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Author Topic: Get me on the hooch! Suggest a wine for a non-drinker
Chris Bridges
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So, went to the doctor today. Overall cholesterol still good and well within the safe range, but good cholesterol isn't as high as it should be. He's suggested other things before such as fish oil and walnuts and whatnot, and today he mentioned the report that a daily glass of red wine can improve cholesterol and help lessen the chance for heart disease.

I'm willing to try most anything, except... I don't drink. Not because I have anything against it, I just really hate the taste of alcohol in any amount. While sampling some with friends I managed to find combinations of fruit juice and sangria that were palatable -- essentially an extremely weak homemade wine cooler -- and Icarus introduced me to ice wine one night during a Hatrackers meetup that was as good as any I've had, but for the most part I've been disinterested in finding ways to stomach something I didn't really want anyway. "The winter grapes add a rich overtone to this kerosene..."

But if it does in fact help my health, I'm willing to give it a shot. Which brings me here, with a question. What should I try?

Ideally I'd want something that resembled a strong sweet fruit juice, with as little alcohol taste as possible. Recent reports from the UK suggest that sherry also has the cholesterol-lowering properties, although not the lowering-heart-disease ones, and that might be an option. And it can't be a budget-breaker.

Any suggestions?

[ May 15, 2009, 01:51 PM: Message edited by: Chris Bridges ]

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ClaudiaTherese
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Ooooo ...

I know you are looking for red wine, as it is the category of wine most studied, but I wonder if it might not help to taste around some other things as you adjust your palate. Based on your post, I'd expect that some sherries, ports, and immature sweet Rieslings might be good places to start.

If you can find DeLoach wines, one of their pinot noirs was the first to get me interested in reds. Mild, berry-like, well-balanced, yum.

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rivka
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Sounds like you'd enjoy the kind of wines I prefer -- sweet and bubbly. Most of them are white though. Malvasias are red though. Correction: some of them are.
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Synesthesia
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red wine? I seldom drink, but when I do, I like drinking moscato, but it's not red, it's white. And it's sweet and yummy. I love Quady's Orange moscato, but it's NOT RED.

But they do have a red moscato version that I haven't tasted, if it's as good as their white moscato, you might like it. It tastes like spring, like cavorting and canoodling with maidens in some happy field and it's all apricoty and sweet.

http://www.quadywinery.com/redelectra.html Maybe this is as good as the white. They certainly describe it in a cheerful way.

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Uprooted
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A friend of mine is an epidemiologist specializing in cardiology who is conducting a study about whether red grape juice (I think it's red?) is as beneficial to the heart as red wine. I don't know if cholesterol is one of the factors he's studying, but I would assume so. It's an ongoing study and I don't know if there's anything conclusive yet, but I'll bet he'd send you some info if you're interested. Email me at the addy in my profile if you'd like me to.

Oh, and just FYI, his wife is my best friend and I've sent her links to your column a couple of times. She thinks you're hilarious. ;-)

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kmbboots
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I share your dislike for the taste of alcohol and for any wine that isn't too sweet for most people.

I do like german auslace wine. German wines are rated by how sweet they are (when the grapes are picked which determines the sugar content*). Auslace is pretty sweet - more sweet than a spatlace but a couple of steps less sweet than and ice wine.This is more important to me than the type of grape. Riesling is a type of grape that makes white wine. Much of german wine is white.

Some german winemakers are making auslace rated wine from red wine grapes. Spatburgunder is something you might look for.

*Ice wine is picked very late - when the grapes have already frozen.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
This is more important to me than the type of grape. Riesling is a type of grape that makes white wine. Much of german wine is white.

Yes, this is why I specified a sweet, immature Riesling.

I wouldn't care to unleash the tarty, mature, Thelma-n-Louises of German wine at Chris. *grin

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
German wines are rated by how sweet they are

Many sweet wines are, especially the higher-end ones.

Chris, it's called the Brix, and pretty much any wine that bothers to list it is going to be fairly sweet. [Wink] Bonus: they will also be low in alcohol, because it is the unfermented sugar that makes them sweet. (Hence CT's distinction.)

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FlyingCow
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I would also suggest ports. They vary quite a bit in flavor, but many can be quite sweet (and some are very akin to raisins).

Of course, if you like sweeter reds, there are always Concord grapes (i.e. Maneschewitz).

You may also like fruit wines or contemporary meads/honey wines - but I don't know if these are what you're looking for, as they aren't reds.

