Liquor Industry News


Canada: Ontario pilot project will allow booze sales in supermarkets


Source: CNews

By Antonella Artuso

Dec 31st


Ontario will launch 10 pilot “LCBO Express” outlets within grocery stores, to make buying wine, beer and other liquor more convenient.


The mini LCBOs will be opened over the next 12 to 18 months in yet-to-be-decided locations, but the venture could quickly be expanded to many more grocery stores if successful, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Monday.


“This is a new way to distribute our product, make it more consumer accessible and at the same time make sure we don’t have alcohol on every street corner in Ontario,” Duncan said.


“What we find is most Ontarians like the LCBO and the way it operates. They want more convenience.”




‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Also Doles Out Millions for Hollywood, Railroads, Rum Producers


Source: ABC News

Jan 1st


The “fiscal cliff” compromise has been heralded as a saving grace for middle class taxpayers, their families and the unemployed.


But buried in the fine print of the 150-page deal are also some lesser-known New Year’s gifts to some of Washington’s favorite industries.


Under the plan, the federal government would eat nearly $100 billion in forgone tax revenue over the next two years by extending special tax credits for select businesses that had been set to expire.


While the provisions themselves are not new, and are often extended as part of major bills, their inclusion amidst a tumultuous year-end debate over deficits and debt  did raise a few eyebrows.


The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget listed the so-called “tax extenders” as a “bad” part of the fiscal cliff deal because their cost is not offset, “setting a bad precedent for future extensions.”


The mix of tax perks covering the next year, but with budget implications for the next two years includes everything from incentives for employers to hire veterans to incentives for employers to invest in mine safety. But it also includes these:


    $430 million for Hollywood through “special expensing rules” to encourage TV and film production in the United States.  Producers can expense up to $15 million of costs for their projects.


    $331 million for railroads by allowing short-line and regional operators to claim a tax credit up to 50 percent of the cost to maintain tracks that they own or lease.


    $222 million for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through returned excise taxes collected by the federal government on rum produced in the islands and imported to the mainland.


    $70 million for NASCAR by extending a “7-year cost recovery period for certain motorsports racing track facilities.”


    $59 million for algae growers through tax credits to encourage production of “cellulosic biofuel” at up to $1.01 per gallon.


    $4 million for electric motorcycle makers by expanding an existing green-energy tax credit for buyers of plug-in vehicles to include electric motorbikes.


*Note the price tags above reflect estimated forgone tax revenue if current credits – which have been due to expire – are extended for one year as included in the Senate bill, per Joint Committee on Taxation.




Brown-Forman(BFb.N): Downgrade to UW Ahead of Slowing Topline Results


Source: Morgan Stanley

Jan 2nd


Despite strong fundamentals, we expect BFB’s premium multiple to de-rate as organic topline growth slows due to less innovation contribution and tougher comparisons, driving our Underweight. Our $61 price target implies 4% stock downside.


Topline Growth Likely to Slow to Below Consensus Results: We believe the bourbon innovation cycle has legs, but comparisons become more difficult for BFB going forward and the favorable topline impact from recent innovation in the US should decelerate. Given these factors, we forecast BFB’s organic revenue growth will slow to a 6.5% average over the next four quarters vs. 8.5% over the last six quarters. This slowdown should weigh on BFB’s rich multiple, particularly given we believe consensus revenue forecasts are 1-2% too high over the next few quarters (we are still above consensus on EPS given higher industry pricing should drive margin upside).


We Expect BFB’s Multiple to De-rate: Despite strong underlying fundamentals, at 14x C2013e EBITDA, BFB’s valuation is too high in our view following a run-up in the stock with ~1200 bps of 2012 outperformance vs. the S&P 500, including BFB’s one-time dividend. This is particularly true coming off an analyst meeting where the family-controlled company strongly reiterated its desire to remain independent. While some enthusiasm around the recent acceleration in BFB’s organic revenue growth is valid, the stock looks overpriced vs. its closest peer BEAM and vs. our DCF-derived value.


Prefer OW rated Beam: We maintain our favorable view of spirits, particularly with recent price increases. However, with OW-rated BEAM’s valuation roughly in line with BFB, and strategic potential more plausible at BEAM given a lack of family control and activist shareholder, we prefer BEAM as the best way to play spirits. Given only 4% downside to our price target, our call on BFB is more of a relative UW. We believe TAP is a more actionable UW with ~10% price target downside, given we forecast substantial EPS risk vs. consensus.




Household & Personal Care and Beverages: 2013 Outlook


Source: Morgan Stanley

Jan 2nd


We have in-line ratings on both the household products and beverage sectors, as the groups offer relative stability with generally reasonable consensus EPS for 2013, but relative valuation levels vs the S&P 500 look stretched here.


In-Line Ratings on Household Products/Beverage Sectors: Unlike a year ago, we believe consensus EPS is generally reasonable for our coverage as we head into 2013, with benign commodity inflation offsetting weak topline growth given a difficult consumer environment. Within beverages, we expect EPS downside at the carbonated soft-drink companies given weakening US topline trends (and are lowering our EPS estimates today even further below consensus) but generally expect EPS upside at alcohol companies, particularly given more robust pricing in spirits. With reasonable EPS, but high relative valuation vs. the S&P 500 on a longer-term basis, we are in-line on both sectors.


Top Overweights: OW rated Beam is our top pick within beverages, as we do not believe strong growth and strategic potential are fully priced into valuation, particularly with recent spirits industry price increases. In household products, we believe OW rated Tupperware is most compelling, as EPS growth is not fully factored into valuation, and the return of cash to shareholders should be a catalyst for multiple expansion. Please see our 10/22 Beam upgrade note and 11/1 TUP upgrade note for more detail. We remain OW on Colgate and Estee Lauder longer-term, but do anticipate some near-term trading downside, with tough comparisons and VE devaluation risk at CL, and a weak US retail holiday season potentially pressuring EL results.


Top Underweight: On the negative side, we remain UW Molson Coors given we believe consensus EPS is too high as TAP will continue to struggle with volume declines in developed markets, the StarBev business is likely to disappoint, and cost savings dissipate.




Add a gas mask and bulletproof vest to equipment needed to regulate alcohol sales


Source: Sac Bee

By Jon Ortiz

Monday, Dec. 31, 2012


The agency that regulates California’s alcohol sales through undercover stings at bars, restaurants and retailers has spent more than $70,000 outfitting its agents with gas masks and bulletproof helmets.


The state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says the equipment is essential to keeping its sworn agents, who are law enforcement officers with all-encompassing authority, prepared for any circumstances they might encounter.


“We want to make sure that our agents have the protective equipment they need so they can go home at night,” said Tim Gorsuch, the department’s chief deputy director.


The nature of their work rarely puts the department’s 132 officers in the line of fire. When it does, they nearly always call in local police.


“If you think about it, everything they do is in somebody else’s jurisdiction,” said former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness. “As a matter of protocol and professional courtesy, it’s appropriate to call in local authorities. . You want the uniforms (police officers or sheriff’s deputies) to go in first.”


ABC’s $55 million budget relies on licensing fees from about 115,000 California businesses that sell, import or manufacture alcohol. Any fines levied from agents’ investigations go to the county government in which the offense occurs.


From July 1, 2010, to March 1, 2012, ABC agents made 3,834 arrests, many through undercover stings at the bars, stores and restaurants that are the focus of the department’s efforts, according to ABC statistics.


Alcohol crimes – selling or giving alcoholic beverages to minors or underage customers purchasing alcoholic beverages – accounted for 2,866 of those arrests.


The remainder ran the gamut from narcotics sales, drunken driving and illegal slot machines to illicit firearms sales, prostitution and other crimes in and around businesses that sell alcohol.


ABC agents rarely find themselves in gunfights because, Gorsuch said, “our officers know when to engage and when to disengage.”


The department doesn’t have data on agent-involved shootings, but Gorsuch recalled five incidents in the last nine years.


“Since we don’t track this information in a formal way, I can’t tell you exactly how many (incidents) our agents have been associated with while working with allied law enforcement agencies,” Gorsuch said in an email.


Purchase records obtained by The Bee through a Public Records Act request show that the department ordered 170 ballistic helmets from Los Angeles-based Botach Tactical in October 2011 for a total $46,693.46 and received them the following month.


On June 26 of this year, the department tapped DirectGov Source, a Chico manufacturer of safety and medical equipment, for 103 gas masks received in early August. Total cost: $25,520.43.


Letters from ABC to the Department of General Services defended the purchases as “vital and mission critical to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.”


Before buying its own helmets and gas masks, ABC used to borrow the equipment from other agencies when working higher-risk assignments as part of drug task forces supplementing local law enforcement crowd-control efforts as a show of force.


Gorsuch said the department doesn’t keep track of how many times ABC agents have taken on those duties.


The equipment issued to alcohol investigators in other states varies depending on politics and the scope of their work.


Special agents with Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, for example, are sworn public safety officers. Like their California counterparts, they have statewide law enforcement jurisdiction.


“Our special agents are equipped with standard law enforcement equipment including firearms, bullet-resistant body armor, impact weapons and chemical spray,” said spokeswoman Sandi Copes.


Florida doesn’t issue headgear for those agents, but they get gas masks as part of a statewide policy enacted after 9/11.


On the other end of the spectrum, alcohol regulators in New York aren’t police officers. They don’t make arrests, so they don’t receive the equipment, pay and benefits that go with the designation.


California confers public safety status on a wide array of state employees, from insurance auditors to dairy inspectors, but equips them differently.


State hospital police officers can’t carry firearms on facility grounds by order of the director of state hospitals. Gov. Jerry Brown in September vetoed a bill intended to change that policy. The police union, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, has lobbied State Hospitals Director Cliff Allenby to loosen his gun ban.


