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
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
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.
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!