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Chris Bridges
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Thanks for the suggestions! Still looking about.

Some articles seem to indicated that grape juice (especially from Concord grapes), like red wine, also helps reduce bad cholesterol and improve blood flow. But it won't increase good cholesterol the way red wine is alleged to. Still, a good first step. I can drink grape juice [Smile]

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Javert
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I don't know anything about wine. But my favorite is a brand of Cabernet Sauvignon called Gnarly Head. Not expensive, very smooth and just tastes delicious to me. I'd say give it a try.
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Chris Bridges
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...but I don't know if these are what you're looking for, as they aren't reds.

The whole point is to get the health benefits, I don't see me becoming a wine enthusiast. I'm perfectly happy with sodas and sweet tea, but they don't seem to be improving my health any [Smile]

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kmbboots
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CT, I noticed that but I wanted to really pound the point about the age of the grapes. You would be surprised at how many people get that confused. And how much tarty, picked too early, aged too long Reisling I have been given because "Kate likes German wine." [Wink]

Rivka, the scale I was talking about is the Oechsle Scale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oechsle_scale

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ClaudiaTherese
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Yum! Lamplighting fluid, all right!

What a treat. [Wink]

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MightyCow
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Have you considered Boon's Farm Strawberry Hill? Millions of High Schoolers agree it's a great gateway wine.
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FlyingCow
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Is it the grape juice itself, or is it the grape juice paired with the alcohol content?

That is, does Welch's concord grape juice provide the same benefit as Manischewitz concord grape wine?

I think you really need to avoid any wines that are heavy on tannins - some cabernet's and merlots can fall in this category. If you go to a good wine shop, and explain that you're looking for inexpensive reds ($5-8 per bottle) that are sweeter/fruitier, and that you really don't like dry, tanniny wines, they should be able to help you out.

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Darth_Mauve
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I took a tour of a local winery a few years ago. Like you I don't enjoy the taste of alcohol, but I have an enormous sweet tooth.

They were describing the process of creating the wines.

They talked about "Port", which is made by adding sugar to the wine while its aging. This makes it extra sweet.

I loved the idea and did a quick gulp in the tasting room.

It was as the Port went down with a kick that I remembered, its the sugar in the wine the becomes the alcohol. Hence Port is much sweeter, and has a higher alcohol content, than a regular wine.

Not a Rum or Hard Liquor, but still, more of a kick, which is something a novice may want to remember.

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Chris Bridges
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It's the amount of antioxidents, generally present in the grape skins and seeds, which is why red is better than white wine for this (the skins are removed for white wine). Many of these are also present in purple grapes, so Welches for me as I continue to investigate. Maybe I could mix some Welches into whatever wine I decide on and work my way up...
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Synesthesia
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I love sweet Rieslings, but not as much as the Quady Orange moscato.
Also I could not resist buying a bottle. I am so bad.

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scifibum
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If you're drinking it for your health and not because you like it, just buy whatever 5L box of red is cheapest. Do that for a couple of months. Don't mix it or chill it, this is your chance to get used to the alcohol and rotten fruit.

If at the end of two months you still hate it, try a different (better) wine. If it's just as yuck, go back to the boxes. You might as well save money. Drink it ice cold and quickly to minimize the suffering.

If, on the other hand, you say to yourself "better, but not good" you might have hope of finding one you like, so keep trying different varieties.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Rivka, the scale I was talking about is the Oechsle Scale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oechsle_scale

As the note at the bottom indicates, the various traditional scales are roughly equivalent.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by FlyingCow:
Of course, if you like sweeter reds, there are always Concord grapes (i.e. Maneschewitz).

Urk. Please, avoid Manischewitz wine. Kedem wines are FAR superior. They have an unsweetened Concord (all of Manischewitz's have additional sugar added) that even my no-sweet-wines-please mother enjoys. But so do I -- it's sweet enough, without the cloying sweetness of a traditional Concord wine.
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aspectre
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Pisco sours. Ya'll never notice the alcohol...
...or that dancing around the neighborhood with a traffic cone on your head isn't just normal behaviour.

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FlyingCow
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rivka, I think he's looking for cloying sweetness... which is why I suggested it.

I think unsweetened Concord is the last thing he'd be looking for.

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rivka
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Unsweetened Concord is still quite sweet. Sweeter than most fruit juices.

