Just What’s in Your New Year’s Bloody Mary?

New Years The Washington Post on Friday warned its readers in a Page 1 story
about all the boozy calories they would be ingesting on New Year’s Eve.
Personally, I‚€™m of the school that resolutions take effect on New
Year‚€™s Day at the earliest, and even then not before the last
bowl game ends. Certainly no one at the party I attended last night was
worrying about how many calories they were drinking. (Note to self:
Check Facebook … ) But if it seemed silly for my paper of record to be
worrying about counting calories with New Year‚€™s libations, it
provided an easy hook for a story about an interesting and important
topic.

The story, by business reporter Lyndsey Layton, was well written and
balanced, noting calls by some to require nutrition labeling on
alcoholic beverages and how the issue is a stalking horse for political
rivalries between the distilled spirits lobby and the wine and beer
lobby (as if those groups were homogenous – HR 5034, anyone?). Those of
watching our weight might want to know how many calories were sipping in
our New Years bloody mary, and diabetics of course need to watch their
carbs. (I‚€™ve never seen a drunk diabetic, but I imagine it‚€™s not a
pretty sight.)

I can think of many arguments against nutrition labeling. Wine labels
are already crowded with warnings, and I am well aware that my wine
consumption is not helping my weight (and unfortunately those reputed
benefits for my blood pressure and cholesterol seem elusive). If, like
me, you earned your physique by lifting weights 12 ounces at a time,
you‚€™re probably resigned to it. And those of us who ‚€œdrink to
forget‚€ certainly don‚€™t want to be thinking about calories.

But nutrition labeling for alcohol is related to another issue the
Post article did not touch on – ingredient labeling. Randall Grahm at
Bonny Doon has started listing the ingredients used in his wines,
including cultured yeasts, sulfur, and fining agents. The list is short,
because he doesn‚€™t use many of the 200 or so additives that the
federal government allows in wine.

NY2
I would like to know what goes into the wine I‚€™m drinking. I like to
think I can tell when a wine is ‚€œindustrial‚€ or ‚€œmanipulated,‚€
because it tastes dull and lifeless. But maybe I‚€™m wrong. Maybe I
really like wines made with Velcorin.
In any event, I‚€™d like to know what I‚€™m drinking – because a lot of
us are not drinking the ‚€œartisan‚€ ‚€œhand-made‚€ wine the
advertisements would have us think we‚€™re consuming. You know, the
stuff that’s “just fermented grape juice.”

What do you think? Post a comment here and tell me whether wine and
other alcoholic beverages should have nutrition or ingredient labels. Or
are we better off drinking and forgetting?

And on that cheery note – Happy New Year, everyone!

This entry was posted in Washington Post, Wine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Just What’s in Your New Year’s Bloody Mary?

  1. Les Hubbard says:

    Dave,
    The Post article listed some of the problems with nutrition labeling,
    especially with spirits where serving size raises many issues as 1.5
    ounces may not be a very credible standard. Perhaps better with wine at 5
    oz. and beer with 12 oz. per serving. Indeed back labels on wine are
    already far too busy.
    However, I’d love to see wine ingredient labeling to know what the heck
    goes in the wine I’m drinking. Many wine drinkers claim to be bothered
    by sufites – so why not list total at time of bottling. I’d drop the
    stupid warning label about alcohol consumption as I don’t plan on
    getting pregnant or operating a bulldozer while drinking my wine.
    What I’d really also like to see is the percentage of each varietal
    contained in any wine blends or otherwise. Just call me a
    traditionalist, who agrees with Randall Graham’s approach to wine
    making, minus the whole biodynamic thingy.
    Les Hubbard

  2. Good points, Les. On serving size though, the lack of a standard is not
    unique to alcohol. How many times have you bought chips or some snack
    from a vending machine thinking you were only going to get X grams of
    fat or Y mg of sodium, only to notice that the tiny bag holds two
    servings?
    Part of the wine industrys dislike of additional disclosure is the
    difficulty of getting the labels approved – changes on a label from year
    to year require TTB approval. That takes time and is a hassle. And
    thats one reason we have the fudge factor in alcohol labeling.

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