In a time when we’re all focused on staying healthy, I thought I would review Wine Folly’s recent article entitled “Wine and Health: A Bio-Psycho-Social Perspective.” The article does a fantastic job of looking at the biological and psychosocial benefits that wine offers us.
Wine and Health: The Biological Element
The article starts by highlighting the fact that people in ancient times treated wine as medicine. Even the Jewish Talmud says, “Wine is the foremost of all medicines: wherever wine is lacking, medicines become necessary.” But it hasn’t been until the last 20 to 30 years that people have been looking scientifically at wine’s biological benefits.
Chemical compounds called polyphenols are at the heart of wine’s health benefits. Polyphenols reside in the skins and seeds of grapes. They act as antioxidants, scavenging free radicals from the body’s cells and preventing or reducing damage caused by oxidation.
Red wines have 10 times more polyphenols than whites, because the grapes’ skins are used during wine making. Wine Folly warns us, “Some studies claim health benefits from a glass or two of red a day. But others say we would need to drink between 100 and 1000 bottles a day to see real benefits (not recommended).”
Resveratrol is believed to be the polyphenol with the most health benefits. Resveratrol has a strong cardioprotective effect, breaking down cholesterol and enhancing glucose utilization. The end result is less pressure on the heart and stronger blood flow.
Resveratrol is also thought to have antioxidant effects – killing free radicals and impeding the growth of tumors. Wow. I thought that wine and cancer were not a good fit. I learned something new (that makes me very happy) from this article.
The article talks about many more benefits that polyphenols, especially resveratrol, offer. I’m not going to go into them here, because it almost sounds too good to be true. But I encourage you to look at the full list.
The Biggest, Baddest Red Wines
I’ve long known that Tannat is the healthiest wine from a resveratrol standpoint. I hadn’t heard of Sagrantino. So, I’m very eager to find this wonderful wine from Umbria, Italy.
Wine and Health: The Psychosocial Elements
Wine makes wine lovers feel warm and fuzzy. Plain and simple. But the science behind this is that wine (actually, alcohol) releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter largely responsible for experiencing pleasure.
The warm, fuzzy feelings also come from the fact that wine is a social ritual (at least before the coronavirus). Social rituals play an important role in wellbeing, helping us slow down and taking us away from the craziness of the world.
Of course, it’s important to balance the health benefits of wine with the risks. Anything over moderate consumption (2-3 glasses a day for males, 1-2 for females) is likely to cancel out the benefits. Wine Folly recommends taking one or two days off from drinking each week to allow you to sometimes overindulge. I think this is a really good idea.
Cheers to wine and our health!
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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