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: foodandwine.com

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: medicalnewstoday.com

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: foodandwine.com

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: foodandwine.com

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: foodandwine.com

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: foodandwine.com

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: foodandwine.com

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: foodandwine.com

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: medicalnewstoday.com

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: medicalnewstoday.com

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

Aging gracefully

There are plenty of ways to make the most of a bottle of wine: with the perfect meal at home, out at your favorite restaurant, with family or with close friends. But there’s no substitute for giving a suitable wine the opportunity to age. That’s not to say that every wine should be aged — far from it, in fact.

Most wines these days are made to be consumed in their youth. But a properly aged wine provides something that can’t possibly be simulated in the winemaking process, with a decanter, or by using any gimmick or gadget.

There’s been a dramatic push over the past decade or two for winemakers to create super-plush, dense, extracted red wines, with soft tannins and generous amounts of oak that serve to make a wine highly approachable in its youth. White wines have been pushed to greater levels of ripeness, and consequently the occasional raging alcohol content.

There’s been so much emphasis on  making sleek, immediately approachable wines that it has forced classically made, well-balanced varieties to the sidelines. From Australia and California in the New World to the classic Old World wine-growing regions of Bordeaux and Rhone Valley in France and Tuscany and Piedmont in Italy, a growing number of winemakers are doing everything they can to make their wines as drinkable as possible upon release. But the almost inevitable tradeoff is longevity; without ample acid or tannin, it’s difficult for a wine to age gracefully, and all of the exuberant fruit that can be so appealing in a young wine tends to disappear before the oak has a chance to integrate into the wine.

Read the full article here written by Jeff Bramwell, co-owner of The Raleigh Wine Shop, as it appeared in the spring 2012 issue of Wake Living Magazine.