Originally created 12/30/98

Small portions



Moderate drinking

Several studies comparing the incidence of heart disease among different populations have found that the disease is less common in moderate drinkers than in non-drinkers or, especially, in heavy drinkers. The problem is that "moderate" means different things to different people.

The American Heart Association defines a drink as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof whiskey. These portions contain 11 to 14 grams of alcohol.

The AHA guidelines for decreased risk of heart disease are one or two AHA drinks per day for men and one for women. Most medical studies find the optimal protection for men to lie somewhere between 15 and 30 grams of alcohol per day. For simplicity, let's say that the target for men is about 23 grams of alcohol per day and for women 13.

To find out how many ounces of a given beverage will give you 23 grams of alcohol, divide 100 by the percentage of alcohol in the beverage.

Some examples:

5-percent beer: 20 ounces

12-percent wine: 8.3 ounces

40-percent (80-proof) whiskey: 2 1/2 ounces

50-percent (100-proof) brandy: 2 ounces

Women: Take slightly more than half of these amounts.

Wine convenience

It turns out 7-Eleven also wants to be your convenience wine store. 7-Eleven markets have long carried a few wines in the $5 to $10 range, and the chain is expanding that category, but now stores will also sell as many as 30 wines at up to $15 a bottle from producers such as Beringer, Kendall-Jackson, Bolla, Turning Leaf, Fetzer and Gabbiano. Each store will make its own selection from a range of about 50 wines.

The wines will split about 70 percent domestic and 30 percent imported. 7-Eleven is even planning to go into the wine import business for itself. It's test-marketing two French "vins de pays," a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot.

The expanded wine selection will be displayed at a special rack, where you'll also be able to buy the latest Wine Spectator magazine. And there will be shelf tags describing the wines and suggesting food pairings. All white wines will also be available from a refrigerator case so your last-minute wine purchase will be chilled.

The change will affect the 3,200 U.S. 7-Eleven branches with wine and beer licenses (2,400 do not have them). There are 18,000 7-Elevens worldwide, and the chain plans to introduce wine in some of them, particularly in Japan.

The other California

VIN DU CUCAMONGA: Though Rancho Cucamonga was the home to one of California's first wine countries, that was at the turn of the century. Today, it's better known for industrial parks, real estate developments and its minor league baseball team, the Quakes.

There still are a couple of wineries operating in the area, though. And, given the area's hot temperatures, some of the best wines are those based on the products of Spain and Portugal.

In fact, Joseph Filippi, a winery since 1922, has wines that are inspired by both -- a Sherry-like Angelica Elena and a Port-esque Fondante Ciello, which features added "chocolate essences."

But the class of the area is probably Rancho de Philo's Triple Cream Sherry. A project of Philo Biane and his daughter, Janine Biane Tibbetts, it draws on Mission grapes from 50-year-old vines, aged in 13 "soleras" for up to 18 years. It has a mature Sherry nose and a good, deep flavor of toffee and butterscotch.

The bad news is that it's for sale only at the winery and its mid-November release has become something of an annual event. All 300 or so cases disappear within a week.

Not to worry, says Ms. Tibbetts; she's putting in a 14th "solera" this year, which will add 20 cases to the output. "I know that's not a lot," she says, "but when you're working with something this old, you move slowly."

Pasta perfection

The Italian ambassadors at the National Pasta Association's page feature a potpourri of low-fat and pasta dishes, both hot and cold. Among the offerings are Spaghetti with Bloody Mary Sauce, Fajita-Style Orzo and Quick Chili Pasta. The slim-down recipes are found at www.ilovepasta.org/lowfat.html .

Here comes fudge

Crazy Mamie Eisenhower Fudge is one of many "kooky" fudge offerings at Skaarup's Fudge page. Other recipes include Key Lime Fudge, Kool Aid Fudge, Easy Vegan Fudge and other more mainstream chocolate offerings at homepages.skylink.net/~skaarup/fudge.html .