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The holiday season is here. It is time to plan and organize your social schedule. It’s a fun time of the year as homes are full of family and guests. Wonderful foods are on the sideboards to taste and we all love the glow of a fireplace. The turkey is in the oven and you can smell it throughout the house. Soon, your Christmas tree will be placed in the corner glimmering with lights and brightly colored Christmas balls.

We here in the Napa Valley are attending parties and events. There is usually a long table by the door filled with our famous and expensive wines. Crystal wine glasses are there, too, available for your own pouring. Have as much as you like. Drink as much as you like. It’s a party and all is for your special enjoyment.

As I stand there taking in the entire beautiful scene, I am trying to decide what to pour for myself. You may not know that I am faced with a problem. I want to join the fun, be one of the crowd, but I have a touchy tummy. I look over the table again and spy a large glass pitcher of what appears to be ice water at the very end of the table. Oh, the hosts did think of me in a way. It’s water again, for those who do not drink.

I guess I am one of the forgotten guests. It is nice to be invited but I always wonder why some hosts or events in Napa do not realize that not all people who live in the valley drink wine or hard liquor. It is rather embarrassing for me, the old Wine Queen, to ask bartenders for special services when attending some Napa events. I have even asked if they could serve my water in a wine or martini glass. Could they please put a twist of lemon or float a green olive so I look like I am having fun? I can act silly on my own but I like to look like part of the crowd.

Many people attending events do not drink for a variety of reasons. Could be they are like me and wine does not agree with their system. Many might be on medications that do not allow liquor. Some people are the designated driver, who do not want to see red lights in their rear view mirrors. Diabetics have to watch their sugar levels, which can be a problem. And perhaps some might be members of AA on the road to better health.

When at a friend’s cocktail party, it is easy to ask if there is a bottle of “something” in the refrigerator. But when attending some of our fancy, expensive fundraisers or major celebrations, what is a person to do? I usually ask the bartender if there are nonalcoholic choices available. Usually the answer is no. We have water. I do think it is poor party planning when there are expensive, well-chosen wines for most and nothing available for just a few. The ticket cost is always the same and nonalcoholic drinks cost next to nothing.

My small issue has never ruined my party schedule. My Northern Irish blood can enjoy itself without Irish whiskey or Napa wine in this, my adopted home. Good old Napa Tap is often my only choice of drink at parties.

I might have the perfect solution. Perhaps I shall start carrying my Harley Davidson sterling silver flask in my evening purse. I will fill it with a nonalcoholic beverage. I’ll look sophisticated, taking it out and pouring its contents into a wine glass. If asked about it, I will say that I have special expensive tastes and just smile.

So here is a toast to you and yours for a special holiday season. Cheers!

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