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.