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Wine For Cures Helps With Research Against Cancer

Our Board Member and Founder of Wine For Cures, Gil Miles made it again in the news. His Non Profit Organization helps inform people about the fight against cancer and supports research. More information about his organization can be found at: www.wineforcures.comScan0119Scan0120

Wine Sweetness Chart

By Winefolly:    http://winefolly.com/tutorial/wine-sweetness-chart/

“To simplify the concept of wine sweetness, you can compare wines on this chart. Although not all wine conform to the generalizations within, you can still learn a great deal about how to find wine in the sweetness range you prefer.

Wine Sweetness Chart

Wine Sweetness Chart by Wine Folly

Some wines are so dry that they scrape the moisture from your tongue and make the inside of your mouth stick to your teeth. On the other end of the spectrum, some wines are so sweet that they stick to the sides of your glass like motor oil.

Why Some Dry Wines Taste More Dry Than Others

Wine writers have put words to the concept of dryness for years and food scientists have actually studied why some wines taste more dry than others. Both groups claim that aroma, tannin and acidity are key components to why a wine tastes ‘dry.’

You Might Be More Sensitive to Tannin Than Your Friends

What’s interesting about tannin is that a recent study demonstrated that some people have higher sensitivities to tannin based on the amount of proteins naturally present in their saliva. People with more proteins in their saliva do not feel the drying effect of tannin as much as people with less. Another interesting fact is that the taste of tannin is reduced when paired with salty and fatty foods.

Acidity Tricks Our Perception of Sweetness

Sour counterbalances sweet. A wine that has higher acidity will taste more ‘dry’ than a wine with less acidity. Several producers of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will leave a couple of grams of residual sugar in their wines because the acidity is so high.

Our Noses Prime Our Sense of Taste

Our sense of smell also greatly affects our perception of sweetness. As you can imagine, a wine that smells sweeter will also taste sweeter. Wine varieties are often referred to as ‘Aromatic’ because of their sweet floral aromas. A few examples of this are Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat.”

PAIRING WINE AND CHEESE


“One marriage no one can object to is the mouthwatering combination of wine and cheese. Each is delicious on its own, but when you pair the two, magic can happen. Be it tannic, light, sweet, or dry, you can bet there’s a wine out there for every cheese (even fondue!). The next time you fix yourself up a cheese plate, here are the wines you should be bringing along for the ride.

Port And Bleu Cheese

Port and bleu cheese make the perfect pairingPort’s sweetness and thick body are the perfect foil for pungent, crumbly bleu cheese.

Prosecco And Parmesan

Prosecco and parmesan are a perfect wine cheese paringThe bubbles in Prosecco cut through the saltiness of this hard cheese. Plus, they’re both Italian!

Sauternes And Fondue

Sauternes pairs perfectly with fondueThe richness of fondue is a match made in heaven for decadent dessert wine Sauternes.

Cabernet Sauvignon And Aged Gouda

Aged gouda goes great with Carnet SauvignonIn order to stand up to the nutty flavors in aged gouda, you need a tannic, full bodied wine. Cabernet Sauvignon gets the job done.

Chardonnay And Gruyere

Gruyere pairs perfectly with ChardonnayWhether you choose to snack on gruyere whole or melty, the fruit and nut flavors in Chardonnay are an ideal mate.

Rioja And Manchego

Rioja goes well with Manchego cheeseThis sweet, classic cheese calls for the quintessential Spanish wine: Rioja!

Riesling And Ricotta

Ricotta goes well with rieslingSweet, creamy ricotta loves tangy Riesling. Try ricotta with both the sweet and the dry variations of this German classic wine.

Malbec And Aged Cheddar

Malbec goes great with aged cheddarChocolatey Malbec helps balance out the aggressive sharpness in aged cheddar. Who’s up for a bowl of adult macaroni and cheese?

Gewürztraminer And Morbier

This is morbier cheese
Gewürztraminer is the perfect white wine to cut through the stink of morbier

Pinot Noir And Brie

Pinot Noir goes well with brie
Brie needs a wine that will go well with its distinct flavors while remaining light enough not to overwhelm them. A good glass of Pinot Noir is brie’s best friend.

