Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

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Frank Murray III
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Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#1 Post by Frank Murray III » June 25th, 2019, 4:06 pm

Been doing a lot of thinking lately. This year seems to have brought a # of things into focus for me, mainly around drinking, the impact of alcohol, my passion too for Champagne, and where next. If you find something in this topic or my thoughts to follow that resonate with you, share with me.

1. Alcohol, mainly wines with lots of it, now causes a war with my body. It's been an ongoing skirmish for the past few years but really in the past six months, I just struggle to drink any amount of wine that carries high amounts of ABV. What's high? Well, basically anything exceeding the mid 13% range has become hard on me. Mostly migraine headaches and just a heavy fatigue that I don't enjoy anymore. Not sure where I go from here but I am really struggling with these wines now, and while I don't own many anymore, I still have some in the cellar. These will be a dying breed.

2. Bottle after bottle. I used to love slogging through 15-20 bottles and doing notes, but given the alcohol thing, I just can't muster this kind of a setting anymore. Next month, I will be doing some tastings with some people I respect, along with their craft, and I will take some steps to lessen the blow. I do still the value in tasting through a vintage or range from a producer, and I can do it, but the days/evenings of offlines with 10 or 20 bottles, of big red wines in that setting too, are over for me. Just doing 10 this past Sunday left me with a crushing headache.

3. Champagne. The only thing saving me from the two struggles above is Champagne. I have really cut back my still wine purchases, leaving it concentrated to the core producers I enjoy, and the cuvees they make that I most enjoy. But past these purchases, Champagne continues to grow in my cellar, now close to 40% of it. And to think a 3-4 years ago, I owned basically none. Why this matters is that Champagne conveys energy, complexity and thrill without the alcohol. So, finding it has been a real blessing. I liked it for what it was initially, but now along with that original attraction, I like it for how it treats my biology now, too. Storing it is another problem, as it doesn't fit my Vinotemp all that well but we're making it work. In the end, I find the stuff thrilling and am constantly curious and appreciative about the small, grower/producers who do so much, often with so little.

Some rambling, without the usual TNs. Any replies, always appreciated.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#2 Post by Jason T » June 25th, 2019, 4:18 pm

Frank, 1) and 2) above really resonate with me. I just cracked 40 and over the last few years I can definitely feel it not just when I “over do” it but also even when I just “moderately do” it.

Unless there’s a compelling reason I try to stay under some threshold that is increasingly lower. It was 14.5% a few years ago but it’s getting closer to 13% with each passing day. In fact tonight I had a lovely and surprisingly robust 2017 Chinon that only clocked in at 12.5%; the perfect “weeknight wine” for me.

As for 3), I’ve trended towards more sparkling in general and while I definitely want to continue discovering more Champagne I love, I find the tariff a bit hard to swallow. Consequently I’m looking for sparkling wine outside of Champagne, but still in France.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#3 Post by Alan Eden » June 25th, 2019, 4:23 pm

Frank

I love Champagne but are you concerned it will eventually become somewhat monolithic in nature. Its great as part of a celler but i cant see it being dominant
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#4 Post by Alan Rath » June 25th, 2019, 4:44 pm

Frank, it's been a fun ride to watch the evolution in your palate and preferences over the years! We all do it do one degree or another.

Fortunately, I haven't really noticed any changes in how my system handles alcohol, but I've always tried to be very moderate in how I drink. I always spit at offlines, and at producer tastings or other events where I'm likely to be trying a lot of wines. Of course I don't always succeed, and sometimes overdo it, sigh. Aside from a bit of headache the next day (but nothing like migraine), the biggest effect on my system is through the gut. Of course, drinking often accompanies food, so it can be a double edged sword.

While I love champagne, I haven't yet arrived at the point where I think I can get the pleasure from drinking mostly champagne that I get from the wide variety of still wines. As for champagne being lower in alcohol, I would say that you can achieve whatever level of total alcohol intake you wish just by controlling the amount you drink. Most of the still wines we both like aren't much more than a percent or two at most higher than the average champagne. So drink 10% less of other wines, and you'll have about the same total alcohol intake [cheers.gif]
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#5 Post by Chris Seiber » June 25th, 2019, 4:45 pm

Frank, have you considered spitting at tastings? Even spitting 50% of the time, or 25% of the time, or part-but-not-all of what's in your mouth?

It makes a big difference, far bigger (on the subject of the effect of alcohol on you - not in terms of what style of wine you prefer of course) than drinking Rhys instead of Sea Smoke or whatever.

Of course, it's not something you're going to do when going out to dinner with the neighbors or coworkers or whatever, but for wine geek tastings (which I think is where you're having the issue), it's not really taboo. It does take some practice, though, and buying a nice covered spittoon is nice too.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#6 Post by Tom DeBiase » June 25th, 2019, 4:55 pm

Here is the problem for me. I am a light sleeper, been that way all my life. Give me 5 hours and I'm good all day and night. One good glass of wine no problem, any more than that and I wake up after a couple of hours can't get back to sleep or sleep poorly for the next few hours. With only a few hours sleep instead of 5-6 I feel like a zombie for a lot of the next day and my exercise routine etc are thrown off. Not fun so like Frank I am being much more careful about how much wine I consume.

