OK, so you might be wondering why a website all about healthy living, fitness and wellbeing is featuring an article about drinking wine…?
And whilst I’m the first to admit that I like a drop of the good stuff from time to time, with UK government guidelines getting stricter on the amount of alcohol they advise we should be consuming, it is definitely enough to make me reconsider my drinking habits.
As of January 2016 the advice given is that both men and women should ideally be drinking no more than 2-3 units a day and this should amount to no more than 14 units across a week.
But what exactly is 1 unit of alcohol these days?
- A single measure of spirits (ABV 37.5%)
- Half a pint of average strength (4%) lager
- Half a medium sized (175ml) glass of average strength (12%) wine
So, when you start to think about how much you may have drunk when you went out last weekend with your mates, or how much was in that bottle of wine you shared with your partner over dinner last night, it’s clear that many of us are unlikely to have an alcohol unit tally the right side of this magic number.
Are we drinking more?
Put simply, yes! Us Brits are renowned for our binge drinking ways and you don’t have to be a complete fitness guru to know that this just isn’t healthy. However, we are not entirely to blame, because over the past few years the alcohol content in some drinks, in particular wine, has risen by as much as 17%. In fact, research carried out by Conetech, shows that the average alcohol content of wine is now 2 degrees higher than it was 20 years ago. So we’re drinking stronger drinks, out of larger sized glasses and are bombarded with boozy bargains every time we go shopping…is it any wonder that we can’t help but give into temptation?
And that’s just the alcohol units…have you stopped to take a moment to consider how many calories are in that MASSIVE glass of wine you’re glugging?
WARNING – this might make you choke on your Chardonnay!!
Wine contains approximately 7 calories per gram (compared to 4 calories per gram in carbs) and an average strength bottle of wine equates to the same as:
- 2 croissants
- 3 McDonalds burgers
- 4 doughnuts
- 2 big sausage rolls
I know I wouldn’t even think twice about polishing off a whole bottle of wine to myself on a girls night out, but you certainly wouldn’t catch me stuffing my face with 4 doughnuts in one go. For every 3 medium sized glasses of wine, you can expect to add roughly 500 calories to your daily quota and that translates to between 1-2 pounds of extra weight. Pretty shocking right?!
Please don’t make me give up wine…What’s the answer?
There are two things we need to take a look at here:
- How to stay within the recommended 14 units?
- How to drink wine healthily?
You can buy lower alcohol based wines, granted they’re not the easiest thing to find in your local supermarket, but if you search online you will find companies who stock a wide selection. The taste isn’t going to be the same as higher strength wines; we’ve become far too accustomed to richer, full bodied wines and our palates have changed somewhat, however tastes can change and if you’re open minded enough you are certain to find one that you love. In fact the lightness of lower strength wines is one of their top selling points as it means they are perfect for summer BBQ’s and lunchtime drinking. A good wine company will only stock good quality wines; they’ve done the taste testing so you don’t have to, just make sure you let them know what you expect and like from a wine.
OK, onto the big question…
How can I drink wine and still be healthy?
We’re not about to go all Daily Mail on you and tell you about the latest food scare, or the current best thing to eat to help reduce your chances of getting cancer. No, the last thing we want to do is deny you one of life’s simple pleasures, but what we do want to do is show you a type of wine that you may not have paid much attention to before.
Before we divulge, ask yourself this –
- Do you insist on buying the best?
- Do you buy organic fruit and vegetables?
- Do you only eat meat if it is free range and organic fed?
Now ask yourself whether you apply the same criteria to your wine?
I know I don’t, in fact I’ve never even considered that I should be buying organic wine, but grapes are a fruit after all and they absorb pesticides and chemical fertilisers in exactly the same way. And these harmful chemicals have to go somewhere; your body, which might explain why some wines leave you feeling more worse for wear than others.
Wine can only be called ‘organic’ if the grapes used to make it have been grown organically, but it can also mean that it contains:
- No artificial colours
- No artificial flavours
- No preservatives
- No genetically modified ingredients.
This is all great news, because not only is this better for your health, but it’s a far more sustainable way to produce wine and is therefore much better for the environment.
Chemicals, such as pesticides, have been proven to decrease the potency of antioxidants, which are the very things in wine that we are told is good for us. Why, oh why would we want to lower our intake of these powerful anti-aging superheroes in our wine I ask you? I mean, hey who I am I to say that drinking the odd glass of wine is going to make you look better for longer, but well you know, it’s worth a shot, right?
Let’s look at the facts, organic wine is healthier, better for the environment, is a higher quality wine and there’s no funny stuff; what you see is what you get.
Wine buffs would argue that organic wines cannot compete with the depth, and full bodied nature of wines that have been produced with the aid of chemical enhancements and that the flavour just isn’t there. Well, far be it for us to call ourselves wine buffs, but we like to give these things a try.
Organic Wine Review
The Organic Wine Club sent us a bottle of their Pinot Noir ‘Diamond Fields’ Rose, produced in the Davenport Vineyard in East Sussex, UK, which we were very happy to pop in our fridge, before popping the cork and giving it a try.
The low yielding Pinot Noir grapevines are grown across 2 acres of the English countryside, where they were once used for red wine. It was William Davenport who in 2013 decided to try using them for Rose wine instead and the result is a mid pink, dry wine that has an almost smoky taste to it. I must say I enjoyed this wine more than I expected to, as I have tried low alcohol wines in the past and always found them to be too sweet and a little flat tasting. But no, the Davenport is extremely full bodied, with a fresh tang, which I am informed is down to the fact it is fermented in stainless steel tanks.
The other plus point of this particular wine, and many other wines sold by the Organic Wine Club, is that is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…
“Well of course it’s suitable for vegans and vegetarians, wine’s made from grapes not beef!”
But, did you know in standard winemaking the filtration process can often involve the use of animal based products, such as animal gelatine, egg whites, or milk based casein? Something to consider when you next select your tipple.
Joining a wine club can be incredibly beneficial as it means someone else has done the tasting for you, which to put it bluntly means you don’t need to spend your money on the rubbish! And whilst we’re on the subject of money, let’s discuss the cost of organic wine v’s unorganic wine. There’s no point in me lying; organic wine is going to cost slightly more than your average bottle of plonk in the shops, but there is a decent reason for this and it’s certainly not because organic wine producers want to rob you blind.
Winemakers who grow their grapes organically take considerably more risks than those who use fertilisers etc. Think about it; it only takes a bad growing year, the weather might have been particularly extreme one year or there may have been a higher level of pest damage and if this happens then it could mean an entire years crop has gone. And who pays the price for that? Well, the winemaker of course, which means they need to up the price of their wines to act as a guarantee that should they have a bad year in future they can still afford to carry on their business.
The Organic Wine Club have kindly given our readers the opportunity to try their wines for less with this fantastic discount to run alongside the Rio Olympics 2016.
Quote the code:
at the checkout and you will receive 10% discount off of their British wines and cases for the duration of the Rio Olympics (valid until 22nd August 2016).
Remember the opening ceremony is tonight and I’m sure many of us will be holding Olympic themed parties over the next few weeks. Of course there will be wine flowing, but perhaps now you’ve read this article you will start to be a bit more mindful of what you drink.
So, drink sensibly, drink healthily and here’s to a fabulously sporty summer!