Something quite strange happened to me last weekend… I bought a bottle of wine.

Yes, you read that right. For the first time in 17 months I bought some alcohol – but don’t worry, it wasn’t for me. I haven’t drunk it. In fact, the people I intended on giving it to didn’t drink it either! So now the bottle in question is sitting at the back of a kitchen cupboard, next to the baked beans and orange squash. The thing is, I can’t decide whether I’m bothered by it being there or not.

So to explain – I had some friends round on Saturday night. The plan was to meet at mine for a few drinks and then go out for dinner. I was pretty sure everyone would be intent on having a boozy evening. (I know that’s what I’d have been hoping for not so long ago….)

Whilst I have an impressive selection of soft drinks, cordials and fancy teas, I suspected they might not go down too well on a Saturday night. And I didn’t want to be a bad host. There’s definitely still a bit of me that worries about being perceived as boring. Whilst I know sobriety isn’t dull, some of my friends still think my teetotal life is a bit odd. I certainly don’t want to force my sobriety upon them.

So earlier that day I found myself in the wine aisle at Tesco, trying to buy something that didn’t scream ‘cheap and white’. It occurred to me that I actually know very little about wine, which is hilarious given the amount I drunk. I eventually chose the wine, bought a corkscrew – I’d got rid of mine a long time ago – and got the wine glasses out. And do you know what happened that evening when I offered people wine? They opted for a soft drink.


Did my friends feel weird accepting an alcoholic drink from me? Perhaps they didn’t fancy white wine? Maybe they just didn’t feel like drinking that early on in the evening? I have no idea. Afterall, I know a lot about heavy drinking but not much about normal drinking, so who knows what they were thinking. The upshot is that I still have an entire bottle of wine in my kitchen.

I know some people will be reading this wondering what all the fuss is. If you’ve managed to stop drinking whilst living with someone else who does drink, then hats off to you. I know that when I first stopped I absolutely couldn’t keep alcohol in my house. It was just too tempting. Besides, I wanted my home to be a sanctuary; it had to be a safe haven away from the boozy world we live in.

But gradually things have changed slightly. Over the summer I spent several weeks at my parents house – where there’s always lots of booze lying around – and I noticed I wasn’t really bothered by it. In the supermarket I no longer feel the need to walk the long way round to avoid the wine aisle.  And at parties I’m not bothered by other people drinking, because if they want to get smashed then that’s their choice.

So why the big deal about this bottle of wine in my cupboard? It’s not as if I feel the urge to drink it – I’ve not had any cravings for ages and ages. It just feels a bit … wrong. It’s like an ardent vegetarian storing fillet steak in their freezer. It goes against my whole lifestyle and belief system. And yet another part of me thinks I should just get a grip and keep it for next time someone comes round and fancies a glass.

What do you reckon? Should I keep the wine in my kitchen, snuggling up to the baked beans? Or should I give it away to a friend? Maybe I’ll leave it somewhere random where it could be a nice surprise for a total stranger.

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44 thoughts on “Leftovers

  1. lucy2610 September 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm Reply

    We moved all our booze out into the garage where it is out of sight and out of mind and give it as gifts to others (the economically minded me just couldn’t throw it out as that would be a waste!!) I have never thought of going out there and retrieving a bottle to drink myself. Is this an option for you?

    • soberjournalist September 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm Reply

      I live in a flat without a garage! I think the closest I’d get to that is the storage in my spare room (under a bed) which is pretty hard to get to and at least it’d be out of sight then. I agree – throwing anything away seems a waste!

  2. One day at a time September 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm Reply

    I love the idea of you leaving it somewhere for a stranger to find but I’d be worried it would fall into the wrong hands. I’m sure there are loads of people who would be happy to receive it though. You could give it to somebody as a ‘tip’ for a job they’ve done for you or a neighbour, or your hairdresser…. I don’t think I’d have a problem finding some willing taker. Saying that, I still have lots of booze in the house. A full wine rack of red, another of white, a full beer fridge in the garage and a a cabinet of spirits and port. I don’t even give it a second thought anymore; it’s just part of the furniture. My husband still drinks (moderately) and there is always something to offer guests. I feel quite smug pouring their drinks whilst sipping something more sensible myself. Let us know what you decided to do with it. You could make somebody’s day.

    • soberjournalist September 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm Reply

      That’s great that you feel so comfortable being around booze in your home. And to be honest I do keep forgetting the wine is there … it’s not bothering me in the way it might have when I first stopped drinking. I think I heard something on the Bubble Hour about someone who called the lift in their hotel, put the unwanted wine in it and then sent the lift to another floor. Maybe I’ll do something similar!

