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Cheers to Good Health!

By Michael "Ty, the Wine Guy" Taiani

Have you had your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of wine, today? Laugh as you may, but this could soon be a reality. And no doubt, the major driver for this dietary reform would be the indisputable facts contained within recent, comprehensive dietary studies, the latest of which was published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This study concluded once again that the Mediterranean diet, or “MD,” which includes a moderate daily consumption of wine, is the world’s healthiest diet. If you haven’t heard of the MD, it is a modern nutritional regiment inspired by the dietary patterns of some Mediterranean cultures – enjoyed for centuries by the people of Italy, Greece, Morocco, as well as those in the southern regions of France and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include a proportionally high consumption of virgin olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, vegetables, spices, fish, moderate amounts of dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), low consumption of meat and meat products…and of course, wine!

Not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Health, the agency responsible for establishing our own dietary guidelines, has been monitoring the recent data very closely and is beginning to define its forthcoming “2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” A few years ago, they stopped just short of recommending wine as a daily diet component, merely stating, “Alcohol, wine in particular, may have beneficial effects when consumed in moderation”[6/2010]. Ironically, the Center for Disease Control seems to be ahead of the curve, declaring, “Light to moderate daily wine consumption, 4 to 12 ounces per day, can significantly reduce premature death due to disease, heart-attack, and/or stroke.”

The latest research of diet paired with a moderate daily intake of wine (1 to 3 glasses per day [red or white]) has been shown to attribute the following health benefits:
• Improve overall cardiovascular health
• Raise the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lowering the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
• Prevent blood clotting
• Prevent certain types of cancers due to its antioxidant properties; specifically red wine since it contains resveratrol and bioflavonoid compounds
• Enhance the process of thought and memory; prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia
• Impedes the stomach’s emptying time, and thus potentially decreases the amount of food consumed during a meal
• Slow the effects of macular degeneration that causes vision to decline as people age.

But take note, these findings are also based on what I refer to as “a common-sense-lifestyle”:
• Maintain a diet similar to the established “food pyramid” or Mediterranean guidelines
• Don’t smoke
• Be active
• Drink purified water
• Get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep per night

One final point worth mentioning is how over the past decade, we Americans have changed our wine consumption habits from weekends to weekdays, even without the Mediterranean diet in play. Some reasons we’re drinking more wine may be because it is a natural product that naturally complements our meals; we enjoy the tasting experience; it’s part of many cultural backgrounds; we drink wine to relax and to celebrate with; to aid in social settings, i.e., as an “ice-breaker,”and because, at times, it can be sensual (wink-wink). In this man’s lifetime, I have certainly seen wine consumption change – from special occasions and ceremonies to weekend enjoyment, to becoming a daily function. Wine is a part of the popular culture – television sitcoms, movies, books, magazines, and so on, and perhaps this is helping to fuel our daily consumption, too.

So, drink up! In the words of our fellow Mediterranean wine drinkers in Greece, “Stin iyia sas – To your health!”


Michael Taiani Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), aka Ty the Wine Guy, is a food and wine consultant and marketer. Assisting people with food and wine is his passion.

Hudson Valley Wine magazine Summer 2014 issue

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