Alan Dee: Sharing is good, but share equally

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The demon drink gets more than its fair share of bad press these days, so it’s always good to hear about research that redresses the balance a bit.

Most of us cling to maxims about Guinness being good for you, red wine helping your heart and a good slug of Scotch being a folk remedy for most everyday ailments even when the experts tut about the number of units we continue to pour down our necks, and for good reason: We like a drink, and we like being told that we can keep on doing it.

So let’s crack open a bottle to celebrate research from New Zealand that tells us that couples who share a bottle of wine at least once a week enjoy marital life far more than those who steer clear of alcohol.

Women are four times more likely to be happy if they drink at least once a week with their partner than if they never do, they say.

What’s more, men are more than three times happier with their lot.

Contentment drops with every heavy-drinking partner added to a relationship.

And unhappiest of all are those who never share a drink even though one half of the pair knocks back more than their share.

I can see where they are coming from, but the important word here is share, as I know from my many years of matrimony.

And in the Dee household, sharing a bottle of wine is fraught with unspoken tensions.

First up, red or white? I like to savour the darker end of the wine spectrum, while Mrs Dee is a white girl pretty much all the way.

I’m a sipper, and I like to know what I’m sipping – I’m particular about grape types, country of origin, all that sort of stuff. I’m not an obsessive, I don’t guess the year or witter on about bramble fruits and old teacloths on the nose or any of that nonsense, but I like to connect with whoever grew the stuff and salute him or her as I raise a considered elbow.

The main question that concerns Mrs Dee, apart from a distaste for the Chardonnay grape and a preference for wines at the dry end of the scale, is whether it’s a cork or a screwtop.

Then comes the tricky subject of drinking speed.

If you’re regularly having a drink together these are minor specks of cork floating in the glass of life.

One thing I would insist on, though, is that it’s all very well to share a bottle of wine but it should be considered a danger sign if you’re sharing it in the open air, passing it between the two of you and swigging it by the neck. You know it makes sense.