WINE 101: Health benefits of wine

Wine has its benefits.

Certainly, we have all heard the benefits of red wine to cardiovascular health. While it’s too early for me to see any benefits in that area, I have noticed a few other health advantages that seem to go hand-in-hand with my wine consumption. I have always been a wine lover, but in the past year my wine consumption has increased and averages out to about a glass per night. Here are a few interesting benefits I personally have noticed with the increased wine intake.

Less gall stone attacks

The act of enjoying a glass of good wine in itself is very calming. When I take the time to think about the wine I am drinking, to concentrate on its aromas, flavors, mouthfeel and aftertaste, there is less time to think about the stressful events of the day. It is a great way to focus on something that is unlikely to elevate stress.

Italian researchers believe to have found a compound in some red wines that may be melatonin or a substance similar to it. Melatonin is a chemical produced by the brain to regulate periods of sleep and wakefulness. Evidence of this chemical was found in the grapes Nebbiolo, Sangioves, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, among others. More research is being done on the topic, but regardless, one glass of wine in the evening has helped me to relax, quiet my mind and drift off to sleep more quickly.

More thoughtful eating

When I have a glass of wine with dinner, it makes me think about the foods that I am eating. In order to pair wine with food, it is necessary to think about the ingredients in the food. The result? Fresher food choices. Wines year to be paired with good cuts of meat, rustic pasta dishes, and vegetables. It is much more difficult to think about pairing wines with, say, Big Mac “special sauce.” When I start to contemplate what is in fast food to pair with wine, it makes me reconsider what I would like to eat.

Also, enjoying a meal with wine makes me eat more slowly and contemplate how the wine and food taste together. While this has not yet been life changing, I have noticed that the meals I enjoy with wine are healthier, while making me more aware of the days that I do not eat as well. Recent research shows that I’m not alone. The study that shows that women who sip 1-2 glasses of the grape of their choice were 30% less likely to gain weight than women who didn’t drink.

While researchers are still studying the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, we are bound to hear more in coming years about how exactly wine can be beneficial to health when enjoyed responsibly. Enjoying a variety of wines certainly has its benefits for me. What has it done for you?

Originally posted April 6, 2010 on Cork’d.

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