I love sweet wines. I practically buy Moscato d'Asti by the case. Sweetened Concords are not sweet wines. They're cough syrup. [Wink]

An exception would be the light versions, which are essentially diluted with water. They would therefore have lower levels of the relevant compounds, but are also low-alcohol. This one is at the far end of the spectrum; this one is nice.

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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Unsweetened Concord is still quite sweet. Sweeter than most fruit juices.

I love sweet wines. I practically buy Moscato d'Asti by the case. Sweetened Concords are not sweet wines. They're cough syrup. [Wink]

Oooo; I had this lovely Moscato D'Asti at a wine tasting. It was Italian and very delicious but it had a CORK. I hate corks!
It was equally as tasty as the wine that was half the price though. I think that waas a bit better actually, the cheaper stuff.

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Sterling
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We discovered while staying at a B&B on the Oregon coast that plain old Christian Brothers sherry can actually be pretty nice- if you put it into a decanter and allow it to breathe before imbibing.

Straight out of the bottle, well, it's not a bad base for some asian sauces. [Smile]

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Herblay
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Here are a few good tips and suggestions. I'll stick with red wines, as they're thought to have more health benefits.

Types of Wine:
Pinot Noir: Typically sweeter and fruitier than other reds. Generally one of the easier reds to drink.

Syrah (Shiraz): A little darker and bolder, but not as bitter as a cabernet.

Bordeaux (Meritage): A blended wine, usually made of 4 or 5 types of grapes. These can be the easiest to drink, and are generally the most respected wines. Different grapes are blended based on their individual strengths.

Burgundy: A little deeper flavor than the Syrah, though its sometimes sweeter.

Cabernet: Unfortunately the most bitter of wines and the first that most Americans drink. It can be good, but good Cabernet is generally more expensive and a bit more of an acquired taste.

Port: Not just sweetened, it's fortified --- Brandy is added to increase the alcohol content.

Location, location, location:
California: Good American wineries, but the cost is usually much higher than comparable foreign wine. Avoid the cheap / bargain bottles. They're lower grade than anyone else in the world would sell.

Chile, South Africa, Peru: Generally low priced and very drinkable to the novice. Not always the highest quality.

Australia: Wines are generally good, with some higher faire.

Italy, Spain: Extremely drinkable wines, sometimes more costly. Often there are added flavors for a sweetened / bitter effect.

Washington: Generally good whites. Variable quality, with some exoeptional high end wines. A little cheaper than California.

France: The widest gambit in quality. Inexpensive Bordeauxs / table wines (around $9-$15 American) can often be far superior to mid-priced offerings from the US and Europe.

Suggestions:
I would generally advocate beginning with either a mid-grade French Bordeaux or Pinot Noir. The Bordeaux is a little drier, and the Pinot is a little fruitier. Try a few different things, possibly a Syrah (Shiraz). I'd say to stay away from California wines at first, as they're a little more expensive and the lower end wines can be particularly bad. You may want to have developed a taste first. Good port (try a Bin 27) can be very drinkable, but it's fortified with Brandy (higher alcohol contents) and it has a lot of sugar (both of which might be a good or a bad thing).

Some particular suggestions for "starter" bottles:
France:
- Cheap: Red Bicyclette Bordeaux
- Mid Range: Chateaux Neuf de Pape (my personal favorite).
- Most Pinots
- Most table wines from the "Haut Medoc"

Austrailian
- Black Opal brand.
- Wolf Blass Pinot / Shiraz
- A few interesting sparkling "blends" of different wines (generally kind of sweet).

South African / Chile:
- Most of the lighter cheap wines.
- There's a good Chilean in a form fitting wicker basket for around $10. It's pretty recognizable.

Port:
- Most are good. Look for an aged tawny. Bin 27 is pretty easy to drink.

If you have any questions, I'll check back.

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Orincoro
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I heartily recomment Czech wines, which are across the board sweeter and tastier than most other European wine.

Czech red wines are always sweet tasting with a very low odor or taste of alcohol. I know that Czech wines might be hard to find depending on what state you are in, but here they are often cheap and always plentiful. You can hardly go wrong with Czech wines.

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fugu13
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A good, cheap South African wine you might like would Goats Do Roam in Villages (some people might recognize the reference, which the winery entirely denies [Wink] ). That would be a little spicier and more complex, but still with some sweetness to it.

I find I also like good italian wines a lot, particularly Chianti and Nero d'Avola.

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Samprimary
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Figure out which type of wine you like the most. fiano, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, pinot grigio, pinot noir, chardonnay, zinfandel, etc.

