Here’s news to drink to on a wet, dark afternoon.
The Economist magazine, July 5th, has a gladdening article on why red wine is good for you. Opening with some fine writing – “Fine food sings on the palate, but pairing it with the right wine creates a chorus” – this article explains why drinking Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese while you eat red meat does your body good.
We all know that red wine is rich in polyphenols – or at least those of us who enjoy drinking it do because we tell ourselves that each night that we’re just opening another bottle to keep our doctors happy. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants thought to protect against cancer and heart disease because they kill cell-damaging molecules. But we didn’t know why or how because they don’t seem to travel into the blood.
Aha, Dr Kammer, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suspected it had something to with what happens when they hit the stomach. When fat foods such as red meat are digested they give off oxidising toxins. He hypothesised that if red wine’s polyphenols arrived in the tummy at the same time as fatty food, then they might halt these bad toxins from progressing further around our bodies, and making us vulnerable to bad nasties like arteriosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and other serious diseases.
(If you are of a sensitive nature, or belong to one of the fascist anti-vivisection leagues, stop reading now and go back to drinking your Horlicks). Dr Kanner and his mates fed beef and red wine to rats (some would call that a waste, but it was their last supper) then an hour and a half later, they were killed. The condemned rats ate a hearty meal. Sure enough, upon examination of their stomachs, the wine concentrate did indeed reduce the formation of malondialdehyde, the really bad toxin given off by digesting meat. (He compared these rats’ stomachs with a control, of course).
Based on these results, Kanner believes looking for antioxidants from red wine in the bloodstream is a mistake – they do their best job in the stomach. Oh yes, and eating fresh fruit at the end of a meal is good for you too, for the same reason.
I’m still not sure, however, if the red wine only does you good if you are a carnivore. Watch this space, and meanwhile, in the words of that wonderfully politically incorrect song, so gloriously sung by Mario Lanza:
“Drink, drink, drink to eyes that are bright as stars when they’re shining on me
Drink, drink, drink to lips that are red and sweet as the fruit on the tree.
Here’s the hope that those bright eyes will shine, lovingly, longingly soon into mine.
May those lips that are red and sweet, tonight with joy my one lips meet.
Drink, drink, let the toast start. May true hearts never part. Drink drink drink, let every true lover salute his sweetheart.