exit strategy

Breaking up with wine was one of the hardest things Kate Growney ever had to do — but then cannabis came along to make it all better


If you ask my friends, they would unfortunately agree that I tend to have complicated relationships. With everything. The irony is, as a former beauty and fashion writer who also studied to be a chef, I’m often called upon to give advice: Is Retin-A still the best anti-aging product? Is tangerine lipstick the new red? Is snakeskin considered a neutral? How do you make nut milk?

And while I think I give good, practical advice — I admit I’m a little bit of a know-it-all — I’m also kind of a mess. I have two ex-husbands and an ex-boyfriend who I probably should have married. But despite this impressive list of break-ups, the most difficult relation- ship for me to end has been the one I had with wine. Yes, you read that correctly; I am using the word relationship to talk about wine. Wine and I have a very deep, cherished history, so when I started having an allergic reaction to it, I was devastated.

At first, I started having ocular migraines after a night of big, buttery California Chardonnay. I went to Western doctors who said that the sneezing, stuffy nose and puffy eyes I experienced after a night in with a jammy Cabernet could simply be a tannin allergy. They pre- scribed lighter vintages like Pinot Noirs. A naturopath explained the red streaking and blotches on my neck and chest were because of the additives used in American wines, so I stuck to European wines. (Also, an Ayurvedic doctor told me that I was born with the curse of Mars and I wouldn’t find love till later on in my life — yes, true, and a completely irrelevant side note, but still interesting.) The point is, I tried everything to avoid the obvious. Wine and I had to break up. This wasn’t just the end of a casual relationship that had simply run its course, either — it was true heartbreak.

Now, before all of you start leaving comments like, “I know how you can break up with wine, just google an AA meeting near you!”— I get it, but hear me out: This isn’t about alcohol. Spirits, beer and whatever is in White Claw just don’t do it for me. Wine, with its history, its sense of place, its diversity of varietals, the way it complements food — these are the things that make my heart race. Wine can taste of the earth where the vines grow, or afternoon sunshine, or, as the monk Dom Pérignon famously said, the stars.

Wine can taste of the earth where the vines grow, or afternoon sunshine.

So I did what I do best: I embraced my know-it- all nature. I began researching the different ways I might replace the wine-shaped hole in my evenings. I had been using CBD to help with my hideous sleep habits and was no stranger to cannabis, but I had never considered it as a replacement. But then I started looking at how canna- bis helps with addiction. I knew with any addiction you have to identify the behaviour that makes you vulnerable to it. A lot of my difficulty giving up wine was also the symbiotic relationship between wine and food. I look at fresh, crispy cold greens for a salad and immediately think of the green-apple notes of Sancerre. I see the creamy insides of a camembert cheese and think of the beautiful sweet notes of a German Riesling. Rosé on a hot summer afternoon just makes anything you’re eating better. So being a chef, I went back to the kitchen and came up with mocktails that would pair well with food, but used CBD and THC tinctures to mimic a little bit of that wonderful first-glass-of-wine buzz. That light tingle that helps you relax into yourself, makes all noisy children seem quieter, President Trump not look so orange, and that friend-of- a-friend’s story about their first colonoscopy palatable.

I know wine and I will see each other again at par- ties and on special occasions, and that’s fine. I just have to promise myself that it will no longer be a negative experience in my life, and for my body’s sanity, get creative with cannabis instead.

Sorry, you’re not quite old enough to know if Jonathan Adler designs dirty but lives clean.

But we will be here waiting for you.

In this light it’s hard
 to tell how old you are,
 can we ask your age flattering isn’t it?

Are you of legal age in your province?