Auditors and attorneys working for the state prison system’s inspector general used to be sworn peace officers who carried guns and drove law-enforcement vehicles.


A 2010 Senate report blasted the arrangement as a perversion of its original intent to create a small group of skilled investigators and attorneys who would be “the cops’ cops” who would ferret out deeply embedded abuses in the prison system, said Inspector General Bob Barton.


Not long after the report, then-Inspector General David Shaw resigned. The Legislature withdrew the peace officer status of the auditors and attorneys, and the department sold off its surplus equipment.


Barton, who replaced Shaw last year, said those changes made sense because the more dangerous aspects of the investigators’ job no longer exist.


“We’re still able to do all the work we’re required to do,” Barton said. “And if we do need help, we can always go to outside agencies.”




Diageo Deal for United Spirits Highlights Brewers’ Challenges in India


Source: WSJ


Jan 1st


Diageo DGE.LN 0.00% PLC’s November acquisition of a majority stake in United Spirits Ltd. 532432.BY +2.86% has brought India into focus as a lucrative market for the liquor business. But despite India’s huge population and strong economic growth, beer makers still face an uphill task in the world’s second-most-populous country.


The average Indian drinker consumes 1.7 liters of beer a year, compared with more than 37 liters in China and 74 in the U.S., according to Euromonitor. India’s spirits market is far more developed, largely because of the popularity of Scotch whisky, with average annual consumption of two liters in India tallying more closely with 3.4 liters in China and 5.6 in the U.S. This explains the United Spirits deal, in which London-based Diageo agreed to pay as much as $2 billion.


“India is almost unique. There is a [spirits] ladder for people to climb. You have country liquor, which is really cheap hooch. Then Indian-made foreign liquor, [grain] whiskey, whiskey with malt and bottled-in-Scotland imported blends,” says Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling.


Several factors are cited for India’s relatively low beer consumption. Taxes based on volume, rather than alcohol content, make beer expensive, with federal and state import duties as high as 100%. Brewers also have to contend with inadequate cold storage, limited retail space and restrictions on advertising. Attitudes toward alcohol can be negative; in Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace of Gujarat, for example, prohibition is still enforced.


India also is a tough market for brewers to enter. The dominance of Bangalore, India’s United Breweries, controlled by tycoon Vijay Mallya, is getting stronger; the brewer’s share of Indian beer consumption rose to 57% in 2011 from 43% five years earlier, says Euromonitor. London-based SABMiller SAB.LN 0.00% PLC’s share has dropped to 24% from 37% in the same period. Denmark-based Carlsberg A/S’s CARL-A.KO +0.61% modest presence of 7% today is slightly above local companies Mohan Meakin Ltd. and Mount Shivalik Industries Ltd. 507522.BY +0.87% Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, ABI.BT -0.03% the world’s biggest brewer, and Canada’s Molson Coors Brewing Co. TAP +0.19% have around 1% each.


“Our approach is not just to defend our territory. Rather it is to try and make our position even stronger,” says United Breweries Managing Director Kalyan Ganguly.


European and North American brewers still feel the market is worth pursuing, given its recent growth. Beer volume in India rose 12% to 1.9 billion liters in 2011, according to Euromonitor, and is expected to grow to about $5.6 billion in 2016.


Indians have a clear preference for strong beers, as shown by the relative success of brands such as Elephant, Knock Out and Bullet, owned by Carlsberg, SABMiller and United Breweries, respectively. High-alcohol lager constitutes 80% of the market, and is perceived as a masculine, good value as a substitute for liquor. The challenge for companies such as AB InBev, Carlsberg, SABMiller and the Netherlands’ Heineken NV HEIA.AE +0.48% is to change perceptions in India and to establish a more lucrative, Western-style beer market, with a broader variety.


To do that, brewers are changing flavors and selling pricier and more profitable brews to young, professional Indians. United Breweries introduce milder varieties of its best-selling Kingfisher lager and pushes minority shareholder Heineken’s flagship beer. SABMiller rolled out American-style lager Miller High Life, and Indus Pride, with spices such as cardamom and fennel. Beer festivals take place in cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.


Beer “is not a huge market, but there is significant headroom for growth,” says Paolo Lanzarotti, SABMiller’s managing director in India. “The premium space is growing at a rate of knots.”


Soren Gronnegaard Lauridsen, Carlsberg’s managing director in India, says consumers are shifting to Western styles of drinking. “You are seeing people, including women, drinking beer from the bottle. I don’t think you would have seen that even five years ago.”


Craft beer, generally made by small and independent brewers, is growing too. Urban microbreweries including Rockman’s Beer Island, cricket-themed Howzatt and Doolally have appeared in Gurgaon and Pune.


“Consumption is moving toward milder and more premium brands of beer. If foreign beer makers can sort out [access] they would find consumers willing to experiment,” says Sunita Sachdev, an analyst at UBS.


But these are small steps and challenges remain. Aside from restrictions on alcohol in parts of the country, India’s bureaucracy is a block to significant growth. Alcohol sale and distribution are restricted by cross-border import, export and excise tariffs, forcing beer companies to open breweries everywhere they want to do business, which increases production costs and cuts efficiency.


“The nature of regulation in India is a little bit more complex than most other markets,” says SABMiller’s Mr. Lanzarotti, who calls for a “homogeneous” tax structure. But he believes change will come over the long term. “By definition, it is a slow burn,” he says.


Carlsberg’s Mr. Lauridsen agrees. “You realize that it will be an immense task for the central government to take away the excise autonomy that the local state governments have today,” he says.


“It is difficult to create a market when your hands are tied behind your back,” says Ernst & Young analyst Andrew Cosgrove. It means significant deal making in India isn’t a priority. “I don’t hear the global beer companies talking a lot about [acquisitions],” he says.


“There is huge potential [in India], but the uncertainty and the complexity make that potential very difficult to realize,” Mr. Cosgrove says.


Mr. Lauridsen says that despite Carlsberg’s ambition to be the fastest-growing beer company in India, significant consolidation is unlikely.


Mr. Lanzarotti agrees that acquisitions aren’t the main priority. “There are a large number of very small beer players out there. There is opportunity, but we remain focused primarily on organic growth,” he says.




Restaurant Performance Index improved in November, but remained below 100


Source: NRA

Posted by Rachel Salabes

December 31, 2012


Buoyed by positive same-store sales and customer traffic results, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose in November. However, November marked the second straight month in which the RPI stood below 100.


“The November gain in the RPI was driven by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels, both of which registered their strongest performance in three months,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association.  “However, restaurant operators remain concerned about the direction of the overall economy, due in large part to the uncertainty around the fiscal cliff.”


The RPI consists of two components – the Current Situation Index (measuring current trends) and the Expectations Index (measuring restaurant operators’ six-month outlook) – anRPI Nov 2012 Chart web.jpgd tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.


The Current Situation Index stood at 99.8 in November – up 0.6 percent from 99.3 in October.  Although restaurant operators reported net positive sales and traffic results in November, softness in the labor and capital spending indicators outweighed the performance, resulting in a Current Situation Index reading below 100 for the fourth time in the last five months.


Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales for the 18th straight month, with November’s results representing the strongest performance in three months.  Restaurant operators also reported a net gain in customer traffic levels in November.  Forty-three percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between November 2011 and November 2012, up from 30 percent who reported positive traffic in October.


The Expectations Index stood at 100.0 in November – up 0.4 percent from October.  Although November was an improvement over October’s reading of 99.7, it still signals that restaurant operators are uncertain about the business environment in the months ahead.


Restaurant operators are somewhat more optimistic about sales growth in the coming months.  Thirty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 31 percent last month. In contrast, restaurant operators remain generally pessimistic about the direction of the overall economy.




Alcohol: Social Lubricant for 10,000 Years


Source: Discovery News

by DNews Editors

Mon Dec 31, 2012


As people ring in the New Year with dancing and a bit of bubbly, they can consider themselves part of an ancient human tradition.


Several new archaeological finds suggest that alcohol has been a social glue in parties, from work festivals to cultic feasts, since the dawn of civilization.


In the December issue of the journal Antiquity, archaeologists describe evidence of nearly 11,000-year-old beer brewing troughs at a cultic feasting site in Turkey called Göbekli Tepe. And archaeologists in Cyprus have unearthed the 3,500-year-old ruins of what may have been a primitive beer brewery and feasting hall at a site called Kissonerga-Skalia. The excavation, described in the November issue of the journal Levant, revealed several kilns that may have been used to dry malt before fermentation.


The findings suggest that alcohol has been a social lubricant for ages, said Lindy Crewe, an archaeologist at the University of Manchester, who co-authored the Levant paper.


For bread or beer?


While the cultivation of grain clearly transformed humanity, why it first happened has been hotly contested.


“This debate has been going on since the 1950’s: Is the first cultivation of grain about making beer or is it about making bread?” Crewe said.


Some researchers suggest that beer arose 11,500 years ago and drove the cultivation of grains. Because grains require so much hard work to produce (collecting tiny, mostly inedible parts, separating grain from chaff, and grinding into flour), beer brewing would have been reserved for feasts with important cultural purposes.


Those feasts — and alcohol-induced friendliness — may have enabled hunter-gatherers to bond with larger groups of people in newly emerging villages, fueling the rise of civilization. At work parties, beer may have motivated people to put a little elbow grease into bigger-scale projects such as building ancient monuments.


“Production and consumption of alcoholic beverages is an important factor in feasts facilitating the cohesion of social groups, and in the case of Göbekli Tepe, in organizing collective work,” wrote Antiquity paper co-author Oliver Dietrich in an email. Dietrich is an archaeologist for the German Archaeological Institute.


