Appreciated for its flavour, texture, body, colour, bouquet and variety, wine is often a tasty complement to meals when consumed in moderation. Wine continues to be a source of social and cultural pleasure and is enjoyed by millions of adults (consumers of legal drinking age) who appreciate the quality of wine products through responsible consumption. Wine also plays an important role in everyday life: it is often used to celebrate key events such as births, birthdays and weddings and it marks the transition from work to play, easing social interaction.
Wine consumption has decreased over the past 20 years as more Europeans move to higher quality wines they can savour in moderation. However, a minority also consume alcoholic beverages in ways that can be harmful and can have serious implications for personal health. Such misuse involves social costs; impacts negatively on economic development and productivity; drains the resources of health and social security systems; and can pose a threat to public order.
While there are benefits of consuming wine moderately, its abuse and misuse on the other hand, can have serious health consequences. The challenge today is to communicate the benefits as well as the risks responsibly and thus, allowing the overwhelming majority of adult consumers who enjoy wine moderately, continue to do so and helping to prevent alcohol misuse among a small minority.
Many factors, such as age, body mass index, ethnicity, family history, general health status and the use of medication, influence the definition of modern drinking guidelines. The speed of alcohol consumption and whether it is accompanied by food - as well as the amount and type of food - are conditions that influence the absorption of alcohol. Consequently, guidelines are likely to vary among population groups, as well as across countries and within them individually.
However, based on available scientific evidence and different references provided by various public health authorities, it is accepted that low-risk moderate consumption ranges between the amounts set out in the guidelines below:
- Up to 2 drink units a day for women
- Up to 3 drink units a day for men
- No more than 4 drink units on any one occasion
- Alcohol should be avoided in certain situations such as when pregnant, when taking certain medication or when working machinery