Archive for the ‘wine health’ Category

Wine and Pregnancy

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I spent the afternoon today with some guys I have been friendly with for about 20 years (damn I’m getting old).  We went out to the suburbs and enjoyed a football Sunday.  But this was not your typical “guys, beer & football” afternoon.  Today included wives & kids (of which I have neither…yet).  (Of import of course my beloved Giants CRUSHED the Baltimore Ravens (30-10) and improved to 9-1.  Looking good G-men!)

Of the women in attendance today 2 were pregnant and 3 others have had babies within the last few months.  Although I am not a medical doctor, and not even a Wine doctor (maybe one day), I do encourage pregnant women to drink wine (in moderation!) when pregnant (I believe a half a glass or so 2-3 times a week). While I don’t think my encouragement has changed anyone’s previously made up mind, it has not prevented me from throwing my two cents into the equation.

pregnant wine drinker

There have been countless studies supporting both both moderate drinking and abstaining during pregnancy, but I recently read one posted a couple of weeks ago on Wine Spectator online.  Researched at the University College of London and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the study proudly states:

“…not only can pregnant women safely drink a glass or two of wine per week, but  their children performed better three years after birth when compared to children of women who did not drink at all.”

For more information please read the rest of the article.  If you are pregnant (or intend to become pregnant) and want to drink alcohol during your pregnancy PLEASE consult your physician, conduct your own research, and DO NOT use this one study to make your decision.  And if you do decide to drink (pregnant or not) PLEASE do so in moderation.

Happy (pregnant or not) Wine Tasting!


Wine after workout

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I hope that all who celebrated had a nice Rosh Hashana holiday, filled with fabulous wine & great food.  I know I did!  So much food & wine that I was compelled to hit the gym last night after returning home from 48+ hours of overeating.  A good workout & I felt a whole lot better.

Now I must admit that I did not really crave a glass of wine after last nights workout but I often do like a glass of something with whatever I am eating following a workout.

Don’t tell my fellow blogger Kevin about this one  5Kcab

Having recently read a Wine Spectator Health Q & A question regarding drinking wine after a workout, I thought I’d share.  The answer to whether one can/should drink wine following a workout came from a registered dietitian, who advised against it stating “Drinking wine, which contains around 10 to 13 percent alcohol [yeah, more like 12-15%], can interfere with the refueling of your muscles by stopping your liver from sending out any glucose. Alcohol delays recovery from exercise.”

The whole answer, found via the link above wasn’t all negative.  And frankly for every “professional expert” against a behavior I feel like there is another for a behavior, but…

Just something I found interesting that I thought you might appreciate hearing about.

Happy muscle strengthening wine tasting!


Sulfites & wine

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

I recently came across an article discussing Sulfites.  Sulfites (AKA Sulfur dioxide or SO2) are a common topic as they relate to wine.  I have met many people who believe they are allergic to sulfites or get headaches from them.  I have also heard claims that white wine or organic wine does not contain sulfites.  Both not true – although organic can contain lower levels of sulfites than other wines.  Sulfites are added to wine to protect against oxidation, and are used at varying levels be different winemakers.  And yes, there are many who try to add as little as possible.


The article, written for the SF Chronicle, contains some stories about winemakers adding as little SO2 as possible.  But what I found most interesting were the following sections…

“Sulfites are present in all wines both as an additive and as a natural by-product of fermentation, and many countries require that their presence be indicated on the label.”

“Sulfur dioxide has been used in the production of wine for centuries – primarily as a buffer to keep wine from reacting with too much oxygen, but also to inhibit microbial spoilage (from bacteria or rogue yeasts) that could lead to off flavors and aromas, and as a winemaking technique to partly control fermentation.  It’s is one of the most useful and powerful tools available to a winemaker.”

How and why sulfites are used in wine

1. At the crusher: Sulfur dioxide in the form of a diluted liquid solution is added to just-harvested grapes at the crusher to protect against oxidation. Much of the sulfur added at this stage is effectively used up during the subsequent fermentation, converting into what is referred to as “bound” form, which has almost no flavor.

