Wine: As Wonderful for your Kidneys as for Your Heart?

320px-Red_Wine_GlasContributed by Jenni Phelps: The fact that wine promotes cardiovascular health has long been espoused by scientists, but exciting news suggests that wine may also be linked to healthier kidneys.  A study carried out by Dr. Tapan Mehta and his team at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Centre, in Aurora, has shown that those with healthy kidneys who consumed a moderate amount of wine per day (in the region of 4 ounces) had a 37 per cent lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. Additionally, those who already had kidney disease who drank the same amount per day had a 29 per cent lower likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular events. The scientists came to these conclusions after analysing data obtained over three years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a yearly study carried out by the National Center for Health Statistics. The data was obtained from over 5,800 Americans, over 1,000 of which had chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The Crucial Link Between the Heart and Kidneys

Approximately 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease, defined by the National Kidney Foundation as “a gradual loss of kidney function over time”.

The risk factors for kidney disease are, interestingly, strikingly similar to those for heart disease. They include: smoking, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. As Dr. Mehta told Wine Spectator, “Apparently, nobody has looked at this before. But in the general population, the common risk factors (for kidney and heart disease) were so similar that we were led to hypothesize that wine intake would also lower cardiovascular disease risk in patients who have kidney disease.” Suffering from chronic kidney disease greatly increases one’s chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the latter is the leading cause of death for all people suffering from CKD. The aim of Dr. Mehta’s study, therefore, was to glean whether or note moderate drinking could lower the chance of cardiovascular diseases in CKD patients, and whether it could promote kidney health in the population at general. His findings are promising indeed for all drinkers of wine, though the key is moderation; not only can excess amounts o wine reverse its beneficial effects, it can also cause issues such as addiction, which carries a whole new set of health risks for consumers. Moreover, rehabilitation can be a lengthy and challenging process. As treatmentforaddiction.com notes, “detoxification may be a medical necessity, and untreated withdrawal may be medically dangerous or even fatal.”

The Mystery of Wine

The reasons why a moderate consumption of wine are linked to greater kidney health is as yet unknown. Dr. Mehta suspects that it may have something to do with the fact that moderate consumers of wine tend to have lower protein levels in their urine. On the other hand, as kidney disease progresses, levels of protein in the urine tend to increase. Another secret may lie in the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of resveratrol.

Red or White? Does it Matter?

Further studies need to be carried out in order to establish maximum amounts of wine to be consumed to obtain maximum benefits. Additionally, the question of whether white wine has the same beneficial effect on the kidneys as red wine, remains to be seen, since the subjects of the study were not asked to identify which type of wine they drank. Dr. Mehta logically believes that red wine would likely hold more beneficial effects than white, bearing in mind its high resveratrol content. Various studies have linked the consumption of resveratrol to cancer protection, cardiovascular health, longer lifespans and even the ability to keep vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at bay. As Harvard University notes, “Exactly how resveratrol might do all this is still a mystery. One possibility is that it turns on genes that make sirtuins, ancient proteins found in virtually all species. Activating sirtuins kicks off a response that fights disease and prolongs life.” In addition to red wine, resveratrol can also be found in red grapes, blueberries and pistachios, so make sure to stock up on these healthy snacks while enjoying your daily glass of wine!

Future Testing

Excited by their results, Dr. Mehta and team are planning to immerse themselves in experimental studies (in vitro and in vivo) soon, to glean more information on the connection between wine consumption and kidney health, and the causes of the promising results thus obtained.

About the Author: Jenni Phelps is a former nutrition and health worker who believes in balance and moderation in all things, after working for many years in social care helping families make the right dietary and health choices, she turned her attention to freelance writing and now divides her time between penning articles and looking after the health of her own family!

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My First Wine Experience in the Gardens of Ferrari Carano

Gardens of Ferrari Carano

Gardens of Ferrari Carano

Contributed by Araceli Campos – I wasn’t introduced to wine until I immigrated to the United States. I was born and raised in Michoacán Mexico until I was 10 years old. Mexico is not known for producing much wine, though they do make it in the Baja Peninsula. Therefore, I had never seen a bottle of wine before – even though my dad worked in the vineyards of California. It wasn’t until I arrived in the US that I started seeing wine on the shelves in grocery stores, at special events, and holiday gatherings where some of my relatives drank wine.

