Is it an insult to refuse wine?

Aug 1st, 2001, 07:27 PM
  #1  
Liz
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Is it an insult to refuse wine?

My husband and I will be going to Italy in late September. I was reading about Cane e Gatto in Siena; it sounds lovely, and I would love to eat there, but wonder if it's a "problem" that we don't really drink wine. My husband avoids alcohol of all kinds, having overdone it in his youth, and while I like the tast of wine, I can only drink about half a glass before becoming woozy. Anyway, I certainly could never drink several glasses as I make my way through a long meal.

In a larger more anonymous restaurant I'd feel free to just say "no thanks," but I wonder if in a small intimate setting refusing wine would be so awkward as to appear rude.

Thoughts?

Thanks.

Liz
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 07:31 PM
  #2  
lulu
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just say no, what ever the Italisn word is for mineral water, order that which is fine they know.
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 07:44 PM
  #3  
anon
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To be quite blunt, I will refuse anything that contains alcohol, period. I don't care if it is rude, screwed, blued, tatooed, or will cause an international incident. I do not drink for darn good reasons that have nothing to do with religion or any other moralistic reason. If offered wine or anything else alcoholic, I refuse as politely as I can. If served, I don't touch it. If someone insists, I tell them NO a little more firmly. If they persist, I tell them quite firmly NO! If they get downright pushy, I can get pushy right back.

It has never been a problem at a restaurant in Europe. I say NO, and the waiter or waitress says no more.
Evian to the rescue!!


 
Aug 1st, 2001, 07:52 PM
  #4  
Rex
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There is barely any such thing as "refusing" wine in a restaurant. It's not like being in someone's home; they're not going to be bringing opened bottles to your table, and acting hurt if you don't want any.

I guess you meant that you are worried about poor service if you express no interst in the wine list. It will not happen. There are plenty of Europeans - - and travelers alike from all over the world - - who choose not to drink any alcohol, for medical, religious or personal reasons.

And as much as I like wine, I would never make anyone feel comfortable choosing not to drink wine.

Having said that, I urge you to try - - just once - - some really Vino Santo (or Moscato, or some similar dessert wine) in Italy, with biscotti, or ladyfingers for dunking in. The serving will only be 2 ounces or less; the alocohol content is not that high (not like brandy), and you can leave half of that in the glass if you wish.

An irresistible taste!

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 07:54 PM
  #5  
StCirq
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No, it won't be rude to refuse wine. Simply say, "Grazie, ma non posso bere il vino." Shouldn't be a problem at all. Just be sure to order something else to drink or they'll think you really strange.
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 08:22 PM
  #6  
Gerry
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My wife and I drink NO alcohol for the same reasons you and anon expressed. In the restaurants we just said no when offered wine and asked for just water instead. This was no more dificult than in the US. We were also sometimes offered a free after dinner drink which we politely declined. More of a problem was trying to figure out what foods on the menu may have been cooked in alochol and understanding what the waiter was saying in Italian when he was offering you that free drink. It's best to be prepared to be able to tell them in Italian that you cannot drink alcohol.
Rex: as a doctor you should be aware that that 2 ounces of alcohol could be a death sentence to some people.
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 08:33 PM
  #7  
Really
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How could 2 oz of alcohol kill some people?
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 08:51 PM
  #8  
Rex
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I don't believe that 2 ounces of dessert wine (less than one one tablespoon of actual alcohol) could be fatal to the two people (Liz and her husband) indicated in the initial post of this thread.

But it was not my intention to twist the arm of anyone who has an absolute contraindication to drinking ANY alcohol (those with some drug interaction risks).