Tom
PS: This happens even if the excess wine is consumed very early evening 6:00 - 7:00 pm

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#7 Post by Yao C » June 25th, 2019, 4:56 pm

Thank you Frank! Your points all resonate with me; I’m not quite 35 but am already getting to the point where I don’t want to deal with the physical consequences from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, whether it be from high alcohol wines or too many bottles. Champagne has gone from being an occasional purchase to perhaps a third of what I buy. I have also started spitting at tastings now and that's helped a whole lot
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#8 Post by brigcampbell » June 25th, 2019, 5:10 pm

In the last 5 years the negative affect on quality of sleep has accelerated.

And I'm talking about two beers sometimes.

3am and I'll be staring at the ceiling and can't fall back to sleep. No REM for you!

Blows

Found that drinking tons of water helps a bit.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#9 Post by Philip G » June 25th, 2019, 5:36 pm

I gotta say, I don't understand all this fuss and hoopla on this board over 1-2% ABV in wine.

The difference in alcohol content between 13.5% and 14.5% is 7.4% more alcohol. So taking 14.5% wine in 7.4% smaller sips or drinking a glass of wine over 32 minutes instead of 30 minutes will give the same alcohol effect on the body. This is in the noise.

I don't drink much hard alcohol but when I do I drink it in very small sips so the drink lasts about the same as a glass of wine would. It has a higher alcohol taste but has roughly the same effect on the body as a glass of wine over the same time.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#10 Post by Yao C » June 25th, 2019, 5:42 pm

It may be suggestibility on my part but I find certain kinds of wine create more annoying headaches / hangovers. Perhaps there are chemicals other than ethanol that contribute
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#11 Post by Philip G » June 25th, 2019, 5:45 pm

Tom - this can be caused by a drop in blood sugar levels. The body's response to alcohol is to produce insulin, which can drop your blood sugar levels a few hours after drinking.

I don't drink during the day because of this effect and try to limit how much I drink in the evening like you.
Tom DeBiase wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 4:55 pm
Here is the problem for me. I am a light sleeper, been that way all my life. Give me 5 hours and I'm good all day and night. One good glass of wine no problem, any more than that and I wake up after a couple of hours can't get back to sleep or sleep poorly for the next few hours. With only a few hours sleep instead of 5-6 I feel like a zombie for a lot of the next day and my exercise routine etc are thrown off. Not fun so like Frank I am being much more careful about how much wine I consume.

Tom
PS: This happens even if the excess wine is consumed very early evening 6:00 - 7:00 pm

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#12 Post by Ian S » June 25th, 2019, 5:53 pm

Moderation is the key. #1 and #2 are certainly not moderate at all:
Frank Murray III wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 4:06 pm

1. Alcohol, mainly wines with lots of it, now causes a war with my body. It's been an ongoing skirmish for the past few years but really in the past six months, I just struggle to drink any amount of wine that carries high amounts of ABV. What's high? Well, basically anything exceeding the mid 13% range has become hard on me. Mostly migraine headaches and just a heavy fatigue that I don't enjoy anymore. Not sure where I go from here but I am really struggling with these wines now, and while I don't own many anymore, I still have some in the cellar. These will be a dying breed.

2. Bottle after bottle. I used to love slogging through 15-20 bottles and doing notes, but given the alcohol thing, I just can't muster this kind of a setting anymore. Next month, I will be doing some tastings with some people I respect, along with their craft, and I will take some steps to lessen the blow. I do still the value in tasting through a vintage or range from a producer, and I can do it, but the days/evenings of offlines with 10 or 20 bottles, of big red wines in that setting too, are over for me. Just doing 10 this past Sunday left me with a crushing headache.
Moderating/controlling alcohol intake seems to be a big problem with many members here, but they don't realize it because their tolerance level has crept up over the years. Age, as you're now finding out Frank, will remind you that you should scale back. Crushing headaches are not something that hobbyists are supposed to suffer from. I'll stop just short of using the "a" word, and I don't mean a$$hole.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#13 Post by Jeff Vaughan » June 25th, 2019, 6:17 pm

I’m with you one the alcohol. I feel it more than ever. We have cut back on drinking during the week and have gravitated to lower alcohol wines in general, including Champagne.

I’ve also started spitting at trade tastings and make sure I drink a lot of water.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#14 Post by brigcampbell » June 25th, 2019, 6:32 pm

Ian, I understand what you're saying.

Alcoholism / dependency is a serious issue but what we're talking about is the change in the affects of alcohol as you age.

Ethanol is metabolized into acetaldehyde which is highly toxic and then broken down to acetate. Drink a single beer and you're making poison.

Clearly, many people are increasingly less tolerate of that process with age.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#15 Post by g.colangelo » June 25th, 2019, 8:10 pm

Yes, for me too alcohol is felt more with age. At tasting I always spit.

I have also observed the kind of reaction (but perhaps less severe) to high-alcohol wines you described. To me it happened with Amarone, which is often at 15 ABV if not more, but it's a wine I don't really like, so it is not a problem to stay away from it. I have never had such a reaction with Barolo even though it is often at 14 if not 14.5 ABV.

To me a better solution than Champagne is Riesling! Much cheaper too...
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#16 Post by Anton D » June 25th, 2019, 8:42 pm

At 15%, drinking and entire bottle of wine yields 3.75 oz of alcohol.

13% takes it down to 3.25 oz of alcohol.

If you killed two entire bottles on your own, the difference would be 1 oz of alcohol consumed.

It wouldn’t seem that from drinking an entire bottle’s worth of wine the extra half ounce would be such a deal killer.