When I was 11 my dad took us to the Ferrari Carano Winery (http://www.ferrari-carano.com/) where he worked. We visited the gardens first, and they were so beautiful, filled with colorful flowers and fountains. Then we went inside the winery to where they have the barrels and it all seemed very nice to me. I liked the smell of the barrel room.

As the years passed I would occasionally see my mom and dad drink wine. Finally the day arrived when I was old enough to taste wine. It was at a New Year’s Day family gathering in the Alexander Valley, and of course, the wine was a Ferrari Carano Chardonnay. It was delicious, and the thought of the hard work my dad put into the production of that wine made it even taste better!

I still feel that I have much more to learn about the wine industry and wines in general. I like the history behind it, the way it makes people feel important and sophisticated, the whole process of making wine , and the great amount of knowledge that is required to build a career within the wine industry. This is the beginning of my wine journey and I am looking forward to trying new wines and practicing my tasting skills so that someday I can blind test and know exactly what the grape varietals are.

Blog Master Note: Araceli is currently studying for her Bachelor of Science degree in Wine Business and Accounting at Sonoma State University.

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Three Fun Facts to Pair Dessert and Wine

Wine Pairing Guide

Wine Pairing Guide

Contributed by Bryan Vu – Pairing wine with dessert isn’t always easy, and often the task can seem daunting. However Shari’s Berries has put together a handy little guide to make pairing desserts with wines a little bit easier. The task of choosing a matching wine for dessert can be daunting for a person if they don’t really know where to start. The chart helps to demystify the process:  http://www.berries.com/blog/dessert-alcohol-pairing-guide

3 Important Fact When Pairing Dessert and Wine

How did these pairings come about? The key to a great pairing is not necessarily how similar the two flavors are, but how well they play together. There are 3 important factors into consideration:

1) Sweetness, 2) acidity, and 3) flavor.

For example, while a sweet red with hints of berries might taste great with a milk chocolate dessert, a better match for a dry red would be with the more bitter dark chocolate, so the berry and chocolate flavors are allowed to mingle without the overpowering sweetness of milk chocolate. Or try a crisp, acidic white with some oak to pair with a cream based treat to let the vanilla and oak flavors come together, while the crispness of the wine cleanses the palette for your next bite.

Of course, many of these pairings can be swapped, as long you keep the 3 factors in mind. If you happen to have a Pinot Noir with a bit of oak, it might also work wonderfully with peaches and cream. Or perhaps a fruitier Chardonnay with Raspberry Tart. Every set of taste buds is different, and this guide is by no means set in stone, but we hope it will help you find better pairings and have great tasting meals!

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The Joys of Dessert Wine – 3 Great Choices for Under $20

Dessert Wines for the HolidaysContributed by Nicole Nowlen – There is a scene that appears frequently in movies, books, or even just the homes of wine connoisseurs we know and love. You can picture it, the imbiber curled up in a chair with a blanket and a pleasant book, perhaps even the ubiquitous cat purring on their lap. Upon their nose is perched a pair of reading glasses, brought out only for these moments of quiet consumption of literature. Perched on the table next to them is a somewhat diminutive wine-glass filled with a rich, almost viscous liquid.   At moments spaced by the beat of interest the reader has in the book, it rises to their lips, and a slow luxurious consumption takes place. Just a sip, followed by a moment of pure relish before they set the glass back upon the counter and return to their reading.

What is this mysterious substance that our reader consumes with such reverence? Why is it only something brought out for truly special occasions, such as a quiet evening with a book? (If this doesn’t strike you as a special occasion, you underestimate the gravity and pleasure of a good book.) More often than not, what you are viewing is a moment’s luxurious passion shared with a rich, sweet, flavorful dessert wines. They hold a special place in the heart of a wine lover, as often shared as part of an intimate conversation between friends after a fine meal, as in private moments like those above. Despite their association with luxury, they don’t have to be expensive, and I’d like to provide you with a small sampling of which dessert wines will fit your palette and your budget for under $20.

W & J Graham’s Fine Ruby Port 

Graham's Port

Graham’s Port

Red Ports are known for being rich flavorful blends that are full of subtle undertones of luxury and hedonism.   One of the most unusual aspects of a port is that the winemakers themselves may remain blissfully unaware of what’s actually growing in their vineyards. This doesn’t mean the flavor isn’t consistent, but more that the particularly subtle nuances of what the grape is and what its heritage is have been lost to the mists of time. What you can be certain of is that this vintage will bring a fine dance to the table, a mixture of bold strokes of flavor spun off with elegant refinery in its finish. The one thing that stands true about a Port in all cases, as a dessert wine it won’t lead you astray.

