A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass. Copyright 2013; Race Point Publishers, NY. 224 pages. Forward by Mario Batali.

The ultimate handbook for all wine drinkers, for beginners and pros.

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A Glass A Day Keeps the Doctor Away – WINE IS HEALTHY!

Thankfully, and I can’t stress that word enough, “THANKFULLY”, wine is healthy in moderation.  There are more and more studies underway

Wine: It's Good For The Heart

about the good drink, but here’s a summary so far of the more significant findings:

  • Drinking wine lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), which otherwise accumulates in arterial walls and leads to plaque, causing arteries to stiffen and blood pressure to rise.  Wine also increases good cholesterol (HDL), helping to fend off heart disease.
  • Red wines absorb polyphenols and other antioxidants found in the skins of grapes.  Polyphenols keep blood vessels flexible, lowering the risk of clotting.  They also protect the immune system from the common cold.
  • Resveratrol is the most praised component of red wines.  It helps moderate blood-sugar levels and lowers blood pressure.  It has been shown to help keep the brain sharp by hampering Alzheimer’s- inducing proteins from forming. Recently, resveratrol has been tested for fighting cancer, and so far the results have been encouraging.  Researchers at the University of Virginia found that resveratrol obtained from drinking three to four glasses of red wine per week may be enough to starve nascent cancer cells.
  • Piceatannol is a compound our bodies convert from resveratrol, and it too, has benefits.  It binds to insulin receptors of fat cells and stymies the formation of immature fat cells from forming.
  • The acids in wine aid in digestion.  As we grow older, our bodies sometimes have trouble producing acids for this purpose, so wine is a helpful component for breaking down food molecules in our stomachs.

Unfortunately it’s not all good for you.  Like many things in life, wine should be enjoyed in moderation.  If abused, all the positives of wine are washed away.  Some of the downsides of over-consumption are as follows:

  • The most-cited health concern is liver disease. If the body receives too much alcohol on a regular basis, the liver will have trouble filtering out the toxins. In the long run this can lead to liver failure.
  • Too much alcohol can also weaken heart muscles and lead to cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart fails to pump blood around the body as well as it should.
  • People with a history of migraines are often advised to limit their consumption of wine because the histamines and tannin found in wine can trigger re-occurring headaches.
  • Tyramine is an amino acid found in wine that causes cerebral blood vessels to contract.  Painful headaches can occur the next day when the blood vessels reopen.  Consuming water and having something in your stomach when enjoying wine can help the body absorb tyramine.
  • Weight gain can be another drawback to over-consumption.  Wine contains “empty calories” – calories that lack nutrients – which help pack on the pounds if prolonged enjoyment of wine isn’t matched by sufficient exercise.

So you see, it’s not all fun and games with wine enjoyment, but take it slow and you’ll grow old enough to enjoy those bottles of first-growth bordeaux and grand cru burgundy (and single-vineyard Barolo, and exceptional vintage Brunello, and exquisite Rioja, and fine Napa Cab, and stellar Aussie Shiraz, and etc. etc. etc.)

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