Ancient party sites


The site in Cyprus includes a courtyard and hall, along with jugs, mortars and grinding tools, and crucially, several kilns that Crewe and her colleagues believe were used to toast barley for a primitive beer. To test their hypothesis the team replicated the kilns to produce malted barley and used it in a cloudy and slightly weird-tasting beer, Crewe told LiveScience.


The Göbekli Tepe site in southwestern Turkey, meanwhile, dates to nearly 11,000 years ago. Neolithic hunter-gatherers worshipped ancient deities through dancing and feasting at the temple site, which is filled with t-shaped pillars carved with animal shapes and other ancient designs. The site also had what appears to be a primitive kitchen with large limestone troughs that held up to 42 gallons (160 liters) of liquid. The troughs held traces of oxalates, which are produced during the fermentation of grain into alcohol.


At both sites, the idea of a beer-soaked party must have been a real treat, Crewe said.


“There must have been a real sense of anticipation within the community when you knew a big beer event was coming up,” she said.




United Kingdom: ‘Tonight I have seen grown men crying in cells with remorse (or self-pity)’: The tweeting policeman’s New Year dispatch from UK’s drunken streets of shame


Source: Daily Mail

By Paul Harris and Neil Sears

2 January 2013


As drunken men and women took to the streets in a disgraceful display of violence and degradation, police chief James Tozer was watching.


And yesterday his chronicle from the New Year front line was revealed.


Superintendent Tozer catalogued events on Twitter during a 14-hour overnight shift in and around the historic market town of Shrewsbury.


In it, the West Mercia Constabulary officer describes how the overwhelming surge in crime and disorderly behaviour filled all the cells in one police station before 3.30am … how victims of violence and drunkenness had ‘dreams shattered’ by senseless acts … and how he had seen his officers ‘taunted and ranted at’ as they tried to keep the peace.


His Tweets begin at 5pm on New Year’s Eve and continue until 7am yesterday – giving a rare public glimpse into the role police are forced to play when scores of officers must be deployed simply to keep order in an otherwise respectable town.


Across the country, it was the night revellers brought shame to the nation at the end of its most glorious 12 months for decades.


After Diamond Jubilee patriotism and Olympic triumph did the country proud, hordes of alcohol-fuelled party-goers turned the clock back to show the world a familiar, sickening portrait of modern Britain.


They stretched emergency services to the limit as streets became littered with broken glass and pools of blood. Fights broke out within seconds of the bells tolling midnight, followed by stabbings, assaults on police and public acts of debauchery.


One pathetic symbol of the drunken chaos came in Newcastle upon Tyne, where a girl in a red mini dress and high heels sprawled on a pavement outside a kebab shop, too drunk to stand and in danger of suffering from exposure.


Eventually she stumbled off down the street supported by two police officers, struggling to stay upright – and eventually collapsing.


Nearby, an ambulance was fighting its way through crowded streets within a minute of midnight to try to reach a man with blood pouring from his mouth after a brutal attack.


Further snapshots of Britain ‘celebrating’ included a semi-naked man urinating outside a Cardiff nightclub, two women dragging an uprooted pot-plant trophy-like through Swansea, and small piles of drunken, motionless bodies forming in cold streets swept by wind and rain.


Calls to emergency services could be counted in their hundreds during a period of a few hours in most densely populated areas; as many as seven a minute in the West Midlands, where the ambulance service received 1,293 calls between 1am and 4am alone.


In Birmingham, Sharon Trent, 29, said: ‘There were people drunk well before midnight and there were police and paramedics everywhere.


‘When it got to 12, people flooded out of the clubs and straight into the streets. The police were struggling to keep control of them. The clubs and bars were crazy. It was a crush inside everywhere – you could barely breathe.’


Reveller John Parsons, 36, added: ‘There were people throwing up everywhere even before the fireworks to celebrate the New Year.


‘I couldn’t believe how many girls were struggling to walk in their heels. A lot had taken them off and were trying not to stand on the vomit.’


Few cities escaped the scenes of drunkenness and violence. London Ambulance Service control room staff answered 2,603 emergency calls between midnight and 5am, an average of around eight a minute and 10 per cent more than last year.


Thirteen treatment centres were set up with St John Ambulance in the capital to deal with ‘alcohol-related injuries’, of which 506 were treated by paramedics and a further 49 in hospital.


The Metropolitan Police made 96 arrests, nearly 25 per cent up on last year. More than 3,500 officers were on duty along with colleagues from British Transport Police.


Clean-up teams shifted 160 tons of rubbish from Westminster streets. In Northumbria, New Year’s Eve arrests rocketed to 220, up almost a quarter.


The Great Western Ambulance Service, which covers Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and parts of Somerset, said 999 messages had soared by 9 per cent, with 1,101 calls, the majority between midnight and 3am.


A spokesman for the service said: ‘The average number of calls we receive between this time period is normally around 80. On New Year’s Eve it was 467.’


Devon and Cornwall Police had to deal with 660 incidents in the first seven hours of the New Year.


Elsewhere in England the North West Ambulance Service received 2,265 emergency calls between midnight and 7am – up to one every ten seconds – including 17 assaults and two firework injuries.




Gals Down Alcohol Faster Than Guys


Source: Live Science

Stephanie Pappas

31 December 2012


Who’s partying the hardest this New Year’s? In some places, it may be the ladies.


Male university students in Spain down more booze overall than their female counterparts, but in drinks-per-hour, the ladies are out-quaffing the guys, new research finds.


The study researchers, who interviewed 985 students at the University of Vigo in Spain, also found that women were more sedentary than men, and surprisingly high proportions of both sexes used illegal drugs.


American bingers


Estimates vary on how many American college students binge drink, defined by drinking five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks for women. However, one in six U.S. adults reports binge drinking about four times a month, with an average of eight drinks consumed per episode, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Binge drinking is most common among 18- to 34-year-olds.


In the United States, mixed-gender housing fuels binge drinking, according to research published in 2009 in the Journal of American College Health. Students in co-ed housing were 2.5 times more likely to binge drink weekly than students in single-gender housing. Other research suggests that binging may be a way to feel a sense of belonging in schools where getting smashed is the norm. In one study presented in August 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, students at a liberal arts college in the Northeast often reported that they didn’t want to binge, but felt it was linked with high status in the campus culture.


Booze and gender


In the new study of Spanish students, University of Vigo researchers found that 56.1 percent of women were binge drinkers, compared with 41.3 percent of men. The men still downed more drinks, on average, than women, but they did so at a slower rate.


Other health red flags among women included the finding that 51.2 percent were sedentary, or did not get the recommended amount of physical activity each day, compared with 41.7 percent of men. Among the students who managed to move the recommended amount of time each day, 38.6 percent of men deliberately made time to exercise, compared with only 20.9 percent of women.


Men were heavier drug users than women, however, with 44.9 percent of males and 30.9 percent of females reporting the use of illegal drugs. [10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction]


In most cases, the students’ program of study did not make a difference in their health. However, women studying for education careers were much more likely to have disordered attitudes toward food than women in health-related fields, the researchers found. About 19 percent of women in education had attitudes associated with eating disorders, compared with only 6.3 percent of women in health. Overall, 8.8 percent of men reported disordered attitudes toward food.


The researchers first reported their results in August in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.




In Russia, Beer Will No Longer Be a Food


Source: Reuters

Alexander Abad-Santos

Dec 31, 2012


Don’t laugh: Lagers, ales, and pilsners were long considered “food” by the Russian government, but thanks to a new rule going into effect in 2013 (any minute now over there), it’s going to be a lot tougher to find a brewski in the motherland. The story is a lot more complicated than laughing at the thought of “eating” beer (which does happen in some parts), and it has to do with beer’s history of being treated like a soft drink rather than alcohol – until now.


“The limits are part of a government effort to reduce alcohol abuse in Russian, where one in five male deaths are linked to booze, according to world health experts,” reports NBC News. More specifically, “The average Russian drinks the equivalent of 32 pints of pure alcohol per year and about 500,000 deaths annually are thought to be drink-related. That includes a large number of about 30,000 annual road accident deaths and of several thousand cases of drowning,” reports The Telegraph. According to NBC, beer won’t be available at “street kiosks, gas stations and bus depots like it has been” – at least not between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Then again, that’s what bars are for.


What Russians still have is plenty of vodka, which accounts for almost 50 percent of alcohol sales, and those numbers could see a boost with the new beer rules going into effect. And, well, beer will still be a food during tonight’s New Year’s celebrations, when Russians are expected to drink 1.5 billion liters of alcohol, reports Russia’s




Abstaining from alcohol in January ‘not enough’ liver experts say


Source: Daily Telegraph

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor

01 Jan 2013


Year-round action is needed to protect the liver from the effects of alcohol and fatty food, including having at least two alcohol free days a week, taking regular exercise and cutting down on fat and sugar in the diet, the British Liver Trust has warned.


The charity Alcohol Concern are however encouraging people to abstain from drinking this month in their Dry January challenge, in order to help them save money, lose weight and feel healthier.


Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “It’s not about a quick fix in January, to repair the liver and keep it healthy, people need to follow our three-step plan all-year round: 1) Take two to three days off alcohol every week; 2) get regular exercise; 3) cut down on sugar and fat.


“Last year the Love Your Liver Roadshow found that one in four people tested were showing the early signs of liver disease. Caught at this early stage, lifestyle changes allow the liver to repair itself.


“Having an alcoholic drink every night, overindulging in rich food too frequently and not making time for regular exercise are major contributing factors for liver disease.


“As everyone is affected differently, and symptoms are almost unrecognisable until the damage is beyond repair, the Government needs to take action to help people understand the damage they are doing.


