|(while still keeping your friends)
When you're looking down the barrel of a life of wine, there's no end of encouragement - approving nods from the oldies, a slap on the back from your old man, a grandfather who'll bring out a dusty old bottle from the "good old days", even the chance of going out with a banker or something. But no one, not even your mother, will warn you of the possibility of wine coming between you and your friends. Here are some tips on how to love wine and your friends.
Rough red's thicker than water
Like the suburban town where you first got boozy, endured your adolescence and copped your first messy one, it's best you keep a special place in your heart for the bitey rough reds and acidic whites from which you developed your love of wine. Not because you might end up back there, but because you'll need to visit there eventually. Hey not everyone moves from what they know and if you want to hang with the old gang, sometimes you just gotta make the effort, even if it ain't your cuppa. Suburban and cokes and rough red bonded you guys in the beginning - don't let a knowledge of what's beyond the 10 dollar boundary let you forget the good old days.
Don't be scared to ask
When you actively set out to learn about wine, you're gonna feel like a goose. Guaranteed. I mean, who wants to ask questions like, why can't you chill red wine? What's the best wine for under eight bucks? Is cask wine really that bad? Then there are tastings. You thought your first day at school was a killer, wait till you sit yourself down with a bunch of note-taking, wine-spitting odd balls, who see it more as a wine-off than they do a tasting. And why do you taste anyway? I mean, I've got friends who feel more comfortable asking questions about sex than they do about wine. Just keep in mind that most people in your class probably don't know the answer and the rest feel just as stupid as you. After all, it is only wine.
Don't bang on about it
Your mates liked you when you could compare length without even mentioning wine and will spot a snooze fest a mile off. Bear in mind that your palate may have matured but your friends may never. Don't let wine come between you and your closest and most loyal friends. Like those with a passion for selling Amway, convincing others of something they just aren't into will leave you as high and dry as a vineyard planted smack in the middle of Oz. Learn to leave it out.
It's okay to lie
There's some sides of you your friends shouldn't be privy to - photos of you in a kilt during your highland dancing days, listening to you deal with the public service on zero sleep and a ferocious bout of PMT, and watching you dance to hip hop when you're the only one drunk. Same goes with your passion for wine, assuming of course, they're not into it. Hey I'm not suggesting you steal their money to fund your new habit, just that if you have to drop a few "can't make it got a family do" excuses to free up some wine loving time, then a woman's gotta do, you know. Come on, it's cool for them lie when they've got to stray from the lonely singles pack to service their new love, this is the same - it's just that your love's name changes a little more frequently.
Drinking alone is also okay
This wine is special stuff and dropping a wad of cash to drown your miseries in a bottle from a top vintage has more wholesome connotations than holding up the bar drinking whisky and rye singing this'll ... you get my point. See it as soothing a broken heart in the well-chiselled embrace of a Latin lover rather than hooking up with some fat balding bloke on an interstate sales trip.
Take your friends for the ride
Whether you're into it or not, wine forces you to think outside the box, bust open your walls and learn about the world. If you let it, it can take you on a mad adventure to different regions, states, countries, back in time and peering into the future. Even if you just start by ditching your local and adventuring into specialist bottle shops, it's all part of the thirst for knowledge and wine or not, your friends are sure to enjoy the ride.
I'm not talking about the wine, it's about attitude. Wine is there; it's great, it's fabulous, the centrepiece for great nights out and often the only common denominator to loosen a stiff and knotty situation, but its part of something bigger. There're times it seems it's the only thing in the world, but that's just not possible without the rest of the world surrounding it now is it? Love your wine sure; just make sure you enjoy it in the big picture.
Watch yourself kiddo
The very moment tweed coats, golden retrivers, skivvies and picnic baskets start to spark something warm and fuzzy within, is the exact moment it's time to kick your new hobby back a gear. Dig this stuff, just don't forget who you are.