Benefits hone one’s taste for red wine

Posted Jan. 30, 2009, at 8:03 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:42 a.m.

Bad news on the health front. No, it’s nothing like that. No operations involved, no amputations. But Newsweek magazine aided by “60 Minutes” are both nagging at me to drink red wine. The problem: I don’t like red wine. Never have.

If you put a gun to my head, I will drink a chilled Kendall Jackson chardonnay, if I have the dough. If not, I will settle for Yellow Tail, about half the price. It is a Cobb Manor axiom that when dining out (a religious requirement), one must sample the wine as well as the dessert, otherwise stay home with the Hamburger Helper.

I have tried mightily to like the red stuff, with the aid of vino impresario Jon Bailey, who once brought a $40 bottle of red to the house. I must admit I was impressed, but went right back to white. Red wine always seemed like medicine to me.

Now, the evidence starts to mount that it is.

The National Institutes of Health now recommends a daily glass of wine for women and two for men. We men need more to deal with the women. According to a UCLA study (would they lie?), “moderate alcohol intake” can lead to helping seniors to avoid disabilities that impede their abilities to walk, or dress and groom themselves. I don’t know about you, but I would like to walk, dress and groom myself just as long as I can.

I spend half my waking hours looking for my keys and the rest of the time looking for the vehicles the keys are designed to operate.

In animal trials (I love those), the UCLA study found that compounds such as polyphenols, which occur naturally in red wine, can inhibit the development of proteins that deposit in the brain and form the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

These lovely polyphenols are also contained in nuts, tea, berries and cocoa, according to the Journal of Biological Chemistry. But no one seems to be quite as excited as the red wine drinkers. And it’s hard to get nuts and berries in a glass at the Samoset Resort.

Keep drinking.

The study reported that “moderate wine drinking” (they stress that, repeatedly) helps boost the body’s omega 3 levels. European researchers reported in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that the fatty acids usually associated with fish oil are also in red wine and can help protect against coronary heart disease.

Yes, a cabernet, waiter.

The benefits of red wine may even extend to fighting lung cancer, the study reported. Analyzing the data from the UCLA study, the October issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reported that a single glass of red wine a month correlated to a lower lung cancer risk. (You can look it up in that issue of CEBP on your coffee table.) Men who drink one or two glasses of red wine a day saw a startling 60 percent drop in lung cancer risk, according to the study.

As usual, the study reported that there are no similar benefits from my old friend white wine. Beer and liquor have none of the health benefits of red wine. Sorry.

Naturally, smokers who drink red wine do not get the health benefits of red wine. Is anyone still smoking?

Now, the killjoys at “60 Minutes” want to kill the rush to red wine. On Sunday night they reported on the benefits of a pill containing resveratrol. This latest miracle drug, they said, appears to work as a powerful antioxidant that helps quench free-radical damage in the body, and also has a unique mechanism of action that may prove to have significant life extension properties. Resveratrol also appears to protect DNA from free-radical damage and can play an important role in protecting cells from malignant transformation.

Now, I am no fan of red wine, but if I must, I will sip away, rather than take a joyless little pill.

On my shopping list now are MSN red wine recommendations under $14, which include Gala Rouge Pinot Noir, France, Georges Duboeuf Moulin-A-Vent, France, Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, France, and Cavit Pinot Noir, Italy. Or maybe the smoother, fruitier Santa Cristina Sangiovese, Antinori, Italy, Beringer Founders’ Estate Merlot, California, Bogle Merlot, California, or Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot, Washington.

It’s better than a sweaty trip to the YMCA. To your very good health, my dear.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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