“Our Love Your Liver campaign offers free screenings to the public at a series of pop-up liver health clinics, offering free FibroScan tests which help identify the early warning signs and practical advice about how to love your liver. However, we can only reach a very small group of people and we’re appealing for the Government to do more.”


The British Liver Trust called on the Government to make early liver screening available to everyone at risk in a bid to save one million lives a year.


Liver disease, now the fifth biggest killer in the UK, has increased in the past year as British culture continues to embrace the daily consumption of alcohol and unhealthy food choices, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, the trust said.


With no early warning signs, and tolerance levels varying genetically, liver testing is critical to identify early signs of damage so people can make lifestyle changes to save their lives.


The charity made its plea as it launched its second Love Your Liver awareness campaign, to be led by a nationwide roadshow of ‘pop-up’ liver health clinics, sponsored by Eisberg alcohol-free wine.


A spokesman for Alcohol Concern said their campaign was aimed at encouraging people to think about how much they drink overall and does not claim to improve long-term health.


Their campaign material states: “This is not a medical detox programme and should not be undertaken by people with alcohol dependency issues.


“This is both an awareness raising campaign and a fundraiser for Alcohol Concern. All money raised must be donated to Alcohol Concern only.


“The benefits of giving up alcohol for a short period include: improved sleep, losing weight, improved skin and hair quality, and saving money. It is unlikely there will be any significant change in liver function over a month.


“This type of campaign has been run in different forms in Australia and New Zealand, where one campaign reports 2/3 of participants have had more alcohol free days than before, and just over half report reducing how often they drank alcoholic drinks. More than a third reduced the frequency of consumption for a whole year.”




Climate change threatens French wine


Fluctuating weather and warmer temperatures mean soon you may have to pay more for your favorite Bordeaux – if you can find it.


Source: Global Post

Marie Doezema

January 1, 2013


From rising shorelines to devastating hurricanes, the visible effects scientists say climate change is wreaking on daily life no longer surprise many people around the world.


The French have their own take on just how radically life may change.


“In 20 years, the English will be making Grenache from Chateauneuf-du-Pape,” says Herve Lethielleux, co-owner of L’Etiquette, a wine boutique in central Paris, about a wine variety from subtropical southeastern France.


That’s because the changing climate is affecting the delicate balance of weather, soil and other factors that are central to the production one of their main commodities, something that’s already had a visible effect elsewhere around the globe.


“If you look at Tasmania, it was too cool to grow grapes 25 to 40 years ago,” says Gregory Jones, a research climatologist at Southern Oregon University, about the wine-producing region of Australia. “Today, it’s clearly much more suitable.”


For French winemakers already keenly feeling the effects of growing competition from other countries, higher temperatures in recent years have meant grapes with lower acidity and higher sugar content. That makes for higher alcohol and fruitier – some say cloying – wines.


“As you get older you don’t want those hugely alcoholic fruit bombs,” says Juan Sanchez, owner of Le Derniere Goutte, a wine shop on Paris’s storied Left Bank.


In France, where wine is an important part of social culture, “alcoholic fruit bombs” are also counterintuitive to the typical palate. Usually paired with food, wine is generally intended to enhance rather than overpower. “You almost don’t want to eat with those kinds of wines, they’re like a meal in themselves,” Sanchez explains.


Lethielleux says many of the winemakers with whom he works have been documenting gradual but persistent changes in climate over the past decades – and noting increasingly earlier harvest dates with growing alarm. “The grapes just aren’t ripening properly,” he adds.


Such concerns raise an increasingly common question: “Will people have to change what they’re planting to adapt?” Sanchez says.


That’s easier said than done, thanks to the strict French system for categorizing wines. They can be classified as AOC – appellation d’origine controlee, or controlled designation of origin – only if they conform to certain varietal constraints in each region.


Drastic changes to grape varieties – even in response to potentially ruinous climate change – can be a risky business for growers. “You can do it but you lose the appellation,” Lethielleux says. “If you’re not a great winemaker, having your wine declassified means you can’t sell it at the same price anymore.”


The changing environment is starting to shake a system that’s been central to European wine for centuries. “Europe has historically been about regional identities based on varieties of wines and particular styles,” says Jones, a specialist in the study of climate structure and suitability for viticulture.


“Those that have adaptive capacity in the face of climate change are going to be much more able to adapt across a range of different climate futures,” he adds.


However, climate change is nothing new in the earth’s history, he points out. “Today the issue is that our agricultural systems are much more fixed,” he says, “and our investments in our agricultural systems are much more fixed.”


Despite the rising concern, Jean-Pascal Goutouly, a researcher at the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, part of the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Bordeaux, says full-on crisis mode hasn’t yet arrived. “Things are okay for the moment,” he says. “We still have the possibility to adapt to the conditions.”


As this year showed, it’s not only warmer temperatures and earlier harvests that are affecting wine, but more volatile weather in general.


“This is a bad year – a lot of disease, a lot of rain, a late spring and a summer that never arrived – and it was dreadful with hail,” Lethielleux says. “The grapes are all stressed: They’re full of sugar, but they’re not ripe.”


Weather fluctuation of more than “two or three times more than what you’re used to” may jeopardize the entire French viniculture system, Jones says, adding that the main threat is the combination of factors.


“France has a long, rich history of growing grapes and making wine,” he says. “Production has varied, there are good years and bad years, and French wine growers have always dealt with that.”


“The issue today,” he adds, “is that it appears climates are both changing and varying more than they have historically and our potential to adapt across those climates is more challenged.”


More from GlobalPost: 2013 full of looming political crises


Even if future adaptation is possible, that may be little consolation to winemakers who lost significant portions of their crop this year. The harvest was the smallest in at least 40 years, according to the Agriculture Ministry, which estimates overall production to be down by 20 percent thanks to lousy weather across France.


That’s already a source of consternation around French tables and wine bars. And it’s starting to resonate around the world, as lovers of French wine begin to worry about what climate change may mean for the availability – and price – of their favorite Bordeaux or Bourgogne at their local wine shops.




Eppa sangria aims to create new premium category


Former Bacardi executives have launched a new firm, the Eppa Wine Company, selling a premium sangria they boast offers fruit juices loaded with antioxidants.


Source: Miami Herald


Dec 31st


As former top marketing executives at Bacardi U.S.A., Raul Marmol and John Gomez were used to launching new products with multimillion dollar national advertising campaigns, slick television commercials and a staff of more than 50 people.


But when they launched Eppa Sangria in October 2011 at Whole Foods stores in Florida, it was a grass-roots effort, and a low-budget venture with no advertising.


Both Gomez and Marmol were regularly working at tastings at the Coral Gables Whole Foods near their house, helping pour the product for consumers and fetching more cases of their wine from the shelves. Partner Britt West was doing the same thing at Whole Foods in Miami Beach, while partner Gonzalo de la Pezuela was running tastings himself at stores from Key Biscayne to New York.


Record tasting


The entrepreneurs wanted to see first-hand how consumers would react to the sangria they had been creating for about 2 ½ years. The result was better than anyone could have anticipated: Between 50 and 60 percent of the consumers who tasted a glass walked away with at least one bottle. The record was a tasting at the Coral Gables Whole Foods, where they sold 106 bottles. Normally a good tasting is about two dozen bottles, they say.


The Whole Foods performance was in essence the test market for Eppa Wine Company, and the first indication they had a winning formula.


“If the Whole Foods customer in Florida wasn’t going to be purchasing the product, we didn’t have a business,” de la Pezuela said. “It was a way to validate the concept.”


That success has continued. During its first calendar year on the market, Eppa is on track to sell about 40,000 cases for 2012 – about 40 percent higher than expectations. The company expects revenues of $2.7 million for the year.


“We blew away our model,” Marmol said. “This has been a remarkable consumer success from the day we put it on the stores. The feedback has remained consistent – it’s all about the taste.”


The key to Eppa’s success has also been its focus on creating a new market niche – billed as the first premium sangria.


Eppa Sangria is far different from the typical $5 bottle of sangria or jug wine that consumers dress up with some brandy and sliced citrus fruit. Eppa is made from organically grown grapes and crafted with a blend of Mendocino cabernet and syrah. The sangria also contains a blend of organic fruit juices rich in antioxidants, including pomegranate, blueberry, blood orange and acai juices. Eppa is designed to be poured straight over ice, though adding fruit is certainly an option.


Coming next spring is a white version made with Mendocino County chardonnay mixed with mangosteen, peach, mango and blood orange juices.


The suggested retail price for both is $11.99, although you’ll find Eppa priced as low as $9.99 on promotional specials. While it’s about twice the price of the typical sangria, customers are still buying.


Easy drinking


At Whole Foods in Pembroke Pines, Eppa is consistently one of its top three wines in the store, which has an inventory of about 800 wines, said Alex Mendoza, the store’s wine specialist.


“Usually after they taste it they buy a bottle, then they come back for more,” Mendoza said. “It’s very easy drinking, not too sweet and not too tart.”


During a tasting this month at a Publix in Plantation, Susan Reynolds stopped to taste a cup of Eppa and was impressed with the flavor.


“It’s marvelous,” said Reynolds, who lives in Pembroke Pines and normally favors dry red wines like malbec or pinot noir, but bought a bottle of Eppa. “It has such of punch of fruit, you think the antioxidants are real. It’s something different. I thought it might be healthy for me, too.”


Eppa has ignited the entrepreneurial spirit of the four partners. They had worked together in the Bacardi U.S.A. marketing department, with Marmol as their boss. By 2008, all of them had left the company. Initially they did consulting work, but their real dream was to develop a beverage brand of their own — the question was what? While most of their experience was in spirits, Marmol had a non-compete agreement so he would have to stay out of that realm for several years.


“We did an awful lot of looking at the playing field to see what potential space would be available,” Marmol said.


