food & drink

Dry January

We all know someone who is about to complete January without having had a drink, and to we who are accustomed to having a few glasses of wine on a daily basis, a sudden cessation of activity requires some effort.

However, unless you are a regular wine-with-lunch and wine-with-dinner sort of person, you probably would not think of having a Dry January anyway. What would be the point? The aim is to reduce alcohol consumption for those five weeks in the blissful hope that somehow it will help your vital organs recover from the onslaught of the other eleven months.

It is not recorded who conceived Dry January, although rumour has always held it to be a UK invention. Unlike most contrived occasions, there are no commercial benefits to anyone. Quite the opposite.

To convince regular tipplers that they should go dry for a month does not help alcohol sales, so it is relatively surprising that the practise has become so firmly established.

In theory, a month off the booze allows our systems to get back in shape and ready for another year's blast, except there is no medical evidence to support it.

The nearest is an adaptation of the theme that suggests four months a year would be best and anything less is pointless. So, along with folkloric practices like leaving a half onion by the bed to cure colds, there is a high level of blind faith involved.

It is not up for discussion whether alcohol is bad for you, only to what extent. In theory it is best never to drink, although from time to time evidence comes out showing a glass of wine a day is better than complete abstention.

Alain Ducasse, one of the most famous chefs ever, is a vehement Dry January opponent, and he puts his money where his mouth is.

In an attempt to demonstrate to those who have lost their way that they are missing out on the great pleasures of life, his two Paris restaurants have reduced the prices of all their great wines to levels where they can be enjoyed by those of modest means - but only in January.