic wooden vessel they rebuilt.

Anxiety, or chronic worry, is a growing problem

Paul Schoenfeld shares four approaches to help keep your anxiety from getting out of control.

Expo in Stanwood can help you get ready for the country

The Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is set for Jan. 27 at the high school.

Find many of our region’s winter birds in the Skagit Valley

If you love birding, also check out these bird-related festivals, lectures and other events.

What’s new this year for travelers in England, Ireland

The nations are improving tourism infrastructures and adding exhibits to well-known sights.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

South African jazz musician, anti-apartheid activist Masekela dead

Called the “Father of South African jazz,” he died in Johannesburg after a decade-long cancer fight.

New music: Fall Out Boy balances rock and pop with ease

Fall Out Boy, “Mania”: Rockers are having a tough time on pop… Continue reading

Most Read