You've heard, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Although eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is important in staying healthy, recent studies have shown that the benefits of red wine may lead you to also drink a glass of Pinot Noir a day to keep diseases away. Not more than four to six ounces of red wine a day may decrease heart disease, prevent cancer and strengthen the immune system. In all its grandeur as the red sovereign of Burgundy, Pinot Noir, with its aromas of blackberries and wood-like or earthen scents, should not be taken as an inferior wine to its more pigmented relatives in Bordeaux.
A Pinot Noir, although less ruby or garnet than a red Bordeaux, possesses the essential facets of being one of the greatest wines to emerge from France and now produced in Oregon, California, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. It is rather full-bodied in terms of its alcohol content, with medium to high acidity and medium to low tannin content compared to its varietal relatives, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Additional tannin can be contributed by aging the wine in oak barrels. With these characteristics, a perfect pairing for a glass of Pinot Noir is with a delectable piece of salmon to give you the health promoting effects of both antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Features and Benefits
Polyphenolic compounds such as flavanoids and polyphenols, concentrated in the red skins of Pinot Noir and other dark grape varietals, are antioxidants that bind free radicals in the body to decrease the generation of oxidized lipids. Tannins, anthocyanins and procyanidins can raise HDL, the "good" cholesterol, and lower LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. Resveratrol lowers the risk of coronary heart disease by decreasing the chances of blood clots, helping blood vessels remain unclogged and flexible, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Study results published by the Yale-New Haven Hospital show that resveratrol inhibits the enzymes that stimulate cancer-cell growth and also may treat neurological diseases, as it aids in the formation of nerve cells.
This Calls for a Toast
When the black skin is shed from Pinot Noir, this grape is prized in the production of Champagne and provides body, structure and longevity to a blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. In 1961, when Lily Bollinger ran the famous Bollinger Champagne house, a London reporter asked when she would drink the sparkling wine. She replied, "I only drink Champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it -- unless I'm thirsty." After a lifetime of good health and merriment, Madame Bollinger died at the age of 78.
Drink In Moderation or Nothing At All
A glass of Pinot Noir provides about 640 micrograms of resveratrol. The amount used in animals to prevent cancer exceeds 500 milligrams per human adult, which equates, proportionally to 2 1/2 bottles of wine. A drink is defined as four ounces of wine. If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as an average of one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. The limit is higher for men because, in general, men weigh more and have more of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.
Neither the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute nor the American Heart Association recommends that you start drinking alcohol just for disease prevention. Alcohol consumption can lead to addiction, liver damage and birth defects. Too much increases risks of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, obesity and certain cancers. Avoid or limit alcohol if you have a weak heart or if you take an aspirin a day. Wine contains sulfites for preservation; if you are allergic to sulfur, choose an alternative beverage. As with starting any regimen, always consult your doctor first.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Resveratrol
- MedlinePlus: Wine and Heart Health
- Yale-New Haven Hospital: A Glass of Red Wine a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
- Nature: Red Wine Procyanidins and Vascular Health
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Phenolic Composition of Champagnes from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Vintages
- Circulation: Red Wine Polyphenols Enhance Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase Expression and Subsequent Nitric Oxide Release From Endothelial Cell