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Showing posts from December, 2011

Is it all lifestyle or is wine the key to health? New studies considered.

Much has been made of the recent report from a 20-year study from Harvard that apparently found that it is the lifestyle choices made by wine drinkers, not the wine itself, that is responsible for longer and healthier lives. Following more than 800 people over the age of 55, the researchers found that it was the pattern of moderate drinking and associated lifestyle factors that most closely correlated to health and longevity.
Taken at face value, this study would appear to turn the French paradox on its head. But wasn’t the French paradox defined by heart health despite the unhealthy habits of the French? If that is so, then the findings from the Harvard researchers need to be reconsidered in a new light. On the one hand, it is widely known that aside from the French with their Galoises and penchant for fois gras, wine drinkers do tend to have healthier habits; we are better educated, we exercise more, and eat better. On the other hand, the French paradox – which is supported by substa…

The biggest myths about wine and health

Just when it seems that people are starting to catch on about the wine and health story, along come the naysayers to muddy the waters with out of date and disproven assumptions. True, a lot of what I am about to cover here is counterintuitive and goes against longstanding beliefs, but it’s a matter of science. Like Lt. Joe Friday used to say in the 50’s TV series Dragnet, it’s “just the facts, ma’am.”
Myth #1. Alcohol abuse is the biggest cause of liver disease. We all know that alcohol leads to cirrhosis of the liver right? It turns out that by far the largest cause of liver failure in developed countries is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, or NAFLD. What’s more – and here’s the interesting part – wine seems to have a protective effect against NAFLD. The key here if course is amount, so as with all things wine and health, we are talking about a glass or two of red wine with dinner.
Myth #2. Alcohol destroys brain cells. While technically it may be true that alcohol is toxic to neura…

Wine and friendship in Spain - a healthy experience

Is there anything more beautiful in life than the joys of breaking bread and sharing wine and food around the table with friends? As I have written here before, there is some scientific evidence of the health benefits of wine with food and companionship, and it helps to explain why wine’s anti-aging properties can’t be reduced to biochemistry and put into a pill. So with that in mind, let me express thanks to some new friends in Spain from my visit to Madrid and the Ribera del Duero.
Rebeca Colina Giralda gave us a wonderful tour of the Abadia Retuerta vineyards and a tasting of their magnificent wines. The juxtaposition of modern winemaking in a thoughtfully restored centuries-old abbey was an inspiring experience, and the wines are wonderful. Running into Rebeca at a tapas bar in Valladolid the next day was like seeing an old friend!
But few have done more to advance winemaking in the Ribera than Alejandro Fernandez, founder of the Tinto Pesquera group. We had the great pleasure of h…