Only the most ardent prohibitionist would continue to argue, at this late date, that wine is not good for you. With a ritual bow to the demonstrable dangers of alcoholism and long-term over-consumption, there is no longer any real doubt that the regular, moderate use of wine as part of a healthy diet is beneficial to heart and circulatory health and longevity.
Scientists still argue about the precise mechanism, but one school of thought holds that wine's benefits have to do with the presence of polyphenols - chemical components such as quercetin and resveratrol - which have anti-oxidant properties that fight the effects of LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), by keeping it from becoming oxidized. This hypothesis suggests that red wine, which is rich in polyphenols from the dark grape skins, may be the most beneficial.
Dosage requires a balancing act, of course. While blood chemistry and thus heart health might benefit from as many as five 5-ounce glasses of wine daily - a full bottle - no sane authority would recommend that anyone drink this much. Other evidence suggests that three drinks per day or more begin to show adverse and even dangerous effects on other organs, from the liver to the brain. (Further complicating matters is the emotional issue of consumption during pregnancy. Although there's no evidence that moderate drinking fosters Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, especially after the first trimester, social pressure and the lack of any absolute assurance about what constitutes a "safe" amount prompts many women to abstain entirely while they're pregnant.)
In any event, red-wine sales have grown significantly during the past 20 years, since "The French Paradox" - the hypothesis that French people enjoy relatively good health and longevity as a result of their regular wine consumption - gained wide attention.
For this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, we'd like to get a sense of the degree to which health considerations affect consumption among the world's wine lovers, as we ask, "how important are the health benefits of wine for you?"
The ballot invites you to estimate the significance of health issues in your decision to enjoy wine, using a scale from 1 ("Not at all") to 10 ("Health is the only reason I drink wine").
I'll take the credit or blame for coming up with this topic, with thanks to Dr. Randy Buckner for background information and advice. As always, this is a lighthearted poll without any scientific value, presented simply to inspire discussion and for the fun of seeing how your answers compare with those of other wine lovers around the world.
To cast your vote, you'll find an online ballot at
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Botromagno 2001 "Apulian Zinfandel" ($11.49)
This wine, designated "Puglia IGT" on the back label, is the first I've seen that takes advantage of a recent regulatory ruling that permits the Primitivo grape of Southern Italy to be sold in the U.S. as "Zinfandel," as DNA testing has shown both to be the identical grape, originally the Croatian Crljenik Kasteljanski. As is usually the case with Primitivo, though, whether it's a matter of wine-making differences or terroir, I don't find much resemblance to Zin here. Not that there's anything the matter with this wine the way it is: Dark garnet in color, with distinct earthy, leathery aroma notes to back up cherry-berry fruit. Ripe and juicy flavors, black cherries and plums, are warm and full in a style that speaks more of the Mediterranean than the Pacific. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC; Leonardo Locascio Selection. (March 20, 2005)
FOOD MATCH: A good food wine, it would fare well with red meat, not to mention the stereotypical tomato-sauced pasta dishes or, my choice, a homemade thin-crust pizza Margherita.
VALUE: Before the era of the falling dollar I would have gauged this an under-$10 wine, but its low-teens price is certainly fair against current competition.
WHEN TO DRINK: Made for current enjoyment, not cellaring, but it should be good for a year or two on the wine rack.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
California Wine Club
Ten Days Left To Save in the Club's "March Into Spring Wine Sale"!
SPECIAL NEW ADDITION - 2002 Madrona Vineyards "Sierra Foothills" Zinfandel, just $6.50/bottle. Visit
Since 1990 The California Wine Club has been introducing wine enthusiasts to California's best "boutique wineries". Each month members receive two bottles of award-winning wine, hand selected by club owners Bruce and Pam Boring. In addition, members receive our beautiful and entertaining 12-page magazine, Uncorked. Just $32.95/month plus shipping. Join for yourself or send a gift! 1-800-777-4443 or
French Wine Explorers:
Meet me in the Rhone!
It's hard to believe that only three months remain before our annual tour with French Wine Explorers on June 6-12. We still have room for a few more, so I hope you'll consider coming along as we visit some of the top wine producers, fine restaurants and luxury hotels of the Northern and Southern Rhône. It's a real joy for me to meet and get to know Wine Advisor readers as we travel on these memorable tours.
This seven-day, six-night tour will take us on an in-depth exploration of the region's beautiful scenery, delicious Provençal cuisine, and rich, expressive wines, highlighted by a very special opportunity to join the wine makers of Chateauneuf-du-Pape for a gala dinner and dance in the historic 14th century wine cellars of the Papal Court at Avignon.
If you have any questions at all about the tour, please feel free to get in touch with me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit French Wine Exporers' Northern and Southern Rhône tour page,
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Reports from our Readers: Doctors combine wine, science in Napa
WebWineMan: Southern Rhone Reds
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Last week, however, we went on a vacation schedule because of my travels, skipping the usual Wednesday Wine Advisor and Thursday FoodLetter. Here's the index to last week's columns:
Who are you calling a geek? (March 18, 2004)
Taking a shine to Lagrein (March 14, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, March 21, 2005