Beaujolais And Feta

Beaujolais goes well with feta cheeseYou want a bright red wine that will match feta’s saltiness. Beaujolais (or a light Greek wine!) is the answer.

Viognier And Jarlsberg

Viognier goes well with Jarlsberg cheese

The stone fruits found (like peaches) in Viognier mouthwateringly cut through the savory flavors of Jarlsberg.

Monterey Jack And Merlot

Monterey jack goes well with Merlot

This classic American cheese craves a wine that’s on the lighter, fruitier side – just like Merlot.

Mozzarella And Pinot Grigio

Mozzarella goes well with Pinot GrigioThe acidity of Pinot Grigio tangos well with this soft, slightly sweet classic pizza cheese.

Sauvignon Blanc And Goat Cheese

Pari Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese

Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect distinct white wine to pair with this tangy cheese.”

A Daily Glass of Red Wine Benefits Your Brain Age

Shape Magazine wrote a very interesting article recently about the benefits of wine to your brain.

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/daily-glass-red-wine-benefits-your-brain-age

A Daily Glass of Red Wine Benefits Your Brain Age
Corbis Images

“Here’s news worth toasting to: Drinking a glass of red wine every day can help keep your brain healthy down the road for as many as seven and a half extra years, reports a new study in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Researchers have long known that what you put in your mouth can have a significant effect on your body and brain. Two of the healthiest diets to adhere to? The Mediterranean diet—which has been tied toeverything from glowing skin to delayed aging—and the DASH diet, named the best overall diet four years in a row.

Researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago wanted to see how both of these acclaimed eating regimens would hold up in preventing dementia, so they married the two and created their own menu, called the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet.

So what was the result? A regime that involves putting the best of all food into your body—in this case, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, fish, berries, beans, and, of course, a daily glass of red wine. (The benefits stop after one glass, though. If you’re downing more, that’s one of 5 Red Wine Mistakes You’re Probably Making.) And when older folks adhered to the MIND diet for roughly five years, their memory and cognitive abilities were on par with someone seven-and-a-half years younger.

This is big news, considering Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. “Delaying dementia’s onset by just five years can reduce the cost and prevalence by nearly half,” said Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist who helped developed the diet. (Watch out for 11 Things You’re Doing That Could Shorten Your Life though.)

The researchers attribute the great results not just to loading the body and brain with optimal nutrients, but also to avoiding harmful ones. On the MIND diet, unhealthy foods are to be limited to less than 1 tablespoon of butter a day and one serving a week (if even) of sweets, pastries, whole fat cheese, or fried food.

Sweets once a week? Bummer. A glass of red every day (and an extra three quarters of a decade to be with it)? That’ll probably help make it better.”

What’s Healthier: Red or White Wine?

All of us wine lovers are probably questioning this: What’s Healthier: Red or White Wine?  We found this article that might help on http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/TIP05619/Whats-Healthier-Red-or-White-Wine.html

“About 71 percent of wine drinkers in United States choose red wine, and this majority is on the right track when it comes to the health benefits wine offers. Studies show that the compound resveratrol, found abundantly in red grapes (and blueberries), offers several heath benefits, including antioxidant properties that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and may even help prevent cancer. A two-year animal study found that when a daily dose of resveratrol was administered (the equivalent of the amount in two glasses of red wine daily), the risk of developing cancerous tumors went down 50 percent.
So next time you choose a glass of wine, opt for red for more health benefits, and consider these varietals:

  • Pinot Noir: It consistently has the highest concentrations of resveratrol, especially if the grapes come from cool, rainy climates (think Oregon’s Willamette Valley or New York’s Fingerlakes Region rather than California’s Napa Valley).
  • Cabernets, Merlots and Syrahs: While they come from different grapes (Cabernet is made from tannat grapes, Merlot is made from blue grapes, and Syrah is flavored with black currants), all contain high levels of procyanidins – an antioxidant that has been linked to longevity and cardiovascular and arterial health.

In addition, seek out dry wines – they tend to have higher levels of flavonoids, which are beneficial to heart health and cholesterol levels. Sweeter wines tend to have lower levels of flavonoids.

