Measure of a drink: Apaltagua Gran Verano Chardonnay 2017 is dry, fruity

Most of the time we imbibe alcoholic beverages without giving much thought to how the stuff is measured, the comparative strength of different beverages or what constitutes “safe” drinking.

One of the googlys I sometimes try out on bartenders is to ask them the difference between “a dash, a splash, a jigger and a peg”. As any self-respecting drinks jockey should know, a dash is 5-10 ml and a splash 10-20 ml; a jigger is actually just a peg measure (one side being 30 ml and the other 45 or 60 ml), while a standard peg is 30 ml and a large or double is 60 ml.

Broadly, when doing free pours (it’s infra dig to use a peg measure at home) a chota (small) peg is measured by placing one finger (horizontally) at the bottom of a standard glass and a burra (large) peg is placing two fingers. Of course, as serious imbibers may know, a “Patiala peg” is where only the first and last fingers are used — that is, about 120 ml, or a “double double”.

Wines are measured (and poured) differently: hotels and upmarket restaurants will use a 150 ml pour, while clubs tend to dish out their wines in 120 ml doses. Of course, the strength of wines varies from 9 per cent (Rieslings) all the way up to 15 per cent for some blockbuster wines, and so does the impact.

Beer servings tend to be between 300 ml (glass) and 500 ml (mug); lagers are all below 5 per cent strength, while strong beer can go up to 8 per cent. A pint of beer is 473 ml in the US and 568 ml in the UK.

Now the math: a 60 ml drink of spirits (strength: 42.8 per cent) has 25.7 ml of pure alcohol;  a glass of wine (150 ml, 13.5 per cent) would have 20.25 ml, while a mug of beer (500 ml, 4.5 per cent) would have 22.5 ml alcohol. In other words, when compared to a glass of wine, the beer has 10-11 per cent more “kick”, while a large peg of spirit is 27 per cent stronger.

It’s a fact of life that consumption of alcoholic beverages alters the body’s chemistry, leading to conditions that vary from happy to tipsy to inebriated to downright drunk! Of course, the rate of absorption of the alcohol depends on various factors: how much you drink, and how fast, whether you are drinking with food or on an empty stomach, and one’s mental state (one gets high faster at a party with loud music than in a sombre drawing-room setting).

Apaltagua Gran Verano Chardonnay 2017
In general, most adults can handle one drink per hour quite easily and would normally stop at two or three drinks in an evening. It’s a myth that mixing one’s drinks leads to inebriation — rather, what happens is that a person mixing his (or her) drinks loses count of how many drinks are put down and how fast.

So, how much can one drink and not get caught by the ubiquitous traffic cop checking “drunk” driving? The Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) level in India at 0.03 per cent is among the lowest in the world (apart from places where any alcohol is a no-no), and roughly translates into one small peg or its equivalent per hour. Or, one could imbibe one of the post-drink concoctions that help the liver metabolise alcohol faster — my personal favourite is Morning Fresh, made from silk proteins, that reduces one’s BAC by 50 per cent in an hour. Best, however, is to take a taxi or have a designated driver.

Wines I’ve been drinking

Eight wines, actually, at a teaser tasting of new wines done by Wine Park owner Vishal Kadakia at the Shangri-La hotel, Bengaluru. He’s bringing in a Daily Dose Sauvignon Blanc to complement the DD Red already in the market, three wines from the Apaltagua winery in central Chile, a lovely Prosecco (Belstar Cult) and two Burgundies from the iconic Vincent Girardin portfolio.

What stood out was the Apaltagua Gran Verano Chardonnay 2017: dry and fruity with intense fruit aromas (peach, mango, pineapple) and a crisp finish. I am told this will be available in the city at ~1,500 per bottle and I look forward to quaffing more of the same.
Alok Chandra is a Bengaluru-based wine consultant


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