How much alcohol do YOU drink?

When we first arrived in France six years ago our new doctor advised us against drinking too much alcohol, like a lot of of his english patients did. I've just got back from making a deposit at the bottle bank. This is three weeks drinking:

3 x half bottles of gin (french)

2 x champagne

25 wine

1 x cognac

12 x dumpy beers

Is that excessive for two people over three weeks? Your opinion, comments, experiences much appreciated. Thank you.

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Once, in Paris, I got hooked up with a crowd who were drinking Bergere Verte (green shepherdess?) Bergere (white pastis) mixed with green Chartreuse. I can't remember much of that evening...

The medicinal effects of Ricard are legend in these parts. But neat? Wahhh!


My nephew drinks Ricard mixed with Coca Cola. It's called "gasoil". Looks disgusting but tastes not so bad. A good friend of ours was in the Army in N Africa and the doctor would come round morning parade with a bottle of Ricard and a large spoon. Apparently a sovereign protection against gastric problems, a spoonful each per man; neat.


I agree Diana and Kit, Pernod is not the real thing,it has to be Pastis 51. And of course served in the correct pastis glasses.I find it a very refreshing drink in summer and it just evokes the south for me. Don't know if anyone else has this problem but these days when I drink white wine I get all flushed.

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Suzy, Kit, where we live in the Jura, "would you like a drink?" means "would you like a pastis?" so we have got very used to this and pastis is my aperitif of choice. There is much discussion as to which brand is best - and which strength, how much water to add and whether to add ice or not. To be honest, we buy Lidl's own label and it's good.

A Swiss friend once visited with a bottle of locally-produced absinthe, which he happened to find (it was illegal to buy or sell it) and this is the real thing which pastis replaced while absinthe was illegal in France. Now it's less poisonous, without the wormwood, it is easier to get, and when we entertain we observe the ritual of a water dispenser full of ice, dribbling through tiny taps on to a sugar cube supported on a silver spoon over a glass with a dose of absinthe in it. Great fun, and delicious. Known as the "green fairy" this caused all sorts of health problems to the impressionists, but now while it may taste the same (allegedly) it is harmless in moderation.

My test of "French" restaurants in London has always been to request a pastis. If they offer Pernod they are just playing at Frenchness, if they ask which brand I'd like then I'm at home. I've never asked for an absinthe, but perhaps I should!

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Sorry! Yes, on reflection that is confusing. Firstly, we would not give 'foreign' wines house room. Is that snobbish? I don't know, all I know is that I really don't like any other wine than french wine. I know I'll be corrected on that one by someone but that's my opinion!

To answer your query, what I meant was that our french visitors and neighbours here in Charente Maritime (with one or two, usually male, exceptions) seem to prefer white wine, or rose. Our english visitors feel the same. Every year we go to the local wine fair where we purchase dozens of Pouilly Fume or a good Sancerre for my wife (and visitors). Because we order in advance we get a discount.

Wow! You are the only woman I know who likes Pastis - good for you. I love it but was warned by a french habitual drinker of pastis never to drink Pernod because it contains chemicals, he recommended to drink Ricard or something similar only. I found that a little strange as it seems the Pernod company owns Ricard.

Kit,you said your visitors seem to like white wine (especially the french ones),do you mean the wines are french or the visitors? I get the impression that white wine is not appreciated by the french,in fact when I first arrived here,30yrs ago one was thought to be an alcoholic by drinking white wine. I enjoy white wine,especially Cheverny;but the only friend I drink it with is Finnish. I look forward to the first hot sunny day to sip a Pastis and imagine I'm living in the south.

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My first question would be, is this shared equally? or does one partner drink more? I suggest a record for each of you daily.

Personally I was drinking up to a bottle and a half of wine daily and really never felt inebriated. I don't go out to drink, where the heck would I be going? I am just cosy by my hearth as I write or listen to music and the time goes by as the wine goes down. A very easy way to descend into debauchery. Things had to stop. The empty bottles were becoming a nuisance for a start. Then there was this graunching abdominal pain in the night.

Being far too ashamed to declare my position to my doctor, I gave up the wine. Turns out the pain was simply gas, and I still have it, but at least I have broken the wine habit. I am into mint tea these days. Very French don't you know!