Three trends


During their research, the partners hit on three trends that can help further their success:


.  Wellness/Organic: This market has gone mainstream. The organic food and beverage category is a $27 billion industry, according to the Organic Trade Association. “Super” fruits are more in demand as consumers learn about the benefits of antioxidants.


.  Sangria: The category is experiencing double digit growth, according to Impact Databank. But while experiencing a surge in popularity in bars and restaurants, the fruity wine has not seen the same growth in retail store sales.


.  Wine: The entire wine category in the U.S. has been on a continued growth trend with the amount of product consumed reaching more than a $30 billion retail value. The $10-$12 price point is a growing segment for entry-level premium wine.


“This is not your abuela’s sangria,” Gomez said. “We tried to tap into the mega trends taking place in order to justify a premium price point for sangria that didn’t exist.”


It was Gomez’s then high school-aged daughter who created the name Eppa, which is a Spanish colloquialism for “Hooray” or “How exciting,” similar to the Greek version of “Opa.”


“It was a perfect name for sangria because we’re all about partying and good times,” said Gomez, who in college was nicknamed the Sangria King because of the batches he would concoct in his Igloo cooler. “It was also something with Hispanic roots and easy to say.”


The Eppa formula was created by another former Bacardi executive Jim Goodwin, who was a partner in the venture but died of cancer in summer 2010 and didn’t see the vision come to fruition.


The partners funded the start-up costs for the brand themselves, with some personal bank loans. Marmol estimates that start-up working capital to carry the company through the end of 2013, at which point they hope to break even. The goal is to start generating profits by 2014, Marmol said.


In the first year of sales, Eppa has accomplished what’s often most difficult for a new product: getting shelf space in major retailers.


Eppa is now available in more than 35 states, including Whole Foods and BJ’s stores across the country, at all Publix stores in the Southeast, Fresh Market stores in South Florida and throughout select stores in Florida for Total Wine, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Walgreens and Winn-Dixie.


Impressive sales


Although it’s only been available in Publix since late July, Eppa is already delivering impressive sales numbers. More than half of Eppa’s Florida business is now generated at Publix. Nielsen data show that Eppa was the top selling sangria at Publix stores in Florida for the four weeks that ended Dec. 8 with a volume of $282,149 and 27,742 bottles. Compared with all still wines at Publix, Eppa ranks 12th in dollar value of sales volumes for wines sold in Florida during the same period, according to Nielsen data.


Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid would not confirm those numbers, but said that for the year, Eppa ranks within the top 500 wines throughout the company and the top 300 in the Miami area. Publix sells over 5,000 wines.


Eppa’s founders have focused on building distribution in grocery store chains, so the number of restaurants and bars where you’ll find Eppa is limited. But that list includes some high profile locations like SoHo House in Miami Beach and Walt Disney properties in Florida and California. At Disney, Eppa consistently ranks as one of the top two cocktails on the drink menu, said Bradd Levitan, owner of Five Star Wine & Spirits, which serves as a consultant and broker to Eppa


The brand’s core audience is 70 percent female, from single urban professionals to soccer moms between the ages of 25 and 55. Eppa also has a core group of followers among young men in their 20s.


“I think we’ve broken through in the sangria category,” de la Pezuela said. “At least half of the people buying Eppa probably haven’t purchased sangria in bottles before. Eppa is becoming part of the regular rotation for people who drink red blend wines.”

Eppa’s founders believe a better comparison for their sangria would be wines in the $10-$12 price range, like the labels Cupcake and Menage a Trois.


The focus of their success has been about getting consumers to try the product and see the difference first-hand. While Eppa has had no traditional advertising, the founders have invested heavily in a tasting program that has included over 2,000 tastings during the last year.


“They want as many people to taste the product as possible,” Levitan said. “They understand that the pot of gold is down the road and you have to invest in the brand to get it to consumers. I’ve never seen a product take off like this. In my 22 years in the industry, it’s been the most successful brand launch I’ve ever been a part of.”




Controversy swirls over popular Ottawa wine writer’s alleged misuse of others’ work


Source: The Ottawa Citizen

By Tony Lofaro

January 1, 2013


There is a growing ferment in wine-criticism circles over the way a prominent Ottawa wine writer has been quoting from the work of other critics – and attacks against her have grown harsh enough that she’s considering legal action.


Natalie MacLean is an award-winning author and wine writer whose work has appeared in publications including the Chicago Tribune, BusinessWeek and the Ottawa Citizen. For years, she has also self-published reviews on her personal website and in a newsletter, which readers pay to access. These are now the subject of controversy. At issue is an alleged lack of proper attribution in wine reviews, and the alleged misuse of copyrighted material.


MacLean feels comments about her posted to a U.S. website in December were so nasty that they have damaged her reputation and presented unnecessarily harsh personal descriptions of her. She is considering launching a lawsuit against some of her fellow wine writers in response.


For years in her online reviews, MacLean would refer to or quote reviews by other critics, but those references would often cite only the critic’s initials; a directory key located elsewhere on her site offered a guide to which critics – including world-famous names like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson and other Canadian critics like Rod Phillips and Tony Aspler – were indicated by their initials. The references did not indicate where the original review had been published, nor did they feature a link to the original publication. Where credit was given, it was allegedly always to Vintages Wine Catalogue, an LCBO promotional publication that includes full accreditation when reprinting critics’ reviews.


“I wasn’t quoting other reviews for every single wine, it’s just when I felt it provided a helpful context for my review,” said MacLean, 46.


“I’m in the field of criticism like movie reviewers and restaurant reviewers and I had seen on other sites where they would quote multiple critics just to provide a wider perspective of context. I believe that another criticism or evaluation of the wine provided a helpful comparison for my readers and that’s what I was trying to do for them.”


However, MacLean said she was contacted in October by Toronto wine blogger Michael Pinkus, who urged her to change the way she attributed the work of other writers in her reviews.


After thinking about it, MacLean said she began adding the other critics’ names and publications when she cited their work in her own. In an email exchange, she let Pinkus know that she had changed her method of citation.


“My impression is that he (then emailed) a larger group of people on the issue. That is when the U.S. (wine) blog picked it up and went with the story,” she said.


That blog was the Indianapolis-based online wine magazine Palate Press. A Dec. 15 post on that site accused MacLean of failing the Fair Use test by publishing entire copyrighted reviews by other writers – or large portions of them – for commercial purposes. The post elicited hundreds of comments both pro and con, and was followed by other posts which questioned other aspects of her professional ethics. After reading some of the comments on the website MacLean sought legal advice on whether to proceed with a lawsuit.


“She is a major blemish on our industry and it is particularly sad that she holds such sway with the average person,” said somebody posting earlier this month under the name Canadian Wine guy.


“I have been writing wine reviews well over 20 years. Not only have I never borrowed what anyone else said, I have made a point of never reading what anyone else says. This would be (for me) tantamount to cheating in a blind tasting,” said Stephen Reiss.


“Apparently, she has huge readership … (but) what writer relies on liquor store catalogues, or infringing on the work of others for their information. Would she have us believe she would have made these changes if she wasn’t outed,” wrote Doug Wilder in another posting to Palate Press.


MacLean posted an open letter to her readers on her site on Dec. 21, explaining her side of things and acknowledging that she had “learned a lot about these issues over the past week.” However, she said in an interview, she wasn’t disturbed by the debate so much as she was taken aback by the animosity directed at her by other wine bloggers and reviewers.


“I was surprised at how this issue was characterized as opposed to just debating the issue itself. The issue itself deserves debate: how do you quote and attribute wine reviews? It was painful because it was a pretty severe personal attack on my character that went far beyond the issue,” she said.


Pinkus said he still has questions about the manner in which MacLean presents her wine reviews to the public.


“It’s the way she did quote them that I question, it’s the ethics,” said Pinkus, a member of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada.


“I don’t care if on her website she reprints every (noted UK wine writer) Jancis Robinson review ever printed. But tell me it’s Jancis Robinson’s review, don’t couch it in initials because that tells me nothing,” said Pinkus.


He said while he applauds MacLean for making changes in how she makes attribution in her reviews she still hasn’t gone far enough. He said listing the date when a wine was tasted by another writer is important because a wine changes over time and he needs to have that information when he reads her review.


“Natalie’s new format doesn’t put a date in, yet the LCBO magazine where she is taking the reviews from gives the full citation of where, who, and when. What’s happened here is that the work of some 40 wine journalists has been stolen, put somewhere else and someone is making money from it and we are not,” said Pinkus.


He said the personal attacks on MacLean are “unfortunate” and is likely the result of pent-up frustration towards her.


Her lawyer, Robert Ford said the comments against MacLean were damaging and hurtful to her professional reputation.


“We’ve reviewed some of the (online) postings and our interpretation is that some of them do go over the line. The online world brings an anonymity and an ease in making these comments, you don’t face your accuser so people say things that they don’t consider to be defamatory,” said Ford.




A Critic Who Favors Finesse Over Power


Source: WSJ


Dec 28th


When I buzzed the door of Stephen Tanzer’s apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan two weeks ago, the hallway was empty; 40 minutes later, some eight or 10 boxes, all of them full of wine samples, were stacked beside the doorway. “I just cleared all the boxes out of the foyer this morning,” he told me somewhat wearily.


While the wine world buzzed about Robert Parker’s sale of a controlling interest in his influential newsletter, the Wine Advocate, Mr. Tanzer was busy preparing the next issue of the International Wine Cellar, which he has been writing and publishing since 1985. Subsequently Mr. Tanzer played Phil Mickelson to Parker’s Tiger Woods, building a devoted following among serious wine lovers even as Mr. Parker’s influence grew and shaped the habits of drinkers and winemakers world-wide. As the Parker era draws to a close, the vinous zeitgeist seems to have caught up with Mr. Tanzer, whose palate favors finesse over power. While there are many more sources of information and opinion than there were when he started the International Wine Cellar, very few are as comprehensive, or as informed.