  3. Paul September 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm Reply

    Great post and congrats on 17 months I think if you are asking the question then better to not have the stuff in the house. At some point you will just know if it’s safe to have around – till that time comes I’d not take the risk, however small it might be.

  4. marta September 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm Reply

    been there, done that…give it away. There will most likely come a time when it does bother you and/ or you begin to want to drink again- and there it is. Unless you guard against that now and give it away.

  5. schooseslife September 15, 2014 at 4:09 pm Reply

    I think it’s great to keep it. It is a mark of the decision you made to remove alcohol from your life. Doesn’t sounds very glam to have it at the back of the cupboard next to the beans, and quite right too as wine is not glam, the advertisers just try to make it us think it is. I was so pleased to see your blog his afternoon. Really miss your posts !

  6. englishwithjoseph September 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Interestingly, many alcoholics keep a small amount of alcohol at home. Sometimes it is needed if they have a relapse or come across someone who relapses to avoid the “DT”s (Delirium tremens) (withdrawals) coming on suddenly – It is actually very important because the DTs can kill or at the very least stop an alcoholic from functioning.

    There is a story in AA about Dr Bobs last drink (he was a founding member of AA) and how Bill Wilson gave him a bottle of beer to ensure he could perform a surgical operation without shaking. This demonstrates my point It says:-

    “Bill had remembered that in three days, Dr. Bob was scheduled to perform surgery. On the day of the surgery, Dr. Bob had recovered sufficiently to go to work. In order to insure the steadiness of Dr. Bob’s hands during the operation Bill gave him a bottle of beer. That was to be Dr. Bob’s last drink and the “official” Founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous”. You can read the whole story here:- http://alcoholism.about.com/library/blmitch5.htm

    I dont think there is a right or wrong about whether to keep the bottle at home, but since you are clearly troubled by it – I would say get rid of it. Alcohol has no power over you so why would you give it any? There’s clearly something there you are uncomfortable with so make someones day and just give it away! You can get a big smile from someone and that will make your day! its really no big deal. 🙂

    Have a great day!


  7. Sue September 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm Reply

    I think get rid of it, an unexpected gift for someone to make them smile. Wine was my drink of choice, and I’ve been able to keep beer and lager in the house for my partner, but not wine. Just not a good idea.
    I know you won’t drink it, and neither would I (at 14 months I remain determined), but the fact of it being there means you waste brain power thinking about it.. and the more you think about a thing the more likely it is to keep popping into your thoughts.. and though you are strong and well-practiced at pushing the thoughts out of you head – why create the extra work?

  8. Debbie September 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm Reply

    I know that even at a year, I could NOT keep that in my cupboards. Not yet. It would haunt me daily 🙂

  9. Satwinder Virdee September 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm Reply

    Congrats I tink ur great for goin 17 mths without drink I hope I can do this 1 day im still drinking but aiming to stop .just get rid of the bottle of wine I say or give it to someone your right it about being your home where you feel safe no need for you to have it there .

  10. sohofilmclub September 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm Reply

    Set it free. That was indeed a massive step, I wish I was there, been sober for 7 months and I won’t be buying any alcohol for a while. That said I cooked lunch for a friend yesterday and bought a tiramisu for desert, I had no idea it had liqueur in it! It look so tasty and so wanted to eat it but as soon as I opened it I realised my mistake. My guest ate the tiramisu and I sent him home with the leftovers. I think my point is, although it was just a alcohol desert, just being aware of it in my fridge made me uncomfortable. You may feel ok about it now and will probably forget it’s even there in time but you may not and after that really really bad day think ‘f*ckit’!

  11. Anonymous September 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm Reply

    Get rid of it. I’m 8 years sober with AA and our meetings constantly remind us that we are just one drink away from trouble.
    Kelvin, Cape Town.

    • Memay September 22, 2014 at 10:22 am Reply

      Your comment is ridiculous. When you are truly done, you are done. If reservations exist, your chances of ‘real’ sobriety are short lived. Sorry if you take this as rude, but you are just spewing AA venom that is far from the truth.

      • jonnyboy February 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm

        Amen. AA rhetoric is dangerous to the recovery community and they need to be stopped. They are even mandated in our legal system when the failure rates are more than twice as high as most modern treatment programs. It’s confusing religion with self control and self worth.

