“Would you like to sample some wine?”

lady in supermarket wine aisle

The lady at the supermarket was very cheerful as she asked me this question. She was dressed smartly, standing beside her display table at the edge of the booze section which is also the end of the cheese and dips section.

This is where the alcohol lives in the place where I do my weekly shop. It comes at the end of the isle which starts with the bread and milk, moves into cold meats and yogurt, then ends in cheese and dips.

I'd just picked up some grated mozzarella cheese to have on our pizza dinner and some hummus for the kids school lunches when I glanced up and caught her eye. She smiled warmly and gestured to the bottles on the table beside her; "Would you like to sample some wine?" She asked me.

I didn't really have time to think. Before I knew it a breezy "No thank you!" came out of my mouth and I moved on. My brain didn't freak out. My heart didn't race. I was the very model of a casual, cheerful housewife turning down free booze at the supermarket. My how times have changed.

Back in my boozy days I would never have turned down a free sample. And a trip to the supermarket would always include multiple wine purchases. Why wouldn't it? It was always cheap as hell and right there for me to grab.

When I first got sober, the supermarket became a real challenge. Every shopping trip was like running the gauntlet. From the moment I stepped through the automatic doors I'd be having a fierce internal dialogue with myself about why I wasn't going to buy any wine today. I'd frantically remind myself as I turned down each isle why I'd quit drinking and what I was hoping to gain by turning sober.  I'd rush out the door with my trolly at the end feeling tense but proud that I hadn't buckled and picked up any bottles.

I wish alcohol wasn't available in the place where we do most of our grocery shopping - next to kitchen staples like bread and cheese - but unfortunately it is. And as much as I'd like to persuade our lawmakers to remove alcohol from our supermarkets, I don't have the power of the alcohol industry and their clever lobbyists who are working hard to keep it there.

So instead I have focussed on the one thing I CAN change - and that is my own thinking.  And here I've been very successful. As the months and years of being a non-drinker have passed I have completely flipped my thinking.

  • I no longer see alcohol as the magic ticket to fun and relaxation
  • I no longer have any desire to numb and avoid my emotions
  • I no longer think of guzzling wine daily as a harmless thing to do.

As a result of this change in my thinking the booze section of the supermarket has become less challenging, and for the most part it now has zero impact on me.

Except of course when there's a nicely dressed lady standing at the edge of it trying to give me a free drink. Then, yes, it did have a brief impact. But not an entirely bad one.

I noticed how easy it was to turn her down and that felt good. I noticed how I had zero pull inside of me to sample her wares and that felt great. And I noticed how more feisty and detailed responses to her offer formed in my mind as I walked away.

I imagined a response in which I was far more  detailed: "No way. I haven't touched that stuff for nearly six years and feel far more grounded in myself and connected to those around me than I ever have in my life. Do you think I want to throw all of that away for a sample of your foul tasting liquid?"

I imagined a response in which I was far more blunt: "No way. I'm not touching that shit. Do you know it's a group one carcinogen that is estimated to cause over five billion dollars worth of harm to our country every year?"

But as satisfying as it was forming these responses in my mind I'm pleased I kept it brief. The wine-sampling lady didn't need to hear my story, nor did she deserve my anger.

A cheerful "No thank you!" was enough. But boy did it feel good heading home for a nice refreshing fizzy water that didn't leave me feeling guilty and hungover.

Love, Mrs D xxx

14 Comments
  1. Winner 9 months ago

    Legend always @mrsd❤️it will be my 5 years of continuous sobriety on 12 august and omg , no regrets at evacuating that bad arse alcohol out of my life ❤️

  2. PeterM 9 months ago

    My weekly supermarket shop would always include 7 bottles of wine and a pack of beer. It was only after I stopped drinking that I realized that most people’s trolleys were not half filled with booze like mine. Old habits die hard and for the first year of my sobriety I still spent a lot of time in those booze isles looking for the wine bottles with the blue caps hidden like needles within a haystack and returning to the beer section to explore what zero options might be available this week. For the last year I have broken that habit too and spend as little time as possible in the booze aisles. It is simpler and better that way.

