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Showing posts from September, 2010

Well hello kitty: Are you really old enough to drink?

If you are a fan of the Hello Kitty products (the smiling kitten face icon from Japan) then you will want to know that there is now a hello Kitty brand of pink sparkling wine. Produced by the Italian wine producer Tenimenti Castelrotto in partnership with luxury goods company Camomilla, Hello Kitty spumante is currently available only in the U.S., Russia, and Singapore. According to winemaker Patrizia Torti, “'Hello Kitty … is a recognised cult fashion icon among teenagers and adults around the world.” Is Hello Kitty really grown up enough to be in the wine business? What should the minimum drinking age be anyway?


We are dealing with some pretty sticky issues here. We are conflicted about marketing alcoholic beverages to young people (not that Hello Kitty is exclusively a young brand) and there are definitely mixed mesages on drinking. In the U.S. the debate has centered around whether the legal drinking age should be 18 or 21. here’s a brief summary of the arguments:

Against lowe…

Better red than dead, wine drinkers outlive teetotalers

Wine drinkers outlive nondrinkers, or so the studies show. But nondrinkers are not all created equal, and that along with other factors makes it difficult to draw firm inferences about healthy drinking. For example, an oft-cited problem is what is called the “sick quitter” hypothesis, which holds that among the nondrinkers are those with a history of problem drinking. Their health having already suffered, the comparison may be unfair by lumping them in with healthier folks who abstain for religious or other personal reasons. Moderate wine drinkers may differ socioeconomically or in other important demographic variables. Anti-alcohol advocates are quick to point out such problems with population studies.


So while there are several studies showing greater average lifespan in wine drinkers, more needs to be done. One good study out this summer may give comfort to wine drinkers and help dispel some of the critics. The project, a joint effort of Stanford University and the University of Te…

What is responsible drinking?

The paper today featured a full-page ad exhorting us to drink responsibly over the Labor Day weekend, good advice to be sure. The main point was an emphasis on the equivalency of different forms of drinking in terms of the total amount of alcohol: One 12-oz beer = one cocktail = one 5-oz glass of wine. Perhaps the thinking is that people lose track of the true amount they are consuming with lower-alcohol beverages. Just a couple of beers or a few glasses of wine, not like hitting the hard liquor, right? The tagline was “It’s not just what you drink, it’s how much.” Useful information I suppose but perhaps an oversimplification when it comes to wine, as we have seen so many times before.


My advice here would be to look at the question of not just how much you drink, but how you drink. Beer may be consumed with meals but is marketed as a “party” drink, or refreshment while watching TV or sporting events. Historically (and I mean a very long time ago) it was considered to be a sort of fo…