  12. jackietrinder September 15, 2014 at 4:54 pm Reply

    I wouldn’t keep it if it plays even a tiny bit on your mind. Give it to your parents? You can always buy another if the same situation arises again.

  13. DM September 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm Reply

    Hi there. From my own experience, it never bothered me to have alcohol in the apartment that I lived in. I lived with my roommate and boyfriend and I understand that it was a bit of a selfish request to ask my roommate to not keep the occasional wine bottle in the fridge. Since then, I’ve moved out with my boyfriend who is not an alcoholic and it’s rare when we have beers in the fridge, it’s usually there when he buys and it will take a few days for him to go through a 6 pack. Aside from that, I personally prefer not to keep alcohol in my apartment. I have 16 months of sobriety and I am constantly asking myself “Will that keep me away from a drink or closer to a drink?” and for me, keeping alcohol in the house regularity is a risk that I don’t want to take. I also don’t want to spend a lot of energy thinking about what’s in my apartment so to make things much easier to just keep it out, just like I don’t buy certain foods! You know you’re own truth and I’m sure there are people of friends out there that would gladly take a bottle of wine of your hands! 🙂 I wish you all the best and thank you for sharing!!!

  14. James September 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm Reply

    An interesting predicament and one that I share. I stopped drinking around four and a half months ago, but prior to that I bought a bottle of Dom Perignon and put it in the fridge to invite the opportunity to celebrate. I work in real estate and wanted to “attract” my first sale of a property. I thought if I put Dom Perignon in the fridge then the universe would have to align itself and create the opportunity to celebrate. A few weeks later I decided to give up alcohol and the bottle has sat there awkwardly ever since. It doesn’t really bother me too much – just a bit sad that it’ll never be used for its original purpose. Ideas most welcome!

    I also share your shopping experience as I managed to buy a bottle of white wine for my wife yesterday as I knew she’d had a really long day and would really appreciate coming home to a chilled glass of wine. It was totally fine. No serious cravings. The thing is I know there’s wine and Champagne in the fridge but there’s now ALWAYS tons of ice-cream in the freezer – and that’s my indulgence of choice these days if I need a treat. Very happy to read your blog post as I’d read them all and felt like I’d finished a good book when I had finished. Kind of, OK, so now what? Oh and if (or rather when) I close that real estate deal, I’ve decided I’m going to celebrate by travelling somewhere awesome. Trumps booze! 🙂

    • soberjournalist September 15, 2014 at 11:41 pm Reply

      Travelling somewhere amazing would be a great way to celebrate that real estate deal! It’s important you treat yourself. As for what to do with the Dom Perignon, well…. I understand your dilemma. Present for your wife maybe? I’ll let you know what I decide to do. At the moment I’m thinking the wine needs to go. But I like the idea of surprising someone else with it when they’re least expecting it!

  15. feelingmywaybackintolife September 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm Reply

    In order to quit drinking I re-brainwashed myself from ‘drink is good’ to ‘drink is bad’. I was never one to give bottles of alcohol but now it would feel like I would be trying to poison someone. I know I need this extremist thoughts for at least a few months. And then I will still not give bottles of alcohol I guess. 🙂

    • soberjournalist September 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm Reply

      I completely understand. Until now I’ve also avoided giving people alcohol or buying them to take to parties etc. After this debacle I think I’ll probably carry on doing that as it’s just far simpler all round!

      • feelingmywaybackintolife September 16, 2014 at 7:59 am

        Aaah, yeah, there is a USA/UK tradition of buying a bottle of booze if you go to a party. Forgot about that. That is not so big in the country where I live. It is perfectly ok to bring e.g. a collection of nice teas. At least, within my circles.

  16. momma bee September 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm Reply

    For me out of sight is out of mind~ but wine was my big trigger. For me if I had it hidden away I could save for a re-gift~ I am still very social so I know I could bring it to a monthly event I attend, so I would bring it to the next one but I would def. not keep it where I could see it often and give away as soon as possible. CONGRATS on 17 months~ outstanding!

  17. Pam September 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm Reply

    Great post. For me I would keep the bottle but put it in a place that I would not open a cupboard to. More of a storage cupboard. I usually give out bottles of wine for birthdays or an unexpected event. Very convenient. Well done and all the best to you! I’ve been sober for one year nine months and loving my new life 😊

  18. Jane September 15, 2014 at 7:25 pm Reply

    You are giving this to much brain space if it is not a problem. Or is it?

