Wine is not a workout recovery drink.
The other day, I was inundated on both Facebook and Twitter with people alerting me to a recent article on Bicycling.com, where the author “paired” cycling with certain wines and suggested that wine is a good post-ride recovery beverage.
While I normally get all giddy when I see an article combing two of my passions, when it is presented in a way that is simply irresponsible, I feel the need to speak up.
And that certainly is the case here.
While the author of the article never explicitly states that wine is a good recovery for cycling, she certainly dances around the subject, causing, no doubt, many people to get that message.
After prefacing the list of suggested wine/bike pairings with “savor one of these for your next ride” she referred to a Pinot Grigio as a “bright white wine [that] is like lemonade for the soul.”
Um, no, it’s not. (I would say that Pinot Grigio is usually quite boring and bland, and that it does little for my soul, but I have already ranted about that.)
She also suggested a $100 bottle of Antinori Tignanello, the famed Super Tuscan as a good choice for a post-ride quencher. First of all, a wine like Tignanello needs plenty of time to open up; it’s certainly a wine that can usually benefit from a decanting. When I get off the bike, pretty much the last thing I am thinking (next to getting back on the bike) is sitting around for an hour or three before I can have something to drink. (Besides, a wine like this demands a bit of contemplation, not a sweat stained stem.)
Another wine on her list was the Wallula Vineyards 2010 Den Hoed “Andreas” Cabernet Sauvignon (which, curiously, was the only wine on the list that included a vintage), another rather expensive wine at $80. Under this wine’s description, she writes: “Just completed your first century or survive your first race? Celebrate with a rich, healing vino like this weighty cabernet from Washington.”
Huh? You first call it a “healing vino” and then refer to it as “weighty”? Does that make sense to anyone out there? The last thing I want after riding a century (100 miles) is to be weighted down with a 14.5% alcohol wine.
I get it, wine pairings are all the rage. People feel the need to pair wine with everything these days (pairing wine with Halloween candy? Seriously?), but suggesting wine serves as a suitable way to recover from a ride is simply wrong.
I am also the first to embrace visiting wine regions by bike as there is no better way to understand a region and appreciate its beauty than by riding through the vineyards at a leisurely pace.
Notice I said leisurely pace, id est, not trying to notch any personal bests or score any Strava KOMs. I always counsel people on bike tours through wine regions to take their time, enjoy the setting, stop in a few wineries, and above all spit. As a cycling tour guide in Europe, I was slow to adopt the “spit, don’t swallow” mantra and I can assure you that riding on winding roads with several glasses in you is not a good idea (which was pointed out to me once by a gendarme in Champagne).
There is no doubt in my mind that the article’s author, Selene Yeager, would likely put me to shame on a bike (or at least a mountain bike), and I am certainly no exercise physiologist, but I have read quite a bit about exercise (particularly cycling) and the effects of alcohol on the body. And it’s pretty clear: the last thing you should be drinking after a hard ride is a glass of “vino” (OK, maybe vodka or peppermint schnapps are worse ideas, but not by much).
After a good ride/hard workout you are more than likely dehydrated and your body needs to replenish the fluids it just lost. While there is certainly “fluid” in wine, that alcohol in there is not doing you any favors.
Why? Well, anyone who has had a rough morning after boozing it up can probably tell you–alcohol can have a dehydrating effect on the body. So does it make sense to take a water-starved body and dehydrate it further?
And before you go all “Beer!” on me, while beer is marginally better than wine post-workout, it is still not the greatest idea. Sure, there is more water to alcohol in beer (and a few more elements that some try to pass off as “nutrients”), but all that “alcohol pretty much screws up everything.”
So save the booze for later on, for dinner with your riding buddies.
Right after the ride? Have a real recovery drink (I usually have that crazy fancy stuff: water).