Drink up, but watch for collateral damage

23:48, Aug 19 2014
Does wine make you fat?

The very mention of fat (which is why I have suits of four different sizes in my wardrobe) always grabs my attention.

As it did this week when I saw a headline that screamed: Does wine make you fat?

My doctor tells me that it does. But the article tells me he is talking rubbish.

It's not the wine that makes me and people like me fat. It's the pizzas and pies we eat when we've had too much.

Which means, I presume, we can drink up large so long as we lay off the fatty fodder.

Apparently not. The alcohol, if we drink too much, will still trick our brains into making unhealthy decisions. I don't know how this lines up with a study involving 19,000 women which showed that the drinkers among them tended to be less obese than the non- drinkers as they aged.


But let's forget about this for the moment, presume that women simply drink less, and concern ourselves with what is or is not in the wine we drink that could affect our weight. As I understand it there are few or no carbs and no fats, but there are calories in wine; calories we digest differently to those found in food.

What happens is this: When we eat and drink the body stops what it's doing, deals with the alcohol calories first, then those from food.

This causes our blood sugar to drop and prompts the part of our brains that regulates everything from appetite to sex drive and doing number threes, to tell us that we need more blood sugar; to eat something.

Notice though that it never suggests a salad. Why?

According to researchers led by scientists at Princeton University, in the United States, it's all down to something called galanin, a brain chemical which creates a thirst for alcohol and a craving for fatty foods.

Another study, conducted by Purdue University, also found that alcohol, even in moderation, enhances the taste of salt and fat, which could explain the desire for a late night parcel of fish and chips or a plate of bacon and eggs.

These, or pizzas and pies, will not help to absorb the alcohol in your system. Nothing will, though a few glasses of water could help, as it will the dehydration which causes hangovers.

They will simply make you fat.

If you want to enjoy your wine and stay healthy you have few choices other than to limit your drinking to one or two glasses (more if it's skinny wine) or to eat some protein, (maybe nuts, yoghurt, eggs, cheese) before you drink to curb your desire for fatty foods.

Simple as that.

For those who need practice, try some of these wines:

Villa Maria 2014 Private Bin Early Release Sauvignon Blanc, $16
Perfect for those who want a reasonably simple, early-drinking sauvignon blanc made before the main blends from early-ripening grapes. Subtle gooseberry and passionfruit flavours with required whiff of herbs.

Moana Park 2013 Gimblett Gravels Syrah, $23
An elegant and very drinkable single-vineyard wine that is excellent buying at this price, A rich, ripe mix of sweet red and black fruits seasoned with the pepper which provides a vital clue to wines made from this variety of grape.

Villa Maria 2013 Cellar Selection Organic Hawke's Bay Merlot, $20
Another outstanding value-for- money wine from Villa. It's organic, too - made with fruit from the Joseph Soler vineyard in Hawke's Bay. A lovely, soft and warming mouthful and plums and red berries.

Crossroads 2013 Milestone Series Chardonnay, $20
A cheap but very cheerful chardonnay in the best traditions of that which is grown in Hawke's Bay. Rich, ripe peach and citrus fruit with the obligatory hints of citrus, nuts and toast and Werther's Originals.

The Southland Times