Organic Wine Barre VT
Food as Medicine - Good Libations
By Gina DeMillo Wagner
From the Spanish drinking toast salud, meaning "health," to the Japanese one, banzai ("May you live 1,000 years"), cultures around the world long have hoisted glasses and toasted to people‘s well-being. Appropriately so, since research has shown that many wines and beers have healing properties that range from warding away heart disease and cancer to boosting brain power and longevity. But with literally thousands of wines and beers on the market, how do you choose the ones most healthful for you?
Walk into a liquor store, and the row upon row of options can daunt the most determined-especially since you can't look to nutrition labels for help. Because the FDA doesn‘t classify alcoholic drinks as food-no matter how thick the Guinness-the labels for wine, beer, and spirits don't list calories, vitamins, additives, and so forth the way a bottle of orange juice does. Nevertheless, the label still can reveal a lot about a particular libation. Here are some aspects to consider when choosing your next beverage.
Through the grapevine: Sulfites
In wines, compounds called sulfites naturally form in small doses during fermentation. Winemakers also add them after production as a preservative and to inhibit yeast growth. The latter makes the wine sweeter because the yeast don't gobble up the fruit sugars. While sulfites pose no harm for most of the population, about 1 in 100 people is allergic to them, according to the FDA. For those folks, drinking wine can trigger nausea or restricted breathing.
Though often maligned for causing headaches, sulfites usually are not to blame, says Andrew L. Waterhouse, professor of enology (wine chemistry) at the University of California, Davis. "If you think sulfites are causing your headaches, try eating some orange-colored dried apricots," he says. "These brightly colored dried fruits contain about 112 milligrams of sulfites per 2-ounce serving," compared to 10 milligrams of sulfites in a typical glass of wine. If the apricots don't give you a headache, the wine probably won't either.
For those allergic to sulfites, white wines tend to have higher concentrations than red wines, because more preservatives are added to protect the fragile whites from spoilage. Inexpensive wines also usually have greater sulfite concentrations because they offer a cheap way to stabilize and preserve the wine and extend its shelf life. Sulfites inhibit yeast growth as well, which raises the sugar content-so the sweeter the wine, the more sulfites it has.
Although no wine lacks sulfites completely, you can buy ones without any added sulfite. Look for bottles labeled "sulfite free" or "organic." The USDA requires organic wines to contain no more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of sulfites, and most organic wines contain about 40 ppm. Just make sure to drink the bottle within one year of purchasing and within 24 hours of opening, since without the preservatives, it will spoil faster.
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