When you notice such negative effects, how much wine are you talking about?
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#17 Post by Jason T » June 26th, 2019, 12:44 am

Ian S wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 5:53 pm
Moderation is the key. #1 and #2 are certainly not moderate at all:

Moderating/controlling alcohol intake seems to be a big problem with many members here, but they don't realize it because their tolerance level has crept up over the years. Age, as you're now finding out Frank, will remind you that you should scale back. Crushing headaches are not something that hobbyists are supposed to suffer from. I'll stop just short of using the "a" word, and I don't mean a$$hole.
No doubt folks on this board are probably more inclined than most to 'over-participate', but I think even mentioning the "a" word seems really aggressive here. The words on the page seem to be of someone who enjoys consuming wine, but doesn't enjoy the ill-effects, and is searching for ways to mitigate them. Not through 'hangover cures', or by finding some way to consume the same amount of alcohol without the negative feelings.

It seems to me a healthy and adult-like progression in dealing with a hobby that at it's very essence, as was pointed out above, involves consuming poison.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#18 Post by Wes Barton » June 26th, 2019, 2:03 am

Anton D wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 8:42 pm
At 15%, drinking and entire bottle of wine yields 3.75 oz of alcohol.

13% takes it down to 3.25 oz of alcohol.

If you killed two entire bottles on your own, the difference would be 1 oz of alcohol consumed.

It wouldn’t seem that from drinking an entire bottle’s worth of wine the extra half ounce would be such a deal killer.

When you notice such negative effects, how much wine are you talking about?
A couple years ago someone posted an explanation, with links, showing why there is a significant difference. Don't recall exactly, but think it was some threshold beyond which alcohol is more readily absorbed into the cells in your mouth. That's alcohol directly entering your blood stream, while that's quite a delay (and ongoing process) of intoxication through your digestive system.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#19 Post by Eric Egan » June 26th, 2019, 2:12 am

A bit of a tricky thread to follow as it seems to be branching off in a bunch of different directions. I agree that 14%+ alcohol wines give me more of a hangover - even if I drink substantially less of it than a 13% wine. I don't know why this is but I've certainly noticed it. Add to that that I generally don't like 14% wines - in most cases I just can't get past the alcohol - and it makes it easy. With rare exceptions I just don't drink them. It's the same with beer - for me the threshold is 6.8%. After that, with very few exceptions, the alcohol begins to dominate on my palate. I guess with wine it's around 13.5% - I rarely buy anything with more pow than that.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#20 Post by larry schaffer » June 26th, 2019, 3:19 am

Wes Barton wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 2:03 am
Anton D wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 8:42 pm
At 15%, drinking and entire bottle of wine yields 3.75 oz of alcohol.

13% takes it down to 3.25 oz of alcohol.

If you killed two entire bottles on your own, the difference would be 1 oz of alcohol consumed.

It wouldn’t seem that from drinking an entire bottle’s worth of wine the extra half ounce would be such a deal killer.

When you notice such negative effects, how much wine are you talking about?
A couple years ago someone posted an explanation, with links, showing why there is a significant difference. Don't recall exactly, but think it was some threshold beyond which alcohol is more readily absorbed into the cells in your mouth. That's alcohol directly entering your blood stream, while that's quite a delay (and ongoing process) of intoxication through your digestive system.
But you need to counter this with the fact that sparkling wines get into your bloodstream much faster due to the effervescence . . .
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#21 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am

brigcampbell wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 6:32 pm

Alcoholism / dependency is a serious issue but what we're talking about is the change in the affects of alcohol as you age.

Clearly, many people are increasingly less tolerate of that process with age.
A few lines of discussion, but to me, this is the most central. And the most apropos for the Board, as I’m guessing that most people here are 40+ or maybe even 50+.

Wine has been a major part of my life for most of my life. It’s a daily enjoyment with meals. I do not drink during the day, and generally in the evenings, it is with moderation. I also do not drink for the sake of drinking; I’d use hard liquor over wine were that the case. Wine is a beautiful thing, so complementary of life. Weekends are off-record.

Now that said, all of us are kidding ourselves if we think our bodies remain immune to the effects of wine as we age. There is a body of substantive literature on this subject, some evolving, on how it directly impacts sleep more significantly, later in life. This point is particularly true for men, with a sizable percentage of men in their 50s having symptoms of sleep apnea and obstructive breathing during sleep.

I have personally noticed it over these last 2 years. I am 53.

I have a very high energy level and a very active life, and have never really noticed much of an issue from moderate consumption, say 2-3 glasses per night. My body also seems to metabolize alcohol quite well.

Now I notice it more. It’s not higher alcohol wine, as I tend to avoid them. It’s the simple consumption. Alcohol consumed before sleep effects your sleep.

My concierge physician happens to be in our wine group. All of us are over 50, athletes, and all work too hard, push too hard. For himself, and us, he’s been doing a lot of research on this subject, and has outlined some pretty basic tenets to balance these things. His central point is that deep, quality sleep, is critical to longevity and an active older age. His recommendations are not ground-breaking, they are pretty intuitive really, but I bet most (like me) violate them most days:

- No more than 2 glasses per night
- Last glass 3 hours before bed
- Wine with food
- no coffee past noon
- no working out 2-3 hours before bed
- snack before bed recommended
- hot shower or bath before bed
- no iPhones or laptops in bed - something about the emitted light stimulates the brain
- read before bed

Like I said, I violate most of these things. And I sleep like crap. My sleep has also gotten worse these last couple of years in this middle-age. While I can still power through the day, sometimes my head is a little foggy, or my body sluggish. It’s not the alcohol, it’s the lack of quality sleep brought about by all of these factors. And factors due to physiology - i.e., obstructive breathing.

