The Unspoken Meaning Behind Adele’s “I Drink Wine”

It’s a song about the promises wine makes but doesn’t keep

Laura Nordberg
4 min readNov 28, 2021
Image credit: Instagram (@adele)

When earlier this month the tracklist for Adele’s new album 30 began to circulate on social media, one song name in particular got the Twittersphere buzzing: “I Drink Wine.”

“The moms are gonna be going nuts,” said one user. “I Drink Wine is already a FUCKING CLASSIC,” another wrote.

Judging from the number of wine memes that proliferated on Twitter following the tracklist reveal, it seems that people were expecting “I Drink Wine” to sound like an ode to Pinot Grigio.

But then, Adele took the stage in LA during her CBS special One Night Only and began to sing the track’s wistful lyrics for the first time. And it quickly became clear that the song was not the wine-guzzling anthem some fans had seemingly expected it to be.

Wine is mentioned just once, in a verse where Adele reminisces her childhood thirst for curiosity, a power no longer available to her. (“Now I only soak up wine.”)

Because of this, some media outlets started to speculate that the album’s second single isn’t about alcohol at all. This is despite not-so-subtle clues that Adele’s feelings towards booze were perhaps more complicated than she’d previously let on.

“I’m always a bit hungover on Monday morning,” she told Vogue last month. “It got earlier and earlier, the drinking.” Later, for Rolling Stone, Adele revealed she quit drinking for six months after growing tired of the constant “hangxiety.” The reasons behind her sobriety stint became more apparent as she sat down for an interview with Oprah. “At first, I was probably keeping the alcohol industry alive,” Adele confessed.

And while the lyrics of “I Drink Wine” don’t explicitly mention problem drinking, if you listen carefully between the lines, you’ll find that this is absolutely a song about wine.

To be more precise, this is a song about the promises wine makes but doesn’t keep.

Wine promises relief from anxiety (“Why am I obsessing about the things I can’t control?”) and chronic people-pleasing (“Why am I seeking approval from people I don’t even know?”)

And yet, you can pour as much as you want, but these feelings will refuse to drown. What’s more, in a cruel twist of fate, you will find that wine is making them worse.

Wine promises to be the friend that distracts you from the sad thoughts in your head. (“I hope to find something I can cling on to ’cause I need some substance in my life,” she sings,” pun most certainly intended.)

But wine will never love you back.

Crucially, wine promises to heal heartbreak, but that too is a lie, one Adele understands better than anyone.

Over the last decade, failed relationships have been a defining feature of her music — Adele’s fourth studio album 30, which she wrote amid her divorce from ex-husband Simon Konecki, is no exception.

But this is the first album where Adele opens up about a very different kind of relationship: the one she has with alcohol. In “Cry Your Heart Out”, a track brimming with melancholy and self-doubt, there’s a lyric about the comforting allure of staying in bed and drinking alone (“I would rather stay home on my own, drink it all away.”) And then there’s that chilling voice recording at the end of “My Little Love,” a lullaby to Angelo, her nine-year-old son with Konecki. Her voice is drenched in pain and loneliness when she says: “I feel very paranoid, I feel very stressed, um, I have a hangover….”

In an interview for Rolling Stone, Adele shed more light on the meaning behind some of the songs in 30, including “I Drink Wine”. She said that the track — which contains the lyric “I hope I learn to get over myself” — is about “shedding one’s ego.” As anyone who possesses the toxic combo of fragile ego and low self-esteem will undoubtedly know, the siren song of wine can be very seductive indeed.

This article is part of my sobriety series, where I examine society’s relationship to alcohol, as well as my own. If you’d like stories like this in your inbox, consider subscribing to my newsletter on Medium.



Laura Nordberg

Freelance writer and editor. Writes about sobriety, culture and mental health.