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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, 01 July 2010 11:30

Blog: Wine and Drunken Driving

It is ironic and tragic that as I wrote about the possible redefinition of moderate drinking by the US federal dietary guidelines for 2011-2015, there was a report about a drunken driving crash in New Jersey where an actress Amy Locane-Bovenizer killed a woman and critically injured her husband while driving under the influence of several glasses of wine.

While this may not have been the first or even the hundredth known case when an over-drunk driver was involved in a fatal accident, most known cases of DUI (Driving Under Influence) involve  people after a binge drinking session of more than 4or 5 or even 6 glasses of hard liquor. This news did bring out once again, the significant negative factor of excess wine drinking besides causing damage to liver, higher blood pressure, increasing chances of cancer and a myriad of other self-inflicting diseases.

Wine is not alcohol but has some; my dictum holds for a couple of glasses a day. Wine has normally 11-14% alcohol which is an integral part of the flavours. But the more you drink, more this level of alcohol starts affecting your body and more are the chances of it affecting others when you drive under influence.

Please be warned against getting too drunk on wine while driving-the strictness of laws in various countries notwithstanding. One big advantage of having wine with dinner in the evening is that it is taken in slowly and does not intoxicate fast enough and the alcohol does not get directly in to the blood stream.

I have asked several medical experts about the amount of wine one may have to stay within the legal limits. Although no one could give me a scientific explanation or a satisfactory answer, there is a general consensus that one standard drink (125 mL with 12.5% alcohol with food-which should be adjusted downwards for high alcohol wines in the same ratio) for every hour with food would ensure that you are not intoxicated and a breath analyzer won’t land you in jail or heavy fine.

At the wine dinners I organise for the Delhi Wine Club and other similar events, we end up drinking around 5 such drinks (we have 5 different wines) in a span of 3.5-4 hours. This is clearly beyond the ‘safe’ limit suggested by the experts and is also by definition ‘binge drinking’. Although, as a cautionary measure we do let the people know that this much intake should not be indulged in often, we have been fortunate that there has never been a mishap on the way back home. We have never conducted a survey, but I doubt if all the diners come with drivers.

When people seek my advice for wine storage when they don’t have a wine cooler/cellar, my suggestion is to keep it in the fridge for a few days in the warmest part of the machine, preferably in the oldest fridge in the house. Experts may not agree for various valid reasons, but I feel it is better kept in the fridge than outside where the temperature may vary from 20°C- 35°C or more  in the same day in summertime. Fine wine may not evolve over time but the chances of such people having bottles of such fine wine are remote-at least in India.

Similarly, if all else fails and you have had a bit too much wine because it was too delicious to leave in the bottle, you don’t have a driver and feel the idea of hiring a cab is preposterous, my practical advice is to start the ignition with a navigating passenger and a firm resolve to drive at the lowest possible legal limit so you are not hauled by the suspecting cops. Also, please follow the traffic rules which you may not, during the day time (at least in India) like jumping the red light or not looking to your left and right at crossings with no signals.

It may take slightly longer to reach home, but the chances are you won’t be stopped by the cops and you will be safe and alive and won’t have a death on your conscience when you are in Jail, like Amy might during the next 10 years she currently faces in the trial court

Drink wine, drink fine wine- but in moderation and please drive carefully after.

And the 2010 guidelines recommendation of re-defining moderation as an average daily intake of up to one drink for women and two for men, with no more than three drinks for women on a single day and four for men, may need the back burner. There are Amys in this world, who may drink 3 wines thinking they are within the safe drinking limits, by which time they may not have enough control to stop further intake.

Concluding on a lighter, possibly unrelated note, Donald Duck has been arrested for drunken driving in the US! The report does not mention whether he was drunk on wine or liquor.

Donald Norman Duck, a 51 year old Ohio resident with four previous drink-driving convictions, was arrested on Saturday after hitting another car at a drive-through fast food restaurant He had his driver’s license under suspension and already had a multiple DUI citations.



kskarnic Says:

It is quite surprising that suggestions are being made to encourage drunken driving.Whether law permits or not human life is valuble and no one can snatch away that either while driving drunk or not. It is time we promote human values ratner than wine and other liquers.

Posted @ July 07, 2010 10:40


Subhash Arora Says:

I agree with you-wholeheartedly, Sandeep. I strongly recommend NOT driving after drinking. I dont even recommend more than a couple of glasses of wine. But my remarks are addressed to the people <like Amy in this case>who insist on driving after drinking and drive rashly as the adraline flowing makes them do so. I dont take offence and I hope our viewers follow your advice strictly. Thanks. Subhash

Posted @ July 03, 2010 10:26


Sandeep Mirchandani Says:

This is with reference to the blog: Wine and Drunken Driving published on the Indian Wine Academy website on Thursday, 01 July 2010 11:30.I have the highest regard for you and your in depth knowledge of wines. Without meaning any disrespect to you, it seems that you are (maybe unintentionally) suggesting to your esteemed readers, that it is OK to drink and drive as long as you drive slowly, take care and follow traffic rules.I mean it is true that, we at some point might have had a couple of drinks and still driven back home (I have also done it) but I feel it is wrong to suggest driving back slowly and cautiously, instead of leaving behind your car and taking a cab back home, especially on a public forum. Also, a person is breaking the law by drinking and driving, even if he obeys all traffic rules, does not cause an accident or kills or injures someone. And it is still wrong, even if you manage to hoodwink the cops. I just thought I should put across my thoughts to you. I do not mean any offense whatsoever. Thanks & Regards Sandeep.

Posted @ July 03, 2010 10:24


Subhash Arora Says:

Thanks Isheeta. We will check it out at delWine and disseminate it as and when relevant. Subhash Arora

Posted @ July 03, 2010 10:10


Isheeta Gupta Says:

Hi Subhash, Just wanted to let your readers know that there is a service in Delhi called Home Safe Drivers. You can hire a driver from them at the beginning of the evening (and you pay for 4 hours or more). No idea about what the charge is. I think it was 450. Alternatively, if you have driven yourself to a bar or a friends house and you need to be driven home, you can call them and they will send you a driver who will drive you home in your own car. Its better than taking a cab and having to go back to get your car the next day. And the charge for this home drop is only Rs 250. My friends have used the second option before and said they woudl definitely do it again. The numbers are 011-41051010 and 011-41052020. I believe there is a similar service in Bombay called Party Hard.

Posted @ July 03, 2010 10:04


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