“In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas”, “In wine there is truth, in water there is health.”
Yeah well, I’m taking this somewhere else.
Besides making you feel extra courageous (maybe dancing at that wedding, or maybe texting that ex of yours…), or feeling extra sassy (meeeoooow) – wine has some actual physiological benefits. I know what you’re thinking “DEAR GOD THANK YOU ECHO FOR VALIDATING MY WINE DRINKING” so first of all… You’re welcome. Secondly, I know you want some science to back this sh*t up so luckily for you, I had to do an eight week long article analysis in one of my winemaking classes so I have some knowledge bombs for you.
For those that don’t know, I am enrolled in a Wine Studies program at the college with a focus in Wine Making. Wine is art, chemistry, biology, history, nutrition, culture… AND I CAN’T GET ENOUGH. So when I was presented with an opportunity to pick a scientific journal to delve into, naturally I chose one that made the most sense to me and the rest of my life. Which was:
This ain’t some Cosmo article, folks. Them there are facts.
So let me break this down a bit, and let you get on your way to enjoying phenolic filled, antioxidant rich red wines. The overarching theme of this study basically comes down to: Wine in moderation, consistently, and yes – it is beneficial.
The big reason: Polyphenols
Polyphenols in wine are complex mixture of flavonoids.Examples of compounds found in grapes with known health bene ts include melatonin, catechins, ellagic acid, lutein, quercetin, and resveratrol. These are the tannins, color pigments (anthoycanins), and various acids. Basically everything that makes wine… wine.
What do these do for your health?
These act as antioxidants (oxidants are what oxidize and harm our body), and reduce the harmful cholesterol oxidation (LDL’s). They also modulate cell signaling pathways and potentially hundreds of other interactions between wine constituents and therapeutic effects.
Basically, they help with inflammation, your body functions working together better, and getting rid of those “bad” dietary fats.
And that heart of yours?: Red wine polyphenols have vasorelaxing effects, which are associated with lower blood pressure (Carollo et al. 2007). Red wine, dealcoholized red wine, and grape juice consumption have lowered blood pressure in patients with coronary artery disease or hypertension.
The C word: Cancer – Alcohol (which is a constituent of wine) has been found to be a carcinogen HOWEVER the consumption of wine has shown to have anti carcinogen effects, including colon, basal cell carcinoma, ovarian, and prostate (Bianchini and Vainio 2003). Moderate and consistent (not the worst Rx to have) consumption of wine reduced risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma, when compared to heavy drinkers or nondrinkers (Kubo et al. 2009). A meta analysis found that modest wine consumption had an inverse association for developing lung cancer, for both average wine consumption of less than one drink per day (RR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.59–1.00) and one drink or greater per day (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.60–1.02) (Chao 2007). Female non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients in one study were found to have a noticeable overall survival (75% vs. 69%) and disease free survival (70% vs. 67%) in occasional wine drinkers versus abstainers (Han et al. 2010).
Cortisol is the hormone released when your body is under stress. This can be life stress or stress from things such as exercise. When we are inundated with too much stress and therein too much cortisol, or body can’t properly facilitate it.
Ever felt extra bloated after a crazy week? Or maybe you did everything right as far as diet and exercise goes and you still managed to go UP on the scale after a week long fight with your boyfriend and no sleep? Freakin’ cortisol man.
The good news is, a reduction in cortisol happens with ingesting foods high in (you guessed it) POLYPHENOLS. (See super wordy section above). Instead of reaching for a twix to cope or diving your head face first into a bag of tortilla chips – take a deep breath and have a glass of Pinot Noir to relax with that steak dinner of yours. Not only will it pair nicely, but the polyphenols with help calm that stress hormone, and properly use those fats.
Wine also has been shown to have vasodialating effects which will promote the increase of blood flow. Less restricted blood vessels are going to promote calming and relaxant effects and run everything smoothly.
So which wines are best?
Studies show that the best wines for continued moderate and consistent consumption are moderate in alcohol percentage, high phenolic red wines – such as Pinot Noir. Wines produced naturally or with little additives or organic practices will be less likely to contain pesticides or MOG (material other than grapes) that can hinder the health benefits. High quality red wines will give you the most bang for your buck, as white wines do not have anthocyanin and as many of the other healthful benefits as their red friends.
Just another reason to buy from your local wineries, and quit buying that sh*t box or mass produced wines. (I’m talking to you, Menage A Trois drinkers…)
All in moderation
It’s safe to say that you probably know that TOO much of almost anything is toxic to your body. Binge drinking will get you nowhere but hungover and eating a breakfast burrito nine times out of ten. I like to think of my wine like a nice addition to the end of day (or let’s be honest, sometimes middle of the day) that will supplement my meals or moments with friends.
Negative effects in the study were found with over consumption. Some people with severe asthma should avoid wines for detrimental health reasons. Anyone that has never consumed wine will not find benefits from once in a blue moon wine filled nights, but those that keep it in moderation and a regular occurrence in their weeks can see the constituents as beneficial.
Above all the benefits my favorite part of wine is that wine tasting makes you do something we too often forget to do in life: Stop, and take it all in. Remove all of the noise, take it slow, and focus on sensations.
I have BARELY touched the surface of all that the article covers – the benefits are numerous and highly documented. And FASCINATING! Above all, it tastes damn good and soothes the soul.
Cheers to good health and good wine!
If you need help choosing wines, or a crash course in tasting and selecting – Email me!
I have recently begun scheduling and taking on private tasting clients, who tell me what they like and don’t like, and we find new wines to try and teach them how to select their own. No pretense way of learning to taste without feeling like a fish out of water at a winery.