The wine-tasting group taking a month off for Dry January

Phoebe Mitchell | January 2018 | 8 minutes

Phoebe Mitchell and Yasmine Sefraoui run Decant Be Serious, a monthly wine tasting and food pairing event in Glasgow. Read on to find out from Phoebe why they won't be running events for the month of January.

We're planning to take a tastings break until February, in solidarity with Dry January.

I've previously scoffed at this sort of organised abstinence, but I'm very much planning to take part this January. I think about alcohol a lot. It dictates my week - which days I socialise, how I socialise, when I work, my moods, my confidence - and more. Until this year, I drank almost every day and was genuinely amazed by friends who didn't.

A good drink has made some of my best friendships and memories, but it has also contributed to some of my most self-destructive experiences, subsequent downers and self-loathing. Between 2013-15, dangerous blackouts were horribly common and I gained a lot of weight from drinking an absolute minimum of one bottle of wine a night, and eating mountains of unhealthy food - most of which I couldn't remember buying, cooking or gorging on until I checked the bin the following day - or threw up... It was funny for a bit, then it really wasn't. Or maybe it never was. I wouldn't or couldn't know.

2016-2017 has felt different. I still drink, a lot, and I still think about alcohol far too much, but my thoughts are starting to feel constructive and a little less destructive.

A few factors in recent years have contributed to my current, slightly healthier relationship with alcohol:

1) Relocation. I moved to Scotland following a particularly bad hangover. The decision was that simple - I couldn't continue living like I was. I love my London pals, but I couldn't help feeling a large number of my friendships were based on being drunk together - or more specifically, me being drunk and making a tit out of myself. It seemed easier to start again. I had to remove myself from temptation.

2) Enforced abstinence. In the past, I've avoided certain antibiotics and crossed my fingers that whatever I had would clear up by itself so I could continue to drink. On two occasions this past year, this wasn't an option. The antibiotics were so strong there was a possibility of death if I touched a drop. So I didn't, and it was much easier than expected. I left parties at 11pm, and said "no" to some drinks down the pub... I missed my pals a bit, but it was empowering to know I could do it.

3) Pals and a partner who drink less. I'm still in awe of those who trade their pints in for a San Pell at 10pm, but its definitely less enticing to keep going 'strong' when everybody else is starting to sober up.

4) The after-work drink. It can be tricky to avoid drinking all of the time when you work in a bar, but despite having lovely colleagues, I now try to see my work nights as non-drinking nights and go straight home after a shift, saving my liver and the following day. Scotland's been great for this - not being able to buy booze from 10pm and most bars closing at 12pm/1am has been a life and money saver!

5) Wine snob! Decant Be Serious has played a huge role in helping me to drink less. Some of my time spent thinking about alcohol, is now spent thinking about different grapes and wine producers and what I'd actually like to drink, given the budget. If I spend a little more time choosing my wine, and a couple more quid on the bottle, I glug less and savour more.

6) AA Gill's Pour Me: A Life. I was never a fan of AA Gill's cocksure column for The Sunday Times, but held a little soft spot for the critic. I found myself unexpectedly moved following his death from cancer last year and decided to pick up his memoir published a year earlier. Gill was a dependent drinker, who decided/had to get sober at 30. It's a compelling read, reassuring and inspiring. I can't recommend this book enough - in fact, I'm going to reread it now.

Don't get me wrong - I adore good wine, good beer and perfect cocktails and will continue to celebrate them, but I'm committed to 2018 being a year of delicious, quality drinks drunk in the best company! And nothing in between. And Dry January is the start.