Today (January 8th) the UK Government issued guidelines on alcohol. To summarise the guidelines say:
- Any alcohol use creates an increased cancer risk
- Pregnant women should drink no alcohol
- Men and women should have the same recommended limit to their alcohol consumption
- That limit should be 14 units per week, best shared between three to four days with other days alcohol free
- A large glass of wine (175 millilitres) contains roughly 2 units if the alcohol level in the wine is 11.5%
- The level of 14 units was chosen as it represents a 1% risk of someone dying from alcohol related illness (equivalent to the risks of dying when driving a car)
Alcohol is the elephant in the room of wine. People like me drink wine regularly and promote its pleasures and its benefits. Yet we should also bear in mind that alcohol is a risk and should be treated with due respect and concern. It is a major cause of illness, crime and social problems when not treated with due respect.
The figure of 7 glasses of wine a week should also be treated with caution. Very few wines are at 11.5% alcohol, most wines I drink weigh in around 13-15% and therefore that reduces the recommended drinking still further. I estimate that means just over one bottle per week and taking some days off from drinking alcohol. I don’t stick to that guideline I freely admit, I do not step over that limit by much, but I am aware that I need to be watchful and I do take some days off from drinking.
I raise the issue because of its topicality and I am aware that different countries have different guidelines. However, as someone who genuinely believes that wine and sharing wine is one of life’s great joys I feel that I should at least address that elephant in the room. And, like that elephant, not forget. It is for you to decide how you react to the guidelines. Personally, I shall be mindful of them but wine is a source of pleasure which I shall continue to enjoy in moderation.
January 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm
Like you, Alan, I love wine and maybe because of that I am conscious of the effects of alcohol, on me and on others.
I try to drink responsibly, and rarely on more than five says per week.
I make no exception for January. Not dry, and no February binge once January is over either.
But I am concerned that there is a creeping anti alcohol sentiment abroad. We’ll begin to be made to feel like the smokers soon. There’s almost less concern about the vast numbers of people who (openly) smoke weed both here and in London.
It’s all about balance. Something we see all too little of through the whole of our society!
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January 8, 2016 at 7:35 pm
Great summary David I couldn’t agree more with all your points.
I understand the need for recommendations but there is a need for common sense as ever. The ridiculous situation in France where winemakers can hardly advertise for one of France’s greatest and traditional products springs to mind. I do think we need to be honest that promoting wine and its culture carries some responsibility, we have all seen tastings where people are drunk deliberately or not.
The point about acceptance of weed is also well made, one f my pet annoyances.