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Finding the right balance is everything when it comes to alcohol

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Every wine columnist walks a tightrope. Wine, after all, is alcohol. And America, and the world for that matter, has been embroiled in a vacillating relationship with alcohol for perhaps 10 millennia.

On one hand, alcohol — particularly wine and beer — have been staples of civilization from time out of memory. Arguments can be made that wine and beer engendered civilization. Others surpassingly wail alcohol imperils civilization. That dispute will not be resolved in a 400-word wine column.

What is not debatable is America’s whip-saw relationship with alcohol. Americans tend to be more dysfunctional about alcohol than other countries. In the 1830s, we drank three times more alcohol than we do today. Again and again, an era of overindulgence morphed into an era of overweening renunciation. Binge drink. Abstain. Binge drink. Prohibition (which did not stop binge drinking). The sad result has been a mishmash of stupid, irrational laws, organized crime syndicates, corruption, chaos, perturbation.

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