  19. greg w September 15, 2014 at 8:53 pm Reply

    I really agree with the insightful people here who said you’re flirting with disaster by even devoting a post to the issue. It’s all about boundaries.

  20. Jimmy September 15, 2014 at 9:08 pm Reply

    If it bothers you get rid of it, otherwise it’s there, hidden from immediate temptation to offer a friend or even cook with. I’m 16 years sober however, I don’t like to see a bottle staring at me from the fridge, so I keep any booze in the larder.

  21. Cynthia September 16, 2014 at 12:41 am Reply

    Please get rid of it. Seriously. I could on about why but you know why. xoxo from California.

  22. Sami Taalas September 16, 2014 at 1:09 am Reply

    An addiction, even if it is not a very bad one, is always an arm’s lenght away. Forever, I’d think. So I would clear that space of temptations. Because there will be a day when you will feel strong and weak at the same time. You are an inspiration btw, kudos & stay on the happy path. SAM

    • grab0127 September 16, 2014 at 2:24 am Reply

      What a strange and terrifying disease this is and truly amazing to see how many people out there support sobriety and you in your leftover wine time of need! As a new person to this whole blog thing, I find this thread filled with hope. I know you will figure out the best thing to do with it. 🙂 Lora

  23. Allie Holbrook September 16, 2014 at 3:34 am Reply

    I have an entire wine rack full of my favourite bottles still in my house, and often an open bottle in my fridge. But that’s my normal: I think if you’re used to having nothing around, and suddenly there is a bottle, then it is going to feel louder and more present to you, and you are going to hear it, and the risk is – of course – that one day you will start listening.

    I don’t think that wine in the house is automatically a disaster, obviously. But I think that because you’re posting about it, you should give it away.

  24. Shelby September 16, 2014 at 3:39 am Reply

    I’m concerned by the way you said it’s ‘snuggling’ with the baked beans. You’ve given it a comforting attribute. Sounds like you need to get rid of it right away!

  25. J. Lopes September 16, 2014 at 11:06 am Reply

    Many years ago, at the time when almost everybody smoke, a colleague at the office decided to quit smoking.
    A few months later, at his anniversary, one of us give him a gift-joke: a small wooden boxe with a glass lid, a cigarrette inside and the saying “break in an emergency”.
    He used it, also as a joke at a coffe-break almost two years later. He quickly resume his three packets a day.
    I’m following you -10 months. D’ont let me down.

    PS. Hope my poor english is understandable. More used to read it than write it.

  26. carrythemessage September 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm Reply

    Wow…LOTS of responses here…lol.

    I occasionally have wine in the house, for my wife, or for when we have folks coming round. Other than that, there is no need. I don’t think we’ve had wine in the cupboard for some time now. Not because of me, but my wife barely drinks and we don’t have folks coming around! And when they do, they too rarely drink.

    I tend to agree that if you are devoting a post to this, that means there might be some strong feelings around it. If it feels *wrong* to you (your italics), then perhaps it’s not meant to be right now. Or ever. We’re all different. I know alcoholics who are bartenders and such…not for me, thank you. But whatever our comfort level is, I think it’s important to stick with it.


  27. MareBear September 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm Reply

    There are lots of great posts here. So, let me tell what happened to me and a bottle of chilled Chardonnay last week. My mother had suddenly taken ill and was admitted to the hospital last Monday. This was the first stressful event I encountered since getting sober May 24th. I was at the hospital all day Monday, came home exhausted, ate and went to bed.

    However, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, after several back and forth trips to the hospital, I found myself alone contemplating my mom’s health and what was yet to come. I was stressed out. Plus, she was coming home to me for R&R. Which wasn’t a problem but there was a lot to do to prepare.

    Now, here’s where the wine comes in……we had a dinner party several weeks ago, an almost end of summer thing. There was a bottle of chilled chardonnay in the outside fridge. Plus a couple of beers – all leftovers from the party. Normally, I would send that home with the bringer but I didn’t know it was in there until I went to fill the fridge with my seltzer a few days later.

    Let me tell you…..for the next five days, that was all I thought about. And it made me miserable and 10x more stressed out about my mom’s health. I was agitated, snappy and things felt worse than they really were.

    I got past it and stayed sober but it was additional stress that I didn’t need. So, my advice would be if it doesn’t feel right under normal circumstances, it could really get bad under stressful ones. It’s much harder to get in the car or walk to the liquor store and buy something – you have more time to talk yourself out of it. But sitting there in the cupboard calling to you, is probably not a good idea. I know it wasn’t for me.

