They seem to pop up each time I’m surfing the wine-centric internet: the numerous reports on studies that support or refute the benefits and detriments of wine consumption. Each time I read these – regardless of the source – I attempt to validate them through the lens of my inherent objective thought processing.
But the more I read, the more I begin to question my objectivity. This typically occurs as I’m nurturing a fine red wine, my fingers gently curled around the stem of my wine glass.
For years, I’ve espoused to readers the health benefits of consuming red wine in moderation. The phenolic compounds present in red grape skins have been consistently shown to prevent disease and to improve our immune system’s ability to fight the ravages of cell mutation. Numerous studies conclude that the benefits of red wine outweigh the potentially negative effects of moderate alcohol consumption.
Then, last year I reported on a report published by the British Medical Society stating unequivocally that alcohol consumption in any form is detrimental to our health. While recommending abstinence, they nevertheless issued consumption guidelines far more restrictive than those published by their American counterparts.
So what’s a fellow to do? In my self-centered universe of sorting available data and reaching measured conclusions, I’ve rationalized that I am a moderate and responsible wine consumer.
And so it’s been for the past few years. But a thought always nags me. Is my mindset mainstream or fringe? How have others filtered these reports and studies? What conclusions have they reached concerning their consumption habits?
And now I know. The wine consumption pendulum is swinging.
Have you heard of the latest trend in alcohol consumption? “Dry January” has gained popularity across the United States and the British Isles. Health conscious adults are abstaining from alcohol this month in an effort to curb their drinking habit. Anecdotal results I’ve gleaned are all positive. In Britain, the University of Sussex has been tracking the results of those who practiced a dry January in 2018. They report a “host of health benefits, like improved sleep, more energy, and weight loss.”
A trend of declining wine consumption, even abstention, among millennials, albeit fledgling, is being reported. As the largest generation in United States history, they are influential in driving trends across many cultural, economic and social platforms. Their focus on leading healthier lifestyles is increasingly evident in the food on supermarket shelves, restaurant menus and even fast food kiosks. This phenomenon is crossing over to the alcoholic beverage industry.
Here are other examples of this trend, which seems to have taken a greater foothold with millennials in the United Kingdom than those in the United States.
–42 percent of British Millennials are drinking less alcohol than they were three years ago (Eventbrite survey).
–41 percent drink zero to one alcoholic drink per week, far less than the average consumption across other generations (CLICKON Data Insights survey).
None of these studies and reports should be construed that excessive drinking is no longer a problem with younger generations. But any trend toward lower consumption is encouraging.
As one might expect, the trend toward reduced alcohol consumption and abstention has spawned a new market for wine products. Rather than no alcoholic beverages, why not no alcohol in beverages?
In a past column I presented a new technology introduced by California-based ConeTech, Inc. They have mastered a process that lowers the level of alcohol in wine without reducing its flavor or aroma. Their “Spinning Cone Column” process essentially removes up to 92 percent of alcohol without affecting the other attributes of wine. I just read that ConeTech has enhanced their technology, reducing alcohol content in wine to 0.02 percent. Now consumers can have their wine and drink it, too.
The contradictory reports swirling around the benefits and detriments of wine consumption will persist for many years. Today’s younger generations, focused on healthy lifestyles, bring a growing sensibility to this debate.
Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 25 years he has conducted wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @sharingwine.