Monday, March 11, 2013
IS RED WINE GOOD MEDICINE?
Is there really enough news about wine and health to justify a whole conference? Boy howdy, yes! Avid newshounds will have noticed that studies about red wine and its various health benefits come out nearly every day, the purported advantages ranging from red wine lowering the risk of depression and dementia, to cardiovascular benefits the likes of boosting good cholesterol and lowering bad.
Overall, the health message seems pretty clear: Have a glass of red wine now and then, why don'cha! Not dozens of glasses at a sitting, of course. Not while you're driving. Not to replace exercise. But a glass of wine with dinner may just be the thing for a general tilt toward better living.
Much of what ends up in a bottle of wine happens to be the very stuff that plants use to defend themselves from disease. To a grape vine, resveratrol is a way to defend itself against pathogens or attackers. Oak is prized in winemaking because of a compound called tannin, which contributes to wine's ability to age; you know it as that prickly feeling a very dry red wine can leave on your tongue. To the oak tree, however, tannin is something it uses to defend itself against bugs and disease.