It was an urging. Not a gun to the head.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 12:59 AM
  #9  
Gerry
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To Realy:

Trusting that you sincerly do want the answer to your question: Very simply stated, in a true alcoholic even one ounce of alcohol can trigger a mental compulsion that would cause him to keep drinking, even against his will, until he is dead. Unfortunately many people have this disease. For me to drink two ounces of dessert wine would very probably be fatal. On the other hand, knowning this, if I don't drink it, I can live a long and normal life.
The moral is: Please don't try to convince a person to drink against his will. He may have a very good reason not to do it.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 01:27 AM
  #10  
Kavey
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Gerry...

Yes 2 oz could be fatal for someone. But clearly not for the initial poster who has indicated in her original post that she does occasionally have half a glass of wine now and then.

Or was that just a snide dig at Rex'career?

Is not possible just occasionally for people to answer a post without being snide or rude about other peoples preferences, replies and choices? Just once??
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 01:38 AM
  #11  
Philip
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Kavey...
The answer to your last question judging from my reading of many responses on the Italian section of this forum is 'Clearly Not'.
I have been amazed at the sheer bad manners of certain respondents - sure from time to time, certain people's heavy humour can look like rudery but that misapprehension is rarely apparent in many of the answers listed. What is it with these guys? Are they trying to prove something the essence of which I am missing?
If you really want to see OTT awfulness, check through the "discussion" about Europeans attitudes to Americans.....Extraordinary!
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 01:41 AM
  #12  
egg
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It's no problem. When the wine list is offered just say no thank you politely and ask for water. By politely I mean, don't look down your nose or shudder at the thought of the "demon drink".
If food is actually cooked in wine the alcohol will have evaporated off just leaving the taste.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 04:35 AM
  #13  
Liz
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. I know that for wine afficianodos (sp?) eating a fine meal without wine is missing half the point, but I am glad to learn that folks in the restaurant business won't look down their noses at us for refusing (or if they do, it will be back in the kitchen!).

Rex, I'll make a note to try the Vino Santo or Moscato (though the limoncello [?] sounds interesting too). You wrote <<I guess you meant that you are worried about poor service if you express no
interest in the wine list.>> Not exactly. I was worried that they might think us weird or rude-- I hadn't gotten as far as imagining the service that would follow. From what read about Cano e Gatto, it's not a place where you go in and say "I'll have the whatever..."--they bring out the food they've prepared for the night. I wondered if the wine was a totally integral part of the menu.

We don't abstain from alcohol cooked in food, fortunately, as that would require a vigilance I'm glad not to have to have.

So it's "Grazie, ma non posso bere il vino. Vorre agua sin gaz per favore"(is the second part of that more or less right?).

Thanks again.

Liz
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 04:49 AM
  #14  
Kavey
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Philip

I have read that thread, I cant even bring myself to get involved.

I have very strong views about what some of the more ignorant posters have said but I just don't want to get dragged into it.

Some threads are just used as an excuse to vent, some posters here are just used as scapegoats for people to hate...

I try not to get involved unless something really baits me badly enough... I avoided all the pro and anti Rex wars, I am intending to avoid the Americans v Europeans ones too.

I did get pulled into the Fat People on Planes thread a few years back because it was taking on a sinister note and I think I was the first to throw in the reminder about how easily prejudice can lead to horror...

To get back to Liz...

Europeans in France and Italy do adore wine and for themselves think it an integral part to a meal... they enjoy and savour it. However, there are many Italians and French who also choose not to drink and restaurateurs will be used to that and I can't imagine it will be a problem

I dont drink wine because I dont like it and have never once had any problems or even weird looks on saying I dont want any, Pete sometimes has some and sometimes not, so we often have wine less meals in Europe...

Hope you have a most fabulous trip!
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 06:41 AM
  #15  
H2O
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Here, be educated:

I, like many Asians and Native Americans (although I am neither), am missing the enzyme alcohol-aldehyde-dehydrogenase (hope any MDs out there will correct my spelling).

Missing that enzyme means that we can't convert the toxicity of alcohol, which is a poison, into sugars and process them out of our system. We go directly from sober to sick, and it doesn't take much to get us into a lot of trouble.