2008 Quady Winery Elysium Black Muscat Dessert Wine

This wine is made from an exotic little grape known as the Muscat Hamburg, this grape has a dark black color to its skin that doesn’t bring its powerful color to the wine. Instead dusting the result with a blush or rose colored tint that is pleasing to the eye. These grapes are primarily grown in the California wine region, and are thus part of the ever increasingly popular vintages that come from that region. The delightful spread of flavors that appears in this bottle is not to be underestimated, you will find it packed with boysenberry, buttery apricot, while travelling through your palette with hints of herbs and spices, and ending on a delightful almond crème brulee note.

Bonny Doon Framboise Raspberry Eau de Vie

By far the priciest of the wines on this list, it comes with an experience that is worth every penny of its nearly $20 price tag.The name Eau-de-Vie means “Water of Life” in French, and is the designation for a variety of fruit-based distilled wines. While Bonny Doon may use a French blend of grapes for its wines, it called California home. The brusque flavor of this wine will flow across your palette in a veritable delight of raspberry essence swirled with a dusting of chocolate flavor. All in all it may very well be the perfect dessert wine.

Ending the Evening With a Lovely Glass of Dessert Wine

To the true connoisseur there is little as pleasant as a small glass of dessert wine to end the night. Something about its flavor just rounds out the day and leaves you relaxed and ready to doze off into a pleasantly contented sleep. For those with a flair for the dramatic, you could always have your own labels printed to express your personality both in your choice of drink, and how you present it and add your own bit of charm to an already lovely wine!

About the Author: Nicole Nowlen is a full-time businesswoman and DIY enthusiast.
Living in old London town, but with a burning desire to go everywhere and see everything!
She can be contacted at http://nicolenowlen.com/ or Twitter @nicolenowlen87

 

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Positive News on the Health Benefits of Wine

Sparkling Wine & Salad

Sparkling Wine & Salad

Contributed by Jenna Phelps – Although Millennials rarely drink wine for its health benefits, it’s reassuring to know that drinking wine in moderation promotes physical and mental wellness. Indeed, an article recently published in the scientific journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings highlights that a daily drink of alcohol for men and women, ideally red wine, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. This is good news, as cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the US. However, the researchers point out that this moderate dosage is the key to good health, as excessive intakes of alcohol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and other dangers to health. So how does a modest amount of wine protect your heart and what other benefits can you gain by drinking within suggested limits?

Protecting your heart

According to Florida International University, drinking is beneficial to heart health in three ways. Firstly, red wine is rich in a protective substance called resveratrol, which increases levels of HDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that protects your arteries by removing fatty deposits. Not only that, but resveratrol increases the size of HDL particles, which confers even greater benefits to heart health. Finally, resveratrol and other components in red wine act as antioxidants, which preserve the health of your arteries, preventing narrowing. The alcohol content of red wine may actually increase antioxidant activity, so although companies such as the Health Food Post advises on the benefits of resveratrol supplements, taking this nutrient as a tablet may limit the benefits it offers. Although white wine has a lower antioxidant content, all alcohol raises HDL levels, so if you prefer a glass of white wine, it may still protect your heart.

Additional research suggests that resveratrol may promote a healthy circulation in other ways too. For instance, the Linus Pauling Institute explains that resveratrol reduces inflammation, which otherwise may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes and dementia. This protective nutrient additionally reduces the chance of a blood clot forming, promoting healthy blood flow through your arteries, reducing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. Resveratrol also boosts nitric oxide production, needed to relax your blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. As KwikMed advises that raised blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, additional measures that lower blood pressure are welcome. However, high intakes of alcohol raise blood pressure, so it’s important to keep to just a glass or two of wine at a serving.

Reducing your risk of diabetes

An increasing number of us in America have type 2 diabetes, which is a major cause of ill-health and early death. However, the condition is preventable through a healthy lifestyle, and moderate red wine consumption may additionally play a role in preventing this form of diabetes. Research from The Journal of Nutrition informs us that a high dietary intake of flavones and anthocyanins, two antioxidants found in red wine, reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar control, which may protect us from diabetes. Looking at anti-inflammatory diets that are rich in nutrient-dense foods, such as that recommended by Dr Weil, you see that they include red wine, so wine fits in well with a health-promoting diet.

