Tag Archives: wine and health

wine news

Winebits 426: Stupid wine headline edition

headlines

Some people do know how to write headlines.

Because a cranky ex-newspaperman still gets a kick out of silly headlines.

? I’m a teetotaler: The latest Centers for Disease Control edict about drinking, that women who want to get pregnant and aren’t on birth control should not drink, surprised even me, and I didn’t think the Neo-Prohibitionists could surprise me any more. Check out this headline: “Millions of women risk exposing unborn children to alcohol.” That would stop me from drinking, and I can’t get pregnant. The problem, though, is that you’re telling someone not to do something because it might affect something that might happen to them years in the future. Which is neither practical nor good medicine. But it is very scary, which was probably the point.

? Drink the damn wine: Each year, people much smarter than the Wine Curmudgeon tell us that we’re not smart enough because we didn’t buy the correct wines. And it doesn’t even mean we’re drinking the wrong ones, despite this effort: “10 wines you should have bought a year ago.” We didn’t buy the right ones to invest in, and I kept slapping my head as I read it. How could I not buy the 2006 Opus One, which appreciated in value 35.9 percent to almost $4,200 a bottle? No wonder I’m still working for a living.

? They just don’t like each other: In “Bull Durham,” Kevin Costner’s character teaches Tim Robbins’ character how to talk in cliches. I still laugh when I see it, because it’s spot on. As is this headline, if you’re looking for cliches: “The battle between Big Beer and craft brewers is getting ugly.” No kidding? You mean they really don’t like each other? (Another phrase that used to make us groan on the copy desk when we had had to edit it out.) I think, as the story details, that the relationship between Big Beer and craft beer is past ugly when they start cursing at each other on Twitter.

wine news

Winebits 422: Wine thefts, wine writers, wine reviews

wine thefts ?He knows his wine: A New York man has been arrested after stealing wine from restaurants and retailers throughout the northeast, posing as an interested consumer with high dollar tastes. Among his targets — a 1990 Chateau Petrus, one of the most expensive wines in the world at $4,000 a bottle and almost impossible to find. There’s a video at the link with surveillance footage; if nothing else, the suspect looks like the Wine Curmudgeon when I check out the wines on display at restaurants I visit.

? Drunk or not? The Guardian, a British newspaper, decided to call the country’s government on its claim that all drinking was bad by asking its wine writers how much they drank to do their job. The story is funny and cheeky and sad in that particularly English way, and my favorite comes from Michael White: “When I was a young reporter on the London Evening Standard, covering anything from murder to Miss World, lunch on the early shift consisted of three pints and a cheese omelette at the Globe across the street at 11 a.m. It ?s what Americans, still prohibitionist puritans at heart, call a ‘British lunch.’ ” The English know us so well, don’t they?

? Cash upfront: New Zealand wine writers are in an uproar over some of them taking money to write favorable reviews, something that is so reprehensible that it shouldn’t even be worthy of discussion. But, since this is wine writing, one so-called marketing expert defended the practice, telling an Auckland newspaper that “this didn’t mean such reviewers wouldn’t be honest.” Which is why I use the phrase so-called, because what kind of idiot would take someone’s money and then write a review that the client didn’t like?

Cartoon courtesy of the drinks business, using a Creative Commons license

winerant

Bacon, wine, and what we eat and drink

bacon causes cancer

Yes, this much bacon at one sitting will probably kill me. No, I don’t eat that much.

That World Health Organization doctors have found that bacon causes cancer should not be surprising. It’s no different than highway engineers announcing they need to tear down homes to wide a highway that we don’t want widened. It’s what they do, no matter how much we don’t like it, and it would be more strange if they said otherwise, be they doctors or highway engineers.

That’s because, like the various federal assaults on drinking, the news about processed meat is nothing more than physicians trying to keep us healthy. It’s what doctors do, and it’s important to remember that it’s what we want them to do. But since most of the easy health fixes are decades long past, like clean drinking water, the polio vaccine, and antibiotics, they’ve turned to lifestyle issues to save us from ourselves. How else, for those of us who live in western industrialized democracies and don’t smoke, are we going to live longer?

Which is the rub. I long ago gave up desserts, eat just two eggs a week, only have red meat four or five times a month, and plan meals around beans, rice, and leafy green vegetables. But my doctor, a smart and funny guy, always asks when I’m going to start eating better.

It’s also the irony. Most Americans, by several measures, are living healthier lives. We’ve gone a long way toward ending smoking, we have made significant progress in cutting refined sugar, and, compared to the rest of the world, we’re practically teetotalers when it comes to booze. And even those who aren’t probably know they shouldn’t eat bacon every morning for breakfast, with a BLT chaser at lunch. That they still do speaks to other societal problems that have nothing to do with health.

But, like the highway engineers who want to plow over a historic neighborhood to build an expressway that we don’t really need, that’s not enough for our doctors. They want to know when we’re going to start eating better. It’s up to us to remind them that many of us already are, and that — as Julia Child always said — everything in moderation. My doctor could do worse than listen to her advice.

wine and sex

Wine and sex

wine and sexThe Wine Curmudgeon, being a sort of academic these days, understands the need to publish, garner attention for your institution, and prove how wonderful you are. That’s the way the Ivory Tower works in the 21st century, and I’m more than willing to do my bit. But that still doesn’t excuse this kind of behavior — yet another wine and sex study showing that wine and sex make people happy.

This one comes from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where researchers discovered that booze and sex rated highest on the study’s ?pleasure scale, ? beating out volunteering, religion, and childcare. Shocking news, I know.

