Category Archives: news

The Science of Alcohol: One Drink and 2 Sips

Photo credit: alsis35

Photo credit: alsis35

I really enjoyed listening to Adam Rogers being interviewed on KCRW’s Good Food (I listen to Good Food via podcast while I’m doing chores) this morning. Adam told Evan about what happens in your body when you take a drink and how there’s little to no evidence that different kinds of alcohol will affect you differently.This totally blows my theory that champagne gives you a bullet-proof “happy buzz” out of the water, alas.

I was particularly interested in the physiology of that “buzzed” state called the “relevant range” that most people hit a few sips into their second drink, and the studies about the placebo effect of cocktails.

If I were a non-fiction reader, I’d totally check out Adam’s book, Proof: The Science of Booze.

Depp Disses Illinois Wine

This week’s frivolity: evidently Johnny Depp is filming in Illinois, and “got sick of drinking the local wine,” so he shipped in wine from his home in France to get him through the duration of the filming.

This quote-unquote-news, while published I suppose to publicize a celebrity’s excess (because that’s unusual), makes me wonder various things:

What Illinois wine was Johnny drinking?

Why didn’t he just direct his entourage to purchase some CA wine, rather than shipping from France?

Or was California wine the “local wine” that the source in the article was really referring to? Was this a sort of slam against all US vintners, or Illinois vintners only?

Is French wine unavailable in Illinois, requiring one to ship in one’s own?

Did Johnny expect that drinking Illinois wine would be so delightful that he would not possibly need to pack some French bottles with him for his sojourn, and was subsequently dismayed to find himself mistaken, or what?

Yet another point to further my contention that celebrities are, in reality, robots and not actual people.

Happy Humpt-Day, the ancient celebration of putting a broken egg back together again. Good luck with all that and good night.

Women who drink wine don’t lose their minds

At least, not via dementia. The Vancouver Sun reported on a study conducted in Sweden, which followed nearly 1,500 women for over 34 years to study the relationship between kinds of consumed alcohol and the risk of dementia.

What they found was rather interesting, though scientists have no explanation for it. Evidently, women who reported drinking wine regularly were 40% less likely to develop dementia, even though they tended to live longer, thereby giving them more time to do so. Even more dramatically, women who reported drinking only wine (that is, no beer or hard liquor) were 70% less likely to develop dementia. Women who drank liquor exclusively had a higher chance of developing dementia. Sorry, cosmo gals.

This being said, there is counterbalancing evidence about wine and women’s health: Reuters reported Sunday on a huge San Diego study indicating that postmenopausal women who consume one to two drinks a day are 32% more likely to develop breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who consumed three or more drinks a day were 51% more likely to develop a hormone-sensitive tumor. Granted, it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol was drunk.

So… we women wine drinkers will be completely sane as we desperately try to chase the cancer out of our boobies? Thanks for sharing, Science!

Moderation in all things

According to the Guardian, the British Medical Journal suggests that alcoholic overindulgence could be curtailed by selling bottles of wine that are 500 ml instead of 750 ml. The notion is that if two people open a bottle over dinner and have a glass each, they then proceed to finish the entire bottle so as to not waste any wine, getting dangerously sloshed in the process. It’s likened to the way “super-sized” portions on a plate induce a diner to eat too much food.

Thus, British supermarket chain Waitrose is debuting a line called Vin à Deux, consisting of eight premium French wines in 50 cl (that’s 500 ml in Britain) bottles. They’ll also expand their selection of wines in 250 ml bottles, while phasing out 375 ml — your typical half bottle — altogether.

Is Waitrose saving the British public from their own sot-like impulses? Gracious, but it seems to me that we have more than enough options for wine containers, especially that of the wine “box,” in which the plastic bladder-like container never allows air in and thus never lets wine go bad in the first place. If having a 5-liter box of wine in the fridge doesn’t lead to “overserving,” at home, then why on earth would having three-quarters of a liter in a bottle? This is the perfect opportunity for a new poll, don’t you think? Please direct your attention below and share your opinion via a few clicks or, certainly, a comment!

