Why 'drink less'?
Latest UK Government guidelines and recommendations from DrinkAware.co.uk state that both men and women should try not to exceed 2-3 units a day and in total not more than 14 units per week.
In wine terms, this is 175ml of a 12% abv wine and you are done for a day. This is when our slogan 'Drink less but better wine' comes into play. Let's find out more details about wine calories, wine alcohol units and organic wines.
Watch those alcohol units
There’s increasing concern about the rising levels of alcohol in our wines, and we’ve recently seen alcohol contents climb up to 17% due, in part, to our palates changing in favour of bigger, fruitier wines and global warming causing riper grapes with higher sugar contents. The critics and wine-drinking-public as a whole are divided. Many are looking for wines with big personalities and deeper flavours, which mean grapes are ripening on the vine even longer than they would in the past, resulting in richer, fuller-bodied wines which contain more alcohol. According to Conetech, around the world, the average alcohol level in wine is 2 degrees higher than it was 20 years ago. It is a huge increase!
Many people do like to take advantage of a lighter alcohol option, especially during daytime or at lunch meetings when it’s considered impolite to nap afterwards; but flavour could be a concern. One would love to get 2% abv wine with a flavour of your regular 14% one. You’re not going to find a low-calorie wine that replicates a powerhouse red wine, so trade-offs definitely have to be made. At Organic Wine Club we support these efforts and constantly tasting lower alcohol options to list the best ones in our store. if you start looking at bottles and consider swapping a bottle of 15.5% abv or more to a more average level of 13-14% it would be a good move!
Watch the waistline: wine calories
You can have a relatively healthy eating patterns or diet, but can still notice some the pounds creeping up. It can be annoying and a bit of a mystery. How much do you drink?
It’s a sobering thought to realise a bottle of red wine with 14% abv could be the calorie equivalent of 3 McDonalds hamburgers. While most of us would judge those who eat up to a dozen burgers a week, a bottle of wine to consume with your friends or co-workers when you are hosting or out socialising seems altogether more civilised and sophisticated. However, it results in weight gain. Alcohol is high in calories with 7 calories per gram (carbs have 4 calories per gram). It means that wines with a higher abv come in packed with a lot of calories. An extreme example of 17% abv bottle of wine will set you back by around 650 calories. This is a third of the 2000 calories the NHS recommends a woman consumes daily to maintain her healthy weight. Simply put, it only takes a person to consume 500 extra calories per day for a week to put on a pound or two of fat, and in wine terms that’s only 3 medium sized glasses of a fruity red.
Try to stick to wines around 13% abv in average, don’t drink too close to bedtime so you get a better night’s sleep and feel smug in the knowledge that red wine is higher in antioxidants than some so-called superfoods.
Most importantly, we should all just consume higher quality wines (but less) instead of more of the ones that are just so-called booze.
Which wines are better?
Under EU law, which came into force in August 2012, a wine can be called organic if it has been made from grapes cultivated organically in a vineyard that converted to organic practices at least 3 years previously.
Organic wine therefore is to be free of all chemicals with the exception of naturally occurring sulphur an copper. Organic movement encourages minimal intervention and also results in an optimum soil health. It is better for you and better for the environment.
Low Alcohol, Non-Alcohol and Alcohol Free Wines
For some of us, this is still not enough. Those with serious cardiovascular issues, the weight conscious and those who resolutely remain teetotal are still looking for the vinous holy grail: a product that doesn’t over-excite the blood pressure; has minimal sugar and calorific implications yet preserves the taste and texture of the real thing.
Nature can give us wines as low as 8 or 9% abv. If we want even lower there are several methods involved - namely reverse osmosis and vacuum distillation. Reverse osmosis unfortunately is quite harsh for wine’s delicate aromas and flavours and filters quite a lot of them out even before the alcohol is being removed. Vacuum distillation evaporates the wine using a vacuum chamber. Unfortunately, with the evaporation goes most of the aromas. Consequently leading producers don’t use it.
The general consensus so far is less than a ringing endorsement: removing the alcohol, critics say, strips the wine of any flavour and texture, damages the wine and produces wines that taste more like breakfast juice; they might be better for the liver, but not to our tastebuds.