Tall and slender, with a dark mustache he’s sported since his days at Wesleyan, Mr. Tanzer runs the IWC from his antiques-crammed prewar apartment, in which bookshelves compete with wine racks for wall space. He’s an avid reader of fiction, and his wife is a professor of English at Queens College. If you had to generalize about Mr. Tanzer’s taste in wine from the décor of his home you’d say he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who favors glossy, new-oaked, New World wines. On the other hand, the six wines he chooses to taste with me before we go out to dinner are from Argentina and Washington state, and he finds some virtue in all of them, though he clearly prefers those with a drier, more herbal, Old World profile. “Black olive, garrigue and black pepper,” he says approvingly of the 2009 Reynvaan Family “In the Rocks” Syrah from Walla Walla, Wash.


If he is forced to pick a favorite region he will say Burgundy, but he’s enthusiastic about emerging territories such as South Africa and Argentina. And unlike some Burgundy lovers, he has space in his heart and his wine rack for pinots from New Zealand and California. As for Bordeaux, while he doesn’t exactly join in on the bashing of the region which has become such a popular sport, he admits to a preference for the smaller estates of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol on the Right Bank as opposed to the big classified growths of the Left Bank. Like many American wine lovers of his generation, he started with Californian wines. “Then I discovered top French wines, which in their complexity seemed like alchemy: an amazing thing to do with grapes. For Chardonnay, my first epiphany was Leflaive’s white Burgundies.”


Mr. Tanzer was working as a journalist when he caught the wine bug; he took a job as a sportswriter for the Washington Daily News after graduating from Wesleyan, following in the footsteps of his father who wrote for The Wall Street Journal before becoming managing editor of U.S. News & World Report. The son worked for several other publications before starting the New York Wine Cellar, later renamed the International Wine Cellar. His tasting notes have always been very precise and very readable-by no means the norm. He chose to adopt the hundred point rating system used by Mr. Parker’s Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator, but over the years he’s developed a reputation for being a tougher grader than either of those publications-a fact confirmed in a recent study by the American Association of Wine Economists. He seems proud of his stinginess with big scores.


It’s tempting to see Mr. Tanzer as the anti-Parker, the Bizarro World Twin of the big man from Baltimore, and it’s not hard to make that case. “I’m more of a pinot man than a Cabernet guy,” he says. “I tend to be interested in cool-climate wines. A lot of California wines are too ripe.” Mr. Parker, by contrast, is famously enthusiastic about big, ripe wines from warm vintages. (They seem to physically embody their own palates: Mr. Tanzer lean and wiry, with a precise and deliberate manner, Mr. Parker barrel-chested and generously proportioned; Mr. Parker’s ideal portraitist might be Rubens, whereas Mr. Tanzer seems more like an El Greco subject.) Mr. Parker’s outsize influence on the wine world since he championed the 1982 Bordeaux vintage eventually resulted in something of a backlash, but Mr. Tanzer isn’t piling on. “Parker was the right guy at the right time-he educated a generation,” he told me over dinner at Rouge Tomate in Manhattan. “And there isn’t anybody who can appreciate what he’s done like I can,” he adds. That said, Mr. Tanzer’s palate and his long-standing preferences seem very much aligned with current less-is-more trends in the wine world.


If Mr. Tanzer is forced to pick a favorite region he will say Burgundy, but he’s enthusiastic about emerging territories such as South Africa and Argentina.


“I like white wines that are minerally and saline and energetic,” he says. Curiously though, the white wine he brought for our meal is very ripe and voluptuous, by no means dry, a 2006 Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Singerriedel. It had a hint of wet stone but seemed to me to be a more decadent white than he’d just described as his ideal, though I personally loved it, and it seemed to confirm his contention, later in the evening, that he’s not “an ideologue.” The wine got 97 points in his newsletter, about as high a score as you are likely to see there. On the other hand, the next bottle, a 1997 Mascarello Barolo Monprivato Cà d’Morissio, was very much a connoisseur’s wine, an earthy red that was fresh and bright on the palate if somewhat funky on the nose, a fact he felt might be the result of an unclean barrel. A shame because when he first tasted it for the IWC he found aromas of “red berries, rose petal, bergamot, white truffle, menthol, eucalyptus, tar, graphite, licorice, tobacco.” He hadn’t deliberately shunned the New World, but the third wine he brought to the restaurant, a 1995 Williams Selyem Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir, from a legendary producer he was among the first to discover, was corked.


Mr. Tanzer is assisted at the IWC by the highly regarded critic Josh Raynolds, who covers the Rhone and Champagne among other regions. Italian wine expert Ian d’Agata is a frequent contributor. But he still tastes 10,000 to 12,000 wines a year, many of them in the cellars where they were born, others at home in Manhattan. “The road of excess leads to the palate of wisdom,” he jokes, paraphrasing Blake, though his temperament seems to me a little more Apollonian than Dionysian. He drank moderately over the course of two meals I shared with him, leaving some very good juice in his glasses at the end, and he is by his own description positively ascetic when he’s on the road, eating sparingly, spitting dutifully. “I usually give myself Sundays off for bad behavior, so I live for Saturday night dinner or Sunday lunch.”


I don’t begrudge him the day off; as that other guy fades into the sunset, I’m grateful Mr. Tanzer is still tasting dozens of wines a day, and sharing his discoveries.




A legendary wine importer sells her business


Source: SF Gate

by Jon Bonné  



Martine Saunier, who pioneered an import business that brought Americans some of the greatest wines of Burgundy and the Rhone, has sold her Novato company.


Martine’s Wines, which will retain its name, was purchased by Gregory Castells and Kate Laughlin, both formerly of Napa-based wine firm Soutirage. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Castells and Laughlin, plus unnamed investors, took ownership on Dec. 21 after a short negotiation. Saunier will remain with the company for the next two years to help with transition.


“It was really important for me that there was a continuity,” she says.


While some other West Coast importers may be better known  to consumers, Saunier’s work has been legendary in the industry. Her biggest discovery was undoubtedly Henri Jayer, who diligent work elevated his Burgundies to cult status; though his Cros Parantoux was not a grand cru vineyard, it became one of the world’s most sought-after wines. She also introduced Americans to the work of Chateau Rayas, arguably the top estate in the southern Rhone, and other influential producers, like Denis Mortet.


“Our goal,” Castells said in a statement, “is to preserve and further that legacy.”


As notable as her discovery of Jayer was her work with Lalou Bize-Leroy, who after being ousted from the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Burgundy’s most renowned property, established her own estate and subsequently began making wines that could command equal prices to Romanee-Conti, often in the thousands of dollars.


Saunier’s business was always defined around her own hunt for quality. She spent months in France each year looking for new producers and tasting the latest work from her stable, one that not only contained rare wines but also a range of producers from Champagne, Alsace and elsewhere. It was crucial, then, to find a way to hand off her business while preserving her long work.


“I’ve been thinking, where can I find someone? For the last two or three years I’ve been thinking about it,” she says. “I thought, it has to be a Frenchman, because most of my wineries, they don’t speak English at all. They’re used to me, and I’ve been going for a long time.”


Enter Mr. Castells, who mentioned over a meal at Saunier’s house one day that he was thinking of starting a company. Saunier suggested that he should own a business like hers. Soon they were discussing that possibility.


His credentials fit perfectly. A Provence native, he had built the wine program at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia and served as head sommelier at the French Laundry; as a longtime customer he knew Saunier’s wines intimately. Laughlin, who left advertising to work for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, worked with Castells both there and at Soutirage.


An unexpected rise

When Saunier launched her business in 1979, her role was groundbreaking. Originally from Paris, with family ties to southern Burgundy, she had come to California in 1964, and imported her earliest wines in the late 1960s. But with encouragement from Los Angeles chef Jean Bertranou, she formed her own business at a time when women were a rarity in any part of the wine industry. Certainly they did not sell wine, and the prospect of a petite Frenchwoman marching into the boys’-club world of sommeliers and retail buyers was improbable at best.


Saunier was determined, and happy to invoke a bit of Gallic charm. That soon paid off, and she expanded her distribution across the country, thanks in part to aces in her roster like Jayer.


But it was her work with Bize-Leroy that helped telegraph just how much the world was changing. Wines from the world’s finest sites – Romanee-St.-Vivant, Musigny and so on – made by a woman and sold by one? It quickly sent a message that wine was going to be a more equitable business.


“I remember when women started selling wines for big companies. There was a time when we had short dresses well above the knee. They always picked up good looking girls, sexy girls, and I was embarrassed,” Saunier recalls. “Now, of course, it has all changed. The women you meet around the country are very knowledgeable, are very talented. It’s fantastic.”


In addition to helping with the transition, Saunier is set to release her own documentary, “A Year in Burgundy,” made with veteran TV producer David Kennard. They are collaborating on two additional films, set in Champagne and Portugal.


And while the sale transferred all assets, including the company’s wine, Saunier made clear that she held on to a few essential wines in her own collection.


“There is no Jayer, that’s for sure,” she says. “I made sure that all my Jayer stays with me.”




Wine Underpants Join Space Whisky on Sale: Elin McCoy


Source: Bloomberg

By Elin McCoy

Dec 30, 2012


Dark, cold outer space is the new wine and spirits frontier.


The extraterrestrial terroir taste in Meteorito, a cabernet made at Chile’s Tremonte winery, comes from a 4.5-billion-year- old meteorite from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.


Winery general manager Ian Hutcheon, owner of the nearby Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua and anxious to join his two passions, submerged the 3-inch space rock in some of his 2010 cabernet for a year.