Improving your mood

As one in ten of us now suffer from depression to one degree or another, there is a lot of interest in natural ways to boost our mood. A diet rich in oily fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, coupled with regular exercise can have a positive impact on wellbeing, and a glass of wine is possibly another useful addition. The University of Utah reports on a study that showed a daily drink of wine is linked to a reduced risk of depression. While this may be down to the impact that protective components of wine have on brain function, drinking socially may also explain the results, as social interaction is well-known to lift your spirits. As with other areas of health though, it’s essential to keep within sensible limits, as drinking heavily can worsen mood and have a negative effect on other aspects of mental health. Drinking moderately offers a range of health benefits, so you can remember this as you enjoy a glass of red.

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My Favorite Tasting Room Series: Stephen & Walker’s, Healdsburg, CA

Stephen and Walker Tasting Room

Stephen and Walker Tasting Room

(By Guest Author Emily Mobley) As soon as I walked into Stephen & Walker’s Wine Tasting Room located in Healdsburg, I knew I was going to have a good time. Enticed with excitement and enjoying the atmosphere of summer, I could not wait to have my first sip of “real” wine. I had recently turned 21, and wine was still a mystery to me. What was so special about it? “Real” wine was everything I didn’t know and was looking forward to experiencing.

It was August and my neighbors invited me to go wine tasting with them in Healdsburg. Because I felt awkward and a bit embarrassed, I invited my best friend Scott to come along. While he tried to be enthusiastic about tasting wine, I knew his wine etiquette was nothing compared to his envious beer attitude. However, I felt relieved that he was tagging along, and excited about what I was going to learn.

As we entered Stephen & Walkers (http://www.trustwine.com/), I was delighted with the smell of wine, the sound of laughter, and the sight of long wooden countertops. The lighting in the tasting room was majestic and highlighted the wine glasses hanging above the wine bar.  The windows were filled with beautiful plants, and barrels of wooden tubs overflowed with sample selections of wines to come.

A tall gray-haired man smiled at us as we approached the bar, and asked how we were doing. We said we were here to taste the specialty wines they had to offer. He laughed and then began to describe the background of the winery, giving credit to Nancy Walker, the winemaker. He was charming, sweet, and hilarious with his stories of how the Stephen & Walker business was established, and how hard they worked to put love and passion into their wine.  We then proceeded to taste through several special wines.

Looking back on the visit, I realize what an exceptional moment it was for me, because I witnessed how people who work in wine want to share with others and make them feel special.  Instead of the uptight and pushy wine server I expected, we encountered a sweet and friendly person who changed my world.

It was then that I realized this was a world I wanted to enter, because I knew that I would never get bored with wine because of all the stories, networking, and connections I could make. It was a career that would challenge me and place me on a path of perseverance and wonderful friends to come, all while enjoying wine and the people who are attracted to it.

NOTE:  This post is part of the Favorite Winery Tasting Room Series, in which Millennial wine business students describe one of their favorite tasting room experiences.

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My Favorite Tasting Room Series – Del Dotto Vineyards

Tasting in the Caves of Del Dotto Winery

Tasting in the Caves of Del Dotto Winery

(By Guest Author Lauryn Mitrovich) My favorite tasting experience occurred in Napa Valley.  It was my boyfriend’s birthday, and his parents rented us a fabulous limo to drive to several wineries. The one that really stood out to all of us was Del Dotto Vineyards.

We arrived at the cave and barrel tasting location for Del Dotto and were greeted by our guide Brandon. Brandon had taken the parents on a tour before and they had an amazing time so they specifically asked for him again. Obviously, something stuck out to me about him as well because even a year later, I can still remember his name. Brandon was lively, passionate, excited, informative, funny, and friendly. Maybe he always has that much energy or maybe he was just responding to how the group energy was, but whatever it was, it worked. Everyone had an amazing time as he lead us through the caves tasting who knows how many wines straight out of the barrels.

Brandon may have been amazing, but I think the ambiance of the location really helped as well. I had never been in a cave quite like that before and it felt really special to be able to try the wines straight from the barrels.

Everyone there really seems to love what they do and love the wine that they are making. I know that we all thought the wine was delicious, but the fact that the people there were so passionate about it as well definitely helped. Also, I think the fact that each tour is personalized to the group of people that are there and the fact that the tour guides decide what to give people to taste as they go along is really something special.

I really haven’t been wine tasting that many times, but I feel like this experience will always stick out to me. Ultimately, the caves, the wine, Brandon, it all worked and its experiences like this that just make me more excited to go out and try new wines and meet new people at other wineries.

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