Archive for the 'wine and health' Category

White wine, red wine, the frontal cortex, spooky store – sipped and spit

SIPT: white wine
White wine has not ridden the good-for-you train as far, fast or as well as red wine. Yesterday, white wine almost suffered derailment. First, German researchers said that the higher acidity in white wine could damage teeth! (Vigonier begs to differ.) Then, another study of suggested that of all alcoholic drinks, white wine had the biggest impact on women’s fertility in IVF. The Worldwide White Wine Council will issue a new statement shortly.

SPIT: Iron and SIPPED: tannins
Tannins have always gotten the bad rap for mucking up red wine pairings with fish. But it turns out that it’s actually the iron! Read Ray Isle’s funny take on the research.

SPIT: the frontal cortex
“we shouldn’t expect our poor olfactory cortex to be able to reliably assign an exact point score…” [Scienceblogs]

SIPPED: Spooky decorations
TheSnarkHunter points us to this seasonal wine shop display at Biondivino in San Francisco; if you know of other good ones, hit the comments!

Wine giveth years; meat taketh away

SIPPED: wine
Bloomberg reports : “Half a glass of wine a day may add five years to your life, a new study suggests. Drink beer, and you’ll live only 2 1/2 years longer.” Take that, resveratrol pill–a lot more fun!

SPIT: red meat
The New York Times reports on another study: “the men and women who consumed the most red and processed meat were likely to die sooner.”

Maybe that’s why red meat needs wine–a net effect on mortality?

60 Minutes on red wine, 1991

In 1991, the CBS show “60 Minutes” ran an influential segment of possible health benefits of red wine. Entitled “The French Paradox,” correspondent Morley Safer looked at how on earth the French could eat high fat food, such as cheese, and have low rates of heart failure. Research concluded the key variable was not only the type of fat but also red wine. The resulting demand for red wine, the New York Times wrote a few years later, was seen as “potentially the biggest boon to the wine industry since the repeal of Prohibition.”

Morely Safer was at it again earlier this evening, talking about red wine and lab rats. The subject of the piece tonight was about resveratrol (it’s everywhere!), a component found naturally in red wine that may hold the key to a longer, more slothful life in concentrated pill form, not necessarily wine. So great is the potential for the company making the pills, Sirtris, that Glaxo Smith Kline acquired them for $720 million last year. The pills are five years from being on the market they say in the piece.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to explore tonight’s 12 minute segment over on CBS. Here instead is a flashback to see the original four-minute segment from 1991. How naive we were then, back before certain types of fats were taxed! And how funny that the story features the French paradox and they show bottles of Lopez de Heredia from Rioja!

Resveratrol binge: Strange Cru, part 2

bobanddoug Remember resveratrol and its life extending qualities, guilt-free gluttony and cardiovascular-improving sloth in laboratory mice? Oh yeah, that was if had the equivalent of 35 bottles of red wine a day.

Such is the premise for a hysterical essay in the “shouts and murmurs” column in the New Yorker. The author, Noah Baumbach, pretends to go on a bender with his mouse and the drunk dialing, sloth-inducing binge is well worth the read. It’s even better than my screenplay, Strange Cru.

Teenagers, NYC wine bars, Sarkozy, diseased mitochondria – sipped and spit

teenwine SIPPED: discussion!
Eric Asimov of the NYT had a thoughtful article in Wednesday’s paper about exposing teenagers to wine in the home. It’s great to see a constructive discussion (325 comments long!) on his blog about fostering wine enjoyment in the home rather than the usual discussion of excesses. Related: we’ve discussed kids at wineries and how appropriate is the drinking age of 21 here. [NYT]

SIPPED and SPIT: NYC wine bars
Closing tonight is Divine Wine Bar East. Zagat reports they have having the Mother of All Happy Hours tonight to liquidate (ha) the inventory. Opening: Bowery Wine Company and the new wine lounge at Le Cirque. See the action on the NYC wine bar map!

SIPPED: The audacity of nope
French President Sarkozy, a self-proclaimed teetotaler (although see here and here for evidence to the contrary), has the nerve to ask to see the wine list at Windsor Palace before a state dinner. [Times of India]

SIPPED: resveratrol
“Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown for the first time that resveratrol, a natural antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine, helps to destroy cancerous pancreatic cells by crippling the diseased cells’ mitochondria, the minute organelles found in the majority of living cells which provide them with energy.” []

Image: fair-use is made of a reduced size crop of an image that appeared in the NYT attributed to Lisa Adams.

China, brains, more Holy wine, live shrimp – sipped and spit

SPIT: Food and wine gone awry
Cabernet and wedding cake, Cabernet and mac n cheese, pulled pork and Burgundy – great comments, and they’re yours! Check out all of the great and wonderful food pairings that knocked your world.

greatwall SPIT: the hippocampus!
Wine drinkers have a 10 percent smaller hippocampus than those who drink spirits or beer, researchers say! But I thought “Red wine antioxidants protect hippocampal neurons against ethanol-induced damage“! Ugh, my brain hurts.