In my Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, I recommend organic red wine, and limiting your intake to no more than one, or at most two, servings per day. And if you do not drink alcohol, do not start for health reasons, as these health effects are subtle and one can enjoy excellent cardiovascular health without them.”

Mastering the Art of Wine and Food Pairings

When it comes to food and wine pairings, there are those who carelessly match any dish with any libation and those who painstakingly try to balance the flavors of the food with the perfect wine. No matter where you land on the spectrum, there are some dishes that remain challenging (potluck, anyone?), so having knowledge of ways to properly pair wine with your food can truly intensify the enjoyment of eating. It doesn’t get much better than sea bass with Sauvignon Blanc, duck breast with Burgundy and a juicy steak with a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, so here are some pairing tips that promise to make your next dish sing:

How food and wine pairings work

Wine flavors are derived from specific components: sugar, acid, fruit, tannin and alcohol. Foods also have flavor components, such as fat, acid, salt, sugar and bitter. The most successful food and wine pairings feature complementary components, richness and textures.

You can try for either a similar pairing or a contrasting one. For pasta in a rich cream sauce, for example, you could cut through the creamy fat with a crisp, dry, unoaked white wine. Or you could wrap the flavor of the wine around the richness of the sauce by choosing a big, ripe, soft Chardonnay or Roussanne/Marsanneblend.


Get more tips for matching wine and food. Try these easy recipes and pairings at home >>>


Of course you’ll need to brush up on white wine and red wine basics  to understand the flavors of each grape. Armed with the knowledge of grape varieties, you can follow these food elements for a perfect match:

Six elements of food and wine pairing

There are a few elements that make both red wine and white wine pairings work, and they’re derived from characteristics of the food and how they mingle with those of the wine.  These are: fat, acid, salt, sweetness, bitterness and texture.

Fat Element

A lot of our favorite foods, both meat and dairy products, have high levels of fat. Wine doesn’t contain fat, so when matching a wine with fatty foods, remember that it has to balance that fat with acid, cut it with tannin, or match its richness with alcohol.

This is why a prime cut of steak tastes so good with a Cabernet-based wine; the beef’s protein and fat softens up the wine’s mouth-drying tannins. This sets up the tongue for the wine’s fruit and berries and forest flavors to complement the smoky, meaty flavors of the steak.

Acid Element

Acid is another key element in both food and wine. In wine, it adds nerve, freshness and lift. It can do the same with food, as when lemon is squeezed on a fresh piece of fish. When looking for a wine to go with an acidic dish, you should make sure that the perceived acidity of the wine is at least equal to that of the food, or the wine will taste bland and washed out.

Salads are often a challenge for wine matching, but you can make it work if you moderate the acid in the dressing by cutting back on the lemon juice or vinegar. Try using some tangy, bitter greens and offset them with herbal flavors from Sauvignon Blanc or Sémillon.

Salt Element

Salty foods seem to limit your wine choices. Salt can make an oaky Chardonnay taste weird, strip the fruit right out of a red wine and turn high alcohol wines bitter. But with a bit of imagination, you can conjure up some remarkable combinations of salty foods and sweet wines. Bleu cheese and Sauternesis another one of the world’s classic food and wine combos.

Sparkling wines are a homerun with salty, fried foods. The carbonation and yeasty acids emulate beer and clean the salt from your palate, while adding more interesting textures and flavor nuances. Salt is also a principal flavor in briny seafood such as oysters. Acidic wines clean out the salt and balance the rich ocean flavors of the oyster.

Sweetness Element

Sweet desserts and other sugary foods seem easy—just pull out a sweet wine—but beware. Here’s where a rule really needs to be observed.

There are degrees of sweetness. Some recipes will have just a hint of sugar, such as a fruit sauce served over a pork loin. This light, fruity sweetness can be matched very well with rich white wines such asChardonnay. Higher alcohol tends to give an impression of sweetness, and balances the sugar in the sauce.

