The grown-up guide to drinking wine without the hangover How
Hate the after-effects of overindulging? Make savvy choices and you’ll never suffer again
Tis the season to be merry, and us Brits certainly put that into action, with alcohol consumption rising by 41%* over the festive period. And although we know the perpetual popping of Prosecco corks is never going to be “good” for us, it probably won’t stop the majority of us from overindulging. Luckily, there are insider tricks when it comes to selecting your wine, which can be kinder on your body.
“A lighter white like Pinot Grigio would be better in terms of lessening any after-affects, than a heavy red such as a Rioja Reserva or a Châteauneuf-du-Pape,” says Neil Palmer, director and co-founder of Vintage Roots (vintageroots.co.uk).
“This is not only because it’s likely to be 11.5-12.5% alcohol (compared with 14-15% for those heavier reds), but also due to how the wine is produced. Lighter whites haven’t been fermented in their grape skin for as long as reds. Toxic tannins and phenols are contained in grape skins, which can cause our bodies to react badly.”
The right white
There’s rarely an ingredients list on a wine bottle, so it’s hard to know exactly what could be causing it, but if you develop flu-like symptoms after just a couple of glasses, it could be the sulphur.
“Sweeter wines are best avoided as they can be higher in alcohol and sulphur, the wine preservative,” advises Neil. “Many people are sensitive to it, and this is also a contributory factor to ‘feeling rough’ or developing allergic reactions, rashes and headaches.”
And, although it’s hard to prove organic wines contain more beneficial nutrients and minerals, they will have fewer nasties. “Certified organic wine will contain fewer or virtually no toxins, especially pesticide residues,” says Neil. “however, it does contain the same amounts of alcohol.”
So if you’re looking for low alcohol, what should you pick? “Choose from cooler regions, like Germany, Northern France and Spain,” says Liam Steevenson, master of wine from borough Wines & beers. And taste has improved in recent years. “in the past, alcohol was adjusted in the winery – to the detriment of the wine’s flavour – but, nowadays, the clever work happens in the vineyard,” explains Liam.
Recommended guidelines are to drink no more than 14 units a week (about a bottle and a half of wine), but research** has revealed that 30% of 55 to 64 year-olds drink more than this.
“Short-term effects of drinking more than usual over the festive period include tiredness, sluggishness, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, acid reflux and weight gain,” says GP Dr Judith holmes, from Spire Parkway hospital in Solihull. Fortunately, if you have overindulged, a detox such as Dry January (alcoholconcern.org.uk), which involves going teetotal for 31 days, is a useful tool.
“Dry January can help reverse many short-term effects,” says Dr holmes. “however, it can be much easier if you have taken steps to look after yourself over the festive period in the first place.”