Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Live Simply Red

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2015 | 10:00 AM
JMMB Insurance Business Development Manager Janet Jackson (left), Jhanell Nesbeth, and Jason Clarke at Simply Red at Jamaica House last Friday.
A heart-healthy glass of Trapiche Syrah being poured.
A few samplings from Tripiache Vineyards – a crisp Pinot Grigio (right) and an Oakcast Malbec, both hits for the night.
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Usually when I share the sentiment "a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away," I get all these strange looks. Wine, in fact, does have unique health properties when consumed in moderation, and if your friend happens to be a cardiologist, he/she may very well join you for a glass.

Grapes (from which wine is derived) are rich in antioxidants, which are extremely helpful to the body. But not all wines have the same potency. Red wines tend to be richer in antioxidants, which are predominantly derived from the skin of the grapes. Now I'm not advocating for excess, but certainly in moderation. The research clearly shows that red wine has been known to prevent heart disease and the latest research also suggests it could reduce the risk of cancer.

Why is it healthy?

According to mayclinic.org, antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols help to protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. One such polyphenol called resveratrol, which is the key ingredient in wine, has the particular effect on the good ole ticker. Resveratrol is found in the skin and seeds of the grapes, and red wines tend to have an extended contact with the skin and seeds during the fermentation process, resulting in higher levels of the antioxidant.

evolving benefits

A study published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2014 indicates that resveratrol kills the cells that lead to cancer. There are other studies undertaken by Texas A&M Health centre which suggest it can help prevent age-related memory loss. Research continues on the evolving benefits wine has on the body, but what is for certain is that the Greeks and Romans used to consider red wine the elixir of life, and more and more it appears to be true.

Which Wines are better?

Red wines with a more dry profile tend to have higher levels of flavonoids, which is an antioxidant known for promoting healthy cholesterol. This means that more of the residual sugars were converted to alcohol during fermentation. Naturally, the sweeter wines that many of us enjoy, have lower levels of flavonoids, thus not having the maximum benefit. Research has proven that Pinot Noirs are the heart healthiest varietal of the lot, with higher levels of resveratrol. Cabernets on the other hand, have been found to improve cardiovascular and arterial health and suggested to increase longevity. Other varietals that we are likely to see that are also good for you are Merlots and Syrahs. I think the magic formula might be blends which give a far more robust flavour profile and by all indications are a more rounded heart-healthy libation.

In general, the wines that have the highest levels of resveratrol tend to come from regions further away from the equator where it has more light rather than heat, that doesn't ripen the grapes too soon.

Last Friday was the 26th staging of Simply Red, the wine and food event being organised by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica. A number of companies poured wines that are both heart friendly and pleasing to your pallet.

n I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at wineenthusiastja@gmail.com.