With desserts you must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert; otherwise the dessert will strip the wine of its sweetness and render it bitter or tart. Though red wine and chocolate is a combination often promoted by the wine industry, you have to be very careful about it. Use a bitter, dark chocolate and a red wine with some sweetness, such as a late harvest Zinfandel, and it can be quite wonderful. But a sweet chocolate dessert and a dry red? Terrible!

Check out the latest Chardonnay ratings and reviews >>>

Bitterness Element

What about bitter flavors? In some cultures, bitter flavors are prized, but most of the time they are to be avoided. Anything more than just a hint is likely to be perceived as unpleasant. In wine, bitterness usually results from unripe grapes, or a failure to get the stems and pips (seeds) out of the fermenting tank, or mismanaged barrels. When bitterness in wine meets bitterness in food, it acts the opposite of sugar. One does not cancel out the other; they merely combine.

Texture Element

As for matching textures, think light and heavy. Light foods are best with light wines; heavy foods with heavy wines. That’s the safest way to go about it. A more adventurous path is to experiment with contrast: matching light foods to heavy wines and vice versa. This will require more testing, to keep the tension dynamic and avoid having the lighter flavors over-shadowed by the heavy ones.

For every rule of wine pairing there is, you will often find just as many dissenters. However, the most important rule of all is to trust your own palate and enjoy!

Need a place to start? Here are some great pairings.

Red Wine Pairings

Pork Chops with Pinot Noir Demi-Glace with Oregon Pinot Noir
Wild Rice Salad with Mushrooms with Cabernet Franc
Duck Breast with Caramelized Apples and Red Burgundy
Lamb Shanks with Olives and Beaujolais
Portobello and Red Pepper Burgers and Carneros Pinot Noir
Grilled Salmon with Olive Butter and Orzo and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Lamb with Apricots and St-Joseph
Spicy Grilled Shrimp Stew and Mencía
Moussaka and Agiorgitiko
Roasted Asparagus with Aceto Balsamico and Chianti Classico
Steak Frites and Sonoma Zinfandel
Penne with Bacon, Swiss Chard, Jack Cheese and Pecans and Washington Syrah
Roast Duckling with Merlot-Chocolate Sauce and Roasted Beets and Long Island Merlot
Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant and Sausage and Primitivo
Slow-Cooked Rack of Lamb and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Rosé Wine Pairings

Tomato Salad and Bandol Rosé
Tuna and Egg on a Baguette and Tavel Rosé
Vegetable Soup and Côtes de Provence
Bouillabaisse with a Spanish Rosé


White Wine Pairings

Avocado, Tomato and Spinach Crepes with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Mussels Provencal and Chilean Sauvignon Blanc
Chicken Sate Burgers and Australian Chardonnay
Spaghetti with Cockles and Greco di Tufo
Wild Mushroom Soup and California Sauvignon Blanc
Cucumber Soup and New York Riesling
Vietnamese Steak Salad and Gewürztraminer
Chicken Tostadas and Vouvray
Chicken and Mushroom Paellas and Albariño
Linguine with Shrimp, Scallops and Clams and Tocai Friulano
Pork Loin with Cider-Madeira Sauce and Pinot Blanc
Crispy Artichokes and Soave
Pesto Pasta and Vermentino
Chilled Corn Soup with Crab and Australian Chardonnay
Tomato Gazpacho with Avocado and Lobster and White Bordeaux
Squash Soup with Basil and White Burgundy
Grilled Whole Red Snapper and Ratatouille with a White Rhône Blend

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Pairings

Smoked Salmon and Caviar and Brut Blanc de Blancs
Chicken Liver Pate and Nonvintage Brut Rose Champagne
Summer Melon Salad and Prosciutto and Prosecco
Duck Breast with Spaetzle, Chanterelles and Spinach Puree and Vintage Brut Champagne ”

How Britain shaped the wine world

 

” The British Isles has influenced certain wine styles more than any other nation. Julien Hitner looks back at the history of claret, Port and Champagne, and explores Britain’s enduring love for these styles

Punch magazine highlighting generation divide between dry and sweet Champagne in late 1800s. Credit: Punch magazine

With apologies to non-islanders, Britain has long played an unparalleled role in the historical development of more types of wine than any other nation. The reasons for this are quite fascinating. Thanks to a marginal climate for fine winegrowing and the nation’s emergence as a wealthy seafaring entity, the inhabitants of Britain have long been in a unique position to capitalise on their ferocious desire for fine wine to unrivalled extents.