So what’s a person to do? I cannot lead a monastic life. I’ve always been a “more is more” kind of guy. But some adjustments are necessary.

Last night I violated almost everything above. So pardon the long-winded cathartic this morning. It’s my penance.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#22 Post by brigcampbell » June 26th, 2019, 6:51 am

Robert, the issue with electronics before bed is there's a concern, and lots of marketers product claims, that blue light emitted from your device suppresses the production of melatonin.

I need to read more.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#23 Post by Rob Herried » June 26th, 2019, 9:38 am

IT'S NOT JUST THE ALCOHOL! Although alcohol adds fuel to the fire.
If you have noticed that your tolerance to alcohol has become worse as you get older you probably have an airway issue (apnea) or GERD (acid reflux).

Does your SO complain about your snoring? Or did they stop complaining because they are sleeping in another room?
Are you tired in the morning or in the afternoon? If you have noticed changes in your sleep as you get older (especially if it's alcohol related) then you should have a sleep study and get checked for GERD.
Aging increases your risk for apnea as does weight gain and even being pre and post menopausal. Sleeping on your side or stomach is best for your airway and you will snore less.

If you have apnea or GERD alcohol makes it worse even if you are sleeping with a cpap or a MAD appliance.
If you are having issues I would take Robert's advise which is posted above. However I don't agree with the snack before bed. Maybe this was a typo? It is good if you are trying to gain weight.
You should have no food or drink, except water, for at least 3 hours before going to bed. If you are drinking bottled water make sure the ingredients do not contain acid.Some people
think alkaline water helps but it doesn't work for me. I have GERD.

If you have airway issues or acid reflux start drinking early. Most wineries are open at 11AM for a reason. Go to bed completely sober unless it's Friday or Saturday night or any other special occasion like still breathing!

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#24 Post by Hank Victor » June 26th, 2019, 10:13 am

Do you think your increase of Champagne consumption in the last 3-4 years has lowered your body's "physical tolerance" for high ABV wines?

Do you frequently drink any wines past 14% ABV or any spirits?
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#25 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » June 26th, 2019, 10:39 am

Anton D wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 8:42 pm
At 15%, drinking and entire bottle of wine yields 3.75 oz of alcohol.

13% takes it down to 3.25 oz of alcohol.

If you killed two entire bottles on your own, the difference would be 1 oz of alcohol consumed.

It wouldn’t seem that from drinking an entire bottle’s worth of wine the extra half ounce would be such a deal killer.

When you notice such negative effects, how much wine are you talking about?
I used to think this way, but now as I get older I think it's wrong. There is something nonlinear that happens with higher alcohol wines. The difference between 12.5 and 15.5% wines for me is not simply a linear scaling up. I'm totally comfortable splitting a bottle of 12.5 wine with someone, or even drinking more than half a bottle of 12.5 at times. But I start feeling the 15.5% alcohol wine right away, and it's unpleasant after a glass. It feels like a difference in kind as much as degree. I don't know if others feel this way but I find it pretty noticeable.

Also, to others -- spitting and dumping out wines at big tastings or wine dinners works wonders. As does making sure you have a leisurely three hours for the dinner and drinking water throughout.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#26 Post by Matthew King » June 26th, 2019, 10:54 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 10:39 am
Also, to others -- spitting and dumping out wines at big tastings or wine dinners works wonders. As does making sure you have a leisurely three hours for the dinner and drinking water throughout.
I agree about the three hours and lots of water (at least one glass of water for every glass of wine consumed). But I hate spitting. There I said it.

To be a tad too graphic -- spitting is like using a prophylactic to me. It's often the most prudent and advisable thing to do, but it just don't feel the same. I want the full range of sensation when drinking wine. Not tastus interruptus (Sorry if I've offended decorum here, it's just the most apt sensory analog I can come up with ...)

I too have cut back on glasses consumed in a typical, non-event night. I keep it to 2-3 glasses. But as my wife doesn't really drink, I find myself with a lot of half-drunk bottles. And I'm with Dennis Atick on this one -- I also hate half bottles from the night(s) before. They just lack freshness to me ... sort of like leftovers in the fridge. OK, but just not the same. Plus, there are so many other bottles I want to try so it's hard to get excited about the one from 2 nights before. I know that sounds wasteful and profligate, but it's the truth.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#27 Post by c fu » June 26th, 2019, 11:13 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am
My concierge physician happens to be in our wine group. All of us are over 50, athletes, and all work too hard, push too hard. For himself, and us, he’s been doing a lot of research on this subject, and has outlined some pretty basic tenets to balance these things. His central point is that deep, quality sleep, is critical to longevity and an active older age. His recommendations are not ground-breaking, they are pretty intuitive really, but I bet most (like me) violate them most days:
you guys should get business cards or something for this. [snort.gif]
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#28 Post by Frank Murray III » June 26th, 2019, 11:14 am

Taking a break for some lunch and away from research I am doing....I am glad to see my topic generate some discussion.

To expand on a few things I saw posted above. And FWIW, I am 53.

