Although many alcoholic drinks on the market are nothing more than flavoured intoxicants that will eventually bring their consumers to a sorry end, readers of this blog site will surely be aware that wine itself has very many healthy attributes. Wine consumed moderately on a daily basis (i.e. 2 – 4 glasses) does more good to the system than it can possibly do bad.  It serves a multitude of good deeds such as lowering blood pressure, improving digestion, fighting free radicals that can develop into cancers, delaying aging, and the list goes on.

This being the case, why do so many of us happily cruise through the safety zone and on into the 4-8 glasses in an evening and beyond?  At this level wine too becomes a poison that the body has to fight to control and one that eventually will take its toll.

We are all aware of the extreme cases of alcoholism that have beset popular icons such  as George Best, but what we do not fully grasp is the extent of the proximity of our lifestyles to the perils of self poisoning, chronic illness and, eventually, unpleasant death. By regulating our days with excessive qualities of this irrational gift that we call wine, we are placed effectively on a trajectory to change the very nature of our body and lead it to the irreversible conclusion that boozing is an imperative like breathing, thus triggering the internal rotting that will show up on tens of thousands of death certificates as ‘Multiple Organ Failure’.

Though being rational when sober is an easy thing, few of us have any guidelines or instruction to guide us on our journey into the big lunch, party or night out with friends, thus it becomes the body’s saturated and dishevelled form that indicates that it is time to stop ordering “one more bottle!”

Last Saturday night, for example, my friend and I decided to try out a new local wine bar and started the evening in a very sober state.  We began by acknowledging our own tendency to over do it and remarked that this would not be one of those nights.  Indeed, a glass of water accompanied the wine in more or less equal measures.  The first bottle a lovely Beaujolais with distinct Gamay characteristics that caused a round of regular sipping.  After this we thought that we would try an Italian Reiciotto della Valpolicella which was rich and intense.  The grapes here had been left to dry on the racks and the flavours was so deep and tannic that I consumed more water with this bottle.  Following on from this we ordered a Muriel Rioja Gran reserve 2003.  This was smooth and festive with a lovely roundness that perfectly defined a relaxing evening.  The conversation was good and we were now feeling a little more subdued.  We decided to move on and walked down the high street.  I should add that this moment would have been the perfect time to call it a night and say good bye but, alas, the dreaded “auto-pilot syndrome” had kicked in.  We were heading to another place for a last bottle and, this for me is the interesting point to consider; where pleasure occurs, peaks and starts to diminish.

It was this last bottle that then flooded the system and gave me the thwacking hangover thatI really did not want, however, at the time I was powerless to avoid it.  As this is a regular pattern that I believe it is necessary to break I am trying out my own therapy of presetting the limits.  During the week when my partner and I open a bottle of wine, I decant it into a half bottle decanter and know that this is my lot.  Of course there are evenings where the will defies my authority but by and large this has been successful.  For my next application of limits and to stave off my own diagnosed, “auto-pilot syndrome” I am going to set a social drinking limit of three bottles of wine (1.5 per head) and see how I go.  I am sure that with Christmas looming, self-control will ebb away like fine wine from my glass into my jerobelly!