Friday, December 14, 2012

It’s a 5-2 world

Wine societyThe Royal Society of Chemists held a wine tasting in Cambridge last week, a festive event with good conversation and excellent bottles from The Wine Society.The  moderator,  a leading sommelier, started everyone off with dilute cups of tartaric acid, glucose, and ethanol so that we could learn the location and progression of each component.  The cups were then combined in various mixtures so that we could characterize flavors and alcohol content.  Then on to a selection of 12 wines, from both an aesthetic and chemical perspective.

I got pretty good at tastes, but we didn’t have similar guidance for smells.   I struggled all evening with identifying fruits and flowers: I‘m not a naturalist like my British peers, who quickly specified sources down to the genus.

In Latin. 

Nonetheless, it was a really fun and interesting evening, and I have a better approach to a glass in a good restaurant.

Along the way, the sommelier was asked how often it was safe to drink wine.  He commented that his partner, a physician, told him that excessive drinking leads to up-regulation of the liver enzyme that breaks down ethanol.  The enzyme also creates free radicals when not metabolizing alcohol, thus causing associated liver damage.

The way to avoid liver damage was to prevent up-regulation.  This could be accomplished by abstaining from alcohol two days each week.

The 5-2 Rule: In each week, do what you want for five days, but abstain for two.

I’ve been practicing a 5:2 diet for a couple of months and dropped 15 pounds by fasting on Monday and Thursday.  Now a 5-2 path to liver health.

Do two examples point to a rule?

  • 5 days work : 2 two days rest at the weekend.
  • 5 days training : interspersed with 2 days rest to let the muscles recover (and Standard 5:2 Split routines within workouts)
  • Golden RatioThe aesthetically perfect Golden Ratio (right).  Ah, you say, a bridge too far: the value of the Ratio is  1.618!  Yes, but the formula  (1+√5)/2, is at least in metaphoric distance.

Maybe not. 

But my point is that the secret to achieving balance in life may rest with something as simple as taking two days off for every five days doing it. 

I’ve long taught (but seldom practiced) that it’s important to keep balance in life: a new business will suck every moment that you offer it and always demand more.  A proportionate break, a 5:2 strategy to embrace life’s alternatives, to stop doing something that is good in moderation but bad in excess, is a nice strategy...

  …that you may observe discretion and your lips reserve knowledge.  Proverbs 5:2

2 comments:

Jules: said...

I'm always a bit demoralized by wine experts, or even amateurs with a better sense of taste and smell than mine.

David Hampton said...

Hi, Jules (and congrats on the new wheels!),

People smelled raspberries, orange, herbs, cinnamon, kerosene...I only ever smell "fruity wine". Even encouraging us to think red fruit / black fruit for reds or citrus/flower/tropical/seeded for whites was too hard.

I probably just need a lot more practice (but only 5 days a week :) )