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Looking at effects of sober month, wines on airplanes

China Daily | Updated: 2015-09-08 08:15

A quick and unscientific survey of Beijing bars and restaurants suggests that business isn't hurting because of Sober September-an online campaign aimed at health-conscious folks who may have gone overboard with alcohol while on summer holidays.

But the idea has a life of its own online, especially the question: Does this really improve my health?

Yes and no, experts say.

If you're considering taking a month off from alcohol, perhaps it's best to first think about why you want to do it in the first place, preventive medicine and nutrition expert David Katz, the founder of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, tells Yahoo News.

Bottom line: Katz says that "If you feel there's a need to take a month off from drinking, it suggests there's an issue with alcohol."

Such a break won't heal your liver-which processes the sugar in alcohol and can be damaged by excessive drinking-or your heart-which can be negatively impacted by binge drinking. Katz says you're simply taking a month off from causing these organs any more damage.

Other experts agree, noting that a stop-and-start drinking habit can be more damaging than drinking consistently in moderation.

"What we know is that drinking episodically is not at all the same as drinking a glass of wine at dinner," Katz explains. "There's a condition called 'holiday heart syndrome', which is a toxic effect on the structure of the heart, and specifically the result of drinking a lot occasionally-it doesn't occur if you drink moderately almost every day."

Katz says a sober month does have an important benefit, but it's not a smaller pants size or "cleansed" liver: It will yield a mental shift, which-if it lasts-can later produce a physical one.


Most wine drinkers focus on how a wine will taste with certain foods. Ed Matovcik thinks about how a wine will taste at 9,000 meters. Matovcik is president of Intervine, the largest supplier of wine to the airline industry.

"At flying altitudes, your nasal passages dry up, reducing sensitivities to taste and smell," Matovcik told a trade publication earlier. "We have to look for wines that stand up to that elevation."

But a new survey suggests that the wine itself changes as well as the passengers' ability to taste it. That's another reason that, as airline wine lists becomes more important to passengers, some buyers for the airlines submit the finalists to a high-altitude round of testing.

"There is a molecular change that makes many wines lose flavor at such altitudes," says one buyer. "So the wines on offer are tending to be vintages that are heartier and more robust "on the ground" so they stand up to flight conditions better.

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