Wine Culture and Information since 2002 - Volume 21
×
Home Page Events Wine Guide Wine of the Day Aquavitae Wine Places Guide Podcast Polls EnoGames EnoForum Serving Wine Alcohol Test
DiWineTaste on Twitter DiWineTaste on Instagram DiWineTaste Mobile for Android DiWineTaste Mobile for iOS Become a Registered User Subscribe to the Mailing List Tell a Friend About DiWineTaste Download DiWineTaste Card
About Us Write Us Back Issues Advertising General Index
Privacy Policy
 
☰ Menu


   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 215, March 2022   
The Letter FThe Letter F  Contents 
Issue 214, February 2022 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 216, April 2022

The Letter F


 Let's make, for the umpteenth time, an obvious premise, repeating once again what everyone known for a very long time and that – now – is to be considered a bit like – by using a joke way of saying common in Italy – the discovery of warm water: the abuse of the consumption of ethyl alcohol is highly harmful to health. Let's add, therefore, a further premise, this too repeated several times and that everyone knows, without exception: the abuse of wine consumption is equally harmful to health. After all, I am not a doctor, I have no recognizable scientific competence allowing me to disprove these assertions – and of course, I always trust science and never chatters – therefore I accept them as true, reliable, truthful and, above all, verified and verifiable. Furthermore, science and research tell us that ethyl alcohol is not the only substance to be harmful to health, regardless of the abuse of consumption or not. Likewise, I think it is reasonable to believe anyone who appreciates and respects wine, as well as themselves, is aware of the fact that the abuse of alcohol is never healthy.


 

 In this regard, the proposal of the European Union to adopt the French system Nutri-Score for food labeling by 2022 is questionable and – recently – also suggested for drinks containing alcohol, wine included. For this specific category, in fact, it was even proposed the introduction of a new identifier marked with the letter F on a black background. It should be noted the Nutri-Score system provides for the marking of foods with an indicator consisting of the first five letters of the alphabet – from A to E – on colored backgrounds varying from green to red, as if it were a traffic light. The aim would be to quickly communicate the healthiness of the food: the identification with the letter A, on a green background, represents the maximum healthiness of the food in nutritional terms, the letter E, on a red background, an unhealthy food. In its definition and in the criterion of attribution of the “letters”, Nutri-Score is – in my opinion – rather questionable, not least, incomplete and confusing.

 The attribution of a letter, therefore the belonging to a specific nutritional category, is determined by the evaluation of some parameters and referred to 100 grams for food and 100 milliliters for drinks. Without going into the detailed specification of the method, a food having a high content of fruits, vegetables, fibers and proteins gets a high score, while the high energy content in kilo calories, sugar, saturated fatty acids and sodium, gives low scores. While one can appreciate the idea of offering a system capable of informing about the nutritional qualities of a food or drink, in reality its application is decidedly superficial and misleading. Let's consider a practical example with a widely used and common food, not only in Italy, but also in Europe: butter. One hundred grams of this food, notoriously, provides a very high supply of energy, and it is, for almost all of its composition, very rich in saturated fatty acids. These two qualities – alone – give butter, without appeal, the mark of the letter “E” on a red background. According to the Nutri-Score, butter is therefore a highly discouraged food, not least, absolutely unhealthy.

 By seeing a label marked with the letter E on a red background, every superficial consumer and, I would add, instinctively, is led to believe butter is an unhealthy food. That letter “E”, in fact, does not say the consumption of one hundred grams of butter is unhealthy: it merely superficially provides a misleading and incomplete information. It is assumed, implicitly, that even the consumption of a single gram of butter – or even less – is not healthy because the food is marked with the letter E. Let's frankly admit it: who would be willing – consciously – to eat one hundred grams of butter at once? Or to drink one hundred milliliters of olive oil – the equivalent of a little less than a glass – as, according to Nutri-Score, it is marked with the letter C, therefore classified in the middle of the scale of values, between the healthy and the harmful? Wine, moreover, was running a further and much more ignominious risk, that of being even marked with the letter F on a black background, thus classifying it as a highly harmful drink for health.

 Fortunately, the proposal to “mark” wine as highly harmful to health – and introduced by the so-called Cancer Plan – did not obtain the approval of the European Parliament. Wine, therefore, contrary to what was feared, will not be marked with the letter F on a black background. The European Parliament, in fact, rightly considered excessive the penalization that wine would have suffered as a consequence of this classification, also supporting the culture of moderate consumption. The result, it must be said, welcomes the requests and proposals of Italy, which has always been a supporter of the promotion and spreading of a culture of conscious and moderate consumption. In fact, the consumption of one or two glasses of wine cannot be compared to that of one or two bottles. The second measure, it does not certainly need an infamous black stamp to tell it, is clearly known to anyone as highly harmful and unequivocally unhealthy. Furthermore, exactly as it happens with the tobacco consumption awareness campaign, it is certainly not a stamp or a “warning” to discourage those who intend to abuse it. And the same, no doubt, is equally true for wine and alcoholic beverages.

 As far as wine is concerned, we will not therefore see the “gloomy” letter F in the labels and not even the nefarious warnings, something already appearing in the packaging of products containing tobacco. Instead, we will see recommendations for responsible and moderate consumption. A decidedly reasonable and acceptable solution, certainly in favor of raising awareness of moderate consumption, something that anyone who appreciates wine has always known. This does not evidently change the fundamental and indisputable consideration that alcohol abuse, regardless of the mode of consumption, is neither healthy nor wise. Personally, I have always believed the best form of prevention, applicable to any context or abuse, is always culture and education, civic sense and respect, for oneself and for others. I agree less with repressive measures as they are hardly effective in teaching anything truly useful other than to develop feelings of revolt and disobedience. Prohibition, introduced in the United States of America during the 1920s, is indeed a clear example of the evident ineffectiveness of a similar measure and its consequences.

 This does not obviously call into question the European Union initiative for the prevention of cancer and the promotion of healthy lifestyles: these are principles everyone supports and are wished by anyone. And prevention, no doubt, is achieved in particular with education and culture, as well as knowledge, research and evidence of the facts of social and healthy behaviors. For this reason, it is certainly not educational to equate moderate and conscious consumption of wine with its abuse. It is acceptable and indisputable to consider the abuse of alcoholic beverages to be harmful to health, even with very serious consequences. Likewise, it is harmful to health the excessive consumption of butter or sugar, as well as any other food. It is the dose making a poison, famously suggested by Paracelsus “omnia venenum sunt: nec sine veneno quicquam existit. Dosis sola facit, ut venenum non fit” and that is, “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.” This is true for wine as well as for any other food or drink.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 215, March 2022   
The Letter FThe Letter F  Contents 
DiWineTaste Polls
Do you decant an aged wine before serving?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   
What kind of wine do you like having in December?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   
What kind of closure do you prefer besides traditional cork?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   


☰ Menu

Privacy Policy

Download your free DiWineTaste Card  :  Test your Blood Alcohol Content  :  Follow DiWineTaste Follow DiWineTaste on Twitter Segui DiWineTaste su Instagram

Download DiWineTaste
Copyright © 2002-2022 Antonello Biancalana, DiWineTaste - All rights reserved
All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this publication and of this WEB site may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from DiWineTaste.