Archive for the ‘wine health’ Category

Wine allergies & sulfites

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Another quickie…

Just about every time I do a wine tasting I’m told by at least one person that they are “allergic to red wine & must be allergic to sulfites. Well, I’m no expert, but I did just read one of the best responses to such an inquiry (on Wine Spectator online).

Here it is…

A: Sulfites get the lion’s share of blame when people have an allergic reaction to wine (or have a next-day reaction from overindulging), but according to allergist Neil Kao, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, only 1 percent of the general population has a true allergy to sulfites. That goes up to about 4 to 5 percent among people who have asthma. Kao says that an allergic reaction to sulfites would begin with tingling, redness, itching and a swollen tongue, and then depending on the severity, progress to hives or an asthma attack. For more information on other potential allergens read our previous Q&A on  and the .

But none of this is particularly helpful to know if your guests want to avoid sulfites in wine and you need to serve them something fitting that bill. Here’s the deal: the fermentation process for wine produces very low levels of sulfites naturally, so there are few wines with no detectable sulfites. Many winemakers also add sulfites to wine after fermentation to increase the wine’s shelf-stability and prevent undesirable bacteria and yeast growth, but some don’t and they (or their importer) occasionally advertise themselves as such. One shortcut if you don’t want to do your own research: in the U.S., the certified organic label indicates that the wines were made without added sulfites (but note that that is different than wines with the “made with organic grapes” label, which can contain added sulfites). U.S. law requires that all wines with sulfites in excess of 10 parts per million be labeled with the disclaimer “contains sulfites,” but some people with sulfite allergies may be sensitive to wines with less than that amount.

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Hope this clears things up for some of you.

Happy allergic-LESS reaction red wine tasting!


Avoid the hangover – drink clear spirits

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Ahhh….the holiday season is upon us (as is the COLD in NYC).  Which means lots of partying.  Lots of partying means lots of drinking.  And lots of drinking means the likelihood of the infamous HANGOVER.

But is there a way to avoid a hangover?  I think when it comes down to it, if you drink too much and don’t have sufficient food/fluids in your system, you will suffer with some form of hangover.  I would recommend drinking with your meal & if possible, having a glass of water with each drink.  But researchers from Brown University have a different idea…drink clear spirits.

The researchers have said that dark drinks such as wine or whiskey have many times more chemicals called “congers” than lighter colored drinks such as gin or vodka.  And it is these “congers” they concluded that cause the infamous hangover.

“While the alcohol alone is enough to make many people feel sick the next day, these toxic natural substances can add to the ill effects as our body reacts to them,” Damaris Rohsenow, a professor at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University, said in a statement.

OH BOY…I’m in trouble…90+% of my wine/beer/spirits collection are dark.  Dark beer, bourbon & red wine.  Thank goodness for ibuprofen!

Happy hangover free imbibing!


“Contains Sulfites”

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

We’ve all seen it on the back label of a bottle of wine…

…but what does it mean?

Sulfites are a preservative.  They are found in dried fruit & are commonly used in salad bars.  They are added to wine to preserve the wine & prevent it from spoiling.

Some people are allergic to sulfites.  Others believe that the sulfites in wine are what cause them to get headaches from wine.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were no sulfites in wine?  And what of organic wines – isn’t that sulfite free??

Well, ALL wine has sulfites.  Sulfites are naturally occurring on the grape skins.  Since red wine gets its color from the skins red wines have more naturally occurring sulfites than white wines.  But white wines generally have more sulfites added than red wines.  So there is no and will never be any sulfite free wine (as far as I understand) – or at least none that will last more than a few days (hours?).

As to organic wine, it not only has the naturally occurring sulfites, but almost all has added sulfites – otherwise the wine would spoil relatively quickly.  BUT…and here is the difference, organic wine, to maintain their organic classification, can only add a specific (small) amount of sulfites.  YES, it is still there, BUT it is also added in smaller amounts.

SO, now that we have cleared that up I want to tell you about a real cool technology I just read about on  The technology, called SurePure, uses light to purify wine REDUCING (but not eliminating) the need for sulfites.  Something about the technology “deactivates microbes” (whatever that means)  reducing the likelihood of spoilage.   Apparently it is already used in the juice, dairy & beverage industries.  And now it has been approved for use in South Africa.

