Many studies have been conducted
and theories propagated regarding the advisability of wine
drinking by pregnant women because of the possible adverse
effects of alcohol, but Subhash Arora reaffirms that a glass
of red wine, 3-4 times a week is medically acceptable.
|Dinner at Pichon Longville. Heidi
Jaksland Kvernmo sitting front left
During the En Primeur week in Bordeaux last week, the
subject of wine for pregnant women came up at a small,
private dinner hosted by Christian Seely,
President of Chateau Pichon Longueville. One of the journalists
from Norway, Heidi Jaksland Kvernmo was not drinking any
There are few wine lovers who would resist the
'88 or '89 chateau wines from this famous second
growth, being served from a decanter. When I asked Heidi
how she could abstain, she confided about being in the
family way and that she was off wine on medical advice.
Having attended several International
Wine and Health conventions organised by the Desert Foundation,
in Napa, California where this is always a subject of discussion,
and reading many research reports, it has been my understanding
that a glass or less of red wine with medium alcohol (12%),
3 or 4 times a week is acceptable by the enlightened fraternity
based, on scientific research.
The latest study that put to rest any
doubts, came from Denmark where doctors and researchers
gave a clean chit to pregnant women having a glass (unit)
of wine a day, up to 4 times a week. The wine unit is generally
defined as 125 ml(6 glasses to a bottle) of wine containing
Research in Denmark on wine and health
is well regarded. It is not a wine producing nation and
the research grants are not usually linked with any wine-related
organisation either. The study and advice to pregnant women
is therefore relevant.
Coincidentally, the ten guests at the table
included a doctor from Denmark. 'Let us ask Peter. He is
a doctor from Denmark,' said Heidi. Endorsing my comments
Dr. Peter Dorte Pontoppidan emphasized, however, that during
pregnancy, it is important to stay within the glass-a-day
limit, and studies have in fact confirmed it.
|Priscilla Incisa of Tenuta San
He added what is advised by many doctors for the attention
of pathological sceptics, 'look at the Italians. It is
generally known that the women there drink a glass or
two during the week during pregnancy and they have perfectly
normal and healthy children. If it is under 3-4 glasses
a week, it is quite acceptable and advisable by me as
I wonder if Heidi would change her mind after dinner
that evening that ended with a glass of port from the
1963 vintage of Quinta de Noval, brought out by Christian
Seely as a surprise.
On to Italy
During Vinitaly that followed the Bordeaux
trip, I met my friend Priscilla Incisa
at Tenuta San Guido stand.
The international respect her family's top rated Sassicaia
commands, could make her the First Daughter of the Italian
wine families (with due apologies to the Antinori
and Gaja daughters, Alessia, Gaia et al!).
Priscilla disclosed to me during the tasting
of Sassicaia 2005 that she was expecting.
Carrying on my curiosity from that evening in Bordeaux,
I asked if she was drinking wine during her pregnancy. 'Of
course, I take an occasional glass of red wine 2-3 times
a week!' she confirmed.
Priscilla, who already has a 2-year old
child, laughed softly and told me that she drank wine in
moderation during her first pregnancy too and 'I can assure
you my son is very healthy,' she added with a twinkle in
her eyes. 'Of course, my advice to these women would be
to drink Sassicaia.'
Born with a silver spoon, she does not need to worry
about the cost of a Sassicaia. Not many a woman may be
able to afford the first-ever and top quality Super Tuscan
red, with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.
The 'other' wine from San Guido labelled Guidalberto (often
incorrectly referred to as the second wine; it has a different
blend, 45% Merlot, 45% Sauvignon and balance 10% Sangiovese)
may be more affordable. The 2006 vintage of this softer
wine made it too early to drink now but had all the trappings
of the love and care which San Guido showers on their
Priscilla also confirmed to me that most of her friends
stick to the regimen of a glass 2-3 times a week, max.
I asked a few other pregnant women at
the show at random, including Francesca Casitti who, with
her husband Gherardo, owns a small hotel and restaurant
in Bologna. She endorsed Priscilla's views when she commented,
'I like to have a glass or half of red wine when I am out
with my husband a couple of times during the week.'
|Chiara Lungarotti of Lungarotti,
Chiara Lungarotti, part owner of the
Umbrian winery Lungarotti is not pregnant but she was-
last year. Confirming that she did take an occasional
glass of wine as a part of meal, she was emotional talking
about it. 'Drinking in moderation is the key to responsible
drinking. It is stupid to drink too much wine anytime
anyway and is equally childish not to drink while pregnant,’
suggesting that a proper balance is required and one must
drink in moderation during pregnancy.
'All my friends believe the same,' she added. 'They drink
half a glass or so occasionally. There may be some week
when they do not take any wine at all'.
But all the women I talked to confirmed
that none of them or their friends drank whisky or other
hard liquor during pregnancy.
So it would appear logical that drinking
a glass or half with meals during pregnancy, 3-4 times a
week, would not create a medical problem; the doctor's advice
would eventually prevail though.
April 6, 2008