Where does one go to put their claret-based abstinence to the test? A dinner party, of course. Fitting, then, that - having swapped drinking habits with a millennial this week - I should be spending my first booze-free night at one.
A new study posits that twentysomethings prefer spending their money on wellness and food than alcohol. Out of 1,023 people aged 18-36 polled by Eventbrite, 90 per cent labelled getting drunk 'uncool', with most saying they would rather highlight their abstinence than brag about drinking.
Given my gathering was hosted by millennial colleagues, I probably shouldn't have been surprised by the offer of a 'soft' drink choice ahead of wine. I've noticed that a lot of twentysomethings now serve up those non-alcoholic 'spirits,' like Seedlip and whiskey alternative Whisson, which cost £30 a bottle. When did young people get so wholesome?
I've traded places this week with Radhika, 27, who doesn't "like the heavy feeling alcohol gives you in the morning". She prefers to sip fennel tea on a night out instead; my two sons, also in their twenties, are equally scathing about baby boomers' penchant for a drink. I don't know about other parents, but putting little ones to bed became a lot easier if you knew there was a cold bottle of Chardonnay in the fridge awaiting you after.
That's a philosophy all of our parents gladly adopted back then, when picking up a glass before lunchtime was standard practice. We all used to suspect that they had a drinking problem - and now our kids think the same of us.
As an extrovert, I don't need alcohol to rev me up. But when you walk into a room full of people clutching glasses of champagne, you feel boring (the feeling is mutual). As my sober dinner party rolled on, without a drink I just felt tired. There's something about that slight alcoholic haze to make you hang around a lot longer. I just wanted to go home to bed. And yes, okay, it was quite nice to wake up without a hangover.
I have always found that when you don't drink around others, they act like you're ruining their party. My next challenge was a friend's art opening where I had to cradle a glass in hand just to get others off my back. This was a boozy crowd and rejecting their wine is seen as the same as rejecting their food and company.
Apparently even the sound of the popping cork makes us happy. Rituals make us happy. I really look forward to the time in the evening when I can sip of glass of wine and go "hawwa". Not being able to do this all week has left me feeling tense. My GP once suggested having a glass or two of wine after a stressful day is ultimately better than staying tense and having a fight with your spouse. Fennel tea, I have discovered, makes me run to the loo (that's what it's intended for) and not much else.
The smoothie-drinking generation say they prefer wellness holidays to a knees-up, but I'm not convinced. These squeaky clean millennials aren't drinking on their own dime, perhaps, but when it's on ours, all bets are off. My boys may not be out drinking every night, but at home I have been known to come back to a raided cellar, and the offer of a nice rosé is rarely turned down. They are finding my booze free experiment as tedious as I am.
Radhika says millennials don't need alcohol because they can discuss their feelings without the need for liquid courage.Really? Last time I checked typing out 12 letters and some emojis on Whatsapp doesn't come close to the experience of sitting around a table drinking and talking with our phones politely put away.
I've drunk, not drunk, moderately drunk again and I like to pretend I have some ability to moderate my wine intake (raised eyebrow frown from my family here). The one thing this week has given me though is that feeling of smug superiority. Just like those millennials.
My drink of choice will always be a decent glass of red - but when I say 'a glass,' that's exactly what I mean. I am by no means immune to the delicious pleasure that comes with a sip of full-bodied Malbec, but I'm happy to stop there. Like most of my generation, at the age of 27, I am far more comfortable with a turmeric coconut latte in hand than a martini.
Older generations will doubtless be rolling their eyes at yet another example of 'Generation Boring' failing to rebel, but our healthy livers are thanking us. Alcohol may have been a necessary social lubricant for our parents and grandparents, but for us, it's just an occasional treat. We don't need to be drunk to have a good time - just look at the amount of daytime sober raves cropping up over the UK - and we definitely don't need to down a pint before opening up to our friends.
The thought of adopting their habits for several days was not appealing. All I could think about was my poor liver - and my bank balance. I immediately began reorganising my schedule to account for hangovers and stockpiling cucumber to rehydrate.
On my first night of drinking wine before dinner, I found I couldn't actually make it to the third glass - I fell asleep in the middle of my second and woke up in pain after forgetting to eat dinner. Night two was slightly better: I drank my wine after loading up on carbs in front of the TV, but I still wished I was drinking peppermint tea instead.
Like most of my peers, I drank often as a teenager, but after too many painful hangovers from cheap vodka, I quickly learnt my limits and stuck to them. My sensible behaviour continued into my twenties, as I eschewed the journalist stereotype of liquid lunches in favour of green juices. The idea of being hungover at work didn't appeal; plus I was writing novels on weekends - I couldn't afford the luxury of taking a morning off.
Friends of mine feel similarly. "I'm too busy to deal with a hangover on weekends," says a 25-year-old teacher, while another proves the millennial awareness of mental health by admitting: "I refuse to let myself get properly drunk. I hate the thought of being out of control; I don't think it would be good for my anxiety."
The only people who disagree with this are our parents. My mum, who always has an open bottle of wine in the fridge, struggles to understand my habits: "But why can't you have a glass of Prosecco with me?" Drinking tea on a night out with friends is not an issue - I've found east London barmen are more than happy to mix in honey and lemon - the problem is spending time with older generations who can polish off five drinks a night.
The best night was when I shared a bottle of wine with my mum over fondue. We laughed together in a way we hadn't for months, and I remembered the bonding power of a good Pinot Noir. But I'm glad it was a one off. The relaxing power of wine is addictive, and I refuse to let myself get sucked into craving a nightly glass of toxins and sugar. It's just not cool anymore.