But this is only part of the story. For hundreds of years, many specific types of wine have established a sort of tendrilled stranglehold on the British palate, particularly – though hardly exclusively – claret, Port and Champagne. Combined with its proximity to France and other prominent winegrowing nations, widespread British demand for such wines has arguably contributed more to their historic and present global successes than anything else.

Claret

As tea is to China, so inseparable is Britain’s affection for claret that one might be pardoned for thinking that Bordeaux was geographically part of the island. ‘Claret and the British have a shared tradition going back hundreds of years. What else should we drink with our roast beef?’ quipped London wine merchant Tony Laithwaite several years back.

Since the 13th century, claret has indeed been the red wine of choice for those who could afford it, with favourable trade privileges enabling merchants to ship their wine to Britain far in advance of neighbouring competitors.

Potential profits were massive. Records show that in just one year in the early 1300s, a staggering 900,000 hectolitres of wine were exported from Bordeaux to Britain – the largest shipping traffic in the world at the time.

By the late-17th century, such advantageous arrangements encouraged people like perfectionist vineyard owner Arnaud III de Pontac to set up a tavern in London and sell his wine directly to customers. Named The Pontack’s Head, the wine he sold was Haut-Brion. Around the same period, the marshlands of the Médoc were drained, exposing for the first time such acclaimed sites as those that would eventually comprise Châteaux Lafite, Latour and Margaux. Without the prospect of indefatigable British demand, the establishment and success of these ‘New French Clarets’ (later identified as estates) may have taken a very different direction.

At this point in history, it is also important to note that British and other foreign merchants were forbidden to establish their own operations within the city boundaries of Bordeaux. As a result, they turned to an area of marshlands just downstream of the city, here establishing the Quai des Chartrons.

In lavish apartments overlooking the Garonne (their warehouses in the rear), early négociants such as Scottish-born William Johnston played a key role in promulgating many of the most important technological advances of the 18th century, most of which are still in use today. These include the use of sulphur as a disinfectant (a Dutch invention), topping up, racking, using egg whites as a fining agent and using barriques for top wines. Only later did winegrowers in the region adopt these advancements directly.

Finally, the British were among the most responsible for the improvement of glass bottles. In 1615, King James I forbade the use of timber to manufacture glass in order to conserve forests, paving the way for entrepreneurs like Sir Robert Mansell and Sir Kenelm Digby to perfect the use of coal furnaces. By the end of the century, glass bottles were thicker, heavier, stronger, darker and much cheaper to purchase. More importantly, this meant that claret could be now aged in cellars for years, even decades. Truly, no other nation has provided so many building blocks towards ensuring claret’s most crucial developments.”

Read more at http://www.decanter.com/people-and-places/wine-articles/588326/how-britain-shaped-the-wine-world#omC5DhQg77lSMw7e.99

Drought, Oversupply and Sustainability on Growers’ Minds

Every year growers and wine makers have different problems to deal with. This year this is what industry people on the West Coast of United States are dealing with:

Source: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=151665

“Growers envision bright future as premium wines in demand, according to survey presented at Vineyard Economics Seminar   by Paul Franson

