The Conduit Magazine - January Article
by Camilla Wood, Owner/MD The Somerset Wine Company
The Health Benefits of Wine Drinking
If December is the glittering month of joyful excess, then January is the bleak month of joyless deprivation - or so the media would have us believe. Dry January has become a fixture in the calendar and a topic of conversation so much so that not subscribing can make you feel like a social outcast. My job this month is to make you feel much better about continuing moderate wine imbibing and not feeling guilty for failing to jump on the wagon - or that bandwagon. Dry January is just that - a bandwagon forced upon us by newspaper/magazine and television editors who have decided January journalism must be all about promoting abstinence, detoxing and exercise routines to counter the excesses of the festive season. Surely striking a healthy balance in all things is the best way forward, and that includes wine drinking.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away then the same can be said for a glass of wine - white or red. From decreased mortality rate to aiding digestion and attacking cancer cells, a moderate consumption of good wine can have very positive health benefits.
I must strongly emphasise here that the benefits of wine are only relevant when low to moderate drinking is undertaken, that means roughly one 175ml glass a day for women and two for men. Clearly the intake of alcohol comes with its own risks and when drunk to excess is dangerous and will thus negate any health benefits. Other factors such as genes/lifestyle/mental health and your environment should be considered when assessing the healthy aspects of wine drinking and I would in no way wish to trivialise those who abstain due to addiction issues. However, there is convincing evidence that in small quantities, ideally accompanied by a meal, wine can play an important role in a healthy balanced diet.
Why? Well, our best friends here are anti-oxidants, more specifically polyphenols, particularly one called resveratrol. Polyphenols are defined as organic compounds which can protect us against some common health problems and possibly certain effects of ageing. They protect cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals - reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body.
Wine is full of goodies, anti-oxidants which attack the free radical badies in the body - those devils which promote cancer. Interestingly, it was always assumed that red wine has higher levels of polyphenols due to increased skin to juice contact to enhance the colour, concentration and tannin structure in red wine. However a recent study by the University of Barcelona has found that phenols in white had equal if not higher anti-oxidants than those in red wine.
Anti-oxidants in wine can boost the immune system, thus warding off infections and high levels of silicon in red wine increase bone density, lowering the risk of osteoporosis. Resveratrol - our champion polyphenol - acts as a blood thinner, thus improves the flow of blood which in turn increases heart health, it also reduces cholesterol. Furthermore, tannins in red wine contain pyrocyanidins, phenols which neutralise the free radicals and can help prevent cardio-vascular disease. Resveratrol has also been found to improve sensibility to insulin, and moderate wine drinking has been linked to a 30% reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, if consumed along with a healthy balanced diet.
Red wine also provides a rich source of digestive probiotics: polyphenols stimulate the release of gastric acid and in particular nitric oxide, a chemical which relaxes the stomach wall, helping to optimise digestion. It is no coincidence that red wine and red meat pair so well because protein softens the wine’s tannins, and red wine also helps emulsify harmful substances - oxidized fats called malonaldehydes, or MDA — released when meat is digested. The Bible said for good reason “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake” (1 Timothy 5:23).
Finally, my two favourite positive benefits of good wine drinking (and by that I mean wine crafted by smaller producers, not made in mass volume and blanketed in chemicals) are that it improves cognitive function and longevity. The Mediterranean lifestyle and diet, which includes moderate wine drinking, has long been linked to greater happiness and longevity as evidenced by those lucky inhabitants of Ikaria, a small Greek island with the highest nonagenarian population. Those wonder polyphenols in red wine are also thought to play a part in slowing brain decline by preventing neurons from dying off and may protect against diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s.
Well, if nothing else is true, a nice glass of wine relaxes one, raises the spirits and opens the mind - as Lord Thomas Dewar said “Minds are like parachutes they function only when open” - and in the bleakness of January I’ll be raising a guilt-free glass to that.
CONTACT SUSANNE OR CAMILLA AT THE SHOP
TEL: 01963 548228
The Somerset Wine Company Ltd.
The Deli Castle Cary
Mob: 07717 396635 Shop: 01963 548228
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat 9am - 6pm
All other times by appointment
LUX Guide 2017 'Best West Country Wine & Spirits Purveyor'
Runner Up as 'Newcomer of The Year' in the Drinks Retailing Awards 2016
Finalist in Muddy Stilettos 'Best Somerset Wine Merchant' 2016 & 2017