How Chardonnay Saved My Life

03/22/2011 11:14 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


Drinking often gets a bad rap. The demon drink is often portrayed in an unflattering light, particularly in Lindsay Lohan's DUI mug shot. However, what about drinking's plus side? A little cocktail a day chases so many of life's shadows away. As part of my campaign to bring back a Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn inspired cocktail hour, I want to speak out for the many virtues of the fermentation process. It's time someone extolled the Power of Positive Drinking.

I for one don't know how anyone survives parenthood without an occasional, if not daily, tipple. We love our kids but their mission in life is to rattle our nerve endings until they fray like a hobo's hemline. I think there are only two choices to help maintain your sanity and sense of humor once you have progeny -- prescription drugs or drinking: the number of cocktails required per evening to maintain any sort of equilibrium increases with the number of kids you have.

When my husband left me with a colicky, club-footed baby I turned to my other great love -- Chardonnay -- for comfort. Prior to having my daughter, I had never touched a baby; I'd only seen them in Huggies commercials. I was thrust into an unfamiliar world with a challenging infant. I survived on less sleep than a Changi captive as I juggled the demands of a media business along with a baby with medical issues.

The only way for me to maintain my savoir-faire amongst the splints and the spittle, was to self-medicate a little tipple for myself late at night. I still remember this half hour or so of quietude as like listening to the music of the spheres. I can only attest that my nightly meditations alone with a glass or two of amber fluid kept me afloat. There was God in that glass.

Reaffirming that the bottle of Chardonnay was always half full not half empty was an important metaphor during this trying time, which I refer to as my Birdwoman-from-Alcatraz phase, as my social life at that stage would have made a coma ward look like the halcyon days of Studio 54. The tedium of those long days of diapers and doctors, often brought to mind the words of Aussie writer Kathy Lette who once described how she was so often bored making creative things out of Play-Doh when her kids were young, she used to "watch the plants engage in photosynthesis."

Sure, motherhood is wonderful but it's also as mundane as Miracle Whip. Our souls need more to thrive on than Farex and Febreze, and a little libation reminds us of the other parts of ourselves. It lets us forget the mess, the mounds of dirty laundry and the vomit on our lapels and be rock stars, if only for an hour or so an evening. Even in our sweats we can be sexy with the assistance of a medicinal beverage and the stereo turned up loud. We can even channel three ounces of movie star with a martini in hand. To paraphrase the famous quote by Mae West, "Let's get out of these wet clothes and into a dry Mantini."

Kathy Lette is a woman after my own vino-loving heart. She's not immune to the temptations of a cocktail or the siren call of the golden elixir. Her dry, sometimes caustic humor, I believe is inspired by the same bouquet as her chosen beverages, not least of which is the most magic grape of them all -- Chardonnay.

I often find strict "teetotalitarians," similar to those who adhere to fanatical diets, short of a funnybone. And I'm inclined to agree with the well-known truism that "the first thing you lose on a diet is your sense of humor." Liz Taylor also put it eloquently when she said: "The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." I frankly think that a little vice is good for the soul.

In the same vein, cocktails are a great bonding agent. What would Sex in the City be like if our girls had pored their hearts out over a Perrier rather than rattling off their Cosmopolitan-fuelled confessions? It would have been about as racy as the reading the back of a cereal packet. Sure you can build friendships over carrot juice but those built on cocktails are far spicier. I personally think every woman should have a Chardonnay Support Group, a small coterie of women to share a tipple with, tickle their funny bone and share their travails and triumphs with. I believe that behind every great woman there are several tipsy ones.

Cocktails are the perfect social lubricant. There would be far less sex in the world without cocktails. It is the fire-starter of lust. I know my current sweetie is as cute as a cupcake but after being airbrushed by a couple of glasses of amber fluid, he's downright irresistible. Countless amours are born from the inspiration of cocktails every moment. And while your mind might wander to the more fancy drinks with so many umbrellas in them that you are reminded of an Aruba summer, even the plainest of pours can make you feel like the star of your own cocktail hour.

Everyone has to make their own prescription for six o'clock glamour or whatever your anointed cocktail hour is. My own tastes are fairly promiscuous. I love Champagne, martinis and countless other exotic beverages. But then I oftentimes return to my old faithful Chardonnay, as reliable as an old Spaniel and as changeless as the sun. It may not be the feistiest of drops but it has served me through think and thin. I have toasted it in sickness and in health. It's a liquid hug that conjures memories as powerful as any Madeleine.

Oh, Chardonnay, count the ways I love thee! I believe that cocktails are like rainbows. They brighten up even the drabbest day. They quell our homicidal impulses; erase wrinkles and cause the dullest suitor to sparkle. This gilded grape hasn't just saved my life once but many times. It has helped me preserve my sanity, sense of humor and spirit amongst life's rollercoaster.

This amber elixir casts a hazy glow over everything, our complexions and even our tainted pasts. I for one think reality is over-rated and requires an alchemical antidote. And for me my glass and a half of supreme goodness (or badness, depending on your perspective) is the drinking woman's sip symbol, a pin-up for viticultural virtue and a wine for all seasons - Chardonnay.

Babe Scott is on a mission to bring back cocktail hour to a living room near you. This media maven is a self-declared manthropologist and masticating Mae West. Sign up for her newsletter at for a weekly cocktail recipe, inspirational quotes and stories that celebrate the wonders of the fermentation process. Follow her online at or