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My aunt Beryl is an amazing woman; she’s retired and lives an extraordinary life. She’s a classy lady somewhat of an equestrian, loves her horses, travels the world, she makes delicious picadillo, and enjoys her wine. She’s definitely a hardcore wine enthusiast.

But she worked damn hard to get her lifestyle and she’ll take offense at anyone who thinks she’s been handed life on a silver platter. She’ll tell you that she’s had many, many years of eating only macaroni and cheese out of the box, the orange stuff – not freshly shredded Parmesan.

Alternately, I did consider titling this feature “Why My Aunt Likes Wine,” but let’s face it; the original title kinda got you here, right?

Aunt Beryl is hands down my favorite aunt and I have over 13 of them; yes my family likes to procreate. She speaks her mind and if you don’t like well – you can leave. No one asked you to sit down and pull up a chair, but you’ll be happy you did if you like Aunt Beryl’s style.

Aunt Beryl is the type of older woman I aspire to be in the next 20 years. She’s got tact, elegance, and real style – but she’ll let you know exactly what she doesn’t like, if you are stepping on her toes, or if you are getting in the way of her next Merlot refill.

Once she swore a waiter was purposely taking her wine glass from the table before she was finished drinking it. But truthfully we had to tell her that she drank it and it was emptied by her alone.

The waiter was not stealing her wine.

She still yelled at him, gave him the side-eye, and even after we apologized to him profusely leaving him a large tip a result of the debacle – he still wasn’t happy, go figure.

And she’ll tell you what she doesn’t like about you straight to your face without missing a beat. I’m not there yet; I was raised right, I talk about people behind their back.

Oh, don’t get that shocked look on your face; you know you like to do it too. Its okay welcome to the club – here’s your platinum membership card. Pull up a chair and prop your feet up.

Chateau St Michelle Merlot On one particularly balmy night Aunt Beryl and I were sitting on my deck with our feet up enjoying a nice bottle of her favorite 2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot, from Columbia Valley.

Even though I’m more of a Malbec woman myself, when you’re with Aunt Beryl you drink what she drinks. No discussion.

This wine is delightful at under $19 it’s amazing find, with a soft body chocolately mouth feel, full of the rich tempered sweetness of blackberries and boysenberries, and a hint of fresh woodiness that makes this very drinkable. We were sipping our second bottle of this very wine and so engrossed in our conversation that I actually forgot to finish cooking dinner.

So there we were just the two of us staring at the lake and the conversation went from my ex-husband’s antics to my recent weight loss efforts. I’m not a small girl by any means but I don’t wear pajama jeans either.

I told Aunt Beryl how I had to drastically cut back my wine consumption to lose the equivalent of a small first-grader. We discussed diets – how I loved Atkins but could only stay on it from Monday to Thursday and why bread is indeed the devil. How I tried to eat salad and drink copious amounts of water daily, and get over my fear of sweating that makes my gym visits erratic. What could I do to overcome it?

But then Aunt Beryl in her wine fueled wisdom, which are the moments I live for – gave me this nugget of truth.

She told me ‘I was doing it all, wrong.’ She said in her most convincing authoritative experienced older woman of the world tone of voice reserved for when speaking to a grown simple child like myself. “You have it backwards. You don’t need to stop drinking wine to lose weight. You need to drink more wine.”

She gestured expansively and told me the following words of wisdom I cherish to this very day “You don’t see any fat alcoholics do you?” she asked clutching my hand. “Well do you?” she implored loudly enough for the neighbors to hear.

“Umm I don’t know Aunty, what about fat guys with beer bellies?” I asked sheepishly, trying to wrap my brain around this pronouncement.

I rarely disagree with her – remember the waiter?

“They aren’t real alcoholics, they sit around watching sports at sports bars and eat nachos, chicken wings, fries covered in chili – that’s not a real alcoholic,” she said convincingly.

I was ready to board to the train to Beryl land, but I needed a final push, “So what makes a real alcoholic, Aunt?” I asked studying at the master’s feet.

“A real alcoholic doesn’t eat.” She spat out the last word as if it was the vilest word ever invented.

Raising her left index finger up and pointing at the sky, she was revealing hidden secrets and if I was lucky I would be given the key to eternal thinness.

Weight Watchers crawl back into the dank hole you came from!

“A true alcoholic just drinks and picks at food, you can’t really be an alcoholic when you eat burgers and cheesecake, and you’re ruining your drunkenness. How are you going to stay drunk if you keep eating food?”Then she raised one perfectly tweezed eyebrow, pointed at the sky again, and winked at me all the while she kept nodding to herself while sipping on her glass of Ste. Michelle Merlot.

When her finger relaxed from its skyward position she started protectively patting my arm with her hand, as if to say I’ve opened the scrolls, pay attention girl child.

I pondered on this revelation. I sat staring meditatively at her with my head cocked to one side and replayed these words of unparalleled wisdom while sipping on my Merlot.

And the next words that came out of my mouth were, “You know what Aunt, you’re right. I never thought about it like that before. If I just drink more and don’t eat I’ll never be fat again.” I truly meant it.

And then I too started to nod my head, yes that’s it – the secret to being forever thin lies in being drunk. We were nodding in harmony.

“A refill Aunt Beryl?’” I asked already knowing the answer as I picked up our empty bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot.

She nodded and smiled wisely, rocking in her chair and said, “Bring us some olives and cheese when you come back,” and I went to get our new bottle of drink-me-skinny. Who needs a diet, when you have Aunt Beryl?

About the Author Alexandra Andersen

I founded Wine & Drama to make you laugh and help you learn all about wine, food, and living well. I love stinky cheese, my Nespresso machine, Loire Valley white wines, bold full-bodied reds, and championing ladies in winemaking.

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