Drink, And Be Healthy

The author of the acclaimed joie de vivre-focused weight-loss guide French Women Don’t Get Fat, shares some insights about wine drinking in this month’s Bon Appetit. Much of the information seems very common-sense, but still, sometimes you need to be told these things.

For example, Mireille Guiliano writes, “Just because a glass or two a day is beneficial doesn’t mean 56 ounces a week would be good for you, most especially if you consume those ounces over the course of a weekend.” We needed to be reminded of that after the recent, particularly festive graduation of a family member.

But more than telling you stuff you should already know about the importance of moderation, Guiliano relates some useful tips on how to ensure that moderation. A Cornell University study published in February found that a main reason the French don’t get fat, though they indulge in rich foods, is that they use internal cues, such as feeling full, to know when to stop eating. Americans, the study found, use external cues, such as whether there was food left on the plate.

While Guiliano doesn’t specifically refer to that study in her article, she captures a similar theme in her description of her own drinking habits:

Here’s how I ensure moderation when I’m dining at home. My husband and I know that after our first or second glass, it can be deliciously simple to pour a third or fourth. So we first bought some half bottles (375 milliliters), and after we drank them, we kept the empties. Now whenever we open a new bottle of wine for dinner, we immediately pour half the contents into an empty half bottle and quickly cork it. The wine has seen air for perhaps 15 seconds. Recapped and usually refrigerated, it will last in top form for days, weeks, and even months.

A half bottle of wine equals about three full glasses. But you should never fill your glass more than two-thirds full: To taste wine properly, you need room to swirl it, exposing it to the air to soften it. Plus, the empty part of the glass is what holds in the bouquet. We pour half glasses at dinner, and then enjoy two refills from the same half bottle. It is amazing how easy it is to fool ourselves. Three pours are far more psychologically fulfilling than one single pour in a large glass.

Guiliano takes an American approach — the use of external cues — and makes it work to her advantage by letting those cues instigate healthful behavior. For those of us who may be feeling a bit moderation-challenged recently, in both wine and food, this is sound advice. Perhaps we should start ordering half-bottles of hollandaise sauce as well…

French Women Do Drink Wine [Bon Appetit]
Mireille Giuliano [Official Site]
French Paradox Redux: When Are We ‘Full?’ [Cornell]

Drink, And Be Healthy