By Claire Yeading, Grand Crew Contributor
Are you confused about the health benefits of wine? It’s not surprising! Check out any story in the media and you’ll find literally hundreds of contrasting views. Whereas one story will claim French wines can help keep you looking youthful, maintain a sharp mind, and even reduce the risk of heart disease, other stories tell of the many dangers of alcohol consumption. It’s hard to know what to believe and what to take with a pinch of salt, isn’t it? We all know the risks associated with heavy drinking, but then there is something to be said for the French Paradox – the fact that there are significantly lower cases of heart attack, obesity, and cancer in France — where wine consumption is rife — than in other parts of the world.
It appears that it’s not the wine itself that’s renowned for its health benefits, but rather the type of wine, and the type of grape. For example, white wines are believed to have very limited benefits, whereas certain reds are proven to have many positive effects on human health. The big question is – which wines will give you the greatest benefits?
The Girò grape is thought to have originated in Eastern Spain. Today Girò is commonly found throughout Sardinia, most notably in the Cagliari and Oristano area,s which are two of Sardinia’s biggest and most important wine growing regions. Whilst growing, the grapes produce large quantities of sugar, and they are often left on the vine well after harvesting season, allowing them to shrivel slightly and concentrate the sugars. The result is a very sweet, thick wine similar to a dessert or fortified wine. So what makes Girò so good health-wise? Apart from high quantities of sugar, Girò also contains a large number of Procyanidins – a natural compound frequently found in apples, peanut skin, and cocoa beans. Procyanidins have been found to encourage follicle growth in much the same way as some common alopecia drugs on the market. However, the results are believed to be much more restrained than when using medicines specifically designed for combating male pattern baldness. As a natural solution, however, it’s thought to be very effective.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely recognized and widely drunk wines in the world. In fact, go to any bar and order a ‘red wine’ and chances are you’ll end up with a glass filled with a rich and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon. The reason for this is simple – the grape is grown all around the world. In fact, practically all major wine-producing regions will grow and harvest their own Cabernet Sauvignon. The differences in flavor largely come from how long the berries are left on the vine, and the weather conditions. Cooler conditions tend to produce a blackcurrant taste, whereas late harvests tend to create a somewhat sharp and bitter flavor that’s sought after by many. Other than being tasty, how can Cabernet Sauvignon help you? Compounds in the grape’s skin have been found to be a necessary part of wound healing. Research shows that Cabernet Sauvignon can work better at healing wounds than regular applications of lubricants such as petroleum jelly, encouraging faster tissue regrowth over the site of the wound.
Pinot Noir is yet another very common grape variety, and one that is grown, harvested, and served throughout the world. However, some connoisseurs argue that Burgundy produces the best Pinot Noir, full of fruit flavours such as strawberries and raspberries, whereas varieties from the US and Australia, for example, have somewhat of a more earthy taste. Regardless of taste, Pinot Noir has the potential to be very good for our health. Why? Because the grape has been found to contain very high levels of quercetin - a flavonoid often found in fruits. Quercetin is one of the most important antioxidants in existence, and boasts a variety of health benefits. Research suggests that the risk of certain cancers, bone conditions, and diseases related to the heart can all be lessened with increased consumption of quercetin. So don’t feel guilty for pouring yourself a glass!
Despite the complex argument over whether wine really is good for you or not, there is significant evidence to suggest that some wines, particularly those made from red grapes, can do more good than harm. If you’re looking for a way to boost your health whilst not giving up all your favorite treats, then indulging in a glass of wine or two every so often is perhaps one of the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.