Wine: for the health of it
Wine: For the Health of It
By Gary Cunningham
When asked to write an article about the healthy aspects of wine to complement this issue, I began pulling together all the information I had collected from various medical reports on the health issues associated with wine.
Headlines such as "Red wine anti-oxidant kills cancer cells in experiment" or "Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors" were all compelling to expand upon. But what appears to be even more important is the trend I see growing in the foods selected to pair with wine in our everyday lives.
"A pigmentation chemical that makes grape skins and wines red has been found to kill human leukemia and lymphoma cells cultured in a lab" gets great press and it should. How and why do we equate that information to our own lifestyles? Is there a correlation that not only do these things occur but that wine promotes a healthier diet as well? What I do know is what I see and what I see is a trend toward better health through better food choices and more than ever, healthier foods enjoyed with wine.
I can illustrate that point by comparing the phenomenon we all know of as the tailgate party. If we attended a tailgate gathering at B.S.U. 25 years ago, chances are pretty good that what food we would have enjoyed would have also included a libation. Alcohol would be present but in the form of hard liquor and beer. Wine, if available at all would have been quite limited. Today, wine would be present, perhaps in equal volume to beer. I recently read that in 2007 wine sales per capita surpassed beer consumption by 39% to 36% here in America for the first time ever.
Wine may not be responsible for the increased consumers desire to eat fresher, local, healthier, organic foods if possible, but it has certainly grown as the beverage of choice in our lives to complement our food.
This growth in wine consumption gives us the opportunity to seek out new and unique varietals of wine to pair with a broader selection of healthier foods. Do we associate wine with fresh food? It would appear so: seldom have I shared a bottle of wine with friends and eaten potato chips. Does the atmosphere in which we enjoy wine promote a healthier diet? Explore an evening out at our local Shakespeare Theatre for instance. I often attend and I always check out who's wine is being enjoyed (it's my job to be snoopy about such things) and what food the wine is paired with. Of course every group has a decadent dessert, that's a given for those lovely evenings. But I also see fresh fruit, vegetable trays, baguettes, cheeses and whole grain crackers. In this type of environment we appear to seek out the best of everything, including wine.
A Sommelier will point out that wine helps to cleanse your palate throughout your meal, which in turn enhances the subtle nuances of the food and the wine you are enjoying.
What conclusion do we want to draw from all of these different points, including the medical findings we all hear about? I doubt that many things that we consume are as scrutinized as wine would appear to be or have as many positive associates with it's consumption. The wine industry, from vineyard to bottle, continually strives to improve their processes. From Organically grown fruit to improved more sustainable farming practices the trend is a positive one for the wine industry and our environment. Cleaner fruit makes better wine. Perhaps the healthiest aspect of wine, food and friendship is the ability wine has to bring people together from every corner of the globe. A glass of wine speaks the international language of friendship, cultural interaction and understanding, this may be the true health benefit.
That is a glass I hope is never empty!