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Wining About The Good Life
by Phillip Silverstone

We spent Christmas week in Jamaica, and let me just say that the Riu Tropical Bay resort in Negril was the best holiday we've ever had. The amazingly talented and stunning British actress Keira Knightly (the female equivalent of Johnny Depp as far as I'm concerned) recently commented to Jay Leno how weird it felt to come to the US and not be allowed to drink in a bar or restaurant. She had been doing so in England for a couple of years, even though she's considered under age Stateside. So it was equally weird for me to hear our teenage daughter order me a Red Stripe beer and then procure her own Pino Grigio at the poolside bar. Obviously a huge offense had we made the request in a watering hole at home, but quite acceptable among the contingent of Europeans and Americans on the island where such orders are absolutely "No Problem".

Our suite had a well stocked bar with beers in the fridge and more serious spirits in the dispensing system, all readily available and constantly restocked. I didn't at any time encounter inebriated guests anywhere on the property. After 11 PM the only sounds I could hear outside our room was the sea breaking on the sand and some spirited native insects contentedly chirping away. Is there a point to this narrative? Oh I suppose there is. I always have a subtle agenda cloaked cunningly in my wining reports.

I begin every year with a reminder to my readers (actually my readers are far too intelligent and socially deft to need any guidance from me) that only idiots get drunk! There, is that subtle enough? Having a drink is not in itself a federal offense, and frankly, as far as I'm concerned it's a reasonable social act - just like air kissing. Everyone knows I find absolutely nothing wrong with a child having a taste of wine from a very early age. I believe it's more acceptable than, and nowhere near as obnoxious as, giving a child a taste of caviar. Everyone who drinks a beverage with an alcohol content doesn't automatically succumb to alcoholism. That's an ignorant and absurd premise.

I abhor drunks and loathe their very existence. This doesn’t include people who are addicted to alcohol - since all addicts need to be given special love and care - but the dopes that get drunk on two cans of Budweiser! A more seasoned, social drinker, who enjoys a glass of wine before, and perhaps during dinner, police their own tolerance level of consumption and switch to Perrier if they have car keys in their purse.

After a week where the sweet fragrance of my Cuban cigars easily fused into the après dining experience, it's difficult returning to "civilization". We've just witnessed the fragility and uncertainty of life in the wake of Asia's awful tragedy, so isn't it time we got our priorities sorted out. There are so many more important things to consider.

Happy New Year.

Phillip Silverstone Phillip Silverstone is a radio and TV "Wine-tertainer" in the US and the UK. Phillip conducts wine and food events for hotels, corporations and private groups in Philadelphia and London. You can visit and contact Phillip at:

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