Drink This - It Could Save Your Life

A growing body of credible medical literature now offers irrefutable evidence of what we winos already took for granted - wine is a health food. In fact, daily imbibers of light-to-moderate alcohol consumption gain a statistically significant reduction in both overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality compared to those joyless, non-drinking abstainers (Gaziano et al 1999). Emerging data suggests that moderate alcohol consumers lower their risk for cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, congestive heart failure, MS, diabetes, dementia, and obesity (R. Curtis Ellison 2011). And guess what, moderate drinkers have the lowest incidence of NAFLD- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (Dunn 2008). Of course alcohol abuse decimates your liver, but it’s still amusing to sneer at teetotalers for having fattier livers than we pinot hounds. And we still haven’t even mentioned the brain. Wine makes you smarter! OK, not true; consider the coed cohorts enacting the well documented “beer goggles” phenomenon. But it certainly makes you less dumb. Wine compounds called polyphenols are known to be neuroprotective (Vauzour 2008). That means the stuff found in red wine helps brain cells. Remember that crackling fried egg in Nancy Reagan’s “This is Your Brain on Drugs” campaign? Now imagine a happy, smiling, youthful little neuron (brain cell) quaffing cab. That’s more like it. Wine polyphenols protect against dementia and boost cognitive functions like memory and fluency. We aren’t sure exactly how just yet, but they appear to help by affecting the ways brain cells talk to one another (“neuronal signaling pathways”) and dampening inflammation. And this just in: flavonoids “have been shown to be highly effective in preventing age-related cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in both animals and humans” (Spencer 2012). And you thought getting your dog drunk was debased animal cruelty. Sorry PETA.

And now for the sobering part - “light-to-moderate” consumption means 1-2 glasses/day for men and around one/day for the ladies. Drinking patterns are paramount, too. Drink your wine with food, a little bit every night. Reserving your weekly 14 glass allocation for Saturday night negates the health benefits entirely. Maximizing that heart healthy boost appears to be varietal-dependent. You see, your blood vessels require around 300-500 mg of procyanidins/day to optimize function and reduce cardiovascular risk (Corder 2006 & oral communication). Not every bottle of vino hits the mark. Around 1/3 of randomly tested bottles contained <200 mg, about half clocked in at 200-500 mg, but <10% packed in more than 500 mg per half bottle. The procyanidin heavyweights, you ask? Tannat and anything from Sardinia (groan). No offense to the good people of Sardinia, but I gotta a lot of pinot and zin to offload here. Finally, all wine consumption, however limited, appears to increase the risk for breast cancer (Li 2009). But even with an increased risk of breast cancer, lady lushes still lower their overall death risk by drinking 1-2 glasses/wine per day. After all, the American Heart Association tells us 1 in 3 adults suffer from some incarnation of heart disease (data from 2004). You’re more likely to drop dead from a heart attack than breast cancer, so ladies, play your odds.

Over the next few weeks, we will dissect how wine benefits your body in greater detail. Salut! So this 2012, make a resolution you’re sure to keep. Drink more wine. Drink wine every day. [Drink Bruliam. This is not a subliminal message]. Have a glass with lunch and another with dinner. After all, it just might save your life.

Disclaimer:  I cannot believe I am reduced to this but should add the following. Bruliam does not endorse alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is a serious and deadly illness. Light-to-moderate daily alcohol consumption does not equal alcohol abuse nor does it cause alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse negates all of the aforementioned health benefits detailed above- excepting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, whereby consuming >3 drink/day appears to decrease risk for this blood tumor (Klatsky 2009). Bruliam Wines does not support excessive alcohol consumption to reduce risk of this hematological malignancy. Many of these aforementioned epidemiological studies rely on self-reported data. It is entirely possible that the 89,299 male doctors in the Physicians’ Health Study cohort are liars who dramatically under report their actual alcohol consumption. If your surgeon reeks of a cheap martini, seek a second opinion. Many studies do not distinguish between types of alcoholic beverages. But intrinsically we unbiased winemakers know that wine is better than beer or liquor. The phenols founds in wine are also present in tea, cocoa, and fruit.


Check out this copyrighted figure I have reproduced without permission. The red circles indicate the relative risk of non-drinkers, the total abstainers. They have a relative risk of 1 in each category. The yellow stars represent the light-to-moderate drinkers. Across all categories, men who consume 1 drink/day have a lower risk of death, heart related death, cancer death, and “other” death. From Gaziano et al, 2000**



**Gaziano JM, Gaziano TA, Glynn RJ, Sesso HD, Ajani UA, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hennekens CH, Buring JE., Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and mortality in the Physicians' Health Study enrollment cohort., J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000 Jan;35(1):96-105.

R. Curtis Ellison, lecture, Wine Summit IV: 6th International Wine & Heart Health Summit, Oregon, 2011.

Dunn W, Xu R, Schwimmer JB., Modest wine drinking and decreased prevalence of suspected nonalcoholic fatty liver disease., Hepatology. 2008 Jun;47(6):1947-54.

Vauzour D, Vafeiadou K, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Rendeiro C, Spencer JP., The neuroprotective potential of flavonoids: a multiplicity of effects., Genes Nutr. 2008 Dec;3(3-4):115-26.

Spencer JP, Vafeiadou K, Williams RJ, Vauzour D., Neuroinflammation: Modulation by flavonoids and mechanisms of action., Mol Aspects Med. 2012 Feb;33(1):83-97.

Corder R, Mullen W, Khan NQ, Marks SC, Wood EG, Carrier MJ, Crozier A., Oenology: red wine procyanidins and vascular health, Nature. 2006 Nov 30;444(7119):566.

Li Y, Baer D, Friedman GD, Udaltsova N, Shim V, Klatsky AL., Wine, liquor, beer and risk of breast cancer in a large population., Eur J Cancer. 2009 Mar;45(5):843-50.

Klatsky AL, Li Y, Baer D, Armstrong MA, Udaltsova N, Friedman GD., Alcohol consumption and risk of hematologic malignancies. Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Oct;19(10):746-53.