Red Wine: A Classy, Healthy Pleasure
Red wine is made from blue grapes and contains more ingredients than white wine. For this reason, red wine is often attributed health-promoting properties.
Facts & Figures
Red wine has been produced for a very long time. Near Damascus there is a grape press that is estimated to be about eight thousand years old. Despite the passing of many years, the production of red wine has changed very little.
The reason for the lack of change in red wine's production is due to the special characteristics of red grapes. The pigments that give the wine its characteristic red are found in the skin of the grapes. Their pulp is virtually colorless. Therefore, the dyes must be extracted from the grape skins by freshly squeezing the grape juice and including the grape mash (skins, pulp, etc.) in fermenting. Without including this mash, you would get white wine.
In addition to giving red wine its color, many other ingredients from the grape skins are important to the fermenting process. Most importantly, the flavors and tannins. The latter have a bitter taste and are responsible for the mouthfeel of the wine. They also act as a preservative, which is why single red wines can be stored for several decades.
Important for Cooking
Red wine plays an important role in cuisine, where it is used for marinating and cooking food. Not only does the wine give food a special flavor, it also makes the meat tender. The ingredients in the wine attack the collagen in the meat, making it more tender. When use directly in cooking, red wine also contributes to flavor development.
The "French Paradox"
Is red wine healthy? This question has long been discussed, especially in connection with an observation that has been known as the "French Paradox". In France, despite a high consumption of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, the number of people with heart disease is significantly lower in comparison with other countries with a similar fat intake. The high consumption of red wine in France is the most likely explanation for this contradiction. Thus, the ingredients in red wine contribute to the heart health of the French population.
Is Red Wine Healthy?
Above all, polyphenols are most likely the source of these healthy properties. Several studies have indicated that polyphenols probably have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Recent studies suggest that polyphenols could counteract the constriction of blood vessels.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol that is now seen as a very potent antioxidant. It is said to have beneficial effects in Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and atherosclerosis, and could even be preventative for some types of cancer.
Nevertheless, these findings should not be interpreted as carte blanche for excessive alcohol consumption. Whether the healthy ingredients in wine really outweigh the harmful effects of alcohol can still not be said with certainty.
Until then, let's just see wine for what it is: a beverage that brings a lot of joy in moderate amounts.
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