No idea whether this technology will work for wine, how far its use will spread or whether it will enable those who suffer from red wine headaches to drink wine worry free.  But it does sound like an exciting development…

Happy light purified wine tasting!


wine shields cancer patients from radiation side effects

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

It seems that just about everyone knows at least one person affected by breast cancer.  This serious form of cancer knows no boundaries and is the most common cancer among woman in the US aside from skin cancer.  According to the ACS (American cancer society) “The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35″.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to read the report published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics (yes, I read it every day ;)) that “a glass of wine a day cut the risk of treatment-linked skin toxicity by two-thirds in women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer”.

Apparently, skin reactions are common among patients being treated for breast cancer and the anti oxidants in wine seem to be beneficial in that those who did drink a glass of wine a day had only a 13.6% rate of skin toxicity whereas those who did not imbibe had a skin toxicity rate of closer to 40%.

I recently celebrated a birthday and have found a new apartment to live in (following a LONG search).  I am also moving forward with my latest business idea.  So amidst all the difficult news of friends/relatives or those close to me in one way or another being stricken with cancer, we must do whatever is possible to live life to the fullest, enjoy every day we have with our loved ones, and maintain a positive outlook on life.  It isn’t always easy.

Have a great week everybody.  And happy cancer side effect fighting wine tasting!


Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Who doesn’t love the Dutch?!?  A recent Dutch researcher’s report noted that men who regularly drink up to half a glass of wine a day live about 5 years longer than those who don’t.

Does this mean that if we drink 2 glasses a day we live 20 years longer?  I’m just saying, half a glass of wine ain’t much…

Hey, with all this swine flu talk, I thought a report with its increased life talk could cheer a few folks up.

Seriously though, what is the big deal here?  Just another report claiming health benefits for wine drinkers.  Well,this study apparently lasted a whopping 40 years (from 1960 to 2000) with regular follow up of those being studied.

I know, there will be a new study out tomorrow claiming the opposite.  But hey, can’t a wine drinker feel good about his imbibing for just one day?!

Happy WEEKEND wine tasting!


Headaches from Red wine

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

This is a topic I have covered before but just saw some interesting and cool news that I felt compelled to share.

As reported by Wine & Spirits Daily (with a more comprehensive article form the SF Gate here);


Researchers in South Africa are testing technology that uses ultraviolet rays to zap unwanted microbes and yeasts in wine, which would reduce the need to add sulfites that make some people feel bad. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that only a small percentage of people suffer a true allergic reaction, but it is still a concern for many drinkers.

The interesting news here is that if this technology proves to work (I admit skepticism) wineries will not have to add as much or possibly even ANY sulfites to wine to prevent oxidation.

In addition to the cool technology I find it of interest that the author feels the need to clarify (something I have previously written about) that the number of people who are actually allergic to sulfites is “a small percentage”. Which is not to say that they are not suffering from headaches caused by red wine.  Simply that it is not (as they often suspect) the sulfites that are causing the headache.  It is likely one of the hundreds (if not thousands) of compounds in wine that the person may be allergic to that is causing the headache.

On an unrelated note please look out for a new blog header (the fuzzy one on top just ain’t too flattering), my wines for Passover post and some other exciting new additions to the Wine Tasting Guy site in the not too distant future.

But for now…

Happy headache-less Wine Tasting!


“resveratrol-enhanced” wine

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I was speaking with an industry contact today about wine’s health benefits and resveratrol in particular.  And amongst the things that came up were the scientists working on a pill form and how many glasses it is said humans need to drink to reap the health benefits of resveratrol from wine (more than is humanly possible).

So I should not have been shocked to receive the article today (via the good folks at Wine Spectator online) about wineries developing wines with high doses (artificially added) of resveratrol.

For more details and all the technical mumbo jumbo read the article.

IN short, there is already a doctor/winemaker in Australia who says he “takes the leftover grapes after pressing and extracts residual resveratrol and concentrates it into a powder. The powder is then added to the wine before bottling.  (He) says the process, for which he holds a patent, does not change the wine’s color, clarity, nose or taste.”  Pretty wild stuff…

Apparently his concoction has 12 to 25 times more milligrams per liter of resveratrol than a regular bottle of wine.

