The Changing Perceptions on Drinking While Pregnant

Illustration by Monica Simon

I slanted my Champagne coupe brimming with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut, my first alcoholic drink after an emergency C-section. Pregnancy, with its tongue-tied commentary from bar professionals, was over. My healthy boy had arrived, and with him, the return of off-limit libations. Having visited a slew of bars and fine restaurants, I know that consuming wine and spirits while pregnant is the fault line of American dining-out culture.

To wit, at an eccentric and celebrated Atlanta watering hole, I advised the millennial staffer my belly was holding a human. That means no alcohol, no spicy concoctions and zero citruses, because of severe acid reflux. It would have been an opportune time to highlight alcohol-free offerings, but he stood squarely and not blinking. In the end, I channeled the shrugging-shoulder emoji and squeezed a lime into my seltzer.

I do believe the imbibing divide can be bridged among chefs, bakers, waiters and beverage specialists.

Fast forward to Seattle Chef Edouardo Jordan’s guest appearance at Olmstead in Brooklyn, New York. The pop-up menu featured Southern-style oxtails, stewed tomato tripe and pineapple upside-down cake. Olmstead’s wine director, Zwann Grays was pouring natural wines suited for late summer.

My companions and I pre-gamed in the much-talked-about backyard garden. While they toasted with crisp bubbly, I was the lonestar raising a water glass. And then Grays presented me with Duché de Longueville Antoinette Sparkling Cider. My mind, body and soul rejoiced. This pour, around 2% abv, meant I could be part of the festivities without endangering the person inside me. Without her saying a word, I felt understood.

By the final trimester, I had observed that only highly trained somms understand the subtleties serving humans baking babies. What makes it even more complicated is that parts of the world have clear views on women having a cold Pilsner or Pinot Noir sips. Others don’t: My obstetrician approved of a casual glass of wine, but other medical professional frowned when I asked their opinion.

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Maybe every somm should proceed by presenting and explaining the lowest alcohol by volume in the house.

Uniting Americans on culinary matters is more complex than Cheddar in apple pie. But I do believe the imbibing divide can be bridged among chefs, bakers, waiters and beverage specialists. A little mind reading by the people pouring the wine, diverse options on the shelf and, dare I say, more women cork experts who understand the situation—these things would move mountains.

Published on April 8, 2019
Topics: Opinion


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