Last time I drank just about 2 oz. of wine, the following things happened:

With a very short time, I felt nauseated and disoriented. I got a headache. And I couldn't urinate for about 18-20 hrs., which made me feel very rotten, believe me. My color perception was reduced, and my stomach was so ruined that I had to eat bland for 3-4 days.

But aside from the fact that I don't get to drink some drinks whose taste I actually like -- and aside from the fact that I never know when I'm going to be ambushed by someone using wine or brandy in cooking and not cooking off all the alcohol -- the very WORST part of missing this enzyme is STUPIDLY the shame of it.

I used to automatically look for excuses as to why I don't drink -- "I'm driving," etc. I got really impatient with people, usually near-alcoholics themselves, who pressured and pressured me, saying "aw, come on, it'll help you relax," "oh, come on, don't be so uptight," etc. etc.

Once in a while I would tell them I was 'in the program' or 'in recovery' until I decided that was not only dumb and none of their business but did a real disservice to those who really were in AA.

Thank god for the water-vogue (which probably wouldn't be necessary if we knew how to keep our water supply clean). Now I am happy to order "agua con gaz" or the equivalent term for sparkling water -- and if I'm in a crowd of serious cocktail drinkers, I get very specific and elaborate: "San Pellegrino or Larisia Carbonated, double, ice on the side, lime twist not wedge."

Try it, you'll like it.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 07:36 AM
  #16  
elvira
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Even for those of us who do drink wine and other spirits, there are times we choose not to do so (designated driver, certain medications, iffy head or stomach, just don't feel like it...). We've never run into any problem in Europe; there's always a choice of bottled waters (like Badoit) and sometimes soft drinks like Orangina, and no waiter has ever raised an eyebrow.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 07:51 AM
  #17  
StCirq
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Liz: In answer to your question, my Italian's far from fluent, but what I would say for the last part of that sentence is: prendo (or vorrei) del acqua minerale non gazata, per favore.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 08:15 AM
  #18  
Eureka!
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Thank you, H20!!!! Someone else with the same problem -- I just learned what my problem was a few months ago. Before that, I thought I was just a wimp who "couldn't hold his likker." Guess there are more of us out there than I'd guessed.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 09:09 AM
  #19  
Liz
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StCirque--thanks for the correction.

And H2O, thanks for the information about the missing enzyme. You've done a service for a lot of folks--both educating (me and, I hope, others) and deshaming (Eureka, and probably others who will remain silent).

Liz

 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 12:07 PM
  #20  
Gerry
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Liz:
I also had in my vocabulary:
"Non posso bere bevande alcooliche."="I am not allowed to have any alcohol."
"Rinuncio all'alcool(vino)"="I don't care for alcohol(wine)."
"Qualcosa analcolico"="something non-alcoholic"(?).
"(Io)Sono ( mio marito e)allergico all'alcool(vino)."="I am (my husband is) alergic to alcohol(wine)."
"Non devo mangiare piatti che contengono all'alcool(vino)".="I must not eat food containing alcohol(wine)."
It is usually quite sufficient to just say that you would just like water("solo d'aqua") and they will ask no further. You should always add please and thank you to everything. Italians are very polite.
As I said above there was one situation that could have been embarassing. It is not uncommon for the waiter(if he likes you) to offer you a complementary after dinner drink. (eg. an amaaro) You may not understand what he is offering you in Italian. You may want to be ready for this possible offer and either say "non grazie" or ask "analcolico?" since they may have a non-alcoholic aperitif to offer you.

Rex: I was not trying to flame you in particular. It's just that as H2O so well described, often when you say that you don't want anything to drink some(usually alcoholic) dolt(please I'm not talking about you) will say something like "One beer won't hurt you for Chrisssake..." Well, unfortunately it will hurt me and that sometimes makes be sensitive and over reactive. Sorry to those who thought you were the object of my "over reaction".
 

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