Wine, Health, and History
Ever since we discovered the wonders of fermentation, we have been extolling the virtues of wine. Our love of wine extends back as far as we can recount in words written by composers, philosophers, alchemists, and romantics. While we have know about link between wine and health for well over three thousand years, it is only recently that we have started looking into the specifics of wine health, and the active ingredients that make it good for us, in addition to the taste.
Drink No Wine Before Its Time
Before we can look at current discoveries in wine health, we need a solid foundation in history. Many archaeologists and biochemists theorize that wine, as well as most fermented beverages, began accidentally. As grain and fruit ripens naturally and falls to the ground, it may go undiscovered instead of harvested. Under the right conditions in certain climates, these things may get beyond the “ripened” stage and start to ferment. Then, a person or animal may happen upon the fermented crop and consume it, feeling the full effects and headiness of natural alcohol. It is what archeologists and historical anthropologists refer to as the “drunken monkey theory.” While fermentation may not have happened intentionally, at first, we have spend tens of centuries refining the process, and discovering quite a bit about wine health along the way.
It All Starts With Egypt
Egypt was home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. In addition to one of the Great Wonders of the World, Egypt is one of the first places to show evidence of intentional fermentation. It is widely known that grain-based beverages were widely available, but it was recently discovered that the early pharaohs coveted wine, above all things. Archeologists recently discovered jars containing the resin of wine in the tome of the Egyptian King Scorpion I. While regular grape juice will go sour within a few days of storage in the Saharan climate, a chemical analysis showed that the resin had signs of intentional fermentation. There have been additional discoveries showing that wine was a prized drink among the ancient Egyptian monarchy, which places the existence of red wine over 3,500 years ago. The Egyptians believed wine was reserved for those closest to the gods, even if they did not have the scientific understanding to pinpoint what makes wine healthy. In studying these discoveries, it was also revealed that the best physicians in Egypt used wine as medicine – possibly because the ethanol could be used to clean a person’s system (or wounds). Doctors would use wine, mixed with mint and other herbs, to treat everything from stomach ailments to circulation, and much more.
The Father of Modern Medicine On Wine Health
The official statements on wine and health can be traced back to Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” for whom the Hippocratic oath is named. Building upon the notions of wine health put forth by the Egyptians, Hippocrates studied the effects of wine on health, and came to two conclusions. The first is that red wine could aid in digestion. The reason for this, though probably unknown at the time, is that the acidic level of red wine, combined with the alcohol, would help to break down rich foods. Similarly, Hippocrates prescribed white wine for those suffering bladder issues. White wine acts as a mild disinfectant to help flush the system when a bladder is infected, and to help break down kidney stones. This was not simply making guesses – Hippocrates made very thorough studies of the link between wine and health, and wrote numerous dissertations on the topic, many of which are still being prescribed to those who want a more natural approach to curing ailments over harsh pharmaceuticals.
During the 13th Century, Arnaldus de Villa Nova, a physician in southern France, also explored the benefits of wine and health. He discovered that drinking a glass of red wine a day, much like the modern adage about eating an apple, could stave off the common cold. De Villa Nova also studied psychological disorders, and proclaimed that red wine could help prevent the onset of dementia. Aldus de Villa Nova was very prescient in his theories, because it was only in the past few decades that science has made strong links between red wine and mental health. There are now studies to show how the healthy benefits of red wine can greatly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Time Before Pasteurization
Not much happened with wine and health over the next few centuries. People certainly refined the wine making process, enjoyed their favorite vintages, and history progressed. It was not until the mid-1800s that the link between wine and health broke new barriers. Louis Pasteur – you may remember him every time you buy dairy products – realized the dangers of drinking common water. While water is currently considered the purest and healthiest of beverages, Pasteur realized that it was a haven for bacteria and diseases. At the time, people were drinking well later, and stuff drawn from rivers. Bacteria, parasites, and other germs thrived in these environments. Louis Pasteur advocated that drinking red wine was healthier than drinking straight water. In fact, many families ended up drinking table wine instead of water. Others too Pasteur’s words to heart and mixed red wine with water because the nature of the wine would kill any harmful agents in the mixture and render it potable. Later on, of course, Pasteur would realize that boiling liquids would kill all of the harmful life forms living in them, and the process would come to be known as “pasteurization.” But in the interim, red wine once again came to the forefront with its healthy benefits – this time, literally saving lives.
Back To France For More Healthy Red Wine Benefits
Once again, we hit a plateau for the health benefits of red wine. However, during that time, red wine suffered the slings and arrows of sexism – as red wine was purported to induce “loose morals” in women and cause hysterics; and the dreadful Temperance Movement. It should be noted, however, that among all of the beverages that fell under Temperance, red wine was mostly overlooked, as it was considered sophisticated and had a long history of beneficial effects. In 1992, medical studies were released showing that France had the largest population of people with healthy hearts, in spite of a diet of rich foods. The reason for the boost in health? Red wine. Suddenly, everyone around the world – and specifically across the Atlantic in the United Stares – was buying red wine, and starting to drink it in moderation on a daily basis. Never in modern history was there a bigger surge to embrace the health benefits of red wine. On the analytical side of things, scientists began narrowing down which specific agents in red wine were conferring such positive benefits, and how they might be applied to other aspects of our lives.
Longer Life Due To Red Wine
The mid-1990s were award winning years for red wine in more ways than anyone expected. In Denmark, scientists building off of the discoveries in France a few years prior, tried to expand upon the connections between red wine and health. What they discovered was amazing. Populations who drank three to five glasses of red wine every day had lowered their death rate by 49 percent over a the course of a decade. This caused a huge surge in red wine sales, and the field of medicine was given a new lead in what makes wine healthy for people to drink.
