This morning my cup runneth over with a thick green dodgy-looking liquid which, despite appearances to the contrary, tasted delicious and I could almost hear my insides thanking me for all the goodness I was sending their way. My Nutribulleting has become a daily routine at breakfast; it seems I am joining a general trend towards healthy eating. Dry January and Lent are not for me, I’m not a huge fan of delayed gratification, but I am, in middle-age, recognising that I need to make changes to my lifestyle and diet.
This is a bit tricky when it comes to wine especially when there is so much conflicting press about what are and aren’t acceptable drinking habits. I devour articles suggesting that red wine is good for you, that a glass of wine a day reduces the risk of dementia, heart disease and strokes, and am wary of headlines warning women that drinking wine increases the risk of breast cancer. I suspect there may be truth in both but if, like me, you plan to carry on drinking wine whatever the perceived dangers, there are wines which may be better for you than others.
The wines which are supposed to be good for the heart are those with high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants such as Cahors and Madiran made from Malbec and Tannat respectively. These grapes, and others such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the ones whose beneficial properties are generally agreed to be the most valuable and which are responsible for what’s known as The French Paradox – in areas where wine is consumed in relatively copious quantities, the inhabitants seem to be more healthy and live longer than in regions where it isn’t. Professor Corder’s ground-breaking research and subsequent book, The Wine Diet, is already almost 10 years old but the opening line, ‘Wine drinkers are generally healthier and often live longer’ is alone worth a trip to Waterstones.
I read recently that Pinot Noir, one of my favourite red grape varieties and one which produces somewhat lighter and more medium-bodied wines, is a great SIRT rich food. Dark chocolate is another. Apparently, these are foods which work by activating proteins called sirtuins which imitate the effects of fasting and exercise. To be honest, the duty-bound obligation to give it a go, all in the name of research, obviously, is greater than the need to understand the science.
Flippancy aside, organic and biodynamic wines for the seriously health-conscious wine-drinker are more easily attainable now than they have ever been. Organic wines are those where the vines have not been treated with pesticides and fertilisers. Biodynamic farmers work to a specific viticultural calendar, use as little sulphur as they can get away with and treat the vines with special naturally produced preparations. There are two merchants who specialise in these wines:
Vintage Roots set up in 1986 sell nothing but organic and biodynamic beverages (they sell beers, ciders and spirits, too) and have a handy link to vegan, vegetarian and lower alcohol wines.
Les Caves de Pyrene has one of the largest ranges of natural wines in the UK. These are wines with no sulphur (in most cases), no added yeasts or enzymes, wines made in conjunction with, but also at the mercy of, nature.
I am heartened to read that a Professor Bellis from my Alma Mater, Bangor University, has discovered that wine drinkers are less likely to be ill when they eat healthily and don’t smoke. So a cup of green smoothie in the morning for a glass of red wine in the evening seems a good perfectly acceptable trade off to me.
WIN A WINE!
For your chance to win a no added sulphur, healthy Paul Mas Cuvée Secrète £9.75, as recommended by Jane MacQuitty in The Times (05/03/16), from the kind people at Vintage Roots please send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of March 2016.