Monday, March 18, 2013

Red Wine, Chocolate, Resveratrol, and more

Since resveratrol is most prevalent in red wine and dark chocolate, perhaps a paragragh on pairing the two may be appropriate.  According to one source I consulted, you should keep the sweetness of the chocolate and wine in close proximity and don't make the wine much drier than the chocolate if possible.  Also match lighter, more elegant chocolates with lighter red wines and conversely, stronger dark chocolate with stronger wine.  It's common sense, isn't it?  So how come I can never get it right?

In our extensive blog about resveratrol a week ago I neglected to cite sources and I will cite two now.  Josh Mitteldorf writes about science for laymen and about this subject particularly with "Resveratrol and Sirtuins" (3/11/13) at and in the 3/9/13 online publication, Counsel & Heal, "Mechanism Behind Red Wine and Dark Chocolate's Benefits Discovered", the writers again spell it out for non-scientists to understand.  Notice that both articles were just written last week so new information is ongoing.  Also last week GlaxoSmithKline issued a press release concerning three new trial drugs, each containing resveratrol equivalent to 100 glasses of wine per tablet!

So just to recap, the potential health benefits of resveratrol may include: antiviral effects, anti-inflammatory effects, and neuroprotective effects (reducing alzheimers symptoms).  It may also combat obesity and diabetes, and it may be anticarcinogenic.  Now a sobering truth: GlaxoSmithKline's current drug trials are the first time resveratrol has been tested on human subjects, so we shall see.

Saturday's blogpost about Jancis Robinson's new book, "American Wine..." concluded with me saying we needed to say more about two grapes Robinson is particularly enamored with in America, Traminette and Norton.  We'll make this short.  Traminette was created at the University of Illinois in 1965 by crossing Gewurztraminer with Johannes Seyves 23.416.  Intended as a table grape, Traminette, with its fruity Gewurz style was quickly recognized for its winemaking capabilities.  Its cold hardiness and phylloxera disease resistance make it perfect for the northern midwestern continental climate and Indiana now claims it as its signature wine.

The Norton grape is from the Vitis aestivalis family of native grapes, as opposed to Vitis labrusca, thereby avoiding any of the foxiness inherent in labrusca.  It dates commercially to 1830 when Dr. Daniel Norton identified it and established it as a wine grape.  Norton is prevalent as far north as southern Ontario, south to Florida and Texas, and west to Oklahoma.  In northeast Georgia it makes some of our best reds.  It offers low acidity, good tannins, and flavors that are vinifera-like and it too is obviously resistant to phylloxera.  While most commercial vineyards of Norton grapes reside in Virginia, Missouri claims it as their offical grape and the cornerstone of their industry.

Norton is also the grape that has the highest concentration of anthocyanins known in any variety and that is what we'll talk about next time.

The Gail Avera Thursday tasting will have to be tabled again this week.  On Friday from 5 to 7pm during our regular weekly tasting slot, Coleen Rotunno, formerly of Corkscrew Cafe in Dahlonega and now with Quality Wine & Spirits, will be presiding.  The wines are not determined at this writing.  Please join us.

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