Can a Glass of Wine a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

wine-glass-medI’m sure we’ve all seen the myriad headlines over the past few years touting the health benefits of wine.* But can including wine in your daily diet really make a difference? I’m pleased to report that, in moderation, indeed it can. Extensive studies on the topic disclose some pretty impressive findings suggesting that wine—especially the red variety—may promote a longer lifespan, improve mental health, protect against certain cancers, and provide benefits to the heart.

Here are just some of the benefits that you get from drinking wine:

The Benefit: Promotes Longevity

The Evidence: A Finnish study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007 showed that wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than those consuming beer or spirits. Source:

The Benefit: Slows the Aging Process

The Evidence: Researchers from Harvard Medical School reported that red wine has anti-aging properties. Specifically, resveratrol (from the red grape skin) was the compound found to have the beneficial effect. Their findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism. Source:

The Benefit: Reduces Heart-Attack Risk

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers according to a 16-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 11,711 men, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007. Source:

The Benefit: Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

The Evidence: Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease according to a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France have more procyanidins than other wines. Source:

The Benefit: Reduces the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Evidence: Research on 369,862 individuals studied over an average of 12 years each, at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, reveals that moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes (as published in Diabetes Care, 2005). Source:

The Benefit: Lowers the Risk of Stroke

The Evidence: The possibility of suffering a blood clot-related stroke drops by about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol according to a Columbia University study of 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, published in Stroke, 2006. Source:

The Benefit: Decreases the Risk of Cataracts

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers; those who consume wine are 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those drinking mainly beer according to a study of 1,379 individuals in Iceland, published in Nature, 2003. Source:

The Benefit: Cuts the Risk of Colon Cancer

The Evidence: Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent according to a Stony Brook University study of 2,291 individuals over a four-year period, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005. Source:

The Benefit: Lowers the Risk of Developing Dementia

The Evidence: A Loyola University Medical Center study, published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, reported that moderate red wine drinkers had a 23 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to nondrinkers. Source:

The Benefit: Reduces the Risk of Depression

The Evidence: Drinking wine may reduce the risk of depression, according to researchers from several universities in Spain. Data was gathered on 2,683 men and 2,822 women aged from 55 to 80 years over a seven-year period. The findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine. Source:

*The health benefits come from moderate wine consumption, defined by the American Heart Association as one to two four-ounce glasses a day.

Become your own mixologist

cocktail_shaker_2by Shelby Sheelan-Bernard – McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Home bars are back in style in a big way. Tapping into the nostalgia of the dry martini era, they’re all about embracing the ritual and resurgence of the classic cocktail.

“You remember that generation — the man would have his Beefeater martini and the wife’s got her Tom Collins,” said Tony Abou-Ganim, author of the Modern Mixologist book and “Modern Mixology: Making Great Cocktails at Home” DVD. “You can offer guests wine and beer, and that’s great. But offer them a classic cocktail? Now that’s an experience.”

Check out these tips to get you started:

Liquor: “You could spend $100, $500, $3,000 or more,” Abou-Ganim said, suggesting you start with the basics and go from there: vodka, tequila and a light-bodied rum.

Vodka, he said, is a must. “It’s the No. 1 consumed spirit, and most people like it.” As you add to your collection, he suggests extending to a citrus-flavored vodka.

Tequila is another good bet. Abou-Ganim suggests 100 percent agave silver, which is great for that summertime favorite: margaritas.

There’s a seemingly endless variety of rums on the market, but Jordan Catapano, author of This Girl Walks Into a Bar book and website, suggests a white rum. “It’s really popular and can be paired with simple ingredients,” she said.

If you want to expand further, Abou-Ganim recommends picking up both a masculine gin (like a Tanqueray) and a feminine one (such as Bombay Sapphire).

[Read more…]

Wine storage is as important as vintage

http://www.virtualme.bizSerious wine collectors (and you know who you are) should stop reading immediately, go to your temperature-controlled storage unit and select a fabulous bottle to drink when we come over.

The rest of us — not-so-serious collectors who have some bottles accumulating — need to figure out how to keep those special bottles in good, drinkable condition.

I suspect most Carolina wine drinkers have killed a bottle or two — and I mean really killed it, in a hot car on an August shopping afternoon. We know wine can be hurt if not handled with at least a little TLC.

First, which wines age well? Figuring this out is a bit of an art as well as a science. Generally, most wines are released when they are ready to drink and need no special aging. For wines you may want to hang onto for a bit, look for things that act as preservatives. Acid, alcohol and tannin all do that. Drinkers who are seeking wines to “lay down” (or store for a while) often seek varieties and styles that are high in one or more of those.

Once you have wines you want to keep, it’s all about keeping the cork firmly in place. It acts as a barrier against oxygen, which will prematurely age wine.

Read more here.

Can drinking wine save you from dementia?

As reported by the Daily News & Analysis this week,  scientists have found that a daily cocktail or glass of wine could help delay dementia.

Their research has shown that alcohol is an anti-inflammatory (inflammation promotes Alzheimer’s) and raises good HDL cholesterol, which helps ward off dementia.

Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina found that older people who had eight to 14 alcoholic drinks a week had a 37% lower risk of dementia than non-drinkers.  Editor’s note:  It is eight to 14 drinks a week — not a day.

However, adults who go on occasional binges face a higher risk, reports the Daily Mail.

According to a Finnish study, adults who binged in midlife at least once a month — drinking, for example, more than five bottles of beer or a bottle of wine at one sitting — were three times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s, 25 years later.

Fact or myth? The only heart-friendly alcohol is red wine

FACT: Beer, wine and liquors all confer the same health benefits.

The so-called French Paradox elevated red wine to health-food status when researchers thought it was the antioxidants in the drink that protected the foie gras- and cheese-loving French from heart disease. More recent research, however, has shown that antioxidants aren’t the answer after all. Alcohol — the ethanol itself — raises levels of protective high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or good cholesterol), which help protect against plaque buildup in the arteries and reduce clotting factors that contribute to heart attack and stroke, according to Eric Rimm, ScD, associate professor of nutrition at the School of Public Health at Harvard University. Any kind of beverage that contains alcohol, when consumed in moderation (and that means one to two drinks a day), helps reduce heart disease risk.Source:  Cooking Light Magazine, April 2010