“Epidemiological studies indicate that consumption of alcohol at the level of intake in France (20-30 g per day) can reduce risk of CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) by at least 40%.” – Serge Renaud, author of the “French Paradox” study, popularized in 1992 by 60 Minutes
“Excessive drinking accounted for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults in the United States.” – Published in Preventing Chronic Disease, Volume 11 – June, 26 2014
For the last 20 years or more, study after study has been released extolling or decrying the consumption of beverages containing alcohol. One month we hear that red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful anti-oxidant that can reduce heart disease by increasing levels of HDLs (high density lipoproteins) a.k.a. “good cholesterol”. The next month we learn that men who drink more than moderately are at higher risk of cognitive decline in their later years. Curiously, women’s brains are less affected.
Trying to keep up and get to the bottom of the effects of wine, beer or whiskey consumption is like playing ping-pong with a wine cork. The evidence goes back and fourth and all over the place. So let’s simplify things a little. As far as we can discern, moderate consumption of wine by adults poses few health risks and may actually have some benefit, but cross the line into overconsumption and you are exposing yourself to some clear dangers. To help you walk the line, here are a few tips on ways drink moderately that may even increase your level of enjoyment and appreciation:
1. Think While you Drink
To be sure, there is a definite difference between drinking and tasting. Drinking seems to come naturally. Pausing to taste seems slower to catch on. Given the sheer amount of sub-par tasting food and beverages available for purchase, it appears many folks would benefit by stopping to think about what they just put in their mouths. Slowing down to taste not only makes you appreciate better food and drink, but it lengthens the experience without consuming more. Try prolonging the enjoyment of every sip, and you’ll be surprised the hidden flavors and textures you’ll discover.
Wine comes in a larger bottle for a reason. You’re supposed to share it. Buying a bottle to drink by yourself while you watch Game of Thrones may not be the smartest idea, and let’s face it … it’s depressing. Instead, invite your friend, neighbor, or spouse to share a glass combined with a little conversation. The act of talking will naturally slow down the amount your drink. Furthermore, conversing leads to better relationships and studies show the more relationships we have the happier we are.
3. Enjoy with Food
America’s cocktail culture subconsciously emphasizes the act of having a drink. In doing so, wine is reduced to its most basic element of providing a means to inject alcohol in to one’s system. Instead, why not reframe wine as a part of a meal? This alters the role of wine from intoxicant to ingredient, the goal of which is to enhance ones dining pleasure. Consuming alcohol by itself results in us drinking more, or at least relatively more. When we pair it with food, we can alternate between food and wine consumption slowing the rate of each. Plus, we have the added benefit of experiencing new flavor combinations and added levels of enjoyment.
4. Save Some for Later
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to finish a bottle of wine the same day that it is opened. Most wine, especially red wines with texture (i.e. tannins) will keep for more than one evening. In fact, some will even improve overnight. Red Bordeaux, Piedmont reds like Nebbiolo & Barbera, and heavy duty California Cabernets will even improve on the second day. We’ve enjoyed our 90+ Cellars Barolo better after the bottle was opened for 3 or 4 days. Don’t feel pressure to drain the bottle; save some for the next day.
We love a great glass of wine as much as anybody and we started 90+ Cellars as a way to share great wine with all of you. For us, wine brings people together, makes food taste better and simply makes life more enjoyable. However, all of us need to be aware of the risks of overdoing it. Aristotle’s philosophy of the “golden mean” perhaps proscribes the best advice of all. There is no virtue or happiness to be found in excess or depravity. I’ll drink (a glass) to that!
What's your opinion on all the conflicting opinions about alcohol and health? Do you have any tips to share about how to slow down and appreciate wine? Let us know on social media or in the comments!