According to a report in yesterday's Guardian, a study by Dr Marinette Streppel of the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University, suggests that moderate wine drinkers live significantly longer than teetotalers. Hardly surprisingly, a UK Wine and Spirit Trade Association spokesman greeted the news with glee: "This study reinforces the view taken by a government committee some years ago that moderate consumption of alcohol can have a positive impact on people's health, particularly in relation to heart disease". Reading the report in greater detail, however, raises some issues with which the Association and its members might be rather less happy. Moderate drinkers who consumed less than 20 grams of wine per day may have lived for two extra years but it was their super-moderate contemporaries - the ones who called a halt after just half a glass - who got to remain on this mortal coil for nearly five years longer. Now 20 grams equates to around half a bottle between two, provided both drinkers are male (the study only involved men). Were one of the pair female, the amount would presumably be smaller. I suppose that some wine professionals might concede that, for a couple to take 48 hours to get through a bottle of wine might amount to moderate consumption, but I don't know many who'd limit their own intake to this level. And I certainly know of almost no-one who would be happy to drink just half a glass per day.
If the Wine & Spirit Association really wants to become involved with findings like these, and to embrace the notion of wine as an aid to longevity, it has one logical route to take: a call for a reduction in the size of wine bottles.