SPIT: Chinese wine!
“Millions of Chinese will be disappointed by their first taste of wine” is Jancis Robinson’s assessment of home-grown wines in China. Reporting on a recent trip, she, too, was “disappointed” by the “chemical and occasionally rotten odours” in the wines and general lack of progress with the industry over the past five years. [FT]

SIPPED: Holy wine
In Manchester they may go for Fairtrade wine, but Craig Heffley and Seth Gross of Wine Authorities, a wine retailer in Durham, NC, have another goal in mind for the Duke Chapel: tasty. They plan to start selling a 3L bag-in-box next summer for use in the Eucharist. [Durham News]

SPIT: drinking wine
“The 2006 Insolia from Feudo Principi di Butera…can be pleasurably inhaled for minutes.” Going easy on the hippocampus, was he? [NYT]

SIPPED: understatement
Talk about an impossible food wine pairing! Wine critic and blogger Peter Liem visits a sake festival in Japan and eats live shrimp: “My first two passed complacently, but a third, a female full of salty-sweet roe, twitched a little as I decapitated her with my fingers.” What’s his title for this juicy posting? “Niigata Prefecture.” Tony Bourdain, your job is safe–for now!–until Peter recruits a headline writer from Gawker… [peterliem]


Does wine still merit a sin tax?

winetax While we were all out during the holidays, a fascinating piece by David Leonhardt about tax and wine ran in the business section of the Times. He met with Philip Cook, a Duke economist and Yellow Tail lover, who argues in his book that wine is getting a free ride from a tax perspective. The federal excise tax on wine has stayed level at $1.07 a gallon (about $0.21 a bottle, a tax that must be paid before the wine leaves the winery) since 1992. So Cook argues that we are “subsidizing” wine since the real tax rate has fallen by 33% in that time. He advocates doubling the excise tax on wine and alcohol since he says that the tax doesn’t cover the “costs” of alcohol on society. Here’s the way Leonhardt sums it up:

And for all that is wonderful about wine, beer and liquor, they clearly bring some heavy costs. Right now, the patchwork of alcohol taxes isn’t coming close to covering those costs — the costs of drunken-driving checkpoints, of hospital bills for alcohol-related accidents and child abuse, and of the economic loss caused by death and injury. Last year, some 17,000 Americans, or almost 50 a day, died in alcohol-related car accidents. An additional 65,000 people a year die from other accidents, assaults or illnesses in which alcohol plays a major role.

Wine has ethyl alcohol in it so it contributes to these statistics. But the argument has floated around for centuries that wine is consumed differently than beer and spirits. Since at least the time of Thomas Jefferson, wine has had advocates who see wine as a drink of moderation since it is mostly consumed with food.

Further, since about 1991 when “60 Minutes” popularized the notion of the “French paradox,” there have been many studies underscoring the health benefits of wine, particularly the role of tannins. Heck, resveratrol extends life and promises fat-free gluttony!

So what do you say, does wine still deserve a sin tax? Of course, Cook does not take into account the fact that wine geeks already have been paying a “tax” called the declining dollar. Sobering indeed.

And if we’re opening the discussion of taxes and wine, there’s always the environmental cost of the wine industry in the form of greenhouse gases. A carbon tax, perhaps?

Counting calories with Geoff Kalish, MD

Reader mail: Which has more calories, red or white wine?
-Jill via yahoo mail

Well although I am a doctor, I’m not that kind of doctor. But I know where to turn. So I sat down with Geoff Kalish, MD who used to write a column about wine and health for the Wine Spectator.

Dr. Vino: So which is more caloric, red or white?

Dr. Kalish: Neither. The color of the wine makes no difference on the calories.

Dr. V: Aha! A red herring. So what does make one glass of wine more caloric than another?

Dr. K: Primarily, the alcohol level. A four ounce glass of wine at 12 percent alcohol has about 120 calories; the same size with a wine 14 percent alcohol has about 140-160 calories; a 16 percent alcohol wine, about 160-190 calories.

Dr. V: Holy Turley, Batman! What about residual sugar in a wine? Does that make a difference in the calories?

Dr. K: Not as much as alcohol.

Dr. V: What about moscato d’Asti at 5.5% alcohol and lots of sugar?

Dr. K: Sugar provides many less calories per gram than does alcohol (4 compared to 7). Moscato is a lower calorie wine. That, prosecco, brut zero Champagne are all low calorie wine choices. It’s zinfandel, amarone, some California chardonnays, for example, that have higher calories because of the alcohol level.

Dr. V: So should people watching their weight cut wine out as an easy way to reduce calories?

Dr. K: No. Research has shown a small amount of wine in a weight loss plan can actually act as an appetite suppressant, in part because of the alcohol level as well as the pectin content. However, young, tannic reds appear not to have this effect, so aim for a wine that is 11 – 12% alcohol and not overly tannic.

Dr. V: Interesting. I thought red wine was overall the “healthier” drink because of those tannins.

Dr. K: Tannins may have other health benefits but this is just in terms of acting as an appetite suppressant.

Dr. V: All right, thanks. And bottoms up with a dry chenin blanc!


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