Why Women Have A Complicated Love Affair With Wine

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There are few relationships more complicated than that between women and wine.

Mine started at the age of 14 in Italy, where I was gallivanting around Rome, Florence and Venice on a not particularly well-supervised spring break trip through my high school. In the evenings we were allowed to go off on our own for dinner, and being American teenagers in a foreign country where the drinking age is a loose suggestion and fermented grapes are practically a national treasure, we ordered wine. Lots of it.

At 14, drinking wine feels like a small, sophisticated rebellion. It's classier than stealing your parents' Wild Turkey from the basement and trying to mix it with orange juice (spoiler alert: not a great combination), but still produces the desired tipsyness and slightly lowered inhibitions. As I grew up, my drinking habits did as well.

Wine became a staple of "girls nights" and conversation-heavy dinners during college, and office happy hours once I joined the workforce. When I moved apartments in May, the home decor purchase I was most excited about was the wall-mounted wine rack, which my roommate and I always have stocked with Trader Joe's prosecco, pinot grigio and vinho verde. After a stressful day, I love dipping into our supply while sitting at the dining room table rehashing the previous 12 hours with my roommate. With a few sips and some conversation, my anxieties seem to lift.

As someone who is solidly a part of the generation of women who watched "Sex and the City" a good 15 years before entering their 30s -- and as someone who aspired to be one of those fabulous New York ladies who had deep conversations with her girlfriends over drinks -- I've always seen wine as primarily a means for connection and relaxation. It's also always struck me as a very female ritual. (An idea, of course, happily perpetuated by marketers.) Over the last few years, the "ladies drinking wine" trope has inundated the popular culture. A glass of wine is Tami Taylor's nightly ritual, Maya Rudolph tells Kristin Wiig about her engagement at their "magazine and wine party" in "Bridesmaids," and the "Cougar Town" crew guzzles it on such a regular basis that when Courteney Cox's character, Jules, decides to abstain for a few days her best friend tells her: "Nothing could ever make me stop loving you, except you not drinking."

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