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Red Wine just might help keep you slim

aaa-blank-imageThousands of years ago, around 1015 BC, Psalms 104:14-15 proclaimed: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen a man’s heart.”wine-health-red-white

As with most ancient scriptures, their wisdom is divined by the reader’s mind and their secrets are revealed through the reader’s interpretation. And so for the purpose of this discussion I am assuming that “the gladdening of the heart” might simply refer to the heart’s physical vitality and not any other metaphorical symbolisms. 

In 2012, an assistant professor and his gradate student at Purdue University published a report about a compound found in red wine called “Picetannol.” kim-piceatannol1According to their research, this compound interrupted or blocked the cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop. This discovery might very well open the door to controlling obesity, thereby tamping down the ailments associated with it. Yes, it would seem that red wine really is “good for the human heart.” 

It comes as a great surprise, at least to me, that the complexity of chemical compounds found in red wine surpasses that of our own blood serum. It has become increasingly clear that there are health benefits derived from a moderate ingestion of red wine and that these might range from maintaining a healthy heart to possibly mitigating Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research points in that direction. So, much like the secrets divulged by ancient texts, there remain secrets yet to be discovered through scientific research into the nature and qualities possessed by the elixir we call red wine. Heart-Healthy-Red-Wine-Is-It-True

Red wine is a rich source of antioxidants, called flavonoids. Ten years of research has already shown that flavonoids reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The cardio-protective affects are three fold: Red wine reduces the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad stuff) and boosts the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) thereby reducing blood clotting. Finally, consuming a moderate amount of red wine on a daily basis has been shown to favorably influence lipid profiles following a meal. 

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Wine Events to Talk About

wine-harvestcampbell wine walkWine Events of past, present and future are noted here for your amusement, edification and to stir up your attendance. This past week the Winter Campbell Wine walk was enjoyed by a sell out crowd of happy and hip millennial-and-up wine enthusiasts. The mild weather seemed more like spring than winter and music , laughter and good spirits filled downtown Campbell. 

Campbell’s downtown has bloomed with novel boutique shops, upscale and modern restaurants ranging from small family-run businesses to national brand-name stores. Amongst these shops you will find some of the finest wines from Northern California that were enjoyed by those who attended. burrell school 1

Most notable of them were Burrell School, a fabulous Santa Cruz Mountain winery located on the summit of Highway 17.  Fenestra Winery from the Livermore Valley poured a magnificent Syrah. Light Heart Cellars, from Santa Clara County, offered a delicious white varietal called Colombard. Roudon-Smith Winery and Cooper-Garrod Winery offered award-winning wines that were hosted by their wine makers and vintners. 

Their passion and commitment is express through the artistry of their wines. Sarah’s Vineyard and Martin Ranch poured lovely well-crafted wines as well. Yes, it was a lovely wine walk enjoyed by all who attended and sipped great wines and savored amuse-bouche nibbles. If you missed this wonderful wine event, don’t fret, there will be another Campbell wine walk early this fall. 

Looking for something to do this weekend? Would you like to make last minute plans to attend a Valentine’s Day function? Consider visiting Napa and attending Meritage Resorts’ Masters and Makers weekend. Go for the whole weekend or simply attend one of the events offered throughout this Valentine and President’s day weekend. 

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Review of the Coravin: Wine Preservation System

coravin2The Coravin wine preservation system will allow oenophiles a new way to save and preserve their fine wines that use natural cork, so they won’t have to drink the entire bottle or let their choice wines go to waste.  Being a techie-gadget kind of man, the Coravin WPS really appealed to my sensibilities.coravin4

To my mind, and most likely yours, the appearance and packaging of the Corovin WPS certainly speaks of luxury. The product’s design has the appearance of something conjured up by an inventive prop designer for the futuristic movie franchise “Blade” because it successfully merges an old world product (wine opener) with leading-edge technology. It’s a combo that offers advantages to both experienced and new oenophiles alike.

The Coravin, initially called the “Wine mosquito” was the vision of Greg Lambrecht. Mr. Lambrecht designs and develops a wide variety of medical devices and it was his application of his considerable mechanical engineering skills that resulted in the Coravin Wine Preservation System. His invention was literally born out of necessity when his wife became pregnant and abstained from alcoholic beverages. But Mr. Lambrecht still wanted to enjoy sipping some of his fine wines throughout her pregnancy without having to waste them, and so the Coravin was created.The Complete Coravin system comes with three different gauges ranging from 16-18. These needles are intended to offer a variety of capabilities. Generally speaking, using the Coravin to dispense wine ranges from 20 to 35 seconds per glass. The higher the gauge the slower the pour.

