New York Times Explores English Monks’ Caffeinated Wine
Buckfast Abbey, an English monastery approaching its millennial anniversary, has drawn criticism for its production of a sweet caffeinated wine, The New York Times reports. The beverage, which the abbey sells in 750-milliliter bottles through a distributor, is 15 percent alcohol and contains more than 300 milligrams of caffeine. The fortified wine was originally sold as a tonic, intended for medicinal purposes, but in recent years has gained popularity in Scotland among young people. Critics cite a 2009 report for the Scottish prison service that purportedly found that four in 10 young offenders ranked Buckfast tonic wine as their favorite drink, and 43.3 percent of respondents said they consumed the beverage before committing a crime.
“There is no doubt that caffeine-alcohol mixers make wide-awake drunks,” a physician and member of Scottish Parliament, Richard Simpson, told the Times. “If you drink enough alcohol you eventually become comatose, but if you combine it with caffeine you can go through a fairly aggressive phase before you become comatose.” Simpson has proposed legislation limiting the caffeine content in alcohol beverages to 150 milligrams per liter, and similar provisions have been debated in Scottish Parliament for several years. “It is a perfectly good drink if consumed modestly as a tonic wine,” Simpson reportedly said. “It is a pity it has become what it has become.”