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Wine

 

Although the art of wine making is some 7,000 years old, the process of fermentation was not understood until the discoveries of Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. Wine is palatable and resistant to deterioration only after it has undergone fermentation, which is a type of controlled spoilage. Alcohol, a waste product of fermentation, is toxic to all living beings; even the yeasts that excrete it cannot tolerate an environment of more than 15 percent alcohol, which is why fermentation stops at about this concentration. Most French wines are about 12 percent alcohol, and North American wines, 13 to 14 percent. Extra alcohol is added to fortified wines, such as sherry and port.

 

THE COMPONENTS OF WINE

Red wine is made from purple grapes, but white wine is not necessarily made from white grapes. Many white wines are made from purple grapes, but the skins are removed before they color the fermenting juice, called must. The skins contain most of the bioflavonoids, phenols, tannins, and other compounds that give wine its flavor and healthful properties. The longer the must stays in contact with the skins, the deeper the color will be. Some dessert wines are made with specially overripened grapes to achieve a prized sweetness and a rich consistency.

 

Four ounces (120 ml) of red wine contain about 80 to 90 calories, compared to 75 to 85 in the same amount of white wine and 175 in dessert wine. Many wines have trivial amounts of minerals; red wine has a trace of iron.

 

WINE AND THE HEART

Numerous studies show that moderate consumption of alcohol -- one to two 4 oz (120 ml) glasses of wine a day, preferably with a meal -- is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. According to a 1991 report, the French had a heart attack rate only one-third as high as that of North Americans, despite consuming as much or more fat as North Americans. Wine consumption may be at least partly responsible for this phenomenon, known as the "French paradox." Annual wine consumption in North America is between 2 to 3 gal (8-11 liters) per person, compared to about 15 gal (57 liters) per person in France.

 

Researchers have not determined what it is in wine that may prevent heart attacks, but some theorize that compounds such as quercetin and resveratrol in grape skins, as well as other bioflavonoids, may be responsible. These compounds tend to make the blood less sticky and less likely to form clots. It is thought that the French habit o drinking wine with meals may provide the small but regular intake of alcohol needed to reduce clot formation, a cause of most heart attacks. the bioflavonoids also have antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the artery wall and help keep the arteries dilated. Still other research suggests that moderate amounts of wine may raise the levels of the protective HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

 

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS

Studies are under way looking at other benefits from the resveratrol found in wine. it is believed that it has a preventative effect on several types of cancer, including colon and prostate cancer. Laboratory studies indicate that the anthocyanin pigments and tannins in wine can fight viruses, but this effect ahs not been proved in humans. Tannins can inhibit the growth of plaque-forming bacteria on the teeth and may protect against cavity formation. Other studies are exploring the link between wine consumption and lowered risk of dementia.

 

Wine appears to contain substances ( still to be identified ) that slow the rate of alcohol absorption; studies show that a moderate amount of wine has a less intoxicating effect than the same volume of distilled liquor. still, some claim that wine makes them more sleepy than other alcoholic beverages do; this effect may be due to ingredients other than alcohol.

 

NEGATIVE EFFECTS

The benefits of moderate wine drinking, which may extend to reducing the risk of some cancers, are lost when consumption exceeds 8 oz (240 ml) a day. Overconsumption can increase the risk of obesity, stroke, breast cancer, high blood pressure, as well as alcoholism, and cirrhosis and other liver disorders. even moderate alcohol consumption may raise the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (involving a burst blood vessel). In addition, heavy use of alcohol in early pregnancy can cause birth defects.

 

Most wines contain sulfites and preservatives that can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible people. Wine, especially red, is a common trigger of migraines.

 
     

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