My grandmother always used to say: « A little bit of what you fancy always does you good! »

Well, isn’t it nice to know that this goes for wine too?

There are more and more studies being carried out which prove that moderate wine consumption can actually benefit your health.

They have found that moderate wine drinkers are generally healthier, often live longer, and are less likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes and dementia in old age.

Most of these studies have found that it is red wine that makes this difference.

Why? The answer is in the skins…

The Polyphenols – a natural compound called Resveratrol found in the skins and pips of grapes grown in slightly cooler areas, such as the Loire Valley, form when the plants are under attack from bacteria or fungi.

The plants build a resistance to these fungi and form thicker skins enclosing this wonderful Resveratrol at the same time.

Resveratrol has been found to contain properties pertaining to: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering, and other beneficial cardiovascular effects.

In America, this new find is being hailed as a new wonder drug.

In fact, you can buy it in the form of a pill…

A PILL??? Why take a pill when a nice glass of wine would do the trick?

(My grandmother also used to say, “There’s no accounting for taste!”)

Some scientists believe that this is the reason behind the French Paradox. The French eat as much fatty, rich foods as other countries but have a surprisingly low incidence of heart disease.

Now, not all red wines have the benefit of the high proportions of this compound. Some of the newer wines made for easy consumption without food do not have it, or if they do, it is in very low quantities. These wines are hardly more than fermented grape juice.

Choose traditionally made red wines with noticeable tannins. It is the tannins that give the wine high Resveratrol. Tannins are felt by a certain dryness on the middle to the back of the tongue.

(Same as a very strong cup of tea). They should be silky, not too harsh and not totally mask the flavour of the fruit.

To get a good build up of Resveratrol, the wine maker needs to have macerated the wine in the skins for as long as possible. As close as possible to a month’s maceration would be good. Otherwise anything from a week up is standard for good wines.

Choose wines which have been allowed to settle naturally. This creates a small but harmless deposit in the bottom of the bottle. Supermarket wines do not have this as they, the supermarkets, prefer to have chemicals added to diffuse this deposit

Most younger wines, wines up to 3 years, have loads of tannins.

They are consumed by the wine itself over time.

How much time?

That is like asking the length of a piece of string.

It depends main on the vintage, how the wine was raised, the grape variety, and that is not all…

I have several wines which are very strong in tannins including the Touraine Cabernet 2005, Côt 2011, and others which still have some very silky but noticeable tannins.

These wines’ tannins soften considerably with decanting, or just opening a good 1/2 hour before consumption. Always decant older wines or just open well in advance if you can.

All good wine merchants should know the answers to any questions you may have concerning this. So, don’t be afraid to ask.

I, too, am here to help you with your questions.

First published April 2011