Seraphina Elmore stands up for all that is good about alcohol and drinking
We are only all too aware of how much the drinks trade is under attack by the health sector and public lobby, meaning that with all the negativity regarding drinking, the benefits of alcohol have largely been washed away in a sea of bad press.
The fact that alcohol does so much to enrich our lives and plays a huge part in social occasions is too often ignored. In recent years alcohol has been given a bad reputation largely because of abuse and addiction. The media continue to demonise its use and reference to “larger louts” and “wine-os” are common, if not constant. The focus is on binge drinking and how youth culture is leading to growing figures of illness and reliance on alcohol for a ‘good time’.
Alcohol, however, has not always been such a source of concern. It has been part of the fabric of society for thousands of years. Alcohol, for example, is key in many celebratory events and even in religious ceremonies with wine representing the blood of Christ.
I therefore offer to you an alternative to the demonisation of alcohol consumption in the media and seek to remind ourselves of the positives, celebrations and pleasant experiences that beers, wines, ciders and spirits are a part of.
Alcohol, for example, was a driving force behind the agricultural revolution that has become such a cornerstone of our development as a society. After all we cultivated grains in the pursuit of producing beer as equally as bread. The sharing of a drink as a pleasurable activity that has aided in establishing cross-cultural relationships has been there throughout history, after all a feast was not complete without a mug of ale or a goblet of wine!
Wine has been offered up to the gods way back to ancient Egyptian times and used for pleasure, nutrition, medicine, ritual, remuneration and funerary purposes throughout the ages. In the Elizabethan era the water quality was so poor that people were actually encouraged to drink alcohol as it was seen as a healthier option.
Alcohol is what we turn to toast the happy couple at a wedding. To wet a new born baby’s head for good luck. To ring in the new year with a bottle of Champagne - or at least something bubbly.
We commission ships by breaking a bottle of Champagne on the hull. It is what Formula 1 grand prix drivers turn to when celebrating victory happily covering everyone in Champage in celebration. The list is endless.
Universally sharing a drink, is seen as a form of social bonding. What is better than enjoying a glass of wine or a pint of beer or a wee dram of whisky with close friends and loved ones? It is a muscle relaxant, enabling us to relax and enjoy the company of others, who knows meeting someone for the first time and forming a relationships that can last a lifetime. There are so many occasions to enjoy a fine wine or glass of beer, why shouldn’t we savour it?
Alcohol is also linked to medical benefits such as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and even to increase longevity. Of course the key, as we are so often told, is alchol in moderation. We need to stay in touch with the benefits that alcohol brings.
In the words of Morris Chafetz: “Alcohol has existed longer than all human memory. It has outlived generations, nations, epochs and ages. It is a part of us, and that is fortunate indeed. For although alcohol will always be the master of some, for most of us it will continue to be the servant of man.”
* Seraphina Elmore is a third year media degree student who hopes to build a career in marketing and journalism.