Policy Perspectives

Lifestyle, Diet, Wine and Health

As a welcome break from reporting on the continuing chaos in Washington (though happily I do so from the Finger Lakes wine region), I am in Toledo, Spain attending a conference featuring 30 of the leading scientists from around the world—Europe, North America, South Africa, and Australia. As the event’s title suggests, they’ll be reporting highlights of their latest research on living a healthy lifestyle with exercise, a balanced Mediterranean-style diet, and the moderate consumption of wine.

This is timely, and vital. As you must have noticed, there has been a lot of media coverage about the relationship between alcohol and health, with most of it espousing the World Health Organization’s position that there is no safe level of consumption, so even one drink (of wine, beer, or spirits) can damage the body and mind in various ways. But there is an abundance of scientific and medical research from around the world suggesting otherwise.

In the Puritanical and litigious United States, wine industry members are banned by the federal government from saying anything positive about potential health benefits of wine, even if it’s backed by sound science. We accept that and abide by it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn the facts.

Next week I’ll be in London at a conference of FIVS, the international equivalent of WineAmerica with members from over 25 countries. This will be one of the key topics, along with Sustainability in its various forms, international trade, and other matters. FIVS is a vital organization for the wine industry worldwide, and WineAmerica is proud to be a member supporting its efforts.

While it may seem that these issues are remote, in fact they can have major implications for the business climate here in the United States. We need to know what’s going on.