Friday Rant: Cycling and Wine

rantI realize that the subject of this rant pretty much flies in the face of the name of my blog, but I feel compelled to address it.

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, 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.)

Fantastic wine, just not right after a ride.

Fantastic wine, just not right after a ride.

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).

Loaded up with, not loaded on, champagne.

Loaded up with, not loaded up on, 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).




About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Pinot Grigio, Rant, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Friday Rant: Cycling and Wine

  1. lulu says:

    for sure Im not drinking $80/bottle wine after doing exercise of any kind! I’m with you….water!, please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unless you are using $100 bills to light a fire in the fireplace, any wine north of $20 deserves a bit of contemplation in my book. At $80? I am going to go into a deep meditation! Not on my agenda immediately following a ride…


  2. alisonmarriott says:

    sooooo……about those wine classes you apparently teach after spinning…?!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A Super Tuscan after cycling?!? Ick. That said, after a long ride (and especially in the summer), I’ve been known to reach for a Radler (which is German for cyclist, btw) a German half-beer, half-limonada drink. It clocks in at around 2.5 ABV, so not sure it even counts as alcohol. 😉 I drink it not as recovery beverage, but as a celebratory, I made it back, everything-hurts-and-I’m-dying beverage! Salud!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like she’s never been on a bike before, let alone tackled any great distance!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. chef mimi says:

    That is just f*ing crazy! I’ve done bike rides, and Gatorade is like nectar of the gods. I’d probably have thrown up if someone gave me a glass of red, especially in the heat!!! thanks for ranting!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kara Sweet says:

    I think it would have been more truthful to claim these would be good celebratory wines after recovering from a really long or special ride. Setting a goal, accomplishing that goal, and then sipping a wine after recovery…not as recovery? I’m just imagining the water I would feel the need to chug, not only after the ride, but after the wine. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Wine is a great way to celebrate milestones (or just life in general), but it should be done with a meal. Recover properly, then celebrate. The article suggests wine for those moments right after a ride and that is just irresponsible (and potentially dangerous).


  7. marycressler says:

    Party Pooper!!!
    What about Vinho Verde? It’s almost like lime flavored Gatorade? 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.