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How much is too much?
We call wine, beer and liquor "adult beverages" because we understand that the pleasure that comes from drinking them also demands an adult responsibility in knowing when we've had enough.
But how much is too much? Whether we're talking about drinking before driving or operating dangerous machinery, or longer-term effects on health and longevity that attend alcohol consumption, it's clear to all but the most extreme observers that moderate consumption is harmless or even beneficial; while few would dispute that excessive consumption is a bad idea.
Countless studies reveal a "J-shaped curve" when cardiovascular and general health are plotted against alcohol consumption. Moderate daily consumers of alcohol tend to enjoy better health and longevity than teetotalers, although steady over-indulgence can yield catastrophic health results. Even in such controversial realms as drinking before driving or by pregnant women, there's no evidence of any hazard from moderate consumption other than, perhaps, individual inability to draw the line that separates moderation from excess.
Which brings us to the topic of this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: From the standpoint of an intelligent adult who enjoys good wine in moderation, we're inviting readers to tell us just how much wine (and other alcoholic beverages) you think is too much.
It's not easy to establish a coherent measure for an international audience, as the standard varies in different parts of the world. In the U.S., the standard "drink" is usually established at 5 ounces (150ml) of wine, 12 ounces (360ml) of beer, or a 1 1/2-ounce shot (45ml) of 80-proof spirits. In Britain, Australia and Europe, the metric standard varies slightly. For purposes of this casual poll, however, we're assuming the U.S. measure, which works out to just about five "drinks" in a standard 750ml bottle.
It should also be noted that many health authorities recommend a smaller daily limit for women, based upon average size and also on assumed differences in the ways that men and women metabolize alcohol. In similar fashion, standard advice on driving after drinking recommends adjusting consumption based upon individual weight and size. In this non-scientific survey, we simply suggest that you choose the one answer that works best for you, selecting the number of glasses per day that - for you - represents "one too many."
TO CAST YOUR "VOTE"
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
Thorn-Clarke 2003 "Terra Barossa" Eden Valley Riesling ($11.49)
This Australian Riesling, made primarily for U.S. export, shows a clear, rather pale straw color in the glass. Limes dominate the aroma, framed by a sharp, almost resinous "piney" scent, a youthful Riesling character that's likely to evolve with time into the odd but not unpleasant "petrol" minerality that's typical of the variety. Full, fresh and tart, white fruit, pineapple and pear flavors are supported by limey acidity in a wine of good structure and balance. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Sept. 24, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: Good with pork or poultry; it was perfect with a simple accompaniment of quality bratwurst sausage.
VALUE: A fine value at this price point.
WHEN TO DRINK: Although the winery promotes this as a "drink now" wine, Riesling is one of the most ageworthy of whites, and the structure and balance in this young wine - coupled with its high-tech modern screw cap - suggests years of aging potential for those who choose to cellar it.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Research Thorn-Clarke on Wine-Searcher.com:
California Wine Club:
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French Wine Explorers:
Authors Don and Petie Kladstrup, whose best-selling book Wine & War told the gripping story of France and its wine makers under Nazi domination in World War II, are joining with our friends at French Wine Explorers to lead a truly one-of-a-kind wine tour in April 2005.
In a wide-ranging nine-day itinerary that will cross France from Paris to Champagne, Burgundy, the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, a select group will get a deep inside look at French wine and food history as they meet some of the valiant winemakers and chateau owners who struggled against the Nazis to save one of France's greatest treasures: its wine.
From Aubert de Villaine at Domaine de la Romanée Conti, to Claude Taittinger at Champagnes Taittinger, to May de Lenquesaing at Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, among many others, the list of participants reads like a "who's who" of French winemaking greats. An unforgettable experience for World War II enthusiasts and wine lovers alike, this tour also includes fine hotels, gourmet dining, and the spectacular scenery and history of the French wine country.
This one-time-only event, which anticipates the 60th anniversary of V-E Day on May 8, 2005, will be led by the Kladstrups with Sommeliers-Conseil Lauriann Greene-Sollin and Jean-Pierre Sollin of French Wine Explorers.
For information, or to reserve a place on the tour, visit French Wine Explorers,
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Dave McIntyre's WineLine: A New Twist
Wood on Wine: Wine for the Masses
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Howie's 2004 Home Winemaking Thread
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
On the other hand: 2002 Rhone (Oct. 1, 2004)
On the less-beaten path: Fiano (Sept. 29, 2004)
First taste: 2003 Rhone (Sept. 27, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Saltimbocca with a twist (Sept. 30, 2004)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, Oct. 4, 2004