ORIGIN AND TRAITSWith the festive season around the corner, let us take a minute to picture what is essential on every celebratory gathering; the food selection may differ from region to region, yet, there is one type of drink which is present in almost any special occasion, the red wine. No matter the new drinks and sophisticated cocktails, red wine is an invariable staple which conbines pleasure with potential health benefits.
Considered to be part of a balanced diet and closely connected with the consumer habits of the Mediterranean cultures, is it highly popular – if not the most popular – alcoholic beverage in Greece. This comes to be proved by the numerous varieties of Greek red wine which vary in taste, aroma and color; Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro, Mavrodaphne, Limnio and Mavrotragano.
Red wine production in Greece dates back to centuries ago and the same process is still applied; the vines are harvested, fermented and then pressed (only now by artificial means and not by feet). The alcohol content in red wine typically ranges from 12-15% vol.
The fine taste of good quality red wine is not to be doubted, as well as the versatility of occasions it can be consumed in. However, what comes as surprise, is that years of studies have shown that its antioxidant content may aid in a series of health conditions; from protection against cancer to mental health and a prolonged life expectancy.
Is there anything better than enjoying a glass of wine while keeping in mind that its moderate consumption may positively reflect on your health?
BENEFITS AND HEALING PROPERTIES
Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, advised red wine consumption as part of a balanced diet. He had also referred to its use as a disinfectant, pain reliever during childbirth and its action against lethargy and symptoms of diarrhea.
Red wine has antioxidant and anti-aging action. The polyphenols it contains protect blood vessels and the collagen and elastin of the tissues, thus detoxifying the skin and making it look brighter. Rich in catechins, which dilate blood vessels, it helps protect against atherosclerosis and thrombus formation and fight inflammation.
The peel of red grapes contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that can regulate cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that when a meal is accompanied by a glass of wine, it helps balance the damage caused to the arteries by fatty foods and promotes digestion.
USE AND DOSAGE
Red wine is linked to well-being and longevity when consumed in moderation. The recommended daily consumption of wine is 1-2 glasses per day, depending on the age, weight and health status of each person.
According to the basics of wine drinking, red wine pairs best with red meat and spicy types of sauce. However, feel free to experiment with different varieties of red wine available on the market, select based on preference and enjoy an antioxidant-packed drink however you like.
Be aware that a glass of red wine has an average of 100-120 calorific value. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to obesity, infertility, avitaminosis and even serious health problems such as stomach ulcers and cirrhosis of the liver.
Bear in mind that in order to benefit from the antioxidants of red wine, it needs be of high quality, as low-quality wines may contain dangerous additives, preservatives and dyes which cause rapid intoxication and liver issues.
RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL INTEREST
Red wine is, overall, considered to contain a significant amount of antioxidants, polyphenols and other compounds which promote good health. For this reason, extensive research has been conducted in order to further examine its properties.
Research published in the US National Library of Medicine¹ analyses the contribution of red wine consumption to human health protection, concluding that “Several epidemiological, in vivo and in vitro, studies have reported that moderate red wine or red wine polyphenolic extract consumption may be active in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, degenerative pathologies, and cancer.” ²