Red Wine and your Heart
We have all heard about the possible healthful benefits of wine, especially red wine, but now we are beginning to get some research explaining "why."
Important information continues to come to light from epidemiological studies, which reinforce early messages that red wine, taken in moderation, is good for you. This story has recently been told in the book The Save Your Heart Wine Book by Frank Jones, a Canadian journalist, (Stoddart 1995, ISBN 0-7737-2906-2).
First of all, alcohol (ethanol) itself offers some benefit by reducing blood platelet stickiness and thereby helping to avert blood clots in coronary arteries In addition, however, wine contains phenolic compounds giving extra health benefits, which are also cardio-protective. These compounds prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins, which in turn prevent the build-up of plaque which can block coronary arteries.
The phenol "resveratrol" is a phytoalexin that plants produce to fight mildew infections. That same resveratrol has been found to be the most active cardio-protective agent in wines, but other phenolic substances in wine, such as catechin, quercetin, myricetin, and caffeic acid, are also effective.
Professor Leroy Creasy of Cornell University (New York) is credited with linking resveratrol in wine to the French paradox. He had been studying how the grape berry produced this phytoalexin to protect itself against Botrytis when he discovered Japanese research showing that resveratrol is contained in an Asian medicinal herb and demonstrates health benefits, including benefits for the circulatory system.
Red wines have higher resveratrol contents than white wines because red wine is fermented on grape skins. Comparisons of resveratrol levels in wines from around the world have shown that cool climate wines contain higher levels of resveratrol. Being in a cool climate region at JARVIS we find it interesting that some of the same things that make for a good wine may also make for a healthy wine. (For above citations we draw upon an article in Practical Winery & Vineyard by Jarvis’ Vineyard consultant, Dr. Richard Smart.)