by Greg Thomson
There’s nothing like a great red wine when the snow starts to fall outside and the fireplace once again becomes a gathering place to warm chilled bones. And of course there are rationalizations – I don’t think I could get through a single day without a few great rationalizations. In this case, it’s the favourite: “Red wine is good for me.”
I have a lot more trouble with this after the report I did on cancer for Charity Intelligence. I read many studies that showed a link between alcohol consumption and the incidence of numerous cancers, including breast, colon, and liver. My father died from colon cancer, so I am a tad uneasy with this particular rationalization. However, there is also a lot of data on the side of this argument that I like.
While there is still little causal data, many studies have shown a correlation between moderate consumption of red wine and reduced mortality. Some studies show benefits from white wine and other alcoholic beverages, but the resveratrol and flavonoids – the main causes of the benefits – are found in grape skins, and red wine stays in contact with its skins far longer than white.
The “health benefit” that I like the best is the so-called French paradox. The French and Americans have similar high-fat diets; however, the French have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and some evidence points to the increased consumption of red wine by the French. I love red wine with a juicy steak, so I’ll accept this evidence.
Moderate wine consumption has also been correlated with lower stroke incidence, fewer kidney stones, and reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s. So overall, I’m perfectly happy believing that, as long as I continue to have regular colonoscopies, my two glasses of wine (sorry, “moderate consumption” means only one glass for women) are, on balance, “good for me.”
Dominus Estate, Christian Moueix, California, 1997 ($100+) 94
This wine has an absolutely gorgeous aroma full of earthiness and fruit. The taste is the definition of terroir – you can sense the soil on your tongue. Leather, peat, and overripe strawberry meld in beautiful union.
Chateau Trotonoy Pomerol, France, 1995 ($150+) 92
What a treat. It fills the mouth with earthy flavour mixed with licorice, dark chocolate, and deep ripe cherries. I love a wine that can bring so much together and yet melt in the mouth.
Flor de Pingus, Spain, 2000 ($100+) 91
Ribera del Duero is one of my favourite regions and this Duero is a beautiful wine. Nice tannins and mouthfeel. Flavour is tobacco (leaf, not smoke) mixed with cherry candy. Absolutely sumptuous.
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino, Italy, 1997 ($100+) 90
Wow. Big, peaty wine with loads of tannins – I can feel the health benefits in my teeth. Aroma of soil (with a hint of manure!) and flavour bursting out all over. Chocolate, black plum, and earth all mix together well, but provide a hint of irritation at the end.