Drink to Your Health!
New developments in the wine health world
- If you're a wine drinker, you've likely been witness to the major debate that is seemingly without end: is wine good for your health, or bad? Are there beneficial compounds in wine, or is the data inconclusive? What are those
compounds, anyway? Get an in-depth look at the winemaking process, the compounds in question and the two sides of the controversy.
How is wine made
- Wine grapes are grown in vineyards around the world.
- When fall arrives, it's harvest time.
- From here, the grapes for red and white wines follow separate processes.
- Harvested grapes are brought in to the winery to be crushed inside of a large rotating drum: 1) The juice and skins pass through the drum's perforations, but the stems remain; 2) The crushed grapes and juice together are known as
- "Must" for red wines goes straight to fermentation.
- "Must" for white wines is pressed to filter out the skins, then goes to fermentation. Most of key compounds that have scientists talking are in the grape skins - resveratrol (rez-'vir-a-trol), anthocyanin (an(t)-tha-'si-a-nan) aka)
flavonoids (flay-vuh-noids), procyanidin, etc. So red wine has significantly more of these than white wine.
- Fermentation tanks hold 1.500-3.000 gallons of liquid. Here, winemakers add sugar and yeast to the must.
- The yeast and sugar break down glucose molecules in a process called glycolysis (glahy-kol-uh-sis).
- Product: Pyruvates (pahy-roo-veyts) (three-carbon sugars) and ATP (adenosine (a-den-o-sen) triphosphate), which together convert yeast to carbon dioxide and ethanol. Process takes 2-4 weeks.
- After fermentation: 1) Red wine gets pressed to remove skins, than filtered to remove yeast; 2) White wine settles, then is filtered to remove yeast.
- Wines are aged in oak barrels (for distinct flavor) or stainless steel tanks. Red wine may undergo malolactic (ma-lo-lak-tik) fermentation in storage: 1) Bacteria added to convert malic acid into lactic acid, which is more mild; 2)
Takes anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to age.
- Sulfites may be added to the wines during aging.
- Wine has been aged to the winemaker's taste, it is bottled and shipped.
Argument 1: Wine is healthy!
- Resveratrol: Activates anti-aging powers in cell mitochondria via a gene associated with longevity.
- Counteracts the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles: 1) Reduced strength; 2) Loss of muscle mass; 3) Diminished bone density.
- Also may: 1) Fight cancer, obesity and diabetes; 2) Lower bad cholesterol; 3) Reduce risk of blood clots.
- Others: 1) Piceatannol, a metabolite of resveratrol (rez-'vir-a-trol), may prevent young fat cells from maturing by stopping insulin from performing that function; 2) Flavonoids, chiefly anthocyanin (an-tho-sia-nin), help prevent the
formation of "reactive oxygen species", responsible for sunburn and UV-related cell destruction; 3) Procyanidins may lessen risk of heart disease.
Argument 2: Wine is not healthy!
- Resveratrol. Some scientists claim no substantial link between resveratrol and longevity.
- A 2011 study involving worms proved to be flawed, and the same endeavor attempted with fruit flies was, well, fruitless.
- January 2012: Wine researcher Dr. Dipak K. Das was found to have fabricated or falsified 145 sets of data - some of which may have involved resveratrol.
- We'd have to drink 100 glasses of red wine per day to get the same benefits as lab mice did.
- Others: similar arguments about the effective quantity of piceatannol and flavonoids have been made.
Verdict? Bottoms up!
- Though we may not drink 100 glasses of wine a day, some anti-aging, anti-fat and anticancer compounds have got to be better than none.
- Verifiable resveratrol studies have been conducted by others: Dr. Ds' flub doesn't discredit that work.
- In moderation there are no proven health detriments to drinking wine - in fact, it's approved as safe by the USDA: 1) Up to 1 drink (5 ounces of wine) daily for women; 20 up to 2 drinks daily for men; 3) They don't recommend
you start drinking if you typically abstain.
So pop that cork and drink to your health!
- 76% of Americans believe wine is good for your health.
- Pinot Noir has the highest resveratrol levels of all grapes.
- Looking for more procyanidins? Pour a wine from Sardinia or southwest France for the highest levels.
- Wine drinkers may have a 34% lower mortality rate than drinkers of liquor or beer.
- Moderate alcohol consumption may lower stroke risk up to 50%.
- Drink to your mental health: non-drinkers may experience more rapid loss of brain function.
- 69% of non-drinkers died during the 20-year period.
- 50% of moderate drinkers did.
- Just 32% of wine drinkers did... due mostly to common lifestyle factors, rather than the beverage. Wine drinkers were: 1) Younger; 2) Richer; 3) In better shape; 4) Less likely to be smokers.
One Hope | Sources: http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/winemaking1.html; http://abclocal.go.com/wfs/story?id=86456212§ion=news%2Fhealth; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-
20076161-10391704.html?tag=mncoldst=1; http://www.newser.com/story/145219/scientists-zero-in-on-red-wines-health-secrets.html; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red%20wineHBD0089; http://www.upi.com/Health_News/
2012/04/12/Red-wine-may-boost-weight-loss/UPI-85441334283941; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20086913-10391704.html; http://www.everydayhealth.com/mens-health/red-wine-and-your-health.aspx;