Friday, January 31, 2020

One Wine Lover's Two Cents on Dieting

January is coming to an end. Some of you may be on the last stretch of Dry January or Whole30 or a similar month-long break from alcohol and/or other indulgence. I congratulate you.

Can't say no to Champagne and caviar
Try as I might, that is not my cup of tea (or glass of wine). But I am not immune to the allure of fad diets and exercise routines that promise a toner trimmer version of me. In fact, I am in the middle of an 8-week program. Just that I am ignoring the no-alcohol diet portion of it. Let me share my two cents on dieting.

No to No-Alcohol Diets

Unless you have alcohol abuse or binge issues, I can't imagine why anyone who appreciates wine would want to follow a no-alcohol diet, even if only for a month. The key word is "appreciate."

Proponents of Dry January suggests that taking a break from alcohol helps reset one's relationship with it. I see the point to some extent. I once gave up meat for Lent. When I got back to eating meat again, I became more selective in the meat I would partake. But I wouldn't say that I "appreciated" meat pre-Lent the same way I do wine.

My friend and wine blogger, Amber LeBeau, wrote a post that Dry January Can Go to Hell. She suggests that instead of taking a pause from alcohol in January, try mindful consumption all year round. Engage your senses when enjoying a glass of wine. Learn the story behind the wine and the vintage; how was the weather that year, what challenges were presented by Mother Nature, and how the winemaker artfully crafted the wine.

Wine flight is a great way to learn about wine appreciation
I mentioned in my blog that I belonged to the Specialty Club from my local wine shop. Every month, we get a red and a white from anywhere in the world. Tom, the shop owner, is a wealth of wine knowledge, and he always tells a good story for each bottle he carefully curates for the club. It brings a richer experience as I sip the wine. It is more than getting a buzz from the alcohol. If that is your experience too, then say no to no-alcohol diets.

No Bad Wine is Worth the Calories

One might argue that a good wine is a matter of taste. I think enjoyment is a matter of taste. Good, which suggests quality, is different. Consider this. I adore Jack in the Box tacos and all the beef-ish meat product tastiness. But that doesn't make them good tacos. Nor should I be eating them beyond rare moments of guilty pleasure. They are just not worth the calories.

Tasting our homemade wine
Wines of the Jack-in-the-Box-tacos variety are often mass-produced from leftover or poor-quality grapes, buffed up with all kinds of additives to hide the flaws. These could range from powdered tannins to provide structure to Mega Purple for a deeper color and a little residual sugar to mask any off-flavors.

Now I am not advocating for natural wine. As a hobby winemaker, I certainly have used my fair share of sulfur, commercial yeast, yeast nutrients, and malolactic bacteria. My goal is to ensure a clean and successful fermentation, but not to manufacture a taste. I very much subscribe to the philosophy of minimal intervention. Get the best grapes you can afford and make a wine that is a true expression of the variety, the vintage, and the terroir.

Perhaps I have the luxury since I don't make wine for a living so I don't worry about consumer taste and sales. But the overused additives in mass-produced wine can't be any better than the meat product of Jack in the Box tacos. When I go to a restaurant that only has cheaply-produced wine by the glass, I would skip it. If I were to add wine calories in my body, I'd like to have the full experience of a well-made wine.

So there you go! This is just one wine lover's two cents on dieting. What do you think?