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The Wine Palate

Zev Rovine, Record contributing writer

We have all heard about the health benefits of drinking wine.

If you remember when the "French Paradox" came about in the mid ’90s, wine drinkers all over the world rejoiced in the convenience of health and pleasure combined perfectly in a bottle.

As a reminder, the French Paradox was simply the baffling reality that the French eat huge amounts of fatty cheeses but have surprisingly low frequency of heart disease. It seemed almost too perfect that the reason for their healthy hearts turned out to be the thing that pairs best with cheese wine.

It is funny the way these things work out. Over the years, more research has been done and there is a plethora of additional health benefits that we can gain from wine.

I would like to preface this list with a warning. It is not OK to start boozing as long as it is with wine. Most of the studies are based on an intake of one to two glasses per day, which means that you have a lot of different wines to taste and peruse as you have your proverbial apple a day.

First, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School in 2004, there is an ingredient found in the skins of red grapes called resveratrol. It has been proven to extend the life of yeast cells, fruit flies, mice, rats, and yes, monkeys. There is no solid evidence yet that it works with humans, but it looks pretty good.

According to the University of Virginia Health System, resveratrol could also help prevent cancer. Marty Mayo said when referencing the study, "We used physiologically-relevant doses of resveratrol and found dramatic effects on human cancer cells."

It seems that one glass of wine, three or four times a week, can help block certain proteins from feeding cancer cells. He also noted that higher consumption can actually have the reverse effect. So don’t get too excited. According to the American Thoracic Society, the antioxidants in white wine have been proven to improve lung function more than any other alcohol including red wine.

The William Harvey Research Institute reported that red wine may help prevent stroke as there are certain polyphenols found in red wine that help to clean the arteries. The Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia suggests that moderate wine consumption may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

These are just a few of the many studies that have been, and continue to be, conducted on the health benefits of wine. It certainly seems that there is nothing this fountain of youth, cancer-starving, heart-strengthening, stroke-preventing beverage can not cure.

According to my own extensive and careful research, I have come up with a few invaluable benefits wine has on our everyday lives. First, in Philadelphia 2001, I learned that a bad case of overcooked New York strip is best remedied by a juicy and round Merlot-based wine from Pomerol or Napa Valley.

In Baltimore 2003, I conducted a research study of too much Old Bay seasoning on blue crabs, and found that a nice cold Alsatian Riesling was a far better pairing than the beer everyone else was drinking.

Deep in study and on the other side of years of extensive research, I realized that it is true, there is no better beverage to compliment Oesetra or Beluga caviar than a fine aged Champagne born in a prized vintage. One final note of research: San Francisco 2004, it is harder to walk up a really steep hill to your apartment after a few bottles of Pinot Noir with your friends.

Remember, moderation is key.

Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in N.Y.C. and he tries his very best not to spill the Pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments he is easily contacted via e-mail at zev@spottedfrogbooks.com .


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