Ok so we’ve started 2017 on a positive, resilient note. New years’s resolutions and so on…
If you’ve decided to give your liver a detoxification treat, then that’s good news, both for your liver, your vital organs in general and for this article in particular.
So let’s not go into the medical side of what’s good for a detox, that can be read elsewhere. Of course you can try many different cocktails that contain antioxidants: artichokes, raspberry juice (apparently the trend at the moment), freshly squeezed lemon juice in luke-warm water first thing in the mornng and so on…
But this is a wine blog and so we’ll talk about wine and its antioxidants and compare it to PURE GRAPE JUICE, which some wine-addicts may be contemplating.
So I hear you ask, what is an antioxidant? It is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells. Antioxidants such as thiols or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) terminate these chain reactions. Generally antioxidants are found in most fruits and vegetables: cocoa beans, spinach, turip, rhubarb, whole grains, maize, arachid, fruits etc.
You’ll find tannins (another antioxidant) in tea, beans and cabbage as well as red wine.
The main antioxidant in wine is called RESVERATROL
Where do the antioxidants come from? The grape skins (tannins come from the skins and pips)
But let’s talk first about the grape juice:
This is made by pressing grapes WITHOUT THEIR SKINS to extract the juice, therefore grape juice is low in antioxidants. If they do use the skins, then they are cooked and therefore the level of antioxidants is greatly reduced.
Grapes are naturally rich in a sugar known as fructose. However in a bottle you’ll find that there are extra additifs, in particular glucides, which are sugar. you’ll find between 30% and 50% of the contents are pure sugar, with between 10% and 50% real fruit. Wine has less sugar in it the grape juice as the yeasts turn the sugar to alcohol during the fermentation process. Even though the alcohol is turned to glucose in the body, the effect of red wine on blood sugar levels is negligible.
All fruit juices are very rich in sugar, even organic fruit juices. You’ll even find that sugar contents in a bottle of fruit juice can be as high as a Coca-Cola!!!
And now on to wine:
To explain in a very simple way, red wine is crushed and fermented with skins, juice and pips, and therefore has a maximum amount of antioxidants. The adding of yeasts transforms the sugar to alcohol during the fermentation process.
White wine is where the grapes are crushed, the juice extracted and fermented without the skins and pips, which is why it is much lower in antioxidants.
Much has been said about the positive benefits of Resveratrol. An article published by the researchers de Renaud and de Lorgeril in 1992 showed that a moderate consumption of red wine protects us from heart disease by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL. Indeed it was often cited as proof of the “French Paradox”, where in the south west of France, despite a very rich diet (animal fats, foie gras etc) there was a relatively low level of heart disease, compared to northern european countries.
So which wines have the most resveratrol?
The most common grape varietals that have the highest level of resveratrols are: pinot noir, merlot, malbec, grenache and mourvedre.
If we are to classsify it by country, the order is: France, Australia, Italy, Spain, USA.
So what about the south-ouest of France? Well, they have a special grape varietal called le TANNAT which is the KING OF KINGS as far as resveratrol and polyphenols are concerned and can be found in wines such as Cahors, Madiran and in the hills of Saint-Mont and Irouleguy.
But lets make things clear, a healthy heart comes from a healthy lifestyle, with low stress, a good, balanced diet and a moderate consumption of alcohol.
After a festive period of over-eating and over-drinking, your liver needs a rest for it to be able to function properly. Take a break from fatty and sugary foods and even alcohol for 2/3 weeks. Forget fruit juices as they are high on sugar. And yes, a glass of warm, squeezed lemon juice instead of coffee first thing in the morning is a good idea too.
And when you do start drinking a glass of wine or two, think of the quality of the wine. Spend a little more on good wine and drink a little less. Be less curious about the branding and more about the winemaker and their winemaking techniques. Remember, the better the wine, the less chemicals are used and of course you’ll get less headaches too.
Cheers for 2017.