I find myself in an unusual situation as a doctor working in public health by day, and a nascent wine blogger by night. A large proportion of my work recently has been around alcohol policy – a conflict of interest perhaps?

Public health is a broad church, and reducing alcohol consumption forms only part of the work we do, and yet there are times when I feel simply unable to speak about my interest in wine. I’ve heard the ‘battle’ to reduce alcohol consumption likened to the campaign to ban smoking in public places more than once. Wine has been part of European culture for centuries, yet of late it seems to be increasingly unacceptable in some quarters. In particular, it strikes me that the ‘middle income wine drinker’ has become the scapegoat for this movement.

Whilst on the surface there are similarities between alcohol and smoking, and I’ve certainly seen first hand the devastating health effects of excess alcohol in patients, this demonization of all wine consumption (and wine drinkers) worries me. There are undoubtedly health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, but I’m not going to try to advocate those through rose-tinted spectacles. The true effects of alcohol, and the causes behind alcohol abuse, are broad ranging and complex. Surely though, there’s a place for promoting drinking well – and that’s partly the aim of this blog?

The Wine in Moderation Programme is an initiative of the European wine sector aimed at ‘promoting moderation and responsibility in wine consumption and contributing towards preventing excessive consumption and misuse of alcoholic beverages in Europe.’ Whilst you might argue that the wine industry has a fairly major conflict of interest in trying to discourage the abuse of alcohol, on the other hand it’s refreshing to see this stance.

Here’s to drinking well.

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