The Dawn Of The New Millennium
As we looked forward to a bright new future, science started discovering the true benefits of antioxidants and resveratrol – active agents in red wine, as well as other foods, such as dark berries and pure chocolate. This news about wine health became a romantic paradise, with pairings of red wine and chocolate becoming the new trend among those who wanted to delight the taste buds and extend their lives. The initial analysis of resveratrol in red wine suggested that it could prolong the human lifespan by at least 30 percent. However, since the discovery came about in 2003, we will have to wait to get the official results. In the meantime, have a glass of wine for your health.
Cancer’s Red Menace
In 2005, scientists studying the health benefits of red wine found that the advantages of drinking a glass or five a day went beyond healthy hearts and longer lives. In facts, the active agents in wine were shown to combat one of our greatest nemeses, cancer. The study showed that – for men at least – having an extra glass of red wine each day could help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. As with wine health discoveries a few years earlier, we are too early on in the analysis to provide any hard results. However, with everything that has been proven up to this point, it makes no sense to not have that extra glass of wine. It certainly can’t hurt, and it might help.
Those Pearly Whites Go Great With A Nice Red
Building up the discoveries purported by Louis Pasteur in regard to wine health, and using red wine to kill bacteria, the medical community came upon another revelation. In 2007, it was revealed that wine, both red and white, kills streptococcus, the major contributor to cavities. The study showed that those who drink wine on a regular basis had better dental health than those who did not. The acidity levels in both white and red wine neutralizes the deleterious effects of bacteria that eat away at the enamel of the teeth and grow in the gums. Having a glass of wine before bed, or with your meal can stave off gingivitis and tooth decay.
Red Wine Boosts Fertility
Focusing on studies involving men, a 2013 press release showed that red wine boosts fertility. The active agents in red wine act as estrogen, which (in small doses) boosts the quantity and potency of sperm production in males. If you ever wondered about the sensual nature of Ovid’s poetry regarding red wine, science now has the answer! A glass or two of red wine is great for male health and virility. Just be sure to drink red wine in moderation, for having one too many will cause things to exceed that “Goldilocks Zone” of optimal fertility, and promote a rapid decrease in production. While wine and health have many direct correlations, one can easily exceed the recommended intake and experience adverse effects of over-consumption.
A Harder Look At Red Wine And Alzheimer’s
Just this past year, science found a compound that breaks down amyloid proteins, which make up the “plaque” in the brain that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The compound that is able to dissolve these proteins and prevent the build up in the brain is resveratrol, which, as we have mentioned above, is found in red wine. The news left a bittersweet taste, however, for while red wine does, in fact, break down the harmful proteins linked to Alzheimer’s, it would take roughly one thousand bottle of wine to equal the amount used in the tests. What this does mean, for wine and health enthusiasts, is that drinking a glass or two of wine on a daily basis, regardless of age, can go a long way toward preventing the build up of the amyloid protein.
Wine And Medicine Meet In Albany, NY
Albany, NY is home to some of the best medical centers in the great northeast. In 2005, one of our scientists received a $719,000 grant for research done regarding cancer and cardiovascular health. Her research showed that red wine benefits human health by reducing the risk of pulmonary infractions, and increased circulation. Once again, agents found in red wine, such as antioxidants and resveratrol, prevented hardened arteries, and increased the overall health of cardiovascular tissue. Additionally, red wine was shown to prevent and inhibit the onset of prostate, lung, and thyroid cancer. Indeed, Albany and wine health have had a long-standing relationship for decades. When not being studied in the lab, then red wine can be found in one of Albany’s famous restaurants, The Ginger Man.
The Ginger Man: Where We Celebrate Wine And Health In Albany, NY
The Ginger Man in Albany, NY boasts over 1600 bottles of wine, as well as the most extensive list of both domestic and international vintages. For those looking to take advantage of the health benefits of red wine in Albany, look no further than The Ginger Man. Our staff is the most knowledgeable outside of the vintners themselves, when it comes to pairing wine with food of all sorts, and finding that specific wine to match your personal tastes. At The Ginger Man, we have been following the reports on wine health for decades, and understand the joys of sipping a glass to promote a healthy heart and prolonged life, all while providing a wide variety to suit any palate.
The Ginger Man Understand The Importance Of Wine And Health
At The Ginger Man, we are more than simply a wine house with an excellent menu. From the owners, to the kitchen, to the wait staff, we are steeped in the history of wine, as well as the medical breakthroughs and health benefits of wine. We understand the importance of health in this day and age, and are constantly seeking new ways to marry the ancient tradition of drinking wine with the modern health benefits that accompany it. No request is too small, and no question is too obscure that we will not be able to find an answer for you. From something as simple as pairing the perfect wine with your food to aid in digestion, to the latest news on resveratrol in cardio, cancer, and longevity research – we keep abreast of the cutting-edge discoveries in wine health. After all, we did not gain our reputation for being the premier wine house in Albany by our great selection alone.
If You Are In Albany, Be Sure To Stop By
Whether you are visiting Albany on business, stopping over on a tour of the Finger Lakes up north, or if you are a native resident, stop by The Ginger Man and partake of our huge wine selection, for fun and health. With a wine selection larger than any in the region, and staff members who have the decades of experience our clientele expect from a wine house with our reputation. The Ginger Man welcomes people looking to experience our gourmet menu, as well as our wines, and we also regularly host private functions for corporations, families, and, yes, the medical industry. We regularly feature live music, and our specials are changing daily. If you are in Albany, stop by The Ginger Man for an experience you will never forget!
“Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”
― Louis Pasteur
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