[poll=8]

Damn you, big glasses!

Another story for the “don’t hate the playa; hate the game” files here at Wine Scamp International: 

Professor Steve Allsop, whose National Drug Research Institute study concludes that larger wine glasses mislead wine drinkers, says this causes consumers to drink more than they intend to, as reported in an article in Australia’s Herald Sun.

Australia’s Department of Health defines a standard glass of wine as 150 ml, about 5 ounces.  Maximum recommended alcoholic intake for a woman is 2 glasses of wine; for a man, it’s 4.  The study showed that when people poured what they considered an average serving of wine, they ended up with 6 to 10 ounces in the glass.   Thus the Australian public over-serves itself with blithe ignorance, especially women.  I can only assume it’s especially women because we’re not supposed to drink as much as men.  Certainly it couldn’t be because we’re out of control and need male scientists and politicians to teach us how to modulate our behavior.  Great, glad we cleared that up.

Australia’s federal government is jumping into action to address this problem of heavy pouring by including a standard drink logo on bottles of wine to tell people how many servings are in the container.  That works really well with Americans and snack food, as anyone who counts out one 10-cracker serving of Wheat Thins for their afternoon snack knows.  So it’s good to see we’re setting a good example for the world with our abstemious approach to food portions.

I agree that it’s easy to pour a little heavy at home, especially into a glass big enough to swirl your wine in, but can we just cool it with the puritanical hullaballoo?   If we can trust women enough to assign them the job of feeding our children and patriarchs, surely we can trust them to pour the perfect portion of wine for every occasion.  Can’t we?

Big servings of wine cause alcohol abuse, says MP

According to an article in the Guardian Unlimited, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Greg Mulholland wants to force pubs in England to sell smaller servings of wine.

Evidently, some pub chains in England used to offer three different sized pours: small (125 ml/4 oz), medium (175 ml/6 oz), and large (250 ml/8 oz). Mulholland himself used to work for a pub chain which did away with the 4 oz. pours, saying “bigger glasses equal higher prices and more profits.” So now most pubs only sell 6 and 8 oz. servings, forcing people to drink more wine than they normally would, to Mulholland’s mind.

Am I a moron, or do the Brits just do it differently than we do? Back when I was helping restaurants set their prices, you wanted as small a pour as you could get away with, so you could sell more glasses from a bottle. A 750 ml bottle will serve five 5 oz. pours or four 6 oz. pours. If an 8 oz. pour is the norm in England, then those pubs are only selling 3 glasses per bottle. Either their glass prices are ridiculously high, or they’re doing it wrong. Continue reading

Wine-DUR-com

Well, someone at wine.com should be fired by now.  Alder at Vinography broke the story (which was originally published in the Wine Market Report - 8k download here) to the blogosphere a couple of days ago.  Get this:  wine.com organized a sting operation in Washington state, in which wine.com – or stooges thereof – ordered wines from 29 different online wine retailers that could not legally ship to Washington, and then they turned the names of the law-breaking retailers in to state authorities.

Ironically enough, Washington prosecutors have no jurisdiction over out-of-state retailers who ship to Washington despite stupid protectionist wine laws that prohibit such activity.  The only people who could be in legal trouble from Washington state authorities would be people who actually ordered the wine, breaking the law while actually in Washington state!  Wut?

No company with this much of a rat-like approach to business, coupled with a severe lack of cognitive processing ability, should be allowed to have a link on this site.  Wine Scamp is no place for snitches, nor for tattle-tales.  So I’ve taken their ad off the site, and I hope you’ll join me in a boycott of wine.com for here on out.  Mostly for being morons, and then also for being wine law vigilantes.  Oops, I repeated myself.

I must join Tom Wark in directing your attention to the supreme response to wine.com’s perfidy, that of Emily and Stephan at Winemonger.com — it’s both brilliant and hilarious — located near the end of the comments to the post on Vinography.