Source: The Ciatti Co. Napa, Calif.—As usual, this year’s Vineyard Economics Seminar provided an almost overwhelming amount of information for growers, wineries and lenders to consider. Two themes touched almost all the sessions at the seminar held May 15 at the Napa Valley Marriott: the large inventory of wine from the last three bountiful harvests (no one is calling it a glut) and the drought, now in its fourth year. With most observers expecting at least an average harvest this fall, growers are looking at options with their winery customers generally holding plentiful stocks. And though the drought is on everyone’s mind, almost all agree that it hasn’t had much impact so far, though a number of speakers commented that they weren’t sure what would happen if the drought continues. Fortunately, forecasts of El Niño forming in the southwestern Pacific may make that issue moot. Also threading through the talks was the topic of sustainability and its impact on the market. Survey of growers The seminar began with the Vineyard Economics Survey of growers, wineries and lenders. Kathy Archer, president of the Wine Industry Symposium Group, gave the report for founder David Freed, who was away on family business. She also summarized the wine business last year: • Replanting and new vineyard plantings are slightly down in California, but there’s more replanting and new planting in the North Coast. • The big three producers were flat or down in volume for the first time in recent memory (though only in wines retailing for less than $10). • Imported wines—both bottled and bulk—declined 6% from 2013. • Direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipments grew 15% in 2014. • The decline in sales of wines priced below $10 per bottle continued, while sales growth of wines more than $10 increased. Growers report their top reasons for replanting are changing varieties followed by better rootstocks, closer spacing, planning to harvest and prune mechanically, the time being right with low interest rates, adding water-saving technologies and having backup due to three large harvests. Surprisingly, fewer are replanting due to widely discussed leafroll or red blotch virus. As to the drought, growers think the biggest impact on them will be more regulations, followed by low yields, but many see no change. Half, however, are adding water-saving technology; one-third are seeking new sources, and one-tenth are investing in recycling. Grape and wine sales The second presentation was by Glenn Proctor, partner of The Ciatti Co. He summarized wine sales according to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside, Calif.: • California domestic and export sales were up 4% by value, while bottled imports were down 1% and bulk imports down 16%. (They’re down 40% for 2015 so far, partly due to the shipping strike on the West Coast). • On the other hand, sales of premium wines (more than $10) from coastal wineries were up 15%. But wines selling for less than $10 are 75% of the market. • The 2014 California grape harvest was 3.89 million tons, down from 2013’s record 4.24 million tons, but still above average. Proctor said that winery buyers are being “deliberate” and even putting some of their own grapes on the market. Going green One of the most lively discussions of the day was about the importance and role of sustainability in grapegrowing. Most growers would agree that growing to stay in business, treating employees well and not degrading the environment is the right thing to do, but those in the Lodi AVA were pioneers in using the concept as a marketing tool to differentiate and publicize the region’s grapes. Other regions followed, but Sonoma made a gutsy move a year ago shooting for 100% sustainability by 2019. Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, noted that almost 60% of the county’s vineyards had enrolled in the program, and one-third were certified after only 15 months. While admitting that she believes that sustainability is a way to distinguish the county, she said that one-third of consumers queried said it would make them more likely to buy a Sonoma wine, and noted at that least two large wine grape buyers—Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Jackson Family Wines—are paying premiums for sustainable grapes. On the other hand, Steve Smit, the vice president of grape management at Constellation Wines, said that while his company took sustainability into account in choosing grapes, they don’t pay more. “We believe it’s more economical to farm sustainably, and the grower benefits.” He added, “Sustainability will become a mainstream part of society and business. The use of sustainability as a marketing tool will disappear.” Speakers and audience members also thought consumers might be confused by the many seemingly competing programs and labels. Expect more regulation John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, reinforced that belief, warning that the conflicting claims will likely lead to federal regulation. Aguirre also discussed important political issues, many tied to the drought and labor. Many steps are being taken to deal with water shortages, but the legislature and governor aren’t yet calling for more storage. He warned growers to expect more regulation. “Today’s drought leads to tomorrow’s laws.” One issue of great concern is proposed punitive tariffs on California wine if the U.S. institutes Country of Origin labeling on Canadian and Mexi can beef. “It could double the price of California wine in Canada,” one of our biggest markets.” Finally, Aguirre reminded growers to vote for the Pierce’s disease assessment, reminding them that the funds can be use for other pests, too.
Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=151665
Copyright © Wines & Vines ”

 

How wine and cheese can keep you slim

It is spring and a lot of people start new diets, watch their figure and get ready for the summer to come. We came across the following article that we thought you all might enjoy:

http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Healthy-foods/Blue-cheese-part-of-the-French-paradox-20150121

 

“Despite the fact that they have one of the fattiest diets in the world, the French are slim and have low rates of coronary heart disease. Could red wine and blue cheese be the key to the ‘French paradox’?

