Supersized Wine

Posted September 07, 2009

Supersized Wine

My niece commented recently that I drink “a lot”. She is 18, heavily into clubbing and not averse to downing a few drinks herself on a night out. So, coming from her, this seemed a bit of an indictment. Her remark worried me sufficiently to start questioning whether I was setting a bad example as an aunt and if the one or two glasses of wine I regularly drink with my evening meal is excessive or acceptable.

Until recently, my nightly imbibing was considered healthy. I know this for a fact because a doctor told me so! A few years ago I was admitted to hospital – I should add hastily that this was not for any kind of liver disorder - and during my stay there I recall my consultant giving my drinking habits the thumbs up. Here’s how the conversation went as he quizzed me on my general health and lifestyle:

Consultant: “Do you drink?”

Me, hesitantly: “Yes”

Consultant: “What do you drink?”

Me, beginning to wonder where this was leading: “Red wine”.

Consultant: “Good, good. How much red wine do you drink?

Me, feeling somewhat bolstered by the fact that he had said good: “One or two glasses a night”. 

Consultant: “Good, good. It’s best if you drink the same amount every night.”

“Happy days!” I thought to myself, “yep, I can definitely do that”.

I had been harbouring the fear that he was going to tell me that the after effects of my treatment would result in a lifelong ban from alcohol. Mild panic had begun to set in. So I tried to look serious rather than jubilant as he went on to explain that it is better to drink in moderation and consistently than have nothing during the week and then binge at the weekend. I have never been a binge drinker so I felt reassured by this.

Looking back, I can see that he was obviously speaking in line recommendations at the time - red wine, if drunk in moderation, was supposed to lower the risk of a heart attack. In the space of a few years though this all seems to have changed. Suddenly all wine is evil. If a woman drinks wine now it’s as if she has made a pact with the devil.

Everywhere I look I’m reminded that I shouldn’t drink more than the recommended number of units a week and that a unit is a 125 ml glass. The problem is I can never quite remember how many units that is. I also have a vague grasp of the notion that a strong wine uses up units quicker. At our weekly supermarket shop, I’ve been extolling my husband to opt for lighter wines but you literally have to ransack the shelves to find them. What used to be a medium bodied wine has morphed into something now strong enough to blow your socks off. It seems there is no such a thing as a light ‘coiffing’ wine anymore. I did, however, find one tiny sign that said a 125ml glass of 14% proof wine is equivalent to 1.5 units. This just added to my paranoia.

The problem is that our bars and restaurants pay scant heed to regular measures.  Bars routinely serve up wine in goblet size glasses that wouldn’t look out of place on a medieval banqueting table. The pasta restaurant that I used to frequent obviously mistook a unit as being a bottle. They somehow managed to pour almost two thirds of the bottle into two wine glasses. If I hadn’t gone “whoaa!!!” I’m sure they would have emptied the lot and that’s before we’d even got our starters.

It’s clear that wine has been supersized and strong action needs to be taken to tackle our drinking habits. I’m now lobbying to ban the word “sip”. Sipping wine seems such a wimpish way to drink. So I’m suggesting that we either gulp or guzzle our wine from now on. Well, we’ll never get to the bottom of the goblet if we just sip, will we?

 

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