Red Wine Is The Correct Drink For Writing, And If You Disagree You Are Wrong

I’m Australian, so I’ve done a few things drunk.

Most activities of daily living at some point, I’m sure. I scrub a reasonable saucepan half-cut. I’ve taught a class not-strictly-sober (long story short: it was an accident, I was press-ganged into it after the drinking has already occurred, and it went very well actually). Lifted weights. Negotiated a salary. Been to the cinema. Fixed a light fitting. Drove a car (long story short: it was in the country and I didn’t have a choice).

Reactions to these stories range from quiet outrage (“You can’t do that!”) to mild tutting (“Tsk. Naughty.”)

But when I tell people that if something serious needs writing I am partial to doing it a bit pissed…

Well, crickets.

Some curious assumption exists that it is both a) useful and b) appropriate to drink and write. Not everything — filling out tax forms at work, for instance, is some kind of writing — but proper writing where reflective thought and witching hours are involved.

I do wonder why.

Have we just internalised Ernest Hemingway and Dylan Thomas and Hunter S. Thompson and Dostoyevsky and Plath and every other maniac with a ballpoint?

I’m tempted to say “no, it just helps and we all know that”. For me, the right amount of booze breaks down the angularity of language. Concepts and words feel closer. You frequently find yourself thinking “My God, that’s exactly what I meant”. I also occasionally enjoy the hypocrisy of writing in the health sciences while I get merrily stewed. Good hypocrisies themselves should be savoured.

So, we write, we drink. What shall we have?

The answer is red wine.

Yes, in all cases.

No, I don’t care if you have that histamine response that makes your head swell up like a watermelon.

No, I don’t care if you don’t like it.

Take your watermelon head, peek out your half-lidded eyes, screw your face up at the taste and drink it anyway.

Why red wine?

Normal Beer

Too much fluid. Do you want to keep standing up every twelve minutes and going to the toilet every hour? You’ll process more fluid than your average canal. You’ll end up writing on the toilet.

I suppose you could have your desk right by the fridge, but you’re not Bukowski, so don’t get cute on me.

Really Strong Beer

You’ll get mugged. I like these, but they sneak up on you like a pantomime thief, open your head with a panel saw and stick the brain of a concussed walrus inside.

Example: that beer up there is Big Cranky. It comes in a 16oz can, and the other night I didn’t check the ABV, had two of them.

Then discovered I’d forgotten how to talk.

Turns out, 9.5%. Putting this in a 16oz tin is basically a war crime.

White wine
It’s going warm, or you’re always leaving the table for the fridge. Unless you have an ice bucket.

(Do you have one? Nope, me neither. This isn’t the Folies Bergère.)

And warm white wine is basically a symptom of a mood disorder. Avoid.

Too strong. If you keep the bottle handy, you’ll put a dent in it, and soon you’ll be doing your best Hemingway impression, arguing with someone on the Internet or redecorating your apartment in a theme called ‘Broken’.

If whisky happens, you’re not writing a damned thing. Unless you count a scrawled note that says DONT DRINKG SO MUCH.

Gin, vodka or tequila
This is crazy. You will end up crying on a staircase or trying to fight the police.

Mixed drinks
You have to get up and mix them, which is the last thing you want. Most other drinks have the advantage of being quickly grabbed and re-administered. These don’t. Flow is important.


By process of elimination, we end up with red wine.

It’s smooth, it won’t go warm, it’s strong enough to set your mental temperature correctly, but weak enough to avoid jail. It has the right amount of fluid. It has the right amount of gravitas.

Now, I know that the human experience is a vast collective inhalation of perspectives and desire and preferences, and inexplicable attraction and repulsion to the constellations of things we have invented to accompany us within the human condition, and that our preferences within this constellation are what in many respects make us unique, that we are a sum total of the nexuses that pull us, gravity-like, between these compulsions we have that we simply call ‘tastes’…

…but if you disagree you are wrong, and should get in the sea.