In a blind tasting with colleagues, he found the bottled wine had a livelier and fresher taste, “with a curious twist.” It’s coming soon to New York, where it will cost about $20 a bottle.


The Ardbeg whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Islay, on the other hand, announced that it had sent plastic vials of unaged single malt molecules where no dram had gone before: the international space station, 250 miles above earth.


The mission: a two-year study with space research company NanoRacks LLC to see how the famously peaty spirit ages in near zero-G. The cost to find out how complex flavor molecules called “terpenes” interact with charred oak in this atmosphere is half a million dollars.


Will all this result in new aromas and flavors for a space- inspired whisky? We’ll beam down the results next year.


Space’s vast potential for wine and spirits was only one highlight among 2012’s weird and wacky stories.


Robot Rack


An over-the-top wine rack in the style of a giant Transformer robot toy is posted on Craigslist for $7,000. Six feet tall, weighing 1,000 pounds and made from old automobile and motorcycle transmission parts in China, it’s billed by its Arizona owner as “ridiculously cool.”


Most of the 32 welded bottle slots store wines vertically, so it isn’t ideal for super pricy wines, but perfect for the fan-boy geek who has everything. First posted in June, it’s still available.


The French designers of a cute vine-pruning, data- collecting robot named Wall-Ye V.I.N., which debuted in September, are now taking orders. Red with white trim, Wall-Ye is 20 inches tall and has two arms, four wheels and six cameras.


It’s solar-powered, doesn’t get tired, drunk, or go on strike, and costs 25,000 euros ($33,100). Chateau Mouton Rothschild offered its prestigious vineyards for test runs, according to Agence France Presse.


Wine Perfume


The newest wine pairing is with perfume, long a no-no combo for serious tasters. After being called out by a winemaker at Napa Valley’s Rombauer Vineyards for wearing a vanilla scent, fragrance marketer Kelly Jones set herself the task of making five perfumes, introduced this year, that she says enhance wine.


“I didn’t want scents to smell like wine spilled on my shirt,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “For ‘Notes of Merlot’ I picked up on the varietal’s whiffs of candied violet.”


Others may prefer to try out new mini-aerosol flavor-spray for the mouth, Wahh Quantum Sensations, which provides a fleeting feeling of drunkenness “without the harmful effects of alcohol.” Designer Philippe Starck and Harvard University scientist David Edwards say the purpose is to “accent life with a magic wand.”


2012 was also a year of strange wines we definitely don’t need, like Almond Roca cream dessert wine from Washington State, which takes chocolate-infused wines to a new, treacly level.


Nude Prince


U.K. merchant Sheldon’s Wine Cellars offers the “uncomplicated, easy-drinking” 2011 Royal Blush Rose, with a label based on nude Prince Harry photos taken at an August bare- it-all-party in Las Vegas.


And there are the wines of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Labels of her Sonoma-made Vin d’Amour chardonnay, cabernet, and white zinfandel feature a portrait of the famous 84-year-old sex therapist.


Dr. Ruth says the obvious — that wine helps couples relax and get aroused, but too much impairs performance. Which is why she wanted her wines to have a weak 6 percent alcohol. Fifty shades of chutzpah!


Eroticism is also key to the just-launched G-Spirits line of vodka, single malt whisky, and rum, created by former bartenders Maximilian and Julian Goldbach in Germany. Before bottling, every single drop of booze is poured over the naked breasts of beautiful women, like Hungarian playmate of the year Alexa Varga, to give the taste “a unique erotic character.”


X-Rated Labels


According to Max Goldbach, their customers, mostly men (surprise!), range from 18 to 72. Lest you are worried about how sanitary this is, the website claims that medical personnel supervise. The labels are X-rated, which is why you’ll have to go to the website to view.


Maybe G-Spirits call for the nuttiest wine accessory of the year, Vinderpants. Advertised as “underpants for your wine,” the cotton and spandex bottle coverings appeal, I think, only to those with a very special sense of humor. Still, there were just two left in stock on when I checked right after Christmas.




Trio of distillery launches planned for 2013


Source: Herald Scotland

Tim Sharp

Jan 1st


BY the end of 2013, three new malt whisky distilleries will have started producing spirit, if current plans are borne out.


At one end of the country, Thurso’s Wolfburn distillery, which claims to be the most northerly on the Scottish mainland, is just weeks from starting production.


In the far south, Annandale, Scotland’s first distillery after the English Border, is awaiting delivery of stills and other equipment ahead of a summer launch.


Meanwhile, on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, groundwork on the distillery site has paused for the festive season but its owner, specialist bottling company Adelphi, plans to begin production before the end of 2013.


Between them, the distilleries will produce the equivalent of 600,000 litres of pure alcohol (lpa) a year; a mere trickle compared with the 10 million lpa Diageo’s new distillery, Roseisle, can produce.


However, their creation highlights confidence in the rising demand for Scotch. And with all of them focusing on single malts, it demonstrates faith in the growth of the top end of the market.


Wolfburn is the smallest of the trio, with plans to produce 115,000 lpa a year. It takes the name of a 19th-century distillery in the town. Although it uses the same water source, the modern-day Wolfburn has been built from scratch.


Production is expected to start in February, less than two years after its backers first met to discuss it.


Overseeing distillation will be Shane Fraser, former production manager at Glenfarclas.


Most output will be of unpeated whisky, and the first bottles will be sold in 2016 after it legally becomes whisky. Much more, however, will be kept for longer maturation.


Wolfburn’s business development manager, Daniel Smith, said: “It is not going to be another Balvenie or Glenfiddich. We think it will appeal to a niche customer.”


Nor will Wolfburn seek to attract tourists. “What we won’t be doing is making cups of coffee and selling tartan scarfs,” Mr Smith said.


However, Annandale’s owner Professor David Thomson, a native of Dumfries and long-term whisky enthusiast, said he will be encouraging visitors, to generate revenue before he can start selling his spirit and to boost tourism in the area.


“When it comes to entering or leaving Scotland we are the first or the last distillery,” Mr Thomson said. “This is a kind of ignored area of Scotland, but it is a very historic part of the country.”


Mr Thomson is building the distillery to diversify his business interests away from the MMR research firm he and his wife own.


Mr Thomson has rebuilt the site’s sandstone and slate buildings; and despite delays during renovation, production should start this summer, two years after work started on the site.


The distillery will produce both peated and unpeated whiskies, harking back to the days when smoky Lowland malts were common. The distillery will produce the equivalent of 250,000 lpa a year although Annandale has double that capacity.


Mr Thomson hopes his professional experience – he is a food chemist by training – means he can bring more sophisticated branding to the industry, based on the sensory profiling on which he is an expert. “I feel there is quite a lot we can do with the way single malt whiskies are sold,” he said.


At Ardnamurchan, the 184,000 lpa annual production is likely to start in November. Foundations will be poured next month, with the buildings finished in July and equipment arriving from September. “We are keen to produce spirit before Christmas,” said sales and marketing director Alex Bruce.


Adelphi, an independent bottler of whisky since the 1990s, has an established distribution network in some 25 markets. The company believes interest in single malt whiskies is rising alongside growing demand for craft gins and beers produced on a small scale.


Mr Bruce said: “We feel very strongly the single malt segment will continue to grow. It is far too small at the moment.”


Adelphi plans to hold on to its Ardnamurchan whisky stock, up to 70% of which will be peated, for at least six years before bottling.


The first legal distillery on the peninsula, Ardnamurchan’s planning process took longer than expected after some residents objected. But efforts have been made to root it in the community, with power coming from a biomass plant using local timber, and the draff – the spent grain – will be sold to nearby farmers.


The firm is also keen to attract more tourists to Ardnamurchan by offering a rainy-day destination.


A spokeswoman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: “There is unprecedented investment in the industry to meet growing demand, with £2 billion committed by producers over the next few years. All the signs are very positive for the future.”




Texas: Centennial wants to sell 13 liquor stores to Pilot Point company


Source: Star Telegram

By Sandra Baker

Tuesday, Jan. 01, 2013


Five liquor stores in Tarrant County would be sold by Centennial Beverage Group to Cheers Spirits & Liquors of Pilot Point as part of a deal submitted for approval in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.


A judge in Dallas is scheduled to consider the sale Friday.


The stores, including two in Fort Worth, would be among 13 Centennial liquor stores being sold to Cheers. The Fort Worth stores are on Alta Mere Drive and Camp Bowie Boulevard. Other area locations are in Hudson Oaks, Trophy Club and Azle, according to court filings. The list also includes stores in Addison, The Colony, Highland Village, Weatherford and Granbury and three in Dallas, on Greenville Avenue, Marsh Lane and Walton Walker Road.


The sale is contingent on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission issuing licenses to Cheers to operate the stores, the filing said. Cheers would begin making lease payments in January on the stores, but Centennial would continue to operate them until the licenses are issued, court filings say.


Peter Woody, owner of Cheers Spirits & Liquors, could not be reached Monday for comment.


Centennial filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Dec. 17, saying its profits were declining in the face of increased competition from “big box” liquor sellers, groceries and other retailers.


Centennial entered into a letter of intent Dec. 14 with Cheers Spirits to sell the stores for $50,000 each, totaling $650,000, court records say.


Cheers will take over 11 leases and will lease two stores from JWV Associates, which owns them in partnership with Centennial, court filings say.


Dallas-based Centennial expanded in 2011 by acquiring the Fort Worth-based Majestic Liquor Store chain out of bankruptcy but scaled back last year from as many as 70 stores to 23 Centennials, Majestics and Big Daddy’s. It owes millions to creditors.


Cheers has stores in Aubrey, The Colony and Roanoke.