Tips on drinking less but better
We all know the famous French paradox, which illustrates that the French consume loads of fatty foods with quite a lot of wine and stay healthy with regards to heart diseases. It surely matters how much wine we consume with food. Yet it is also quite important what exactly do we eat. For many people meat based diet (say, red meat everyday) would not just mean the temptation to drink more wine, but also quite an unhealthy diet.
Something very obvious is to prepare a vegetarian dinner. It does not necessarily call for your regular glass of red or white for that matter. You can simply substitute it with a soft drink. Go online, search for some veggie recipes and start cooking.
What about a soft drink that can serve as substitute? Opt for sparkling water and mix it with your favourite fruit juice (preferably sugar free option). A sparkling cranberry drink can look like a light red to you and me. In essence you are playing a trick on your mind – you are to drink something bubbly or reminiscent to alcohol, but actually it is just a soft drink. Try it one day and experiment with your own mix – you can create your own ritual with it!
You do not need to go all the way veggie, think about having fish days. Fish courses are also super easy to prepare – you can steam vegetables and grill a fillet of sea bass or sea bream in under 10 minutes, sprinkle some chopped herbs and bold olive oil and you are sorted! Serve it with water served with lemon and feel those wonderfully delicate fish flavours. Remember a smell of sea or ocean from your last beach holiday?
Do you eat a lot of oriental dishes? It is a safer option to reduce your wine intake as you do not drink loads of wine with the spicy or fragrant oriental dishes. Many wine critics suggest matching spicy food to off-dry white wines (i.e. Riesling or Gewurztraminer), but with many oriental dishes you are much better with a soft drink like ginger ale. Have a wine-free evening and prepare a thai-inspired dinner. Experiment with other pan-Asian flavours and make those evenings fun!
Do not forget to match a glass of wine with a large glass of water. Alcohol is dehydrating you, so when sharing a bottle of red with a few friends, make sure you share and actually finish a large bottle of still water as well!
When Organic Wine Club has stated that we want you drink less but better wines we did not necessarily mean you would need to up your budget for wine.
There is of course a correlation between price and quality, there is also a bullshitting factor – wine brands can decide to put up expensive price tags just to position themselves as ‘super quality’ ones. It is not necessarily true. We at Organic Wine Club personally taste every wine and decide whether it is exciting and worth the money. There are great wines around £10-£14 price mark that will give some £30 wines run for the money.
Always opt for quality organic wines, savour its fantastic taste, enjoy the complexity and flavour concentration. When all these aspects come together you will need much less wine as your one glass will contain so much more flavours in it! Learn what you like, go for a better quality and drink well, but less. Explore the full range of delicious organic wine case starting at only £57 here.
One may come back home tired, pour oneself a long drink. One can feel undervalued and compensate by having a very expensive drink. One may have wasted the day with doing some rubbish and can feel unhappy and unproductive. All this is not necessarily about you. Is it?
You can let the steam off by opting for some more active ways of cheering oneself up – running, walking with your dog to a big park, doing some stretches, or even yoga.
To calm oneself down breathing exercises are great too. It can be just 5 or 15 minutes of ‘me’ time when one can simply concentrate on breathing and thinking about something nice (or do not think at all). To make it more therapeutic there are a lot of yogic breathing exercises like the example of ‘Alternate Nostril Breathing’. Press a thumb against right nostril and inhale (for as count of 5), hold it for 5 and then after releasing that right nostril press left one and exhale (for a count of 5 or more). Repeat from left to right and so on. It creates an amazing feeling of calm and tranquility, and even though noone says you can’t have your drink, but you will need less drinks on that given evening if you spend just 5 to 15 minutes doing some breathing exercises – it is tried and tested!
Lastly, let us ask a personal question. Do we drink more because we are bored? Surely we can be more productive and engage in the activities we feel ourselves in a state of Flow. Is there something we can learn – if not now then when?
Finally – get an alcohol free day a week! This can be a no compromise agreement with a mind. It is a mini-detox for your mind and body that should become a habit. With time two consecutive alcohol-free days a week will be magnificent. We at Organic Wine Club are joining you with this, so we are closed on regular Mondays!
It is all in our hands to make our lifestyle healthier through exercise, meditation, yoga or football for that matter. One can also make some clever tweaks with food and soft drinks, upgrade one’s shopping list for healthier and organic options. Don’t forget to come back to Organic Wine Club to buy delicious organic wines that are better for you.
Join the conversation and let us know your thoughts!
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