to your health
by Mad Dog
drinking wine end up as a ritual so pompous and convoluted that the
Pope is jealous? You
sniff the cork like a dog in heat. Then you take a sip and slosh it
around your mouth. I’m sorry, but wine shouldn’t be sloshed, you
days reading the news is every frat boys’ wet dream. No, Jennifer
Lopez isn’t moving in next door wearing a dress that makes the one
she had on at the Grammies look like a nun’s habit. Come on,
we’re talking about reality here. The news is that drinking beer
may actually have benefits other than thinking you’re witty,
offering the remote possibility of sex, and keeping aspirin
manufacturers in business. Alcohol, it turns out, may actually be
good for you.
This isn’t a completely
new discovery. Scientists have long known that red wine has health
benefits. They figured this out while trying to explain how the
French can eat a diet full of fat, sugar, and snails yet have such a
low incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, and tolerance
for foreigners. The problem, of course, is that if you want to reap
these same benefits you’ll have to switch from Coors to cabernet,
which is rather un-American. Somehow I can’t see Château
their logo on Kyle Petty’s car anytime soon. Of course stranger
things have happened. You know, like someone accidentally tuning in
to watch “Big Brother.”
The problem with wine is
its image—if it doesn’t have a screw top it’s intimidating.
Like art, all that’s truly important is whether you like it, but
that’s not good enough. First you’re expected to get into
drinking something that’s variously described as tasting like
(True Fact Alert!) manure, lead pencil, road tar, and turpentine.
Yum! Something tells me that if this was really a good way to
promote products we’d be seeing ads for Tide that say “Gets
clothes cleaner than a mud puddle,” airlines would claim they’re
“Faster and safer than swimming to Europe,” and movies would be
advertised as “Not half as bad or long as ‘Waterworld’.”
The problem is
scientists say you’d have to drink hundreds of pints of beer a day
to get these benefits, an amount which is completely out of the
question unless you’re Irish, a college student, or Robert Downey,
Then there’s the drinking part. How did drinking wine end
up as a ritual so pompous and convoluted that the Pope is jealous?
First you sniff the cork like a dog in heat. Then you take a sip and
slosh it around your mouth. I’m sorry, but wine shouldn’t be
sloshed, you should. Then, once you finally decide it’s okay to
swallow, you look at the sommelier (French for “The reason we’re
marking up your wine 3,000 percent”) and want to say, “I can’t
tell any difference between this and the $20 bottle I have at
home” but can’t because you’ve been suddenly struck by the
fact that this wine that’s setting you back $130 tastes like
manure, lead pencil, road tar, and turpentine. Is it any wonder
weekends are made for Michelob and not merlot?
That’s why it’s nice to
hear that beer and alcohol may not only offer many of the same
health benefits as Château Septic-tanque, but may actually have
more. Researchers have discovered that hops—a key ingredient in
beer along with malt, water, yeast, and diuretics—not only
contains antioxidant flavonoids, but may have more of them than red
wine. Antioxidants, for those who don’t subscribe to the Health
Claim of the Month Club, are little chemical thingies which are good
for us because they help destroy free radicals, much like the FBI
when they tracked down ex-Symbionese Liberation Army member Kathy
Soliah. The problem is scientists say you’d have to drink hundreds
of pints of beer a day to get these benefits, an amount which is
completely out of the question unless you’re Irish, a college
student, or Robert Downey, Jr.
Meanwhile scientists in
Germany have found that one or two drinks a day can kill off H.
pylori, the bacteria which causes stomach ulcers. You might
remember that for years doctors thought stomach ulcers were caused
by stress. Now it turns out it was a bacteria all along. It’s a
lot like catching a cold except these things eat a hole in your
stomach lining. On the other hand, with ulcers you don’t have to
buy twenty boxes of tissues and sound like Elmer Fudd for two weeks.
Once again they say red wine is more effective at killing H.
pylori than beer, something I know was particularly painful for
Germans to admit.
I saw my first smart drinks a number of years back at
Lollapalooza where they sold them for $6.00 apiece. Something
told me that one sip would instantly make anyone wiser, vowing
immediately to never again pay so much for so little.
The problem is that all of this is guesswork, conjecture, and
not very effective since you’d have to stay drunk in order to stay
healthy. That’s why it’s nice to hear that a company in
California is putting out an alcoholic drink they say is good for
you. Hard E is a combination of beer, vodka, vitamins, ginseng, and
marketing. The manufacturer claims it will give you energy at the
same time you get a buzz. Somehow this reminds me of the old adage
about drinking coffee to sober up: all you end up with is a wide
awake drunk. But I don’t expect this to stop anyone. After all,
low-fat foods were a great invention and they can cause people to
gain weight. Of course that’s because many of them eat twice as
much as they would normally, which isn’t surprising since the
words “low-fat” look astonishingly like “no calories.”
Hard E is an extension of
smart drinks and energy drinks like Red Bull. I saw my first smart
drinks a number of years back at Lollapalooza where they sold them
for $6.00 apiece. I didn’t try one but I felt certain they’d
work as advertised. Something told me that one sip would instantly
make anyone wiser, vowing immediately to never again pay so much for
It’s hard to tell whether
finding health benefits for alcohol is good science, an excuse for
researchers to cash their government grant checks while drunk, or
something to tell ourselves the next morning when our head feels
like it’s so healthy it’s about to explode. But no matter, it
still gives us something to do while waiting for Jennifer Lopez to
move in next door.
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