The article goes on to theorize about whether this really does provide extra health benefits or if it is just a marketing ploy.  Who knows, but I’ll bet ya some wealthy company/individual buys this guy out for MEGA BUCKS.

Happy HEALTHY & LONG LIVING Wine Tasting!


Drinking wine can improve your sex life

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

For those of you waiting to hear my thoughts on the big Israeli wine tasting I apologize for the delay and will do my best to have something posted before the weekend.  The event was GREAT, and while I did not end up taking thorough tasting notes I did speak with a lot of the producers and attendees, I attended both sessions and have since spoken with people and have received a bunch of feedback.  I will report my findings ASAP.

BUT IN THE MEANTIME, lets get back to improving your sex life.  E.D. is a serious issue, but hey, laughter is the best medicine.

Seriously though, Wine Spectator recently posted that “researchers in Western Australia have found, after analyzing a survey of men, that erectile dysfunction is not linked to one’s drinking habits”.

I’m not a doctor (although I play one online) nor am I a scientist, but some of the assumptions made in this study seem a little far fetched.  Such as  “…since moderate alcohol consumption is linked to better cardiovascular health… it may also aid the function of vascular organs, such as the penis”.

Posting this simply for the humor aspect, but if you do suffer from this serious issue please do read the complete summary of the study and consult your physician.

Happy…uhhh…….and healthy wine tasting!


Red Wine & Beef – A Match made in Heaven

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Ahhh…I’m sure I have mentioned it countless times but such a pairing deserves to be fawned over time & time again.  Red wine & steak!

I bring this combo up today as part of a quickie post.  I stumbled upon a cool article “Beer and red wine marinade may cut cancer risk from beef”.  The title pretty much says it all, but in a nutshell, these marinades reduce the level of heterocyclic amines (formed during the frying or grilling of fish and meat – reported to promote carcinogenesis in humans) by up to 88 per cent.

Interestingly enough, the researcher then recruited people to taste beef marinated in wine, steak or not marinated at all.  Um hellooooo….I’m here and available any time you need another “test subject”…

In other news, the tough times we are experiencing is leading people to drink – but they are drinking more early & more cheaply.  People are hitting the bars at happy hour both to imbibe after a tough day and to do it at more reasonable prices.  I mean, can you blame us???!!!  This goes along with what I have heard about people drinking as much as during better times, just with the economy where it is people are drinking more at home than they are out at bars and restaurants.

Sorry for the grim news, but hey, go grab a bottle of fabulous Israeli wine, pop it open, marinate a steak for a few hours, and while you are savoring that bloody rare steak (I hope) try to forget all your troubles…

Happy marinated steak & wine Tasting!


Healthy “GRAPES” & light pre-natal imbibing

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Countless studies have declared the health benefits of red wine, citing compounds such as antioxidants, resveratrol, polyphenolic compounds, etc.  But for the most part it seems these benefits are said to come from wine, and often red wine in particular.  Well now (in a recent article in Wine Spectator online) I read that there are studies analyzing  whether or not these health benefits actually can be realized simply by consuming the grapes, or some other form of grape byproduct such as grape seed extract or grape powder (huh?).  The article loses me upon implying that drinking red wine to reap the health benefits is no longer necessary.  But I thought some of you might find it to be interesting.

On a separate wine & health related topic, one that stirred a bit of controversy the last time I brought it up, I found yet another piece discussing pre-natal wine consumption.

Found in a local paper and taken from the “New Science Magazine”, the study cites a University College London study whereby data was collected by more than 12,000 mothers and children in the UK over the last 7 years.  Apparently, “kids whose mothers had one to two alcoholic drinks per week during pregnancy had fewer cognitive and behavioral problems by age 3 than those of woman who abstained”.

A shocking revelation of the article, “light drinking could also help women to relax, making pregnancy less stressful”….ummm….REEEEEEALLY?!?!?!?  Husbands, stock your liquor cabinets!! 😉

I’m not taking a position here (although I have stated an unfounded opinion in the past).  Just saying guys & gals…if it helps the stress level and benefits the kids, what the heck are we making ourselves crazy for.

Seriously though, as always, pregnant women should definitely consult their physician before considering any alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.

Husbands of pregnant women however should DRINK AWAY (I hear pregnant women can be a bit…well, ya know, demanding).

Happy HEALTHY wine Tasting!