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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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How to Replace a Dry Red - Dry January Ends

Uploaded: Jan 29, 2023

What’s the most complex flavor you’ve ever tasted?



Red wine?

That last one is the taste experience I really miss during Dry January. Especially in January, after a cold rainy workday when nothing sounds better than a welcoming red.

Why is red wine so complex? Why does it offer so much more to the pallet than say… grape juice?

Once we can crack the code, we can replace it.

Bacon’s complexity and rich, broad flavor is based in umami (glutamic acids / amino acids / protein). Umami means flavor-bomb which is why we all/ most of us, love meat. Good news: umami also comes from plant sources.

- graphic licensed online

Vanilla gains personality through curing but also 250+ flavor and aroma compounds picked up from the soil it grows in. So NOT from amino acids (protein) but from plant power (minerals, terpenes, and things we don’t even understand yet that live in the soil).

Wine traits come from soil and cellar: from land “terroir,” fermentation, science and storage. Also, the presence (or not) of sugar. Note to self: sweetness overpowers lighter flavors.

So, what might be a suitable substitute for the plant piquancy found in red wine? All that terroir zing?

How about a different plant, still fermented, but not alcoholic?

What about tea?

The best homage I’ve found to dry red wine during Dry January 2023 is an old favorite - Lapsang Souchong and Cherry. Besides being fun to say, this smoky, woodsy black tea combined with tarty-sweet cherries is really good. Satisfying. We introduced the drink last Dry January and have grown to appreciate it even more this year. Goddess bless tea. Recipe thanks to my friend Jan. Aloha Jan!

Tea can have crazy depth, just like fermented grapes, so don’t forget it or underestimate it. Just buy better stuff. Consider decaf tea for this recipe because most likely you will drink this beauty at night.

The Dry Jan

1 Tb dried Lapsang Souchong tea
1 ¼ cup cold water
Black cherry juice to taste -organic quality, no added sugar
Sweeter of choice - optional

Put tea in a teapot or mug with a lid. Pour over almost-boiling water and let steep 5 – 10 minutes. Strain. Save the tea leaves for another cup. To the liquid, add in some room-temp cherry juice to taste. Sweeten if you wish. Serve HOT.

So Dry January comes to an end. But the spirit stays alive all year. There’s been A LOT about Dry January in the New York Times this month, make sure to read it (some libraries carry an online subscription). I wonder what you think about the new studies, and I’ve got my own opinions, but for sure -know the guidelines that be:

1 drink a day for women
2 drinks a day for men
Consider health, age, weight, exercise, past use etc.

For 2023, pick a couple weekdays and be dry all year. For instance, Dry Monday. By pre-committing / agreeing to do this now, you gain agency to accomplish your goals.

Alcohol is powerful (so is sugar). Many of us don’t have to abstain completely, but we MUST be in charge of any and all-powerful substances we put in our body.

Moderation and awareness are key in 2023.

Have fun, not too much, mostly from plants.

Photos by LSIC unless noted

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tristan Rogers, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jan 30, 2023 at 9:22 am

Tristan Rogers is a registered user.

• 1 drink a day for women
• 2 drinks a day for men

^ These figures seems kind of low regardless of what some MDs advise or recommend.

My relatives from Germany drink far more than 1-2 beers per day & my in-laws from France have been drinking wine since they were children...about one bottle per day is their regular adult ration.

Lastly, an Italian colleague from work also confirmed that many Italians began drinking wine as children & this is a cultural a result, there are no regularly scheduled AA meetings in France or Italy except to accommodate Americans.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jan 30, 2023 at 9:25 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

I agree! I think it's low too, especially for woman! Though some recent science shows "no alcohol is good," it's not hard to think that the lingering stress one might keep from not having a glass of wine at night is just as bad/toxic or worse to the body, than having a glass of wine. Don't you think part of the recommendation must consider creep, like the speed limit? We tell you to drive 65, because we know most y'all will go 70+?

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Jan 30, 2023 at 11:12 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

I rarely drink, but alcohol is not the way to relieve stress. You can drink more than 2 drinks a day, man or woman. If you become an alcoholic, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 30, 2023 at 11:45 am

Bystander is a registered user.

There is a big difference between regularly drinking every day and being an alcoholic. People who drink wine with dinner every evening or regularly have a beer or two in the evening are not alcoholics. The term alcoholic is thrown about too much as many people who regularly drink small quantities alcohol are far from addicted, just as those who enjoy small amounts of chocolate, or cheese, or anything else in moderation.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Jan 30, 2023 at 12:20 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

If you're drinking every day, I wouldn't call that "moderation." Moderation would be occasionally, not daily. The term denial isn't thrown around often enough. There's a reason there is a 1-2 drinks a day guideline. And why would anyone even think of "dry" month? Alcohol is powerful. Know your limits.

Posted by Raoul Montez, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jan 30, 2023 at 12:27 pm

Raoul Montez is a registered user.

If Jesus allegedly turned water to wine at the Wedding at Cana, regularly partaking in vino is no big wine is also symbolic at Communion as 'the blood of Christ'.

That said, enjoy your ethyl alcohol as everyone has their own metabolism & tolerance levels.

Posted by J Randall, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jan 31, 2023 at 6:30 am

J Randall is a registered user.

My wife and I did a dry January after a heavily spirited eggnog season, where we may have put on a pound or two. Now we are abstaining somewhat more for a dry weekdays February, making certain exceptions for any social events of course.

Posted by CalAveLocal, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Jan 31, 2023 at 4:32 pm

CalAveLocal is a registered user.

I'm a big tea drinker, but there is something about that glass of wine after work while cooking dinner for the family that helps me unwind. Tea just would not do it. However, what does do it ;) is a tall glass of sparkling water with some grapefruit bitters in it. (Technically, I think bitters are alcoholic, but given that they are used in homeopathic quantities, I cannot imagine it would spoil Dry January :)

Posted by Krowd Darden, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 1, 2023 at 1:52 am

Krowd Darden is a registered user.

thanks for the posting.

Posted by Leticia James, a resident of Los Altos,
on Feb 1, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Leticia James is a registered user.

"...Jesus allegedly turned water to wine at the Wedding at wine is also symbolic at Communion as 'the blood of Christ'."

^ If red wine was good enough for Jesus, it is certainly good enough for the rest of us mortals & there is nothing in the Bible about a restrictive Dry January.

We create our own mental prisons.

Posted by Jerome Jackson, a resident of another community,
on Feb 2, 2023 at 10:35 am

Jerome Jackson is a registered user.

Too bad Jesus couldn't turn H2O into some kegs of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

That's what we enjoyed at the 'Wedding at EPA' along with some bottles of Jack Daniels #7.

Posted by Stephanie Cochran, a resident of Barron Park,
on Feb 5, 2023 at 10:52 pm

Stephanie Cochran is a registered user.

Red wine is considered complex in flavor due to the presence of many different compounds and substances, including tannins, acids, alcohol, and various fruit and earthy flavors. The flavor of red wine is a result of many factors, including the type of grape used, the climate and soil in which it was grown, the fermentation and aging processes, and the specific winemaking techniques used.

Grape juice, on the other hand, is much simpler in flavor because it lacks the complex flavors that are developed through the wine-making process. The process of fermenting the grapes and aging the wine in oak barrels contributes to the development of more complex flavors in red wine.

While it is possible to replicate the flavors of red wine in other forms, it is difficult to recreate its complexity. This is because red wine is a product of many different factors coming together, and there is no simple formula for replicating its flavor. The taste and complexity of red wine is the result of many variables coming together in a unique way, and it is what makes red wine a special and beloved drink.

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