Local Expert Warns of Underage Drinkers Consuming Cooking Wine

By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some teens are turning to the grocery store to get drunk, buying cooking wine.

Cooking wine is readily available on most Pennsylvania grocery store shelves even though the alcohol-by-volume can be as high as 17 percent.

It’s not regulated by the state liquor control board because it’s considered non-potable, loaded with so much salt that most people wouldn’t consider drinking it.

“A whole bottle of cooking wine is equivalent to three or four beers,” says Emily Rubin, a registered dietician with Jefferson University Hospital.

Rubin says although the alcohol is the major concern among teens, a 12-ounce bottle of cooking wine carries nearly 1½ times the recommended daily allowance of sodium.

“It is very high in sodium, so consuming that in conjunction with, if they’re eating a fast-food meal or pretzels or popcorn or snack food, they are eating close to 10,000 milligrams of sodium per day.”

Which, she warns, could be a problem in the long term, especially if there’s a family history of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or liver disease.

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