  3. Didi6 9 months ago

    Thank you,
    Today it is day 5
    I have avoided the swinging doors beyond the fridges, with its entrance and exit signs.
    “Entrance” like opening the bottle… ‘exit’ like as you described in your book.. the early morning hour’s before the morning, with the hangover, the guilt, the effort.
    Feeling good, despite the fact that my support at home is zilch, my anaesthetic is gone and the weather is shite.
    However, I go to my own gym I’ve set up in an attic and listen to supportive audio as I train. Doing better there already.
    Missed it last evening, so I made up a drink with soda, lemon ice cubes I made, mint sprigs and the only thing was I added Kombucha. I saw it in the soft drinks health section and thought the lemon and ginger sounded nice. It was nice. Then I looked it up this morning.. there is possibly less than 5% alcohol in it…. Grrrrrrr! It’s not listed in the ingredients. Ahhh well.. I’ll be more careful next time

  4. SueK 10 months ago

    Talk about syncronicity — I read this article as Iˋm writing the next self-care post… which is titled “No thank you”! Looking forward to digging into it a bit more with this article to inspire me. THANKS.

  5. grimbell 10 months ago

    Over the past 5 years I have reduced my drink intake from a bottle (or more) a day to one day a week when I drink and have had long periods of time totally sober (18 months at one stage) Still find I am just as screwed up by my own weakness and lack of self control over that one or two drinks as I was back in the day. I want to be 100% free but…the bloody super market gets me every time! I can drive past the bottle store and turn down any offers of alcohol from friends and family ( who all know I am still secretly drinking even though I pretend in public not to be) but the end of the last aisle at New World is my nemesis! I also credit the introduction of alcohol in supermarkets with the beginning of my booze journey 30 years ago.
    Hopefully with the recent health stats putting Alcohol firmly at the top of most dangerous drugs we might see some change but I’m not holding out too much hope. Meanwhile I shall take heart from your example. Thank you for the amazing work you do.

  6. Mellc 10 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this and how calmly you responded. Reminded me of a slightly amusing situation recently at my local supermarket. Similar woman, was set up in the wine section right in front of the AF Wine section (which I have to say is a pretty impressive and growing section in my local supermarket) as I moved towards her to get past to the AF wines her eyes lit upon me and she enthusiastically asked me if I’d like to try some of her wines and as she lifted the bottle ready to pour I smiled ever so sweetly and said ‘No Thank you, I’m just getting past to pick up a couple of these Alcohol free ones”. Like you, I was pretty pleased that I didn’t choose or really feel the need to embark on a more detailed explanation of why I wouldn’t be partaking in her tasting. I also recalled that it wasn’t that long ago that I would have been a very keen taster of those wines!

  7. Terry 10 months ago

    There was a time when I would have accepted the wine sample and faked an interest in other wines to squeeze out another sample or two. Then you ask to taste the first one again. Going to my car to change coats and put on a fake nose and glasses I would try another run of samples and then buy my favorite boxed wine and head home with a good head start on a buzz! I sometimes wonder if people really like how alcohol tastes? I personally like the cheerful “No thank you “ response. When I walk by the wine section in the market these days I honestly have a feeling of gratitude that it isn’t in my life anymore. Hmmm… how come no one offers me a cream soda?

  8. jandee 10 months ago

    Thanks Mrs D. I too would love to see alcohol removed from my supermarket, although it is thankfully in an area that is easy to avoid without much effort. Although I’m reminded of a visit recently to another supermarket a few weeks back. I was feeling a little down on myself. I had rounded the corner looking for something when presented so beautifully was an impressive and exciting looking display of wine and craft beer… for the first time in close to 4 years alcohol free I felt a quiver of consideration cross my mind. It passed quickly and I finished shopping but I still remember just how alluring it seemed in that moment.

  9. behind-the-sofa 10 months ago

    I said to one of them “I quit,” once. Felt very revealing.
    Maybe an answer could be, “If you knew the intense battle I’ve waged for years against alcohol you would not be politely offering me a drink.” You’d have to make it sound non-confrontational though. Hard to do that though when there’s so much life experiences and emotion behind the reasons for not drinking. Probably wouldn’t look good to just shout at them, “You wouldn’t understand!” and run away…. Maybe just walk up to them casually and whisper in their ear, “I’m an alcoholic, and this whole set-up here isn’t helping,” that’s perhaps also a bit much though. Yeah, “No thank you,” with a knowing smile, is probably the best response… you want to tell them so much more though!

    • Lee2 9 months ago

      What if I stood there and told the nice wine lady every tragic event or negative consequence that happened as a direct result of that first sip. She would stand there in horror and maybe quit her job. Thanks for that entertaining comment @behindthesofa. My imagination just ran wild with scenarios and I’ve had a great laugh.

  10. justjo 10 months ago

    Thank you for this!

  11. Anonymous 10 months ago

    Your kids get hummus for school lunch 🤮

  12. HADENUF 10 months ago

    Love this Mrs D 😊

  13. manifestselflove 10 months ago

    Well done! Btw you’ve triggered me for cheese, chips and dips haha. Yum!

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