test tubin'

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Setting out on this daily slog – check that – blog, I find no lack of appealing topics to explore. They spring up like mushrooms in the Cascade foothills, waiting to be gathered, lightly sautéed (in wine, of course), and devoured. Some might be steamed, others fried, a few overdone. But on balance, most are quite delicious.

The story that caught my eye this morning was the lead on the Wine Business website.

Headlined “Wine May Fight Cancer, But How?”, it was written by Stuart Fox and published on the Wine Spectator website. It dives into new research on specific cancer-fighting properties particular to wine. I will not attempt to synthesize Mr. Fox’s work, other than to capture the phrase “antiangiogenic inhibitors”, which I feel sure will begin to appear any day now on winery websites (and back labels if it can be slid past the TTB).

For sound and just reasons, my newspaper editors have long frowned upon me making any comments in print regarding the medical research connected with wine. I am not a doctor, nor a scientist, and cannot comment with any expertise whatsoever on these studies. But I will say this – they keep coming. It started with “The French Paradox” piece on 60 Minutes almost 20 years ago. Then further studies were done, speaking to such things as anti-oxidents, resveratrol, and now these antiangiogenic inhibitors.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all in favor of such research. I grin every time some study or other tells me that drinking wine is good for me. Who wouldn’t? But I wonder why so many Americans still seem to need their doctor’s permission to embrace demon alcohol? Blowing past all that wine brings to the table as a social lubricant, appetite enhancer, food companion, memory-stimulator, etc. etc. We want health benefits too! And good health news associated with wine consumption seems to open up the doors of consumption for many who might otherwise remain on the fringe.

I hope the researchers continue to find solid evidence that wine drinking does indeed have health benefits. But even if they do not, I will keep on enjoying a couple of glasses with dinner, because I know this for certain: it’s good for my mental health.

As a footnote: some of you may remember when such staples as coffee and eggs were demonized as cancer and heart disease risk agents. I never stopped enjoying my morning pot of coffee, or my weekend eggs. And sure enough, the research has come around and pretty much done a 180 on those two items. Unless you happen to be a rat who consumes about ten gallons of coffee daily, you are probably ok. My takeaway is this: enjoy all things in moderation – including moderation. Meanwhile, I’m looking into marketing a new line of wines with a happy-go-lucky character named Auntie Angio as the spokeswoman.


Arthur said...

Is it that people need their "doctor's permission to embrace demon lacohol" or a justification for excessive consumption?
I am not the prohibitionist type. I am pro moderation, though. But still, I have seen people use the "it's good for you" reasoning to explain their (sometime, over-) consumption.
Why can't we just accept that, as you say, wine is a food companion, social lubricant, etc, it makes you feel good and can be pretty fascinating to the nose and tongue without needing it to be some panacea.

walt said...


I think we often miss the forest through the trees. Is it wine, or is it all the other variables that seem to line up when we drink that glass (relaxing music, conversation, the calming focus of tasting). These thoughts are illustrated perfectly in the first chapter of 'Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell's recent book, which I was going to recommend - when I found the entire first chapter on the NYT site:


Seems like I'm not the only one that likes the view of the forest.

More topics to percolate in your mind.

Art said...

I don't know if this is the last word on the health benefits of wine, but the book is both serious and very entertaining . . . and in my case, reassuring:

"Age Gets Better with Wine" by Richard Baxter, MD (He practices in Seattle, too.)

Todd said...


I agree with your sentiments - let wine be wine. Enjoy it as a sensory experience.

If we start turning it into "medicine" or making health claims, we're inviting regulation (expensive lot testing, "serving facts," etc.) And regulation would probably destroy a lot of what I love about wine. Compliance costs would probably kill many of the under 2,000 case producers. And I don't want to lose more of my back label!

Anonymous said...

For the justification of over consumption, I do not think anyone is really serious when they say "it is good for you" as they over consume. My impression is people are just trying to be funny as they get drunk. Anyone who has read anything that says wine is good for you in a certain area has also read the caveats that only in moderation. Douggator

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