Right now in New Zealand, we’re enjoying the perfect storm. The quality of NZ wine continues to improve, craft beers are on the rise, as are boutique spirits, so the industry is constantly in the media announcing the newest, latest and greatest alcoholic drinks. We’ve also emerged from a year of lockdowns in which many of us indulged more than usual and with increased availability through retail outlets and restaurants, and spending on luxuries to make up for not going overseas, are we at risk of enjoying too much of a good thing?
At Lawson’s Dry Hills, as much as we’d love you to enjoy more of our handiwork, we’re staunch advocates of responsible drinking. The idea of drinking less but better quality, is one that we totally support, not least because we feel that it’s all about the experience. Enjoying something special using some really nice glasses can make for a far more memorable moment than chugging cheap stuff just for the sake of it. We’ve started using #enjoyinmoderation, in our social media as we believe responsible drinking is the right response, although it could be said ‘responsible’ is subjective.
So, what exactly are the stipulated levels of responsible drinking today?
The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends no more than two standard drinks a day for women and three for men (that’s not sexist, it’s based on body mass index (BMI) differences and women tend to have less body mass than men). Those limits are debated around the world, with some countries suggesting up to 20 drinks a week are okay, however ten drinks a week is a widely regarded limit for most western countries. The Ministry also recommends having at least two alcohol-free days a week and to totally avoid alcohol when pregnant.
A standard drink is 10ml of alcohol, but what exactly does that mean? If you look at the back label of a 750ml bottle of wine with around 13% alcohol, that means approximately 7.5 standard drinks. A 375 ml stubby of beer is around 1.5 standard drinks, while a 1-litre bottle of spirits contains around 37 standard drinks.
And there is endless debate on even these ‘safe’ limits. A study released in 2018, in the highly respected medical journal ‘The Lancet’, showed the safe limit to be much lower. A survey across 19 countries showed less than 100 grams of alcohol, or ten standard drinks per week, to be the recommended safe limit.
Then there’s the European view on responsible drinking given how much the French and Italians love their wine. The French diet has often been labeled ‘The French Paradox’ – being high in saturated fats, yet they usually enjoy a glass (or two) of wine, often red, with dinner. Numerous studies have shown that drinking a moderate amount of red wine is good for your health due to the antioxidants and ‘polyphenols’ which can help lower the risk of heart disease, especially from a diet high in saturated fats.
Which brings us to another fundamental of responsible drinking – food and water. It’s a good idea to enjoy that glass of wine with food, not on an empty stomach. Alcohol is hard on the body and enjoying food at the same time not only lessens the likelihood of feeling drunk, but also helps the body to process the alcohol. And as alcohol dehydrates you, drinking plenty of water is also recommended. Bars and other places that serve alcohol are required by law to offer ready access to free water. And as we mentioned above, if you feel you would like to drink less, choose quality over quantity, and if you’re concerned about your waistline – it’s worth considering that one serve of alcohol is 150 calories (as a rough guide, that’s about 10% of the recommended daily calories for women, and about 8% for men).
When it comes to driving or working, of course, no alcohol is the smart choice. Even a single glass of wine can impair your judgment, which is why alcohol should be avoided whenever you are going to be driving, heading to work, or undertaking anything that requires you to be on top of your game.
So please, enjoy our wines and if you drink responsibly, perhaps even mindfully, you will enjoy the experience even more.