2. Barrel cleaning and maintenance: Sulfur dioxide was once the primary agent used to clean barrels and larger wooden vessels like puncheons or upright fermentation tanks; in the 19th century, this was accomplished by burning a sulfur wick, which released SO{-2} gas. Today, while other techniques are used in the cleaning process, winemakers often use a gas form of sulfur dioxide to maintain a sterile environment inside of wooden containers after cleaning.

3. In the winery: Sulfur dioxide is often used when topping up barrels that have lost some volume of wine through evaporation. There is a chance that microbial spoilage can occur at this point, so sulfur dioxide (as a diluted liquid solution) may be added as a preventative measure. Additionally, low levels of sulfur dioxide will protect against oxidation in the barrel.

4. During bottling: The bottling process can be rough on a wine, and there is the chance of overexposure to oxygen. Winemakers will often dose a wine with sulfur dioxide solution just prior to bottling in order to keep it in a reductive state, protected against oxidation. This SO{-2} should dissipate over time, although traces can remain present for longer periods in wines bottled under less breathable enclosures, like screwcaps.

Debunking myths

There are several widespread myths about sulfur dioxide – and sulfites in general. Here are some explanations that should help you to finally avoid that headache in the morning:

Sulfites in red wine cause headaches. While it’s true that exposure to high levels of SO{-2} is an unpleasant experience, there’s no hard evidence that proves sulfites and SO{-2} cause migraines in red wine drinkers. A phenomenon often called “red wine headache” is a combination of several things, with histamines considered one likely major factor. High levels of alcohol and residual sugar are also far more likely culprits than sulfites. When it comes to the negative effects of sulfites, asthmatics are the most vulnerable and need to closely monitor their intake of sulfites – or avoid them altogether. It’s worth noting though, that many foods – dried fruit, for instance – contain higher levels of sulfites than wine. Allergic reactions to sulfites include far more severe symptoms than headaches, like hives and anaphylactic shock.

Red wines contain more sulfites than white wines. The higher levels of tannin in red wines mean winemakers use less total SO{-2} in red wines than in whites. Sulfur dioxide is sometimes used to halt fermentation for wines that will be sweet, including many German Rieslings. Dessert wines, because of their high levels of residual sugar, have even greater levels of added sulfur.

Organic wines don’t contain sulfites. It is impossible to produce a wine without any sulfites, as sulfur dioxide is a naturally occurring by-product of fermentation. Therefore, even wines with zero added SO{-2}, such as natural and organic wines from the United States and Europe, contain small amounts of the compound.

The entire article is an interesting read for those of you who are wine curious enough.

Happy minimally added sulfur wine tasting!


Drink Red Wine and Live Better (but not longer)

Monday, July 28th, 2008

This according to the website of the medical journal Cell Metabolism (as per Wine Spectator online).

Yet another article about resveratrol and its benefits. This one seems to contradict others that suggested that resveratrol extends life expectancy. Here the “researchers said the compound helps keep the bones, eyes, kidneys, heart and other muscles in mice healthier as they age, though without increasing the animals’ overall lifespan”.

wine health - 2 glasses of wine

The study compared the effects of resveratrol to those of another life enhancing therapy – caloric restriction (CR), (more…)

Steak & wine – a match made in heaven

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Those who know me well know that there is little in this world that I enjoy more than a good rare steak and a fine bottle of red. As a matter of fact I have a bunch of friends I might never see if not for our steak & wine nights. Forget that, I have friends who might not actually be friends if not for the steaks I grill & the wine I bring (kidding fellas – I hope).

steak & wine But seriously, I was elated when I read an article recently in the Economist “Of Sommeliers and Stomachs”. Scientists from my beloved Israel have determined that compounds in red wine “thwart the formation of harmful chemicals that are released when meat is digested”. Is that unbelievable or what!?!! The research was led by Joseph Kanner of the Hebrew University (my new favorite person!). Not being scientifically inclined, I’d encourage you to read the article for yourselves. But in essence, toxins found in high fat foods (such as a nice rare steak) are combated by the polyphenols found in red wine at the moment that they meet in the stomach. This seemingly prevents the “toxic materials from getting any farther into the body” – he knows, he did some nasty experiments with rats that you can read about in the article.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Steak & red wine is good for you. Cheers & eat up!