I often spit when I am in settings where a lot of wine is being tasted but it has become evident now to me that if I don't practice this consistently, I will end up not feeling great. And, of note, I do drink a lot with Chris Seiber (really enjoy that BTW), and in our tasting settings, we do very small pours, probably 1.5 ozs. I can do OK in these settings but a few weeks ago, we did 14 bottles blind over about 3 hours and I spit some and also dumped some, but it still was not enough even with the heavy amount of table water I was chugging down. But, the premise to spit in volume settings, that is the right advice and I agree with it.

As to this premise of ABV 12.5 is to 14.5 being a linear one, I like a few others here do not agree with that premise. While I find it very logical, I do not personally find it working that way. As Marcus said well in his post, he doesn't see this as linear either. Whether the logical math has to bear this out, I am not convinced it ever will. Even with a glass or so of 14.5+ wine, I begin to feel it and the negative affects. Whereas last night, my wife and I shared a portion of a Brochet BdB over dinner that we drank down to about 1/3rd remaining, and while I did the good portion of this, I didn't get a headache nor feel any ill effects this morning. So, while I appreciate the numeric logic behind scaling up with alcohol, I do believe that age disturbs this logic, as much as Alf Jr. commented above. The premise that this stuff is linear fails for me.

Water....I agree this helps when the setting is not about a few glasses or a few bottles over a few hours. At a Champagne event (one that Brig Campbell attended with me), I drank several liters of water during that event (probably 4-5 total), starting before I got there, and across the 4+ hours I was there. We probably tasted 15-20 wines, mostly Champagne but some still red, some big red was in there, too. I actually did better that day but the practicality of drinking as much water as I did, along with some spitting, seemed like something for me that is not sustainable.

So, I thank you all for the posts and I do hope we see some more discussion.
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2014 Marie Courtin Eloquence BdB Extra Brut
2017 Rivers-Marie PN Platt SC
2017 Kutch Pinot Noir SC PN
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#29 Post by Jeff Vaughan » June 26th, 2019, 11:33 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 10:39 am
Anton D wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 8:42 pm
At 15%, drinking and entire bottle of wine yields 3.75 oz of alcohol.

13% takes it down to 3.25 oz of alcohol.

If you killed two entire bottles on your own, the difference would be 1 oz of alcohol consumed.

It wouldn’t seem that from drinking an entire bottle’s worth of wine the extra half ounce would be such a deal killer.

When you notice such negative effects, how much wine are you talking about?
I used to think this way, but now as I get older I think it's wrong. There is something nonlinear that happens with higher alcohol wines. The difference between 12.5 and 15.5% wines for me is not simply a linear scaling up. I'm totally comfortable splitting a bottle of 12.5 wine with someone, or even drinking more than half a bottle of 12.5 at times. But I start feeling the 15.5% alcohol wine right away, and it's unpleasant after a glass. It feels like a difference in kind as much as degree. I don't know if others feel this way but I find it pretty noticeable.

Also, to others -- spitting and dumping out wines at big tastings or wine dinners works wonders. As does making sure you have a leisurely three hours for the dinner and drinking water throughout.
I agree with Marcus. Anton's math makes sense, but both my wife and I can tell a big difference between 12.5 and 15.5. On a weeknight, at 15.5% my wife ends up falling asleep on the couch at some point before we go to bed - and we rarely even finish the bottle. At 12.5 we finish a bottle, and aren't too buzzed, etc.

By law, the percentage of alcohol on the labels could be off, too. It is possible that the wines at 12.5 may have struggled to get to that percentage, and may have been chapitalized or rounded up to get there. The wines at 15.5 or 16% may have been rounded to down to avoid taxes on higher percentages of alcohol or even consumer perceptions.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#30 Post by Greg K » June 26th, 2019, 11:58 am

It's an interesting topic for sure. I respect those of you who drink at tastings, but can't do it. I will drink the occasional really nice pour, but everything else goes down the drain. (Like a recent visit to Burgundy, where one producer we visited also spat every barrel pour other than his Clos de la Roche, stating "this one I do not spit" [snort.gif].) Also makes visiting wine country easier :)

I also agree with those of you who notice a difference in higher alcohol wines - I have mostly stopped drinking new world wines (I also like them a lot less) and it has made a significant difference. To me the alcohol level matters, even if it does not to others. I appreciate that it's 10-15%, but that doesn't mean 10-15% isn't significant. Wafer thin mint, and all that.

The main thing I've tried to do is to become far more aggressive about simply not drinking things I don't like. I've started doing this more after going to a couple of large events and realizing that there is far too much wine, so why not drink the best stuff? I dump much more aggressively now. If anything, my worst mornings are now after events when everything people bring shows well, because it all gets drunk. That doesn't mean I won't come back to bottles later in the evening to see how they're showing, but I take small pours and if something isn't great, I'm fine with a very small taste which then goes into the dump bucket.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#31 Post by Anton D » June 26th, 2019, 12:17 pm

This is all fascinating.

Can the affected people tolerate one glass of Port?

What happens if you guys have one serving of 43% ABV Scotch?

In this non-linear idea, it would seem drinking one Scotch would be crushing you guys.

Do one martini or limoncello seem as bad as that glass of 14-15% glass of wine?

_

Side drift, do you get stuffy noses with drinking wine? If so, does it seem to have a greater response to higher ABV wines?
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#32 Post by Greg K » June 26th, 2019, 12:39 pm

Anton D wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 12:17 pm
Can the affected people tolerate one glass of Port?

