Did you hear you shouldn’t be drinking any alcohol, ever? A meta-analysis study on alcohol published in the Lancet in August received massive publicity as it claimed that having even one drink is dangerous to health.
While no one disputes that heavy drinking is bad for you, if you examine the Lancet’s statistics on the effects of moderate drinking it quickly becomes clear their conclusion is nebulous at best.
The Lancet piles dozens of observational studies on top of each other to conclude that there are risks to drinking in moderation, but if you look at the graphs you could just as easily conclude that up to five drinks a day only increases health risks by a tiny margin.
Observational studies like this are flawed by their very nature and mixing them together makes them even less reliable.
By a direct comparative logic there are studies that show that showering is dangerous and should be avoided in case you slip.
If you want to read more I recommend a recent article on www.vox.com by Julia Belluz and an excellent piece in the New York Times by Prof. Aaron E. Carroll of U. Indiana – both can be found easily via Google.
Meanwhile Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is pushing the same dubious claims and is due to make an appearance in the Dáil in a few weeks.
Since I last mentioned it some opposition amendments have been added (and bizarrely accepted) which will make it utterly unworkable with Ireland-only labelling that is likely to be in conflict with EU Law.
For example there is now to be a cancer warning - yet none for bacon or beef which are statistically far worse. If the bill goes through in its current form it will leave around ten brands of wine on the Irish market.
We remain the highest taxed nation in the EU by a considerable margin with €3.19 excise on a bottle of wine (Finland is next at €2.54) and a whopping €6.37 on sparkling wine (the UK is next at €2.99).
How dare we treat our EU farming neighbours like this?
How would we feel if France and Italy sold Kerrygold at €20 a pound? September is an expensive time of year with all our money spent on holidays and back to school costs so the recommendations below focus on bargains. SuperValu have a French wine sale, O’Briens sale continues but don’t forget to support your local off-licence.
I love Lidl’s regional special offers as you never know what you will find. This week I picked up several tins of stuffed vine leaves and a bottle of this Santorini Assyrtiko, arguably Greece’s best white wine. As you would hope this is zingy and fresh with pear drop and citrus aromas, crisp bright acidity and a lemon-fresh finish. The Greek dessert Muscat I mentioned a few months back is also available again.
Cirò is one of the world’s oldest wine regions - we know the wines from here were drunk in Roman times and earlier. Cirò must be at least 95% Gaglioppo a grape suited to the Mediterranean climate and is typically dense, tannic and full-flavoured. This has dark chocolate and cherry aromas and is structured and fruity with chewy berry fruits.
Uclés is in Castille-La Mancha and like every obscure Spanish wine region they grow grapes. This is only the second time I’ve encountered wine from Uclés but this new wine in O’Briens is exactly what I like about inexpensive Spanish red wine, brimming with bright juicy red and black fruits and soft berry flavours. This would work chilled should we get our Indian Summer.
Another new wine in O’Briens range and a relatively rare beast as Malbec is not a grape we associate with Australia. Coonawarra has a slightly cooler climate and ocean breezes plus a famous red soil (terra rossa) that is particularly suited to Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet and Malbec. This is smoky with black fruit aromas, supple and fruity with a liquorice and earthy dark fruit flavour and a bright finish.
There are oceans of inexpensive Bordeaux in the Irish market but you may have noticed I rarely mention it – sadly most of it is rather thin and dull. This is better – 80% Merlot plus some Cab Sauvignon and Franc and a Cab Franc - black and red fruit aromas with touches of spice, plums, and soft chocolate-tinged dark fruits.
Stockists: Cinnamon Cottage, JJ O’Driscolls, Independents
I haven’t mentioned Albariño in a while but it is perfectly suited to warm Septembers, fruity and fresh but with more weight and texture to suit the slightly cooler temperatures. This was one of the first Albariños I ever tasted and it is still excellent – floral and peachy on the nose with yellow apple and ripe pear fruits and a crisp lemon peel and citrus finish.