A group of Italian winemakers led by Giacomo Tachis and Angelo Gaja are putting €100,000 behind research into the effects of alchohol and food on the metabolism.
Specifically, the research – headed by Professor Aldo Pinchera at the University of Pisa Institute of Gastroenterology – aims to discover exactly how the metabolism reacts when alcohol is drunk along with food, and when it is drunk alone.
What has given impetus to funding the research, Gaja told decanter.com, is the increasing intolerance of European governments towards alcohol without any distinction between wines and spirits.
The French ministry of health, with its adverts explicitly claiming alcohol is dangerous in any form and in any quantity, is particularly zealous.
But, Gaja said, ‘The aggression against alcohol is worldwide.’
Some ten producers, including Corvo from Sicily as well as Gaja and Tachis, are funding the research. Gaja himself has given €25,000, and reckons the total will be around €100,000.
‘If we can demonstrate scientifically that by combining food and wine there is a much reduced health risk, then we can educate people to understand the difference between wine – which is usually drunk with food, and spirits – which you drink on their own.’
The distinction is an important one: in Spain a 2002 law makes clear the distinction between drinks over 20% alcohol and below. It is illegal to advertise the former on television but wine and beer can be promoted.
And in France arguments rage as to whether or not wine is considered part of France’s culture – and thus to some degree exempt from general alcohol warnings.
Written by Adam Lechmere