  28. Anonymous September 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm Reply

    I don’t see the problem with pouring it away.

    I haven’t quit drinking, but I’ve moderated what were becoming bad habits (much like the lady you interviewed for Dry January or whenever it was). But as part of that, I’ve identified my triggers. Drinking at home alone in front of Grand Designs is a trigger. So, if there’s been half a bottle in the fridge left, I’ve poured myself a glass and then the rest down the drain because I KNOW I’ll fancy another after the first. It works for me. Yes, it’s not that economic, but it’s a means of moderation for myself.

    Then again, as an ex-EDNOS type, I’m really very okay with throwing away food and drink. So maybe it’s just me.

  29. Mynovelinayear September 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm Reply

    If it feels wrong, then it probably is and why leave yourself with the possibility of temptation. Half a bottle of wine once sang to me across the kitchen, its pull was quite entrancing until I was blessed with the sight of Gollum at the bottom of it. As any AA will tell you, the alcoholic inside you can be very patient and get you when you least expect it. If you don’t need it, don’t have it. Give it away and count your blessings, you’ve come too far and have too much to lose.

  30. Anonymous September 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm Reply

    When I stopped (over 2 years ago) I had no choice at the time but to live with someone who drank. Now, I am with someone who does drink for time to time but I am comfortable enough with myself for it not be an issue.

    However, by having this bottle in the house (your sanctuary) you need to be very careful

    A bad day, some bad news, a sudden and unexplained urge. We all have them. Some people already have that ‘agreed moment’ in their head when it will be OK to drink again, The news of the death of a loved one is a prime and often often cited example.

    I’m not saying that that you can never had alcohol in the house. Just be 100% in yourself that ‘when’ that time comes to be tested you are strong enough not to give in,

    Walking down the wine aisle in Tesco or at a party when you are already (somewhat) on guard is a far cry from being at home when all you need to do is open the kitchen cupboard.

  31. amy September 18, 2014 at 4:16 am Reply

    get it out. don’t give the “waste” issue a second thought. away with you bottle of poison!

  32. Chris September 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm Reply

    I purposefully, if somewhat naïvely decided to desensitize myself from the beginning—I moved back to my parent’s house to get sober. They’re in the alcohol business and drink very, very regularly.

    However, as others have said, if you’re asking for advice I’d take that as enough encouragement to simply get rid of it.

  33. Anonymous September 20, 2014 at 1:47 pm Reply

    I have had a bottle of expensive scotch in the house since making Christmas cakes last winter, and most times, completely forget it’s there. But I honestly don’t think I’d keep wine in my house, for the same reason I don’t keep icecream in the house. It’s not that I’d drink it, I’m sure i wouldn’t, but I’m not oblivious to wine the way I’m oblivious to scotch, and I worry it would add a quality of effort to my abstinence on the odd occasions I am still enticed by thought of glass of wine. Why make it hard when it can be easy? I think it’s also recognizing my own relationship with wine. I know myself, and I know if I’m ever going to drink again, it’s not, ironically, going to be at a dinner in a restaurant or at an exhibit opening or any other social occasion. It’s going to be at home alone in my kitchen. So while I feel zero need to avoid social gatherings with alcohol, restaurants, etc., I do feel I have to keep my home wine and beer free.

  34. somehowsober September 23, 2014 at 2:29 am Reply

    I own a bar.. and so am surrounded by tons of beer, wine, and liquor every day. It’s definitely a challenge, and sometimes find myself looking longingly at the vodka bottles. If you don’t have the urge, then good for you! Still seems wise to get it out of your house though, especially if it has no place there anymore!

  35. Marg October 8, 2014 at 11:23 pm Reply

    I agree, Get it out of your house, My husband is an active alcoholic this is a challenge for me. I am also in other 12 step programs. This really keeps me on my journey of sobriety. Meetings, sponsors, and step work. are the keys in recovery Thank You, God Bless. Marg.

  36. kerry October 19, 2014 at 12:31 pm Reply

    I have over 3/4 a bottle of Tia Maria and a bot if Vodka in freezer both been there ages and I have drunk mostly wine with the aforementioned alcohol still being there. I’m thinking of giving the TM away as well to avoid temptation. But it’s also a sign of practicing self control that that alcohol doesn’t rule me isn’t the elephant in the room, Like it speaks to me. Basically I don’t want to feel uncontrolled by the effects of alcohol and feel lously the next morning. Mind you its taken me nearly 44 years to come to this conclusion and many a pissed night, lol,

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