Britain has one of the lowest recommended alcohol consumption levels in the world. We have some of the highest taxes on alcohol in the Europe. We drink less today than we have done for thirteen years. Yet we demonise alcohol with a one-size-fits-all approach to reduce drinking.
Moderate consumption of alcohol is one of nature's greatest gifts. It promotes conviviality and laughter. Wine is both art and craft, the most complex drink on the palate, inspiring life-long enthusiasm. To understand wine is to understand our history and culture. Some of us even make television programmes about it. (We agree beer and spirits are pretty good too.)
Wine, isn't only a delicious drink. In moderation it has health benefits. Red wine contains antioxidants and boosts your immune system. It reduces your risk of a stroke and cholesterol levels as well as your risk of a heart attack, diabetes and certain cancers. And it increases your bone density, improves your cognitive function and giving you a longer life to enjoy both too.
So why do the medical establishment demonise wine, beers and spirits? It's true, as the government's own advice says, "there is no level of regular drinking that can be considered as completely safe". But then there is no level of regular car driving that can be considered as completely safe. Or cycling. Playing football. Eating avocados. Drinking coffee.
If lowering recommended consumption levels (and raising taxes) reduced drinking and harm, Britain would already have the lowest rate of drinking in the world. But we don't. What we have is 4.4% of people drinking almost a third of the alcohol. And cheap and nasty alcohol at that. It's time or targeted interventions with the few who abuse alcohol. And for the rest of us to celebrate the joys of an honest Vin de Pays, a local pint, a gently-aged Scotch.
A version of this article first appeared in The Herald newspaper