Happy wine & steak tasting!



Sunday, June 15th, 2008

I was recently made aware of an interesting article about hangovers in the New Yorker.  Needless to say I do not condone drinking in excess, but every once in a while it happens – and leads to the inevitable hangover.  Yes I have learned a lot about my own tolerance and I respect alcohol (and wine in particular) enough to ENJOY it and not ABUSE it.  BUT, that same love of wine has made saying “no thank you” very challenging when someone offers another glass of the good stuff – leading to the unfortunate “one too many” (or as the case may be and article is called “A few too many”).



White wine can be beneficial too?

Saturday, June 7th, 2008


A real quick weekend post. I have written plenty about the health benefits of wine and my affinity to Israel has also been well documented on this site. So when I stumbled on the following post I knew I had to re-post it here for all of you. Enjoy the article, “Researchers Develop White Wine With Health Benefits Similar To Red”.

Happy healthy WHITE wine tasting!


Cheers! And Shiraz’s peppery notes

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Cheers to red wine & a longer life!!!

red wine cheers

The NY Times had a few wine related articles today.   The first, discussed a topic that has been written about frequently here, that of “resveratrol” – the wonder-drug contained in red wine.  Previous reports had indicated that the amount of resveratrol in wine were nowhere near enough to be effective from simple wine consumption.  But one of the sources in todays article notes “a mere four, five-ounce glasses of wine “starts getting close” to the amount of resveratrol they found effective”, as opposed to previous studies that determined that “to gain (sufficient) dosages people would have to drink more than 100 bottles of red wine a day”. An interesting read that can be found here.

The other article titled “What’s the Peppery Note in Those Shirazes?”, talked about Australian (where Shiraz originated) researchers who sought to find out why there are peppery notes in Australian Shiraz.  (more…)

The Patch – the Resveratrol patch that is

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

I brought up the red wine compound resveratrol in a post early last week. Discussing yet another article I found (thanks to Wine Spectator online emails) that brought up studies regarding the health benefits of resveratrol.

Well, I got another email today, this time discussing researchers in Taiwan who believe that the benefits of resveratrol are most effective not when taken orally, rather when received through the skin, as is possible through a patch.


Click here for the complete article.

Who would’ve thunk it, a patch to get your red wine fix 😉

Happy….red wine…..wearing?????….creative consuming……ahhh, I don’t know. Drink up!


Resveratrol – Scientists Move to Harness Red Wine Compound’s Power

Monday, May 19th, 2008

I’ll be attending the Wine Enthusiast “Toast of the Town” tasting later today and will have a full report posted by tomorrow. In the meantime I want to write a quick post about a compound found in red wine that is frequently mentioned as its health benefits have been cited in multiple studies.

Resveratrol is the antioxidant compound found in the skins & seeds of grapes. Since red wine is made by extracting color and flavors from the skins (and generally has the seeds in place during fermentation) Resveratrol is found (in low levels) in red wine.

I bring this up today simply as Wine Spectator online has an article in its Wine & Health section that cites two studies taking place where researchers are examining the benefits of harnessing Resveratrol & using it to treat cells associated with diseases. The article can be found here.

It should be noted however that studies surrounding Resveratrol in red wine have shown that one needs to consume a massive amount of red wine to realize the benefits Resveratrol has to offer. And while many still believe that regularly drinking (moderate amounts) of red wine is healthy, they are unsure if one reaps any of the health benefits Resveratrol has to offer from normal wine consumption. That said there is extensive research being done to find ways to administer Resveratrol in methods other than red wine consumption and the article mentions an R & D company researching Resveratrol that was recently purchased for $172M…so there must be something to this…

Happy HEALTHY COMPOUND wine tasting…& Happy Monday!