How Much Wine Is Too Much?

For some, a glass of wine is the best way to unwind at the end the day. For others it's the perfect addition to any social gathering. Wine has become an integral part of many people's day-to-day lives. There are wineries cropping up all over the country and everyone from soccer moms, to yuppies to high-brow wine connoisseurs has their favorite varieties and ways of selecting them. There is a wine to suit practically every palate, but have we become a little too comfortable with wine?

There are plenty of ways to justify having a glass (and another). We tell ourselves that it's practically like grape juice. It's good for our heart health. It's a very deserved reward at the end of a long day. It's only one glass (even though the glass is the size of a fish bowl). So, the big question is, how much is too much when it comes to wine?

The problem with making a determination of the right amount for everyone is that there is no overall optimum level. There are many factors to take into consideration when thinking about how much is too much wine. For example, a person's overall body size is one element to take into consideration. Typically, a heavier person can handle more alcohol than someone who is very thin. Also generally speaking, men, having more body water than women, can tolerate more alcohol.

Taking into consideration weight, gender and alcohol percentages, most alcohol calculators will recommend somewhere between 1-4 drinks per hour to stay under the legal levels for impairment. However, these calculations don't mean that it's necessarily alright to drink this amount of wine on a regular basis, just that it should be safe to drive when you are below the legal limit. Also, it should be noted that keeping track of serving sizes is important. For wine, a serving is 5 oz.

Of course, alcoholism is another aspect to consider. If you have alcoholism running in your family it's probably a good idea to be particularly vigilant about keeping wine consumption to a minimum. Even if you don't have a family history of alcoholism though, it is important to be aware of the possibility of your regular wine consumption crossing over into alcoholism. While many people have trouble recognizing alcoholism in themselves, it's often quite easy for others to detect a difference in another person's behavior. When drinking causes a person to act differently than his/her normal nature, then there is probably an issue to be addressed. Certainly, if there are periods of time that a person cannot remember after drinking or if he/she is regretful about activities that took place while drinking, then there is a problem.

While recommendations for a safe daily intake of wine differs from country to country and by whom you ask within each region, it would seem that in many instances a 5 oz. glass per day is considered fine. Most doctors will state that drinking wine in moderation is safe (even sometimes healthy) for individuals in good health. There are even a few doctors who give the okay for pregnant women to have the occasional glass of wine, though more often than not, abstaining completely is advised.

So it would seem that ultimately, if you are in good health, not pregnant or breastfeeding and can control your alcohol consumption, having a glass of wine a day should be fine. That said, if you have the occasional night out where you tip back more than one glass, as long as you are still aware of and okay with your actions, you should be alright. Just be sure that those multiple glass nights don't become a habit.

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