Doshas in Alcohol

So it’s summertime and oftentimes alcohol is a part of our celebration in the sunshine. Well, alcohol is known as “fire-water” for a reason. It’s heating and is processed in the house of pitta, the liver–so drinking alcohol can be pretty pitta imbalancing. Many clients have asked, “which drinks are best according to ayurveda?”

Well, ayurveda doesn’t necessarily promote drinking alcohol; however, several traditional medicines are herbalized wines “drakshas.” The take-home is the same as with anything you put into your body (or life): look at the qualities and select what is best for YOU. When I say look at the qualities, I mean pay attention to how it feels in your system: dry, hot, cold, wet, airy, etc. Oftentimes the description of a wine will list the qualities. Here are a few pointers:

  • Hard liquor is the most heating. Anything that burns on the way down is going to be more heating than something that doesn’t.
  • Red wine is more heating than white wine. Spicier, and more acidic tasting wines are more heating. (This is why these wines are paired with heavier foods that are more often served in fall and winter.)
  • Beer is the least pittagenic (heating) because it has hops (a cooling flower) and malt (kapha).
  • Fruit ciders are also pretty sweet, and not too heating.
  • Beer is carbonated, and all carbonated beverages have a good amount of vata. Anything served ice cold will reduce your digestive fire (increase vata)

So if you are in pitta imbalance, choosing a sweet white wine or malty beer is probably the least aggravating to pitta. If you also are trying to balance vata, try to avoid carbonated and maybe have your drink closer to room temperature than ice cold.

I researched some white varietals that are sweet, fruity, aromatic–all qualities that soothe pitta. Have fun exploring these:

  • Bual
  • Chenin-blanc
  • Colombard
  • Riesling
  • Malvasia
  • Muller-Thurgau
  • Pedro Ximenez
  • Semillon
  • Viognier

Hope this helps you choose at the store. Drink responsibly!

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