Tag Archives: binge drinking

Has wine with dinner been turned into binge drinking?

binge drinking

Please, neo-Prohibitonists: Stop these people before they binge drink again.

Yet another booze study characterizes responsible behavior as binge drinking

Another studying demonizing drinking showed up last week, replete with the flaws that have come to characterize these studies. The authors cherry-picked their study group, ignored relevant statistical data, and glossed over any socio-economic and demographic explanations for their conclusion. The result? Old people! Binge drinking!! Death!!!

The other thing that struck me about the study was its definition of binge drinking: four to five drinks in one sitting. In other words, drinking wine with dinner has become just as evil as frat boys chugging Everclear and men of a certain age pounding a six-pack after work and then passing out on the sofa.

My name is the Wine Curmudgeon, and I am a binge drinker.

On Saturday night, I had five glasses of wine with dinner. We had hard-cooked eggs in mustard sauce for a first course, followed by a mock cassoulet (turkey, sausage, a duck leg/thigh, and white beans) served with rice and a cabbage salad. I opened the $10 Pigmentum Gascon white blend with the eggs, which was a terrific pairing (the wine’s citrus fruit complementing the richness of the egg). I drank the fabulous 2011 Bonny Doon Bien Nacido syrah with the cassoulet, and it was an even better pairing – dark, earthy food with a dark, earthy wine.

So how did a full dinner eaten over two or three hours with five glasses of wine turn into binge drinking?

Your guess is as good as mine. The five-drink definition (four for women) comes from the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Binging is “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men – in about 2 hours.”

Not coincidentally, that 0.08 number is the legal definition of drunk driving in 49 states. If it’s illegal to drive after five drinks, then it’s easy to call something binging. Or, conversely, let’s lower the legal blood alcohol level to 0.08 since the experts call that binge drinking.

And do not think this is an apologia for alcoholism and drunk driving. I know first-hand the horror and pain of each. Rather, it’s a plea for a measured, reasonable, and rational approach to solving the problems they cause.

That’s because drinking is not the problem. Abusing alcohol is the problem. Trying to shame responsible adults into stopping behavior that isn’t shameful won’t do much to stop alcohol abuse. Didn’t the neo-Prohibitonists learn anything from Prohibition? Hopefully, they’ll eventually figure this out. Until then, I’m happy to do my part to explain it to them.

Photo: “company dinner” by Rivard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 

More about neo-Prohibitionists, booze studies, and wine drinking:
Cigarettes, wine, and cancer
Drinking, scientific doom and gloom, and perspective
The CDC alcohol death study

Winebits 457: International style, binge drinking, ingredient labeling

international styleThis week’s wine news: The Italian Wine Guy makes sense about the International wine style, while kids drink too much and consumers want to know what’s in their wine

Here to stay: Those of us who appreciate terroir and that wine should taste like where it comes from don’t much care for the International style of winemaking, where the goal is to make every wine taste like came from Paso Robles. Yet there is more to the international style, writes Alfonso Cevola, the Italian Wine Guy. For all of its excesses, and Cevola has seen all of them, the international style means accessible wines that are clean and made without flaws, something that European producers have struggled with for centuries. We’re spoiled in the second decade of the 21st century, when technically correct wine is the rule. But it wasn’t that long ago – in my early drinking days – when it wasn’t unusual to buy a bottle of wine that had soured, turned, or was made so badly you didn’t want to drink it.

Kids will be kids: The “typical” British 25-year-old regularly experiences a blackout after drinking, according to a survey. The research found the respondents have blacked out five times after drinking alcohol since turning 18, with 17 per cent experiencing a blackout 10 times or more. And one than one-half of the 1,000 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed said they would probably do the same thing within a month. Sound hard to believe? Perhaps, and I’m a little wary of any survey commissioned by a TV network, as this was. Still, it jibes with what I’ve been told by several experts, who say the British have some serious social problems related to drinking.

Transparency: Just in time to reinforce last week’s post about nutrition and fact labels (and thanks for all the nasty emails), comes this from Nielsen: “Three-quarters of global respondents strongly or somewhat agree that they’re concerned about the long-term health impact of artificial ingredients. … In addition, 69% strongly or somewhat agree that foods without artificial ingredients are always more healthful, and just over half (52%) strongly or somewhat agree that foods and beverages with fewer ingredients are more healthful, with agreement even stronger in North America (61%).” But whatever you do, wine business, don’t tell consumers what’s in their wine. What do consumers know, anyway?