Brussels, 3 December 2013, 13h00 CET
Under the high patronage of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine and with the support of the Deutsche Weinakademie and Vin et Société, more than 100 participants gathered at this event - among them renowned scientists and key stakeholders from all over the world.
The speakers explored the challenges around defining responsible drinking patterns and their consistent communication to consumers, so the adoption of low-risk patterns in real life can be promoted effectively, taking into account the social and cultural diversities of wine consumption in our societies.
In the area of wine and health, all scientists highlighted the strong link of moderate wine drinking with health and pointed out the unique characteristics of wine, explaining how and why it is advantageous to combine wine with meals as part of healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet.
When approaching the cultural aspects of drinking, outlining the contrast between today’s approach of a superficial joy and the real “genuss ” helped to understand drinking behaviours. The need to increase knowledge on both the risks of alcohol consumption and responsible drinking patterns while discouraging excessive drinking and drunkenness was highlighted among other topics.
In the first session, moderated by Prof. Nicolai Worm, Prof. Luc Djoussé (Harvard Medical School) presented an overview of the current scientific evidence on moderate alcohol/wine consumption and common diseases. Most beneficial effects of moderate drinking have been observed with all types of alcoholic beverages, however, wine consumption might provide additional benefits beyond those from ethanol for certain health outcomes. Nonetheless, he also stressed how the net benefits of moderate drinking may be attenuated by an increased risk of certain types of cancers.
Prof. Mladen Boban (University of Split Medical School) underlined the importance of drinking patterns, in particular the fact of drinking with meals which reduces the increase of blood alcohol level and may also act as a digestive aid while improving microbial food safety.
Finally, Prof. Ramon Estruch (University of Barcelona, School of Medicine) explained the results of his PREDIMED study on the Mediterranean diet and provided evidence that the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases was reduced by 30%. He pointed out that among other dietary factors; moderate wine consumption with meals was part of the participants’ Mediterranean way of eating.
The second session aimed at exploring the current status quo of drinking guidelines and how to best communicate them to consumers. The Australian experience was outlined briefly by this session’s moderator, Creina Stockley (AWRI). In her presentation about the drinking guidelines puzzle, Dr. Marjana Martinic (ICAP) discussed the existing diversity of national drinking guidelines and their lack of consistency. She concluded that guidelines should be based on scientific evidence, communicated to consumers in recognisable units and integrated into health education and professional training. These are the exact objectives of the Joint Action  on reducing alcohol-related harm presented by Patricia Pissarra (SICAD). This project with 32 associated and 28 collaborating partners aims at better explaining to public health professionals the importance of basing drinking guidelines on scientific evidence, the practical implications in the use of low risk drinking guidelines and aligning messages to the general public and health professionals.
The importance of wine culture and the social and cultural aspects of drinking were the focus of the third session moderated by Master of Wine Philip Goodband. Prof. Michael Musalek (psychiatrist, Anton Proksch Institute Vienna,) explained the concept of “genuss ” and stated that what we really need today is a change from a superficial fun society to a profound “genuss” society. As a first step, he suggested “to use all measures to increase knowledge about the risks of alcohol consumption, but also to increase knowledge on how to use alcoholic beverages in the frame of a joyful life”. During a quick retrospective look of his life, Mr. Yiannis Boutaris, mayor of Thessaloniki, analysed the socioeconomic factors driving the evolution of alcohol and wine consumption and highlighted the importance of wine as a cultural product in supporting a moderate drinking behaviour in today’s Greek society and among thousands of university students of Thessaloniki, where public drunkenness is not acceptable.
The conference ended with a lively round table discussion opening the debate to the floor. The three speakers (Federico Castellucci from OIV , Andrew Jefford – wine journalist and Richard Halstead – wine market researcher) concluded that not only should the concept of moderation be better communicated to the general public and established as part of the culture but also underlined the fact that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and wine is not socially acceptable.
- About the conference : For more information about the conference, visit the conference website : http://conf2013.wineinformationcouncil.eu
- Wine Information Council : The Wine Information Council (WIC) acts as the focal point of credible scientists and research centres on health, social and cultural aspects of wine drinking, facilitating dialogue and making available relevant, unbiased, credible and sound scientific information. WIC is one of the three pillars of the Wine in Moderation – Art de Vivre (WIM) programme and was established in response to the need for broader dissemination of research on the health, social and cultural aspects of wine drinking in Europe. For more information visit www.wineinformationcouncil.eu
- Wine in Moderation - Art de Vivre (WIM) Programme : The “Wine in Moderation – Art de Vivre (WIM) Programme”, officially launched in 2008 as the wine sector’s contribution to the European Commission’s EU Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) within the framework of the EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol-related harm. Building on the values of the “wine culture” and founded on information backed by science, broad education and self-regulation, WIM is the tangible and measurable commitment of the wine business community to promote responsibility and moderation. WIM is one common programme, which is centrally coordinated, easily adapted into local needs and demands, and respects cultural diversity and identities. http://www.wineinmoderation.com
- Wine in Moderation - Art de Vivre (WIM) aisbl iy growing out of the EU geographical borders and the framework of the European Institutes setting the WIM programme as the global wine sector common commitment, securing and moderate wine consumption patterns as a social ans cultural norm by spreading the wine in moderation - art de vivre message. For more information visit : www.wineinmoderation.eu