WINE AS IT SHOULD BE

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I wanted to dedicate this post to explaining the difference between good and bad wines – what ingredients/additives are lurking in conventionally produced bottles, and why it’s so much better to choose organic, bio-dynamic varieties. Those of you who have read my blog on alcohol will already have a heads up on this, but I wanted to expound upon wine, particularly as many people have been asking about the many tasty varieties that are being served at the Be At Buckley’s evenings…

Just as there is a huge variance in the quality of meat you can buy (force-fed, chemically-laden, or free to roam on green, organic pastures) there is a huge range in the quality of wine you can buy too. The unnatural, sped-up nature of the industrialized food system is the cause so much of this bad practice – disregarding the important sowing, growing and fermenting processes that are vital to making natural and environmentally respectful wine. Most of us still think wine is made from grapes that are then fermented in a big barrel, with maybe a few preservatives added. However, if wine makers had to list the ingredients in their wine I think a lot of you would think twice…

Ingredients added to fast-made wine:

  • Fast-activating yeast (similar to what is added to bread and which makes our bellies bloat)
  • Manmade chemicals – pesticides, herbicides, fungicides
  • Sulphites/preservative #220-226 – these have been proven to cause most of the allergies experienced by wine drinkers. This chemical also gives off similar histamine reactions to seasonal allergies
  • High levels of tannins from the oak and wooden barrels – tannins are the natural astringent found in plants that are there to repel insects and grazing animals. Although natural, tannins do have strong chemical properties that affect those people who suffer from allergies.
  • The corks used to seal bottles of wine have been found to have absorbed chlorine-based pesticides (DDT, chlordane, and heptachlor). Although corks are traditional, it really is better health-wise that wines are bottled with screw tops – these offer a perfect seal and mean less sulphites added to your wine
  • Cane sugar – do we really need any more of this drug?
  • Also note: grapes are not washed before being made into wine – this means all the chemicals sprayed on the vines and on the soil also end up in your glass!

Why vintage/organic/biodynamic/natural wines are best:

  • No fast-activating yeast allowed! What allows the grapes to ferment is the naturally occurring yeast in the skin of the grape – this process takes much longer but means the quality of the wine is far richer. Your gut won’t be upset nor your immune system compromised.
  • The use of synthetic fungicides, herbicides and fertilisers is prohibited – this means we are less likely to suffer such horrendous hangovers, or even be hungover at all(!). Instead of using these man-made fertilisers the grower prefers to cultivate a healthy vine that is capable of defending itself naturally from anything that might harm it
  • The taste of the wine is authentic year after year as the timing of planting, fertilising and harvesting are governed not only by mother nature, but also by the lunar and cosmic cycles.
  • Biodiversity and producing wine this way means the land is respected. Allowing the population of worms and bacteria to build up in the ground promotes healthy soil and improves mineral absorption to the grapevine. This of course also improves the quality and taste of the wine.
  • The growers and viticulturists keep the art and passion of traditional wine making techniques alive
  • Interested? Learn more here

I hope this has cleared up any confusion you may have over the production of wine, and just why it’s important to spend a little bit more on quality – for your health, the environment and to support the creative passionate grower.

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ALCOHOL: KNOW YOUR DRINKS!

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People often ask for my take on alcohol, and where (or if) I see it fitting into a healthy, balanced lifestyle. There are many schools of thought on how terrible alcohol consumption is, and others that stress the benefit of having an occasional tipple. I believe, like anything, that one person’s poison can also be another’s medicine – what makes sense for one won’t necessary for another.

There are of course some unavoidable facts about alcohol: it is toxic, can be addictive, impair liver, stomach and colon function, disrupt sleep, negatively affect judgement and perception, and promote bad eating habits. However, sensible alcohol consumption has also been known to dilate blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, improve endothelial function, reduce stress, promote socialising, lower high iron levels (and contribute to some of our best nights out!)

What is comes back to, again, is mindfulness. Why do you want a drink? Why are you continuing to drink? What is the mood behind each sip? No one enjoys being or accompanying an angry or sobbing drunk. Never drink to forget, to hurt, to manipulate, to cope. These are the times it’s better to exercise, dance, sing, breathe. It’s a better idea to take a sip after you’ve tuned in and found something to smile about and celebrate.

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Tips before, during, and after drinking: hangover avoidance!

  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink – you’ll realise it won’t ruin your night but help you to enjoy it for longer!
  • Eat good quality high-fat foods while drinking like olives, cheese, nuts. NO sugar, bread or crisps – they will only make you feel awful!
  • Drink green tea before or during the night to help the liver out
  • Drink two big glasses of water before bed – add a pinch of salt to balance your electrolytes (blood salt/sugar levels)
  • If ordering a cocktail at a bar, always check to see what exactly is going in it. Bad cocktails tend to include sugar syrup which is only going to make a hangover worse. The high fructose content is very dehydrating which puts further stress on the liver
  • Bone broth before or after drinking is the ultimate nourishment
  • Make sure there is at least an hour between your last drink and bed for some form of movement – dance, walk, stretch… safely of course!
  • The morning after: MOVE! It may not feel like it, but you will feel better if you exercise!
  • Eat well the next day: broth, eggs, protein, berries, bananas, black coffee, freshly pressed vegetable juice, good quality fatsavoid sugar like the plague!
  • Supplements that can help: NAC, magnesium

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…If you crave alcohol

  • You could be deficient in vitamin B, trace minerals (magnesium and zinc) and the amino acid glutamine. In this case removing grains and sugar and having a diet rich in proteins (eggs and meat) and fresh vegetables will really help. Supplementing magnesium and zinc may also help but of course a healthy diet will assist. Bone broth and lactofermented prepared drinks and food are particularly nourishing as they aid digestion and thus help better assimilate much needed nutrients

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BEST DROPS!

Red wine – ideally organic and/or biodynamic

White wine – ideally organic and/or biodynamic

Champagne – ideally organic and/or biodynamic

Tequila

Vodka – Ciroc and Vu Qo are good gluten-free brands

Rum – 10 Cane Rum is a good gluten-free brand

Gin, Scotch, Whiskey – if possible choose brands that are made from gluten-free grains (can be tricky unfortunately!)

Unpasteurized beer (anyone still home brewing?!)

BEST MIXERS!

Ice

Freshly squeezed lemon or lime

Mint, basil, ginger

Freshly squeezed juice (not pasteurized or from a bottle)

Coconut water

Black coffee

To blend: berries, avocado, cucumber, lime, lemon, coconut milk

Just like the food you eat, you want to keep your drink of choice natural and simple. Stick with a plain old glass of wine or have a spirit on ice or with only fresh natural mixers. If I had to name one drink to never consume it would have to be any sort of alcohol mixed with an energy drink – please people, gross!