What happens if you guys have one serving of 43% ABV Scotch?

In this non-linear idea, it would seem drinking one Scotch would be crushing you guys.

Do one martini or limoncello seem as bad as that glass of 14-15% glass of wine?
How much Scotch/limoncello/port per serving do you drink? When I have any of those, it tends to be in quite small amounts (half a glass of port, small shot of limoncello, etc.) which causes it to be less than a normal glass of wine. The point isn't that drinking a thimble of Zinfandel will send me into a coma, it's that if I drink a bottle of it over dinner I do notice a significant difference between that and drinking a 13.5% bottle of something else.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#33 Post by Anton D » June 26th, 2019, 12:59 pm

Greg K wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 12:39 pm
Anton D wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 12:17 pm
Can the affected people tolerate one glass of Port?

What happens if you guys have one serving of 43% ABV Scotch?

In this non-linear idea, it would seem drinking one Scotch would be crushing you guys.

Do one martini or limoncello seem as bad as that glass of 14-15% glass of wine?
How much Scotch/limoncello/port per serving do you drink? When I have any of those, it tends to be in quite small amounts (half a glass of port, small shot of limoncello, etc.) which causes it to be less than a normal glass of wine. The point isn't that drinking a thimble of Zinfandel will send me into a coma, it's that if I drink a bottle of it over dinner I do notice a significant difference between that and drinking a 13.5% bottle of something else.
The reason I asked was that one person said he noted the negative effect of 15% ABV wine with the first glass, so it made me wonder what higher ABV beverages would do.

People also seem to be jumping into and out of serving size. If this is 'non-linear' as some have mentioned, I was curious about similar "normal" servings of those higher ABV drinks. Does it also happen after just one glass? Does triple the ABV make it appear after 1/3 of a Scotch? Etc.

Since this is the internet, you are right, we should be quantifying what a "serving" is!

12 oz of beer
5 ounces of wine
1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Reasonable?

5 ounces of 13% wine is 0.65 oz alcohol.

5 ounces of 15% wine is 0.75 oz alcohol.

Makes me wonder what else might be taking part in such early negative effects!

Products of natural fermentation might be different for people than a similar amount of alcohol from a distilled spirit.

I'd be interested in seeing if those small differences in ABV between wines bring with them more of something else that makes people more uncomfortable.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#34 Post by R M Kriete » June 26th, 2019, 1:02 pm

Philip G wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 5:36 pm
I gotta say, I don't understand all this fuss and hoopla on this board over 1-2% ABV in wine.

The difference in alcohol content between 13.5% and 14.5% is 7.4% more alcohol. So taking 14.5% wine in 7.4% smaller sips or drinking a glass of wine over 32 minutes instead of 30 minutes will give the same alcohol effect on the body. This is in the noise.

I don't drink much hard alcohol but when I do I drink it in very small sips so the drink lasts about the same as a glass of wine would. It has a higher alcohol taste but has roughly the same effect on the body as a glass of wine over the same time.
There you go...using science to counter our "feelings" [wink.gif]

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#35 Post by Philip G » June 26th, 2019, 1:26 pm

Frank Murray III wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 11:14 am

As to this premise of ABV 12.5 is to 14.5 being a linear one, I like a few others here do not agree with that premise. While I find it very logical, I do not personally find it working that way.
I agree and disagree :)

The alcohol is linear, it’s simple math. If you drink 5.2 oz of 15% wine in the same time frame as 6 oz of 13% wine it’s the same amount of alcohol entering your body.

But I agree there are a number of nonlinear effects that could make you take notice of the difference.

For instance if you drink the same amount of the higher ABV and at the same rate as the lesser ABV then of course you will be getting more alcohol but also at a faster rate so your body will be less able to keep up with the additional alcohol. This would be amplified by the rate at which you are drinking and it’s likely your body is less able to keep up as you get older so the effect is also amplified by age.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#36 Post by Alan Rath » June 26th, 2019, 1:28 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am
- No more than 2 glasses per night
- Last glass 3 hours before bed
- Wine with food
- no coffee past noon
- no working out 2-3 hours before bed
- snack before bed recommended
- hot shower or bath before bed
- no iPhones or laptops in bed - something about the emitted light stimulates the brain
- read before bed
That's some pretty good advice. The one that surprises me is the snack, unless it's something light, like a yogurt. I remember reading that the half life of caffeine in your system is on the order of 8 hours. So if you drink coffee at noon, you still have a quarter of that caffeine circulating around at 4am! I'm always amazed by people who can have an espresso at 10p after dinner, I'd be bouncing off the walls in the middle of the night ;)

Can a snack before bed include a shot of single malt?
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#37 Post by Anton D » June 26th, 2019, 1:46 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 1:28 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am
- No more than 2 glasses per night
- Last glass 3 hours before bed
- Wine with food
- no coffee past noon
- no working out 2-3 hours before bed
- snack before bed recommended
- hot shower or bath before bed
- no iPhones or laptops in bed - something about the emitted light stimulates the brain
- read before bed
That's some pretty good advice. The one that surprises me is the snack, unless it's something light, like a yogurt. I remember reading that the half life of caffeine in your system is on the order of 8 hours. So if you drink coffee at noon, you still have a quarter of that caffeine circulating around at 4am! I'm always amazed by people who can have an espresso at 10p after dinner, I'd be bouncing off the walls in the middle of the night ;)

Can a snack before bed include a shot of single malt?
Typically low carb, good protein, like a turkey cold cut, cheese stick, etc.