To its credit, the study looks for legitimacy by noting that governments, faced with policy decisions, want to find out what makes its citizens happy. But even the most loopheaded government (do you hear me, Texas?) has to know that drinking and sex make people happy, while doing housework and being sick, which ranked low on the scale, don’t. So claiming public policy benefit isn’t quite what it seems.

Six years ago, I banned wine health news from the blog, after the infamous Italian study that revealed what every teenage boy has known for as long as there have been teenage boys: If you get a girl drunk, she is more likely to have sex with you, as the noted researcher William Shakespeare discussed. Apparently, little has changed in the wine and health world in those six years.

Finally, this study has been knocking around the cyber-ether for three years. That it showed up a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for something else speaks to the power of Google in determining what we find on the Internet, and that Google thinks we want stories about wine and sex. And yes, I have used the term wine and sex five times in this post to make Google happy; isn’t that what content providers are supposed to do?

Ain’t the Internet grand?

winetrends

Welch’s grape juice hops on the wine bandwagon

welchs grape jucie wine

“Gorgeous and totally juicy. Jam and sweet spices burst from the glass in this deeply resonant, expressive bottling.”

Grape juice is good, wine is bad — accepted wisdom for generations. After all, there’s a reason there isn’t a minimum drinking age for grape juice.

Which is makes this TV commercial for Welch’s grape juice so damned odd. It compares grape juice to red wine, noting that the juice has some of wine’s health benefits: “We’re not so different after all.” This is mind-boggling, and not just because it runs counter to the current wave of anti-drinking propaganda. Rather, it positions wine in the mainstream (and it’s a juice company doing it, for good measure): Comparing wine, which no kid is supposed to drink, to something every kid in the U.S. has had.

“Considering that roughly half the adults in this country don ?t drink alcohol, it makes a certain sense,” says Michael Wangbickler, CEO & Partner, Balzac Communications & Marketing. “Since it ?s become common knowledge that drinking red wine is good for your heart, they ?re making a play for those consumers who don’t drink wine but want its health benefits.”

This ties in with Welch’s 2014 goal to promote a health and nutrition, says Wangbickler. That anything to do with wine is part of that message should make all of us who drink it smile. Just like a little kid at breakfast with a glass of grape juice.

Video courtesy of iSpotTV.

wine news

Winebits 349: Wine ingredients, 60 Minutes, wine judging

wine ingredients ? Ewwwwww: The Wine Curmudgeon has long advocated ingredient labeling for wine, despite intense opposition from the industry (including many of my friends, who tell me I’m crazy). Still, as the blog’s travel and resort correspondent recently emailed me: “I was offered a glass of wine from a box, from which I happened to read the fine print. It says ‘ascorbic acid added as a preservative’ and there is something added called Allura Red Dye #40 for ‘color stabilization.’ This must be a killer wine because it has other cool stuff, too: pectins, acetaldehyde, ethyl acetate, esthers, benzoic acid, and keytones. I remember keytones from college ? they ?re a sort of hallucinogen, not unlike mushrooms. The only thing that is a little concerning is a warning that says ‘added catechins and other phenols may combine with aluminum, barium and cadminium creating benzaldehyde ? a known carcinogen.’ But let ?s not worry about that. Man, I can ?t wait to try this stuff.”

? The French Paradox: One reason why I’m here to write this, and you’re here to read it, is because the “60 Minutes” television program ran a story in November 1991 about why the French — who smoked, drank copious amounts of wine, and ate red meat — lived relatively long, healthy lives. The program concluded that the reason was red wine, and the U.S. wine boom — which is still going on — began at almost that moment. The International Food & Wine Society website has a short piece discussing the “60 Minutes” episode, with a clip. Can it really have been 23 years ago? Have wine’s health benefits really done a 180 since then?

? Keep it in context: Dan Berger adds welcome perspective to the debate about wine judging with this article. Unfortunately, given the size of many competitions, judging is about pace almost as much as quality. That means, Berger writes, that “the faster the evaluation, the more often showy wines take the spotlight. As a result, subtlety rarely is rewarded in today ?s wine-tasting world.”

wine news

Winebits 345: Sipping wine, wine in China, cheap wine

wine news China ? Bring on the students: It’s hard to believe that Texas is more progressive about wine than California, but it apparently was until last month in one area. That’s when the latter’s governor signed legislation to allow underage beer and wine students to taste in class. The bill requires them to spit, but that’s what we’ve been doing in Texas for years. One of the great joys during my tenure as the wine instructor at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas was enforcing the spit rule during the classes’ red and white tastings at the end of each term. Not surprisingly, the students who didn’t like wine were most demonstrative in showing me they were spitting.

? Not quite yet: The wine business has been falling all over itself trying to sell wine to China, figuring that was the easiest way to make zillions and solve its other problems while not actually doing anything to solve them. Now, someone besides the Wine Curmudgeon is wondering if that’s the best policy. Margareth Henriquez, who heads Krug Champagne, told Britain’s Harpers wine trade magazine that the wine business should devote more resources to serving customers in more established markets, including and especially the United States.”China will take some time, certainly for sparkling wine producers and it would be a mistake, I believe, for the wine world to put too much emphasis on this market,” she said. And to think I’ve been giving that advice away for free; I never was much of a businessman.

? Bring on the cheap wine: This is not news here, of course, but is worth noting since it’s a health item, and how often does one see cheap wine and health linked? (And also why it gets an exemption from the blog’s ban on wine and health news). A British cardiologist says cheap wine is better for you than expensive wine, since $10 wine may have more anti-oxidants than the expensive stuff. The story in the link is poorly reported (picked up and edited from elsewhere, perhaps?), and seems to apply only to wines from certain parts of the world. But it’s still worth a giggle.