HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BE DRINKING? – Thoughts on moderation from a winery owner.

Wine, beer and spirits are miraculous things.

There aren’t any human pathogens that can survive in these delightful beverages.  That’s a big reason why historically their consumption grew so extensively.  In an age where drinking water would likely make you ill, you could imbibe wine or beer without fear.  They might not always taste great, but they would not make you sick.   drink1 MIRACLE!

Today, the wine we drink usually tastes amazing.  The art and science of wine-making has progressed to the point that clunkers are really getting pretty rare – usually associated with big corporate enterprises focused on cheap “concept” labels, or small, newbie wineries still ironing out the kinks.

Safety aside, wine in particular is miraculous for the way that it enhances meals.  Its palate-cleansing nature and its flavor-pairing attributes make wine an essential component of every serious meal, at least for us foodies and hedonists who delight in experiencing peaks of gustatory sensation.

Wine also is notable for the emotional connotations it evokes:  Romance, sophistication, success, la joie de vivre!

With so much flavor, beauty and emotion packed into these magical elixirs, who wouldn’t want a bottle on the table with every meal, a glass in hand at every social gathering?

Of course, the “can’t make you sick” proposition only applies from a bacteriological perspective.   As with all things we ingest, acute over-consumption can indeed yield most unpleasant results.  Chronic over-consumption yields even more dire, long-term results, which we are all familiar with.


Acute or Chronic Problem?

But this blog isn’t about the evils of alcoholism.  It is, rather, about health.

The “good life” is best achieved when we are healthy, active, relaxed, and long-lived.  So while my own pursuit of joie de vivre has included opening a winery and restaurant, it has also evolved into a conscious effort to live and promote a healthy lifestyle.  It’s why Vin du Lac sponsors numerous recreational sporting events throughout the year. (Vin du Lac Outdoor Sport Series)  It’s why I personally took up triathlon racing six years ago.  It’s also why my six-year old son already has had 4 bicycles.  (Count ‘em!)



And it’s why I no longer drink wine (or any other alcohol) every day.

In recent years, my nightly glass of wine with dinner had become two glasses.  Or a cocktail followed by a glass of wine – or two glasses.  I began really looking forward to my first drink of the night, to the soothing glow of alcohol and its nerve-calming effects.  I no longer simply enjoyed those frankly pleasant effects. I had gotten to where I kind of needed them.  My enjoyment of wine had become my daily habit of wine.

I’m fortunate.  I’m not an alcoholic.  I was, however, becoming habituated.  My body and brain were physiologically and psychologically adapting to the constant input of alcohol, and becoming dependent – or at least expectant of it.  Which for me meant that it was time to break the habit.  I want to be in charge of my health and body, and not have a habit or beverage controlling my impulses and physiology.

So I jumped on the “Dry January” bandwagon this year.  It’s a good thing.  We know that people who occasionally do not drink for weeks or months at a time are healthier and far less susceptible to habituation and alcoholism.; And it has a myriad other beneficial impacts on our daily well-being.  So I broke the habit of daily drinking, and guess what?  I immediately experienced my own delightful changes in health.

First, I began sleeping better than I had in years.  Usually I was making do with 6 hours a night.  I’d attributed this to aging, as people often experience less sleep as they get older.  But sans alcohol, eight hours of sleep was suddenly becoming a norm.  The resulting change in my daily alertness and energy level has been wonderful.

Second, my diet has improved.  We all know booze lowers inhibitions, including our normal dietary restraints.  As a triathlete, I’m constantly trying to keep myself at “racing weight”, and it has been an endless battle.  I love great food as much as I love great wine.  But here’s what happened after I stopped drinking at every dinner:

 drink4  Nice Trend!

Perhaps best of all, that urge to have that first drink every night is gone.  I like that. I’m in charge again.

Look, I need you folks to buy wine if I’m going to stay in business.  But the bigger picture is we want to all live in a country and society where people are healthy, happy, active, in love and in charge of their lives. So yes, drink wine.  Drink well and drink often. Delight in it.  Just don’t make a habit of it.