Alcohol Is Alcohol

Joseph A. Seagram & Sons has won endorsement from federal authorities for its claim that the alcohol is equivalent in comparing 1 ounces of liquor with a 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine. Fair enough.

California wine growers don't like the claim, part of a Seagram advertising campaign to reverse the trend from hard liquor to what many consumers had perceived as the softer alternative of wine or beer. And the wine makers have a point in challenging Seagram on the size of its shot glass. Most home bars and many public bars use at least 1 1/2 ounces of liquor when they mix a whiskey and soda or a gin and tonic, and a good deal more when it comes to a martini. But, then, some bars purvey wine in balloon glasses with alcohol capacity equal to two scotches.

Seagram has run into trouble in trying to get its message into all the media. That is too bad. There seems no question that the basic motive is to sell more strong stuff. But along the way it is useful to remind consumers that no alcohol is innocent of the risk of intoxication. Those who down multiple cans of beer or glasses of wine may now be more prudent about when to stop. And when not to get behind the wheel of a car.

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