Tennessee: Liquor stores rebuff grocery stores’ wine proposal


Source: WBIR 10

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press

Jan 1, 2013   


An effort to reduce opposition to supermarket wine sales is so far failing to change the minds of the liquor store owners who stand to lose the most out of the proposal.


Under the bill taking shape before the Legislature convenes next week, local referendums would determine if wine could be sold alongside beer in grocery and convenience stores around the state. In exchange, liquor stores could branch out to sell items, like beer, mixers, ice and snacks.


The measure could also end the current law that allows owners to operate only one liquor store in the state.


But Chip Christianson, owner of J. Barleycorn’s Wine and Spirits in Nashville, said he didn’t buy his store to start a chain. He also raises underage drinking concerns about the proposal.




Washington: Privatizing liquor hasn’t brought price down



By Bill Sheets

Dec 31st


More than six months after privatization of the state’s liquor industry, the goal of lower prices has yet to materialize.


In fact, prices overall took a jump immediately after the changeover and have stayed near that level since.


The average price per liter of hard liquor after taxes statewide in October was $24.06, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue.


This is down slightly from the first month of privatization in June, but still more than 10 percent higher than the $21.59 at state liquor stores in October 2011.


“It’s gone up quite a bit,” said Trudy Brodie, of Edmonds, who manages the bar at the North City Eagles Club in Shoreline.


She was at Mountlake Terrace Liquor & Wine on Friday buying stock for the bar.


“We had to raise prices,” she said.


Stores larger than 10,000 square feet, along with some locations previously occupied by state liquor stores, were allowed to sell hard liquor starting in June following the passage of I-1183 in November 2011.


The ballot measure was designed to keep state and local governments from losing money in the transition.


The state’s previous spirits sales tax and liter taxes stayed in place. The state’s 51.9 percent mark-up went away, but has been replaced by fees of 10 percent on distributors and 17 percent on retailers.


“The private sector is adding its own markup as well,” said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.


Backers of I-1183, which passed with 59 percent of the vote, steered clear of claiming it would bring down prices, though it was mentioned as a possible by-product. Instead they touted other potential benefits.


“Yes on 1183 will create true competition in liquor and wine distribution and sales, strengthen liquor law enforcement, benefit Washington taxpayers and consumers and generate vitally needed new revenues for state and local services,” according to the argument for the initiative in the 2011 voters’ pamphlet.


The fee charged to distributors is scheduled to be cut in half in 2014, to 5 percent, which could help bring prices down, Smith said.


In June, the average liter price was $25.35, more than a dollar higher than October, according to state figures.


Some prices have gone up since then, some have dropped.


Some of the prices at smaller stores are higher than at large chain stores because the small retailers can’t get bulk discounts from distributors, said Leonard Daniel, who owns and operates Mountlake Terrace Liquor & Wine with his wife, Lori.


Also, each brand is often available from only one distributor, Leonard Daniel said. The right to distribute a brand is bought by the highest bidder.


“There’s no competition until you get down to this level and we’re just fighting for the crumbs,” he said.


The Daniels say they make up for their disadvantages with customer service and product knowledge, and by carrying a wider variety of brands and sizes than many of the bigger stores.


Lori Daniel managed the store on 44th Avenue W. when it was part of the state’s system. Sales have slowed since the changeover, she said.


“We’re very fortunate to be in the community we are,” she said. “They’ve really supported us.”


Brodie of the Eagles Club said she buys directly from distributors as well but goes to the Mountlake Terrace store to get items that aren’t available from distributors.


“They’re pretty good to me and they’re local,” she said of the Daniels.




Canada: Health Canada to restrict caffeine content in energy drinks


Source: DBR

02 January 2013


Canada’s national public health regulatory department Health Canada is set to restrict the amount of caffeine used in energy drinks to a maximum of 180mg from January 2013.


Apart from caffeine, the regulator will also restrict vitamins, amino acids and minerals content in energy drinks and other beverages.


Health Canada spokesman Sean Upton said, “when setting the 180 mg limit, we looked for a level that would not represent a risk, based on expected consumption patterns for these drinks.”


According to reports, 28 out of 96 reclassified drinks will have to be reformulated as per the new regulations.


All the companies will also have to provide an annual data of energy drinks consumption, sales and incidents over the next five years.




United Kingdom: Alcohol guidelines ‘too high’ say doctors


Source: Daily Telegraph

By Stephen Adams, Medical Correspondent

01 Jan 2013


They have been set too high and fail to take into account new evidence showing that drinking only modest amounts raises the risk of cancer and other diseases.


The issue is investigated as part of a three-part You & Yours documentary into Government guidelines on alcohol, diet and exercise, being aired over the next three days (starting January 2) on BBC Radio 4.


The current guidelines recommend men should limit themselves to “three to four units a day”, which NHS information alikens to “not much more than a pint of strong lager, beer or cider”.


Women should not regularly drink more than “two to three units a day”, equivalent to “no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine”.


New research published last year suggests consumption should be much lower – perhaps just a quarter of a pint of beer daily.


Dr Michael Mosley, who looked into the matter for the radio documentary, found the guidelines were based on limited data on the harms of low to moderate level drinking.


They were formulated in 1987 by a Royal College of Physicians working party. In 2007 Richard Smith, one of the members of the group and a former editor of the British Medical Journal, was quoted as saying they could not say what a safe limit was, because of this lack of data.


“Those limits were really plucked out of the air,” he said.


“They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee.”


Dr Mosley said the Government had “presented these guidelines as if they are about health, but they’re really not”.


“They’re more about behaviour, trying to stop you going out and crashing the car, or fighting,” he told The Times.


New evidence suggests regularly drinking only small amounts of alcohol can raise the risk of various cancers.


A Harvard University study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011, found that women who drank just four small glasses of wine a week – about five units – increased their risk of developing breast cancer by 15 per cent compared to teetotallers.


Another study published that year estimated alcohol caused about 13,000 cancers a year – including 6,000 of the mouth and throat, 3,000 bowel cancer cases and 2,500 of breast cancer.


And last May, scientists published research recommending that people should cut their consumption to just 50ml of wine a day, or quarter of a pint of beer.


If everyone limited their intake in this way, 4,600 lives a year would be saved, they calculated, even after accounting for about 850 extra deaths from heart disease.


There would be 2,600 fewer deaths from cancer and almost 3,000 less from liver cirrhosis, they found.


Dr Nick Sheron, a liver specialist at Southampton University, said: “The problem I have with the Government advice is that is normalises the fact that it’s OK to have a drink on a daily basis, when that’s really not the case.”


Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, is currently reviewing the evidence on the risks of drinking, said a Department of Health spokesman.


She said: “The health risks from alcohol rise as you drink more and there is some evidence that small amounts of alcohol can reduce some health risks.


“To look at whether the system is still helpful to people, the Chief Medical Officer is set to review the alcohol consumption guidelines.”




United Kingdom: New year revellers warned of dangers of counterfeit alcohol


Trading standards teams urge drinkers to be suspicious of ‘bargain’ bottles as cheaply distilled alcohol can pose health risks


Source: The Guardian

Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent

30 December 2012      


Revellers tempted to see in the new year with cheap alcohol are being warned of the dangers of buying toxic fake vodka, which has the potential to cause blindness and even death.


Council trading standards teams across the UK are urging shoppers not to buy or consume counterfeit drinks.


Tests on bottles seized by trading standards officers have found dangerously high levels of methanol – a key ingredient in anti-freeze – among other harmful industrial solvents. Consuming methanol can lead to blindness, and in one case earlier this year was linked to the death of a man in Worthing, West Sussex, who drank a bottle of vodka he had brought back from Poland. Tests subsequently found the drink contained 40% methanol.


In the Czech Republic in September, 26 people died as a result of drinking counterfeit vodka and rum laced with methanol. In July 2011, five men died in an explosion at an industrial unit in Boston, Lincolnshire, where illegal alcohol was being distilled.


The seasonal crackdown is organised by the Local Government Association (LGA), which is advising shoppers to watch out for telltale signs that bottles are not legitimate. These include unfamiliar brand names, drinks containing sediment, wonky labels, poor quality print, spelling mistakes, and bottles on display filled to different levels.


Cllr Paul Bettison, the LGA’s regulation spokesman, said: “We’ve now seen instances where people have been killed by drinking fake vodka. Everyone wants a bargain at this time of year, but by consuming fake alcohol people may be taking their life into their hands. These drinks are often made by organised gangs and may contain all sorts of toxic and dangerous substances.”


Bettison said that if an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is. “Anyone suspicious about a supplier or who thinks they may have bought a bottle of alcohol which may not be legitimate should contact their local council or Consumer Direct as a matter of urgency,” he said.


The LGA gave examples of regional crackdowns across the UK. In Staffordshire, 21 traders have been prosecuted in the last year after the council seized about 1,800 bottles of fake alcohol. Many of the products seized were bottles of counterfeit vodka that contained high levels of methanol, which can cause vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision and in extreme cases blindness. One resident who drank fake alcohol was told by his GP that he risked losing his sight at any point in six months after drinking counterfeit alcohol.


West Sussex trading standards has highlighted the potentially fatal consequences of buying cheap spirits while abroad. Its warning follows the death of a man living in Worthing from methanol poisoning, which has been linked to a Polish bottle of vodka. A laboratory analysis showed it contained 40% methanol.


And Essex county council is warning that bottles of counterfeit spirits, marked up as Smirnoff vodka, are in circulation in the county. Trading standards officers are urging businesses not to buy from the ‘man in a van’ who may call at their premises offering suspiciously cheap alcohol, but to stick to trusted and traceable wholesalers.


Earlier this year Wigan council seized several bottles of counterfeit Glen’s vodka that contained the industrial chemical isopropyl, whose side effects could include dizziness, vomiting, anaesthesia and could even put someone in a coma.

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