Low glycemic index, keeps glucose steady for those whose sleep may suffer that way.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#38 Post by Wes Barton » June 26th, 2019, 1:59 pm

Anton D wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 12:17 pm
This is all fascinating.

Can the affected people tolerate one glass of Port?

What happens if you guys have one serving of 43% ABV Scotch?

In this non-linear idea, it would seem drinking one Scotch would be crushing you guys.

Do one martini or limoncello seem as bad as that glass of 14-15% glass of wine?

_

Side drift, do you get stuffy noses with drinking wine? If so, does it seem to have a greater response to higher ABV wines?
I definitely feel the difference from low to moderate to high alcohol wines. For sure, there's the dramatic difference in direct introduction of alcohol to the bloodstream. There seems to be more at play with higher alc wines, too. It's not 100%, but the higher the ABV, the more heavy and dull they seem, the less pleasure they give. How much of that is an absolute value of overly extracted elements, how much is a relativistic perception, I don't know.

Port I'm really picky about. Some of that is extractive issues, which is the same as other great wines built for aging. For those, tasting them too young can be interesting, but drinking isn't enjoyable. As far as the alcohol, there's usually a burn. I drink them essentially the same as a fine spirit - very small sips, well paced out.

I was taught how to properly drink Scotch. Tiny sip, let it spread across your palate as the aromatics bloom. I was apprehensive the first time I went to a high-end Scotch tasting, but the way we drank it allowed for teeny pours. The pacing and the quantity (and the food pairing) made the alcohol a non-issue.

I feel the same as someone above about higher ABV beers. They tend to be heavy, dull, clumsy, tiring. The alcohol often sticks out. Most of them seem so far out of whack, it's hard to comprehend what they were thinking. Maybe the product a sort of "cellar palate" skewed by drinking all day, every day, completely out of touch with nuance and balance.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#39 Post by Wes Barton » June 26th, 2019, 2:13 pm

Alan Rath wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 1:28 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am
- No more than 2 glasses per night
- Last glass 3 hours before bed
- Wine with food
- no coffee past noon
- no working out 2-3 hours before bed
- snack before bed recommended
- hot shower or bath before bed
- no iPhones or laptops in bed - something about the emitted light stimulates the brain
- read before bed
That's some pretty good advice. The one that surprises me is the snack, unless it's something light, like a yogurt. I remember reading that the half life of caffeine in your system is on the order of 8 hours. So if you drink coffee at noon, you still have a quarter of that caffeine circulating around at 4am! I'm always amazed by people who can have an espresso at 10p after dinner, I'd be bouncing off the walls in the middle of the night ;)

Can a snack before bed include a shot of single malt?
I've had stomach issues where a little something would be easing before bed. Otherwise I'd wake up after 4 hours and absolutely need something.

My grandma used to have a scoop of ice cream with a cup of coffee to help her go to sleep. Coffee won't keep me up, either. But, if I've had too much I'll wake up in the middle of the night with a buzz. I'm generally smart enough to avoid that...
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#40 Post by Alan Rath » June 26th, 2019, 2:20 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 2:13 pm
My grandma used to have a scoop of ice cream with a cup of coffee to help her go to sleep.
And the Affogato was born!
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#41 Post by larry schaffer » June 26th, 2019, 3:24 pm

Truly an interesting discussion - thanks for all that have taken part. Can't wait to see what others have to say.

Here are a couple of 'conventional wisdom' questions that need to be asked:

* Does it matter if it's white versus red for the higher alcohol 'effects' to be felt?
* Does it matter if it's a 'European' wine versus a domestic wine? Folks tend to believe the issues are not as great with the former versus the latter.
* Does it matter if the wine has seen a higher percentage of new oak?
* Does it matter the variety - cab vs syrah vs pinot?
* Does it matter if the the wine is 'organic' or 'biodynamic' or 'sustainable' or none of the above?

Cheers.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#42 Post by brigcampbell » June 26th, 2019, 3:38 pm

Anton D wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 12:17 pm

Side drift, do you get stuffy noses with drinking wine? If so, does it seem to have a greater response to higher ABV wines?
I know people like saying it's sulfites but that's BS for 99% Are there people that are sulfite sensitive? Sure. Way more people are sensitive to histamine.

Histamines are the culprit.
a compound which is released by cells in response to injury and in allergic and inflammatory reactions, causing contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries.
There are naturally occurring histamines in wood so more oak the bigger the response is for me. Whites I drink are neutral/no oak so I don't really see it with them.
Histamine is present in a variety of fermented products such as wine, aged cheeses, and sauerkraut. Red wine has 20–200% more histamine than white wine, and those who react to it may be deficient in the enzyme diamine oxidase.
There's a really easy way to test if it's the histamines. Drink a wine that is known to cause a reaction for you and then take a benadryl before going to bed. The anti-histamine will help with the stuffy nose and aid in sleeping. That's what's in Tylenol PM.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#43 Post by Anton D » June 26th, 2019, 3:43 pm

brigcampbell wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 3:38 pm
Anton D wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 12:17 pm

Side drift, do you get stuffy noses with drinking wine? If so, does it seem to have a greater response to higher ABV wines?
I know people like saying it's sulfites but that's BS for 99% Are there people that are sulfite sensitive? Sure. Way more people are sensitive to histamine.

