The European Community, define the concept of food in a Regulation (Regulation No 178/02), according to which the term food is “any substance or product, processed, partly processed or unprocessed, intended to be ingested or referred to, is reasonably expected to be ingested, by humans.
I prefer the nutritional definition which states, “a substance is defined as food if it can be used for the energy needs by an organism”. That is to have among the basic requirements, the appetite, the digestibility, and that the simple and soluble products, resulting from the substance’s digestion, can be assimilated by the organism.
If, as in wine, these properties are added to the ability to activate taste and olfactory sensations that excite digestive processes, then the food function is even more complete.
Obviously not all foods have the same degree of metabolic use, wine included. Some provide energy to the body to maintain its temperature and to do a specific job, others have a more “aesthetic” function.
The discussion about wine be a food, has found in the past some disagreement, that today seem to be favorably resolved in defining wine as a complementary energy food. The energy part is met by substances such as alcohol, glycerin, and in some cases by sugars, substances from which calories are generated (from the process of combustion). Complementary because alone, wine, is inadequate to provide the vital necessities of the body.
Some calories, derived from the oxidation of less important substances present in wine, are not useful for muscle work, but only to cover some of the basal consumption and hence an economy of nutritional principles, which could make the wine be considered as “an energy saving food“.
The possible conclusion might be that wine behaves indirectly as a food supplying an intake of energy from 700 to 1500 calories per liter.
In the overall view of a diet, however, one can not ignore that, in addition to energy and chemical calculations, there are other factors that affect why human being like to drink wine. Among them are the sensory qualities: flavor, smell and appetite, the latter the most spontaneous, to the point that the consumption of wine by people, goes way back in the history.
Conclusion: Is wine a food?
Yes, wine can be considered a complementary and an indirect type of food, supplying to the organism, components of nutritional interest (more on this with a next post). A food spontaneously easy to indulge. And with great pleasure.