Happy New Year!
2012 looks like being an exciting year for psychology and wine. It will no doubt be as busy as ever though and my new diary is chockablock already. I am especially excited about the Olympics as they are so close to home and we were incredibly lucky with tickets (less fortunate friends prone to conspiracy theories suggest a postcode bias). It should be an incredible few weeks and I have no intention of renting out my house but will need to set up camp beds and tents for everyone who will be visiting us during the games. I also hope that the powers that be see that children in London must be allocated more tickets and that too much emphasis on the corporate element will destroy any meaningful legacy.
My New Year resolution is to enjoy as much time with my kids as I can whilst they are still young, hence the gap in my blogging. I had a brief experiment with Twitter in 2011 but really can’t be bothered with it. It seems that people are increasingly turning themselves into commodities and I value privacy and intimacy above rampant confessionalism and the pursuit of ’followers’. It never ceases to amaze me what people will share on the Internet and I deliberately avoid too much detail about family and friends. I am also conscious, and relieved, that people aren’t really interested in the mundanities of my existence.
I missed many more tastings than I attended in 2011 (most are tedious anyway) and blogged on even fewer. The recent 2010 Burgundy tastings have been impressive though and well covered in the media. I guess the USP of this site is the psychology and the research page is developing well. I am going to try and concentrate on research (and book) reviews in 2012. I am also getting some help with the tech side of the website as this often takes up a lot of my time and, even though I love it, it makes more sense for me to focus on writing.
2011 saw a proliferation in wine blogs and there was even a paper about wine bloggers!
Freitas Santos, J. (2011) Motivations and characteristics of international wine bloggers AAWE Working Paper 92 October 2011
This had a few points of interest in terms of the characteristics and motivations of bloggers but didn’t explore some of the important ethical issues around wine blogging (impact of alcohol consumption, conflicts of interest etc.) which are surely relevant. These were addressed in other papers though. For example;
Rikard, B.J., Constanigro, M. and Garg, T. (2011) Regulating the availability of beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores: Beverage-specific effects on prices, consumption and traffic fatalities AAWE Working Paper 95 December
Wine is reported to have numerous advantages over other alcoholic beverages but much of this is over hyped if not deliberately disingenuous. If you are intoxicated on wine or beer there is unlikely to be any causal relationship that would explain any differences in outcomes of traffic accidents! However, there are lots of confounding variables that might explain such an effect though. Perhaps wine drinkers tend to drive differently or drive different cars. What is clear is that people need to be careful about the way in which complex information is communicated. At the moment there are lots of people not drinking in January and others taking specific ‘days off’ during the week due to beliefs about alcohol consumption and their (for the next few weeks at least) desire to be healthier. Frequency is important but so is the AMOUNT you drink! If you are drinking the same amount but altering frequency then you are unlikely to see huge benefits….
It is interesting to note that the economic downturn has not impacted on spending on alcohol as much as might be expected. Statistics from the ONS show that the amount of duty paid by households has “changed little in recent years“. In fact spending on alcohol duty by the 20% ‘bottom earners’ has risen most over the last 15 years (56% more in real terms). Higher earners are only spending slightly more but it is a smaller percentage of their income.
Let’s hope 2012 sees more clarity around alcohol consumption, less of a gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and the Olympic ideals lived out in London.