Archive for February, 2016

Alcohol Probably Isn’t Good For You (But Don’t Start Crying Just Yet)

Vinted on February 16, 2016 binned in commentary, wine health, wine news

Recently, a 1WD reader wrote in to ask me what I thought about the recent spate of news indicating that alcohol is bad for your health. Here’s his initial correspondence, which he gave me permission to share with you all:

Hey, Dude,
I was reading a few articles in Decanter for class when I came across one (admittedly attention-grabbing) article. The UK’s equivalent of the Surgeon General has apparently decided there’s “no safe level of drinking”. She has also cut the guideline maximum for men weekly to 14 units (a unit is approximately 2.5 US fluid ounces of 13% abv wine). Here is the article: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/uk-alcohol-guidelines-no-safe-drinking-level-as-daily-limit-cut-287142/.

To put it mildly, I think this is complete and utter bullshit. It’s not that I think moderate alcohol consumption is bad–far from it. Indeed, I think there are people who should try to avoid alcohol completely, including those who have no control over their own drinking whatsoever. However, from what I’ve read over the years, there is a “J-shaped curve” associated with various diseases (particularly coronary-related) and alcohol consumption. A quick internet search led me to this for cardiovascular health: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/562474_2, and WineAnorak had this for other benefits: http://www.wineanorak.com/healother.htm.

While there are health risks associated with alcohol use, as well, including oesophageal cancers, there are health risks associated with nearly everything. Taking a stroll after work is healthy, for example, but there’s a risk I could get hit by a car, or get hypothermia or heat stroke (depending on the weather), or bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus. Even hiding at home trying to avoid all risks of mortality doesn’t rule out dying of various things, such as unexpected meteor impact, heart attack from a combination of lack of exercise and stress from perceived impending doom, or starvation since I’d run out of groceries eventually if I refuse to leave the house. Paranoia to that extent is almost reason to cause someone to drink.

Sorry about that rant. I read that article and it riled me up; I felt it would be something I’d love to hear your opinion and commentary on, as well.

In a follow-up correspondence, he had this to add about the subject:

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford also wrote an interesting article about the topic: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/opinion/jefford-on-monday/jefford-on-monday-uk-drinking-limits-toxic-advice-287989/.
 I read another two studies about raised breast cancer risks from light-to-moderate alcohol usage as compared to abstinence this last week.  One was a study of about 48000 people from the 1980s to 2010.  The other was a meta-study.  Both found an approximately 10% risk of breast cancer in abstainers, and an approximately 12.5% risk in light-to-moderate drinkers. I didn’t see anything about mortality, metastasizing, or recurrence.  It didn’t seem that other risk factors besides smoking were necessarily controlled for.  I’ll have to use some Google-fu to find them again, but though neither was precisely friendly towards alcohol, what I understood from their conclusions was essentially, “There’s a slightly elevated risk of breast cancer from drinking alcohol.  It’s not much to worry about, but if you are paranoid, you can stop drinking.”
Now, bearing in mind that, to the best of my knowledge, neither he nor I are medical professionals, here’s my take on all of this…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For February 15, 2016

Vinted on February 15, 2016 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 13 Hourglass HG III (Napa Valley): Spicy chocolates for everyone! A second wine that isn't going to stand for playing second fiddle. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Maybe the finest Estate release that they've yet bottled. Ok, not 'maybe.' $165 A >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Hourglass Blueline Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): One of the rare sightings of concentration expressed as a virtue. $125 A >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Keenan Napa Valley Zinfandel (Napa Valley): Likely one of the quickest ways to seriously upscale your next helping of smoked BBQ. $38 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Come back ina few years, when it's ready, & you're a bit more worthy. $165 A >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir Reserve (Napa Valley): Spices & jam team up in a fun and surprisingly compelling buddy film blockbuster. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Toasty & smokey in good ways, but forgot to bring its namesake's violets. $44 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Dark fruits, violet flowers, and enough black licorice for a candy shop. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Priest Ranch Estate Grenache Blanc (Napa Valley): Think stones; stone fruit, stony minerals, & thankfully the stones to make this. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Trefethen Oak Knoll District Chardonnay (Napa Valley): Those who love pear will find a muse in this clean-but-creamy creation. $35 A- >>find this wine<<

 

 

You’re Welcome (Hangover Prevention At Fix.com)

Vinted on February 12, 2016 binned in going pro, wine publications
Fix.com hangovers

image: fix.com

You’re welcome.

No, seriously, you’re going to thank me later. Because my latest for Fix.com, titled How to Avoid a Hangover, is now live, and reading it just might save you some future pain.

What I found most fascinating in researching our collective attempts at trying to both prevent and stem the effects of hangovers is that, despite some heroic scientific efforts, we have moved the bar very little distance on the matter over the last one hundred years or so.

That apparent lack of progress isn’t attributable to poor science so much as it is the work of evil spirits bent on causing us pain and suffering. Er, actually, it’s a reflection of the complex chemical processes involved when our bodies imbibe (and imbibe, and imbibe, and imbibe…) and process alcohol. If, as Socrates supposedly said, true knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing, then we are inching closer to True Knowledge when it comes to hangovers.

Anyway, Fix.com’s excellent visual take on the results of my research are available below after the jump. Just in time for the weekend…

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And Then, Apparently Everyone Went Insane (Wine Competitions 2016)

Vinted on February 10, 2016 binned in going pro, wine industry events

“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… me… or everyone else.”

– Max Rockatansky, Mad Max: Fury Road

TexSom 2016

image: texsomiwa.com

I think the wine judging world has officially gone batsh*t crazy. More on that in a minute.

As many of you might have already surmised from my recent updates on The Book of Face, my recent press jaunt to Madeira was, from a tasting perspective, extraordinary. So, there will likely be much more info. to come from that trip soon (after I catch up on writing up some Napa shizzle from the fourth quarter of 2015).

Today, however, I am still reeling (in positive ways) from finally getting my hiney to Madeira, and am just dropping a quick line to let you know about two upcoming wine competitions in which I’ll be playing a small part.

First up: the TexSom International Wine Awards, taking place later this month. This is my first judging stint with TIWA, the organizers of which have apparently lost their minds entirely, as evidenced by my inclusion on a judging lineup consisting primarily of baddass wine people with either “MW or “MS” after their names. I know, I don’t get it, either, but I’m excited to check it out and to return to the Dallas/Fort Worth area (despite the spot being overrun with Cowboys fans).

Critics Challenge 2016

image: criticschallenge.com

Next, I’ll be returning as a judge to the venerable Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition, this year moved up to March. This will be, I think, my fourth stint with CC, and as always I considered myself blessed to be able to work with such a professional, well-organized, and fun group of organizers, volunteers, and judges. I have been lucky enough now to have judged in a not-insignificant number of wine competitions, and I would easily rank CC as one of the best worldwide; it has become one of my favorite long-weekend work gigs of the year.

I know, I know… that was all way too much positivity for a single 1WD post. In fact, we might have just fulfilled the feel-good quotient here for the entire first quarter…

Cheers!

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