The Coravin is designed to work with wine bottles that use natural cork. Wines sealed with synthetic corks can be re-used, but these synthetic corks usually will not always reseal properly. Screw tops cannot be used with the Coravin product. It is also important to ensure that before using the Coravin that the top of the foil cap is completely removed to ensure that no metal discs or glass closures are below the foil top as they will damage the Coravin needle. coravin5

Although this is a rarity, some wine bottles may have slight inclusions or hairline fractures and should these defects be present the use of the Coravin may compromise the glass bottle’s integrity and it might break. This occurred a few times last year so Coravin now offers and recommends using a bottle sleeve to prevent potential injury, albeit these occurrences are rare. These events did not go unnoticed by the legal community; refer to http://www.laszlolaw.com/whos-blame-wine-bottle-explodes-using-coravin/ 

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It Takes Two

It Takes Two

 

All of us have heard about the health benefits of wine. The antioxidants present in wine, particularly in red wine, have been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a glass or two per night is a common suggestion for those looking to lower their bad cholesterol. If you want a refresher, check out my article here!

It turns out, though, that just drinking a glass or two of Pinot Noir each night is not enough. In a new study by the European Society of Cardiology, people who drank wine 5 nights a week had their cholesterol levels tracked over the course of a year. The trial, entitled “In Vino, Veritas,” looked at both men and women, who were divided into two groups; half the participants drank a pinot noir and the other half drank a chardonnay-pinot noir (white) blend. Both wines came from the same vintage and the same region of the Czech Republic. Participants kept a log of their wine and alcohol consumption, medication use, and exercise habits.

This study is extraordinary for a couple reasons. First of all, Professor Milos Taborsky, the lead researcher on the project, was looking for a rise in HDL cholesterol, which is “the main indication of a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.” However, at the end of the year the HDL cholesterol level s were not markedly different from the participants’ beginning stats. This points to the conclusion that neither red nor white wine contributes to the prevention of heart disease. LDL cholesterol was lower in both the red and white groups at one year, while the total cholesterol level was lower for the red wine drinkers only. So while Professor Taborsky concluded that neither red nor white wine “had any impact on study participants as a whole,” consuming either type of wine does appear to have a beneficial effect on the drinker’s cholesterol levels.

This is the first randomized study that attempts to look at the comparative benefits of red wine vs. white wine on cardiovascular health. By controlling the vintage, varietal, and appellation of the wines drunk by the participants, we are able to compare the risks and benefits of the wines in real-life circumstances, rather than posit theories based on our understanding of what should happen. The traditional view of red wine as a healthier option than white wine must be reevaluated in light of these findings.

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Red Wine and Garlic Don't Mix.

Okay, that title is a lie. Garlic is delicious with red wine. Tuscan cuisine wouldn't be the same without either Chianti or garlic-laden bolognese! But there is a time and a place, and I found the antithesis of that time and place this past weekend.

If you've ever driven through Gilroy, CA, you know that the city's motto should probably be one word, all capitalized: GARLIC. You see the signs for fresh garlic and garlic ice cream and garlic preserves and garlic braids, you feel like you've got garlic breath just from driving through on 101, you hear about the Garlic Festival every July.

It's a tragedy that I have had three summers in the Bay Area and this past weekend is the first time that I've been to the Festival that makes the city great. I grew up in Small-Town America, so I know how to deal with crowded town fairs in zillion-degree heat (hint: drink early, bring water, wear sunscreen and comfortable clothes). Add garlic fries and garlic bread and free garlic ice cream to that equation, and I am absolutely on board! Plus, I heard a rumor that they would have a wine tent, and honestly, that's a good enough reason to get me to show up anywhere. So on Saturday, my boyfriend and I showed up at my Gilroy-born friend's house at 9:30am to caravan to the festival, eat our fill of garlic-doused food, and have a built-in excuse to drink before noon.

The wine tent turned out to be the best decision of the day; not only was it not crowded when we arrived, but it was a shaded and mist-sprayer-rigged so we could get a respite from the 95 degree heat outside. There were about ten local wineries pouring samples and full glasses for attendees, almost all of which I had passed on my back-roads drive to the festival. I hadn't tasted most of the wineries' offerings prior to that day, so I made quick work of my drink tickets.

Lightheart Cellars gets a shout-out from me here; Sheldon and George poured the gorgeous Colombard of theirs, and they made a white sangria of it for us to taste as well! Both were perfect for the weather and the occasion, and I may have counted the strawberries and apples in my sangria cup as one of my servings of fruit for the day.

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