Hamish Champ: The Large Wine Glass Debate

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Physician

I know, as do most people, that when push comes to shove, the medical profession has the interests of the general public at heart.Having been gotten...

I know, as do most people, that when push comes to shove, the medical profession has the interests of the general public at heart.

Having been gotten out of a few sticky situations myself I have the utmost respect for doctors and nurses, many of whom spend 80 hours a week up to their elbows in patients' blood, bile, internal organs and orifices of every conceivable kind, and all for what an investment banker earns in the blink of an eye.

That said, if I ran a pub I might be disposed to adding Ian Gilmore, head of the Royal College of Physicians, to my list of personae non gratia​.

I can understand the elite of the medical sector taking it upon themselves to urge us all to live a healthy life, exercise regularly, eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, etc. So I guess it is not surprising given both his vocation and his track record of attacks on the alcohol industry Gilmore has yet again taken the pub sector to task, this time over the issue of oversized wine glasses.

With everything else going on at the moment pubs hardly need another kicking from someone who - and I here I admit to sheer guesswork - I suspect rarely crosses the threshold of a pub in an average year. The controversy over the dispensation of anti-depressants should also surely make any senior medical figure a tad more circumspect when it comes to knocking others.

As well as berating the UK's 60,000-odd licensees over "irresponsible retailing" - and I'm not sure where he got his evidence from on this - Gilmore and his medical colleagues have also demanded the adhering of warnings on bottles of wine and beer illustrating the alcoholic strength of the contents.

But here I have less of an issue with Gilmore and co. I know it is an idea poo-pooed by many drinks manufacturers and well-heeled family brewers, but I think the more information people have the better informed their decision-making process can be. Will such labels stop people getting drunk? Of course not. You'll just have better-informed drunk people.

You only have to look at the US, where Surgeon General health warnings on beer and wine bottles are constantly reminding the drinker of what you can die of in the event of over-doing it. Across the Pond some 41 per cent - 17,000 - of all road traffic fatalities are caused by driving under the influence. They can send several men to the moon, but maybe Americans can't read like wot we can.

Educating customers is just part of the equation. The current market is tough and the temptation - or pressure - to add a bit of profit to the week's take may tempt some to indeed "retail irresponsibly".

Consumers aren't entirely blameless either. Many know when they've had enough, but carry on because, well, that's what people do. OK, impairment through the very consumption of alcohol can be a factor, but I'm pretty certain most pubs 'do the right thing' by their punters.

I reckon Gilmore's accusations are largely off-beam. But I also think it is high time those charged with presenting the industry's case did so more effectively. Before it is too late to even try...

Related topics: Wine

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