Winebits 179: Consumer spending, corporate wine, surgeons and wine

? Bring on the booze? The economy is picking up, so we're getting ready to spend more money on wine, says a study from business advisory firm AlixPartners. Almost 9 out of 10 of us — up from 7 of 10 last year — will spend the same or more on alcoholic drinks in the coming 12 months. We'll do it in bars and restaurants, says the study, though there was one note of caution. Said an Alix official: "When consumers were feeling more of the full frontal assault of the financial crisis and the recession, more of them were likely to say they were going to spend less in total. Fewer consumers are saying 'I'm going to spend less,' but they haven't swung over to say 'I'm going to spend a lot more.' "

? Another merger that didn't work: Australia's Fosters Group, which spent A$7 billion to put together a wine and beer company over the past decade, has decided that the combination wasn't such a good idea after all. It has spun off the wine division, which includes Beringer and Penfolds, to a separate company. But that may not be enough to save the company, reports the Economist. All told, Fosters may taken a A$4.3 billion loss in the deal, which is the second massive wine unraveling this year. Constellation Brands sold its Aussie labels for A$230 million in February; they had cost the company A$1.85 billion.

? Surgeons shouldn't drink and cut: Yes, we have a study. Researchers in Ireland have found that drinking too much alcohol appears to interfere with a surgeon ?s skills, even the day after. As regular visitors know, the Wine Curmudgeon announced an embargo on wine and health news in 2009; the studies and claims had just gotten too silly. But this story deserved mention, if only because it's difficult to believe that someone had to study the effect of a hangover on someone who cuts into people's bodies with a sharp object.

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