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Posted: February 14, 2009

Stock your medicine cabinet with Sonoma Cabernet

Got an ailment? Wine might just cure it

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

Studies show that drinking wine can relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, improve cardiovascular health, enhance liver function and provide Omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m also pretty sure that drinking wine cured my poor eyesight. I know because one evening when I bellied up to drink vino at a local wine bar, the man sitting next to me looked as appealing as Dick Cheney in drag. Three glasses of a 2005 Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon later, I swear I was sitting next to the ultra suave Puff Daddy.

Further evidence? After hitting “total” to view my 2008 tax liability last weekend, I very nearly had a heart attack on the spot. Fast forward through nearly an entire bottle of Willamette Valley Shae Vineyard Pinot Noir an hour and a half later? Taxes schmaxes. Wine drinking can work as a sort-of Prozac for the pour — I mean poor — folk forced to finance Chrysler’s recovery.

Well-documented research on wine drinking’s benefits also exists. Resveratrol and the flavonoids found in wine act as antioxidants and prevent “free radicals” from causing cellular damage, studies show. Resveratrol is credited with preventing blood clotting and plaque forming in arteries, and some recent studies suggest that resveratrol can improve cardiovascular health and lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Animal studies have shown resveratrol reduces tumor incidence, slowing cancer stage development.

Red wine drinkers rejoice: Red wine provides much more resveratrol than white since the longer the skin is kept on the grape during the wine-making process, the greater the concentration of resveratrol.

The tricky part of all these wine-drinking health promises is this: the amount of consumption. The American Heart Association recommends one to two, four-ounce drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Moreover, there’s pesky research indicating alcohol drinking may increase triglycerides, resulting in weight gain due to its empty calories. Drinking may increase migraine headache frequency, and alcohol consumption is also associated with increased cancer risk.

But don’t let that stop you. The medicinal effects of wine drinking continue to line up. To wit: Even more research shows that a glass of wine with a meal can help improve lipid profiles following that meal. And the nerve cells aided by resveratrol may also aid in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. 

And, according to my own research, I believe there are hearing benefits and attitude adjustments inherent in wine drinking. I can testify that the want-to-slit-my-wrists drum practice of the wannabe musician next door is significantly dulled after imbibing a rich and luxurious Bordeaux. Wine drinking significantly hones selective hearing. Then there's the effect is can have when you've just met eight different work deadlines due in just as many hours. After a half bottle of Burgundy, it all seems very ego-centric, unenlightened and inconsequential.

Perhaps it’s time to conduct your own research.

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Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

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