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I couldn't agree more... People seem to think that not having a bottle handy will be the downfall of their BBQ/picnic/fishing trip. Like they simply cannot enjoy themselves without it. My OH is often sneered at in social circles "oh, but go on, have a drink, lighten up"... or "Come on, one glass, you are allowed to enjoy yourself".... As if it is just impossible to have a giggle or enjoy yourself with a glass of pineapple juice.

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Quite right, Pauline. Apart from the fact that the odd drink may aid relaxation, if you do need alcohol to be happy, you clearly have problems which the alcohol probably won't solve. What makes me happy is the enjoyment of time, laughter and conversation with friends and family - the fact that it often involves alcohol is coincidental, I don't remember what we drank, but I do remember the pleasure we enjoyed in each other's company.

By the way, in my youth I could not drink alcohol: until I was in my 30's I took prescribed drugs which made alcohol a no-no. I did have a good time, though, and could be as silly as anyone who had been drinking all evening, but without the headache. Now that I can drink alcohol, I can also work out when to stop. I don't need a nannying government to tell me, or to set an arbitrary limit on what is acceptable. Their nagging does upset me!

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No, of course not Pauline. One's problems are NEVER solved by drinking alcohol or taking drugs and you can be the happiest of persons without these things. They are solvable only by yourself, in the end. Many people seem to think that by moving to France all their problems will be left behind! Far from it.

Better to know yourself first and be confident that your own firm and complete mind will carry you through any eventualities - happily.

I'm still uncomfortable about this the assumption that seems to be in the air that alcohol=happy, sober=not happy. You shouldn''t need alcohol to be happy, should you.

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I see little point in aiming to die unhappy!

Other ways of feeling better about drinking include ONLY going to the bottle bank after entertaining friends.

Oh yes, I forgot about the pop-ins! The Memsahib is very generous and our visitors seem to like white wine (especially the french ones). Gives me the the gripe (just as it did to Simenon's Maigret).

Once I asked my brother if he preferred red or white wine. He said, " I start out white, then I go red!".

Ha I know we all joke about what we drink but my maths says your partner had 21 bottles of white in those 3 weeks - one a day! - i hope you had lots of visitors over that period ; )

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Oooh, the flavoured gins sound nice Diana! I really posed the question because it just crossed my mind, when shooting the bottles through the hole in the bank, that I had no idea of what others think is sufficient for health, for the pocket, for having an enjoyable life and so on.

It is, n'est pas, a way for some to survive France? You must have a deal of mindful happiness about you Diana to realise that the only way to die is to die happy! My thoughts entirely. Cheers!

Kit, I said earlier that we don't count what we drink because we'd rather die happy. To put this in perspective, we came to the UK for Easter with 6 cases of wine (stopped off at the Lidl Foire des Vins) and a bottle of grass-flavoured vodka (gift). So far we have opened 2 bottles, and we've been here ten days. We did visit younger son and consume several gins - his Spanish girlfriend prepares very interesting flavoured gins in very large glasses - in addition to two bottles of wine per evening between four of us.

At home, we did tend to finish off the bottle of wine because it was there, and have taken to keeping empty half-bottles. When we open a bottle of wine we fill the half bottle and stop it, then drink the rest over dinner, saving the half bottle for the next day without deterioration. We enjoy the wine no less. All this achieves is that we enjoy a more expensive (over 4€) bottle of wine over two nights, the fact we drink less each night doesn't really bother us.

Maybe the fact that you posed the question indicates that you are a bit concerned about your consumption? Try our method and you might feel happier? Don't stop enjoying life, though.

Actually Steven there were only three reds in the crate I took to the bank- and I only drink red! And only good Bordeaux at that. Guess who drank the remaining bottles! I'll have to show her the yellow card.

I did have two glasses of red from a pub box recently and had un guele de bois the next day. It was poisonous.

Salut Kit - I love a drink as much as the next person but to answer your Q yes - that's excessive if that's a usual 3 weeks! Mitigated only by I hope the wine is red - at least a glass a day is healthy - but not a bottle!

Happy drinking!

Sounds ok to me but best advice I hear is to try and make two days a week alcohol free. That is pretty Consistent across health workers advice although they would prefer us not to drink at all.

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