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Can Drinking Champagne Really Save Your Memory?

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The results of a 2013 study on champagne and memory resurfaced this week, prompting bottle-popping celebrations across the Internet. Drinking champagne, it was claimed, is good for your brain and can reduce dementia risk, giving us all a scientific reason to break out the bubbly.

Unfortunately, it’s just not true. The 2013 study was focused on champagne and memory, but the results were nowhere near clear-cut.

Much of the hype stems from a press release sent out by the University of Reading at the time of the paper’s publication in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling. The release states that “drinking one to three glasses of champagne a week may counteract the memory loss associated with ageing, and could help delay the onset of degenerative brain disorders, such as dementia.”

Nope, nope, and nope. First of all, there’s a big gaping omission in this story: the species of the research subjects. The scientists tested the effects of champagne on rats, not people. We have no idea if these effects might translate to human brains.

Secondly, there was no proof that champagne helped more than any other alcoholic beverage. The 24 rats in the study were divided into three groups. Eight got champagne, eight got another alcoholic drink, the final eight were given a non-alcoholic fizzy drink. All three groups were then led through a series of tasks to test their spatial memory. It’s true that the champagne-swilling rodents did better than those who stayed sober, but they didn’t fare any better than the non-champagne-booze group. In other words, there’s no proof that champagne has super memory-boosting powers.

Finally, the ability of champagne to stave off dementia was never even tested.

So what did the study prove? Not much. It showed that the spatial memory of older rats can improve with moderate alcohol consumption—but even these results have yet to be replicated.

Like any other science, the research surrounding the effects of alcoholic beverages is constantly evolving and full of contradictions. Some studies say drinking in moderation is beneficial; others say it’s dangerous.

The bottom line: There’s no evidence whatsoever that upping your Cristal consumption will save your brain. But let’s be serious. Since when did you need an excuse to drink champagne?

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History
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
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It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.


A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
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Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.


New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.


American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
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With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.


Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
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A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.


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Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.

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Courtesy New District
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Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Courtesy New District
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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