For better or for worse, we all have our own opinions as to what constitutes a healthy diet, but it’s obvious that we’re not all the same and a “one size fits all” approach is not the answer.

There are, however, general principles that constitute healthy eating that are internationally accepted by doctors and dieticians – as laid out by the revised general food-based dietary guidelines for South Africans, 2012:

  • Enjoy a variety of foods.
  • Be active!
  • Make starchy foods part of most meals.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day.
  • Eat dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly.
  • Have milk, maas/amazi or yoghurt every day.
  • Fish, chicken, lean meat or eggs can be eaten daily.
  • Drink lots of clean, safe water.
  • Use fats sparingly. Choosevegetable oils, rather than hard fats.
  • Use sugar and foods and drinks high in sugar sparingly.

Choosing mostly fresh, whole, minimally processed foods, and limiting highly processed foods and drinks that are energy-dense and loaded with added sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, is a logical conclusion based on these guidelines.

The ‘French paradox’

The “French paradox” is a term that encapsulates the phenomenon that the French tend to stay slim and have a relatively low rate of coronary heart disease (CHD), despite the fact that they have one of the fattiest diets in the world. (They have a 42% lower incidence of heart disease than the average American.)

If the long-held notion that saturated fats cause heart disease is true, the French should have more CHD than countries where the consumption of hard fats is lower.

Read: Heart disease – the risk factors

In order to explain this paradox, one has to consider that either saturated fat is not the culprit in coronary heart disease, that the studies on which the observation are based are flawed (unlikely!), or that something in the diet or lifestyle of the French offsets the effect of hard fats.

There are those who oppose the theory that blood cholesterol and a high-fat diet are the causes of heart disease, like our very own Prof Tim Noakes, who calls this theory “one of the greatest errors in the history of medicine”. Most experts, however, don’t agree with Prof Noakes, and the battle continues unabated.

Red, red wine

The most common theory is that the high consumption of red wine in France is responsible for the French paradox – and has led to increased sales of red wine all over the world.

Experts believe that resveratrol, one of the components of red wine, is responsible for its positive effects on heart health. Another candidate may be procyanidins, a kind polyphenol, found in red wine, olives, tea and cereals.

Read: Red wine may help you live longer

Others believe that the lower incidence of CHD among the French can be attributed to a healthier lifestyle compared to e.g. the British and Americans. The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss, by American, Will Clower, proposes that the French paradox may be influenced by a number of other factors:

  • French people get most of their dietary fat from minimally processed dairy and vegetable sources.
  • They eat fish at least three times a week.
  • They eat smaller portions, and eat more slowly, dividing their food into courses.
  • They eat less sugar and prefer full-fat food without added sugar.
  • The French tend not to snack between meals.
  • They avoid sodas, deep-fried foods, snack foods, and ready-made foods, as typically found in American grocery stores.

Read: French vs. US portion sizes

Enter blue cheese

Researchers at Lycotech, a biotech company in Cambridge, England, have found that smelly “blue” cheeses like Roquefort, Stilton and Gorgonzola can protect against heart disease because of their anti-inflammatory properties (Published in the journal Medical Hypotheses).

This could help explain why people like the French who eat a diet high in saturated fats have low rates of cardiovascular disease.

This is interesting, because attributing the French paradox purely to the consumption of red wine imay be a long shot, and it is probable that there might be some other dietary factors that contribute to lower rates of CHD.

According to the scientists, the anti-inflammatory factors found in these cheeses work best in the body’s acidic environments like the stomach lining and contribute to a healthy gut, which also helps to slow arthritis and physical signs of ageing like cellulite.  They add that “…there is a growing consensus that sub-clinical inflammation is behind many ageing processes, from the loss of skeletal muscles and cellulite to metabolic, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.”

Only a hypothesis

Before rushing out to buy red wine and every ounce of blue cheese you can lay your hands on, bear in mind that the research on the effects of these foods on e.g. heart health is relatively new and that there are as yet no conclusive evidence either way.

In the words of the Lycotech researchers: “We hypothesize that cheese consumption, especially of molded varieties, may contribute to the occurrence of the ‘French paradox’.”

Image: Blue cheese from Shutterstock

 

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