12 Jan /15


The parties, gathering, and holidays are over, and by now we should all be back to our normal lives and focused on making 2015 better than 2014. For many of us, this probably revolves around keeping (or at least making an attempt at keeping) that list of resolutions that we make about a week ago. Many resolutions revolve around leading a healthier lifestyle- getting in better shape, eating healthier foods, smoking cessation, or not drinking as much. The resolution about drinking would be the antithesis of today’s word: “wino.”

Originating a century ago, in 1915, in the United States, the word “wino” comes from a popular form of slang at the time. The slang itself involved taking a word and adding an “o” at the end to define a person. While “wino” unflatteringly describes a habitual and excessive drinker of (often cheap) wine, other familiar words, like “bucko” and “kiddo,” were made in the same fashion.

Regardless of where it has been used, “wino” has had a universally negative connotation. From it’s first “official” 1915 definition in World Magazine (of New York) as, “Wino, a wine bum; known on the Pacific Coast, especially in California,” to a 1961 issue of The Guardian, which describes an event as, “A conglomeration of hop~heads, winos, overworked policemen,” to a 1967 article in Australia’s Sunday Truth, which states that a woman, “washes in public toilets, and if she feels like a drink she has a swig from a wino’s bottle at South Brisbane.”

Considering that, throughout the past hundred years, winos have been associated with the poor and impoverished situations, it’s worth noting that, as the global wine industry grows to $200 billion in annual sales and production remains relatively flat, people are willing to pay more for quality wines. So, perhaps the “wino” of yesteryear has become today’s “wine connoisseur,” or maybe there’s something to sticking with those resolutions.