I’m not sure exactly when it happened. When the typical glass of wine you’d see a Bond girl elegantly sipping in the ‘70’s transmuted into the enormous ‘bowl’ from which Bridget Jones and the Spice Girls generation imbibed.
But expand it did from a typical 125ml glass into a 250ml monster and alongside it’s expansion in volume came a creeping increase in its alcohol content.
It wasn’t until writing a nutrition feature about Alcohol and Christmas a few years back that the penny dropped. It was this combination of factors that had led to a generation of women waking up with raging hangovers the morning after having what had been intended to be a quick drink with a few friends maybe after work, after the gym or after the kids were finally in bed.
It certainly wasn’t after a Big Night Out.
The problem was this; where women thought they’d had ‘just a few of glasses’ (and for this read ‘just a couple of units’), they would in fact quite easily, with two, 250ml glasses, have downed 500ml of wine. Yes, nearly a bottle had slipped down without realising.
And when this happened to be 500ml of a little red number at 14 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV), that totted up to 7.2 units.
Ouch, no wonder women were reaching, somewhat bewildered for the Nurofen in the morning.
It was at this point that I think we started to become a bit fussier, a little more enquiring, a bit of a nuisance really, when ordering a glass of wine in a bar or pub, or skewing our necks round at the bottle in a restaurant for its ABV as it was being poured.
But I wasn’t alone in becoming a bit more discerning. It was at about this time that a few of the young fashion girls on the newspaper I write for began to talk about how they felt they were safer sticking with a bottle of beer rather than ‘risking wine’, because as they explained with their post-Olympics, health-conscious heads on, they really wanted to know where they stood on the ‘units’ front.
The prospect of making a similar swap didn’t come easily. I like wine. I like the glasses. I like the way it looks and tastes when you drink it.
But I too like to know where I am with my units and calories and the fact is, as the fashionistas informed me, half a pint of 3 – 4 per cent ABV lager not only makes a long, cool, refreshing drink, it is also around one unit… and only 100 calories to boot.
“A couple of those on a day and you are still within the recommended drinking guidelines for women” I was reliably informed.
So it seems I’d learnt a thing of two from the youngsters. Firstly, contrary to my previous, uneducated assumption, not all ‘young’ people are drinking like fishes and burning the candle at both ends and the middle too.
Like me and others in my generation, they want to enjoy themselves but not find themselves either dancing on the tables, or sliding under them come home time.
Keeping tabs on your units is becoming cool; so three cheers for the burgeoning development of great tasting, good looking, lower alcohol beers hitting the fridges in pubs and clubs.
Dare I say it appears that we can now talk about ‘staying healthy’ and ‘alcohol’ in the same breath. Drinking sensibly seems to be something many of us want and when consumers start voting with their purses and wallets, product development will no doubt continue to flourish.
So if you asked me what I want, what I really, really want, it would be two things. Firstly to be able to sip again from a Bond style 125ml glass, preferably containing something bubbly at around 9 per cent ABV.
But failing that… an elegant, girly, bottle of 2 per cent ABV beer. Something feminine, something fun and something that doesn’t make me look like one of the boys. They’ve got their own brands. I’d like one too please…