Histamines are the culprit.
a compound which is released by cells in response to injury and in allergic and inflammatory reactions, causing contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries.
There are naturally occurring histamines in wood so more oak the bigger the response is for me. Whites I drink are neutral/no oak so I don't really see it with them.
Histamine is present in a variety of fermented products such as wine, aged cheeses, and sauerkraut. Red wine has 20–200% more histamine than white wine, and those who react to it may be deficient in the enzyme diamine oxidase.
There's a really easy way to test if it's the histamines. Drink a wine that is known to cause a reaction for you and then take a benadryl before going to bed. The anti-histamine will help with the stuffy nose and add in sleeping. That's what in Tylenol PM.
Not thinking of histamine.

That's a whole 'nother topic!

For some people, beer and wine (intact products of natural fermentation) cause blood vessels in the nose to dilate and make stuffiness, not histamine related at all.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#44 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » June 26th, 2019, 3:50 pm

c fu wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 11:13 am
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am
My concierge physician happens to be in our wine group. All of us are over 50, athletes, and all work too hard, push too hard. For himself, and us, he’s been doing a lot of research on this subject, and has outlined some pretty basic tenets to balance these things. His central point is that deep, quality sleep, is critical to longevity and an active older age. His recommendations are not ground-breaking, they are pretty intuitive really, but I bet most (like me) violate them most days:
you guys should get business cards or something for this. [snort.gif]

No need. Shows in our chiseled physiques.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#45 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » June 26th, 2019, 3:54 pm

Anton D wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 1:46 pm
Alan Rath wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 1:28 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:55 am
- No more than 2 glasses per night
- Last glass 3 hours before bed
- Wine with food
- no coffee past noon
- no working out 2-3 hours before bed
- snack before bed recommended
- hot shower or bath before bed
- no iPhones or laptops in bed - something about the emitted light stimulates the brain
- read before bed
That's some pretty good advice. The one that surprises me is the snack, unless it's something light, like a yogurt. I remember reading that the half life of caffeine in your system is on the order of 8 hours. So if you drink coffee at noon, you still have a quarter of that caffeine circulating around at 4am! I'm always amazed by people who can have an espresso at 10p after dinner, I'd be bouncing off the walls in the middle of the night ;)

Can a snack before bed include a shot of single malt?
Typically low carb, good protein, like a turkey cold cut, cheese stick, etc.

Low glycemic index, keeps glucose steady for those whose sleep may suffer that way.
Yogurt fits the bill for me. Like a dessert, really.

My friend’s advice is practical as well, as people like their coffee, and some of us that burn too many candles, perhaps like it more than we should. I love a cup at the 5-6 PM time, but know it’s not the smartest thing. Then I need an additional glass of wine to bring it back down. And so starts the cycle, lol.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#46 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » June 26th, 2019, 3:56 pm

FWIW, I’m not sure that I can discern the difference between 13% and 14.5% over three glasses of wine over an evening, but perhaps it does and effects me anyway. Sometimes I actually prefer Single Malts over wine, and a couple don’t really make me feel any different than the wine. I cannot discern a difference. Love my Scotch, but do not really care for high alcohol wines, certainly not the modernized bombs.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#47 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » June 26th, 2019, 4:04 pm

German Riesling is wonderful.

Drinking an 8% alcohol 2001 Riesling Spatlese that goes great with my veggie Thai curry, and can take me through and after the meal with no regrets.
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#48 Post by Neal.Mollen » June 26th, 2019, 4:04 pm

Philip G wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 5:45 pm
Tom - this can be caused by a drop in blood sugar levels. The body's response to alcohol is to produce insulin, which can drop your blood sugar levels a few hours after drinking.

I don't drink during the day because of this effect and try to limit how much I drink in the evening like you.
So you drink at breakfast?
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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#49 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » June 26th, 2019, 4:13 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
June 26th, 2019, 4:04 pm
Philip G wrote:
June 25th, 2019, 5:45 pm
Tom - this can be caused by a drop in blood sugar levels. The body's response to alcohol is to produce insulin, which can drop your blood sugar levels a few hours after drinking.

I don't drink during the day because of this effect and try to limit how much I drink in the evening like you.
So you drink at breakfast?
I’ve been marathon-watching Madmen. Did people drink like that in that era? Or any era? Wow.

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Re: Some random thoughts, mainly about alcohol...

#50 Post by Frank Murray III » June 26th, 2019, 4:29 pm

Anton, I don't care for Port, Scotch and spirit-based drinks so I can't shed any light on your questions.

My initial post was my pause button, stopping to think about this topic, and to share. Being older now, as opposed to when I started into this hobby 30 years ago, has become enlightening about how to drink and treat the hobby. Ultimately, I am just trying to convey that things have changed for me and the editing process for me is underway again.
My WOTY candidates for 2019:
2014 Marie Courtin Eloquence BdB Extra Brut
2017 Rivers-Marie PN Platt SC
2017 Kutch Pinot Noir SC PN
2009 Roederer Cristal Brut
2017 Carlisle Zin Mancini Ranch RRV

My best wines of 2018:
2017 Kutch Falstaff Sonoma Coast PN
2012 Marguet La Grande Ruelle Ambonnay

Kindness matters.

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