When I was young and growing up in a country town, drinking too much booze was a rite of passage. Basically, you and your mates would get your hands on some alcohol (something, anything — port, midouri, tequila, beer) and then drink it in strange combinations at someone’s parents’ house, or in an underpass, or at the beach – then fall around and be silly or sick – possibly both.
I had assumed after a couple of years, it stops. You emerge shaken and head sore into this thing called adulthood. Adulthood would be different.
In adulthood I had imagined a different type of drinking – slow and sophisticated: a cocktail (one) in a bar before the restaurant, a glass of wine with dinner, a bottle shared between four. I guess I imagined something….. French.
Instead I feel as if my adulthood is awash with alcohol in a way that it wasn’t for my parents, when I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s.
Part of this is as a result of economic and social changes. For the last 15 years there has been a wine glut, supply became more plentiful, and the price went down.
The late 1990s and early 2000s also saw a revolution in our food and drink culture.
Suddenly even the small country towns had licensed cafes and sophisticated wine lists. Palates shifted from VB and a cask of Coolabah in the fridge to being able to discern grapes and regions. Wine and craft beer became not just something to go with a meal, but interests and hobbies in their own right – even to the extent of driving tourism and significant financial benefit to certain regions.
The 1990s into the early 2000s also saw the rise of so-called laddette culture – where it become more acceptable for women to drink to excess. Catering to women drinkers became big business – along came the likes Sub Zeros and other pre-mixes, specifically marketed to women, and sales of New Zealand sauv blanc soared.