Is Wine Good For Anxiety? [UPDATE MARCH 2021]

Back to School time on the Pairs With Life Podcast

With the summer coming to a close, it’s time to send the kids back to school. And by “send,” I mean, “keep them locked up at home and try not to get them killed.” Though that’s Job #1 for all parents (Job #2 being fully restocking the wine fridge), never before has the job felt so immediate and overwhelming. So is that why I’m feeling so anxious, or is it something else entirely? And if so, is wine good for anxiety?

Spoiler Alert: it’s not something else entirely. The situation with COVID-19 is universally known and acknowledged to be fucked up. It’s enough to make even the Buddha pop Xanax and binge-watch Headspace videos on his iPhone. I won’t get into all the external forces at play here – you know them already, and listening to another trip to my soapbox is probably not what you had in mind when you indulged my clickbait.

yes, Wine Is Good For Anxiety

Alcohol changes body chemistry in a way that temporarily increases serotonin, giving you a feeling of euphoria that helps eliminate anxiety. But there’s another issue at play here. Two issues, as a matter of fact.

It’s called Bottle Shock

The first issue that concerns me are the internal forces – specifically, the things that are keeping us inside. COVID-19 is certainly one of those, if not the major one. But here in northern California, the wildfires have forced people to stay inside even when they can socially-distance themselves safely outside. So now, I’m inside all day. And so are the kids. I also work from home. And the kids go to school from home. And food is delivered to home.

Parents find out the hard way if wine is good for anxiety
“Hey Kids! Can you get off the screens for a few minutes? Gee, I’d appreciate that.”

In a word (or two), we’re bottled up. And as such, we’re suffering from Bottle Shock.

Bottle Shock is a nasty condition that happens to wine after its been bottled. Wikipedia defines it as follows: Bottle-shock or Bottle-sickness is a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines are given an additional dose of sulfur.

Muted. Disjointed. Fragmented, with a lingering bitterness. Yep, that’s me. In the latest episode of the podcast, I look at the connection between the anxiety we’re feeling now – especially with kids going back to school – and the phenomenon of Bottle Shock. Is there a happy ending to all this? Will our juice finally mellow out and be approachable?

In other words, are we going to age well?

Issue #2: No, wine is not good for anxiety

Why? Because the serotonin surge from wine is only temporary. Then, like all good things, the serotonin levels drop below what they were earlier and boom, you’re worse off than you were before. Anxiety levels raise. And the cycle starts all over again.

UPDATE March 2021: Though we’re not out of the COVID woods completely as of today, the news about wine and anxiety is worse than before: Participants in a recent study reported consuming alcohol on an average of 12.2 days and 26.8 alcohol drinks over the past 30 days during the pandemic. Over a third (34.1%) reported engaging in binge drinking and seven percent reported engaging in extreme binge drinking.


Perhaps the best thing to do is deal with our own sense of bottle shock first, and then come back to the wine later.

2 thoughts on “Is Wine Good For Anxiety? [UPDATE MARCH 2021]”

  1. Hi John, I’m very excited about the release of Pairs With: Life and looking forward to reading it. (Yes, I pre-ordered.) I remember thinking it was very brave of you to announce that you were going to write a book (whereas I snuck around doing it and only told people after completing a first draft.) You had asked about reading it, but I wasn’t quite ready at the time. I’ve been revising it and posting chapters on my blog if you are still interested. Use the “Check out my Boozy Lifestyle book” link to start at the beginning. Like you, I’m also a musician and the because of the similarities of our creative pursuits, I found the completion of your book project very inspirational. I know what I’ll be reading on Sept. 15th. Julia
    J Reilly@winekindasseur

    1. Hey Julia! I’m flattered and grateful that I could be any kind of inspiration to your process! Thanks so much. I would love to read your chapters and I’ll start checking them out tonight. Congratulations on seeing it though and getting to this point. It’s never easy and requires a lot of time and energy. Looking forward to checking it out!

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