To Your Health | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

To Your Health

To Your Health

Barkan Shiraz Superieur 2006

It's not just a rationalization: wine has health benefits.

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Much has been written about the purported health benefits of wine. According to various medical studies, moderate consumption, like at most eight ounces a day, has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, increase lifespan, make hearts attack less likely, strengthen bones, cut the incidence of Type 2 diabetes and reduce the risks of stroke, cataracts, depression and some cancers. These benefits are mostly attributable to red wine; however recent studies have begun to show that white wines can at least offer some cardiac protective benefits.

Besides alcohol, wine contains numerous other natural chemicals. Among these are compounds called polyphenols, the most famous being resveratrol, which is said to be beneficial. Resveratrol is a compound that provides plants protection from certain diseases, pests and the effects of UV radiation. It is also an anti-oxidant found mostly in grape skins and leaves and is considered a primary source of many of wine’s health benefits. It is found in highest concentration in red wines because they are produced by prolonged contact with the grape skins. However, other substances within wine may also be working alone or together with resveratrol, since consumption of resveratrol alone does not appear to provide the same benefits as does drinking wine.

As we’ve noted before, there is an entire literature related to the health benefits of wine and the so-called “French Paradox” (the 1980’s era catchphrase regarding the apparent anomalous epidemiological observation that the French suffer less heart disease than American despite enjoying a more rich, high-fat diet). There are, of course, skeptics, but we’re talking wine here, so who wants to listen to them?

A recently released study indicates that red wine consumption, as part of a diet designed to reduce heart disease and high blood pressure, will also slow brain aging and significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

To bolster our health and slow our brain aging this week, we are enjoying a glass of the kosher Barkan Shiraz Superieur 2006 ($57) that is just now really hitting its stride. More like Northern Rhone Syrah than an Australian Shiraz, this hefty Israeli wine opens with earthy raspberry, blackberry and coffee aromas that flow into a complex mélange of spicy currants, dark plum and red cherry flavors accented with oak, pepper and licorice. We feel better already. Now if we could only remember where we left the bottle …

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