If at all possible, do this by shopping at a trader joe's. Pick up as much of this in Charles Shaw (a.k.a.'d as two-buck chuck) as you can.

Do not pay more than fifteen dollars a bottle of wine.

Read this article on Robert Parker, and you will understand wine better than most people would like to think they do. Then read the May 18th new Yorker article by Dana Goodyear "Drink Up - The rise of really cheap wine," which will explain why very soon you should never ever ever have any real reason to pay more than ten dollars a bottle of wine.

Wine will probably grow on you, the same way a person transforms from thinking coffee tastes horrific as a child. If it does not, hope they figure out for sure whether or not you can get the benefit of wine out of something that is not wine, because if you're going to drink stuff that tastes bad, why not have it be fish oil?

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aiua
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I heartily second Samprimary's two buck chuck recommendation.
They were my intro to wine and, for the price you pay (Less than $5 a bottle), you get a surprisingly good quality.
Plus, as long as you're at Trader Joe's, you can pick up some of their other tasty edibles.

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Samprimary
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They should be about $3 a bottle on average, less if you're in california. The reason why two buck chuck often climbs above two bucks is because transportation costs begin to climb as you move beyond Bronco's distro network in California.

The abstract on two buck chuck is that wine has been an industry whose values have largely been kept inflated by pomp and pretension, you pay eighty to a hundred fifty bucks for a bottle of wine because it says 'bordeaux' on it, and yet it doesn't taste any better (or might taste worse) than a micro garage wine from, say, Iowa. It is because it is supposed to be expensive wine that makes it expensive wine.

The Wine Advocate shows up with some measure of objective wine analysis which is based on taste and gives no regard for the establishment.

Then Fred Franzia turns wine production into a process as value-oriented as soda. Good wine can be made very, very cheap.

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Chris Bridges
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I'm in Florida, no Trader Joes here (I don't think).
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AvidReader
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That was a great article, Samp. I noticed on page three that wine traders were thankful for the strong economy. I know i haven't seen it on CNN, but would you happen to know if the big collapse the economist was predicting happened when the markets tanked?
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Glenn Arnold
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Another way to go is to try a Lambrusco, like Riunite or Giacobazzi. They are carbonated and sweet, so they are often referred to as "pop" wines because they share a lot of characteristics with soda. I don't like a lot of wines, but I like Giacobazzi in particular.
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Tatiana
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I know this isn't what you're asking for, but have you considered a whole-foods plant based diet? It's been shown to drastically reduce cholesterol as well as decrease your chances of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, auto-immune disorders such as Lupus and MS, and even cancers.

I know it sounds too good to be true and I'm maintaining an open mind myself, but think about all the diseases affluent countries get but others don't. It's the same list. So it's at least plausible that the main reason for that is the difference in diet. It's also been shown that people who move from one region to another rather quickly come to have the same risk as the area they move to. Also, people from the same kinship groups who are affluent and eat a typical modern western diet increase their risk over their kin who continue with the traditional plant based diet. So genes, while still a factor, turn out to be vastly less important than diet, or their effect can be completely overridden by diet.

It's got lots of ancillary benefits too, like softer hair and skin, better color vision, more sensitive taste buds and smell, more energy, stronger bones and nails. Many people report that their acne clears up, and that chronic infections clear up. It goes against what I've been taught all my life about animal protein and milk being good, so I was quite skeptical, but there are so many good studies that show large benefits that I was willing to try it, and after just a few weeks I'm convinced. I feel a whole lot better, am losing weight without trying, am enjoying my food more than I ever have in my life, I feel full all the time, have no cravings, and just feel far more well. I wonder what it will be like after a year or 2 years, and I'm looking forward to finding out.

I suppose it seems like a lot more effort than just adding a glass of wine or taking a lipid lowering drug, but it's been great fun for me so far and no real effort at all. It's been a glorious new world of different scrumptious plant foods out there for me to try, and a feeling of freedom that I can eat things like fruit and potatoes which earlier I had been restricted from eating.

Just a suggestion you might want to consider. Some books that helped convince me to try it are "The China Study" by Colin Campbell and "Stop Inflammation Now" by Richard Fleming. Both these guys are doctors with years of research and clinical experience.

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Samprimary
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quote:
I know it sounds too good to be true and I'm maintaining an open mind myself, but think about all the diseases affluent countries get but others don't.
er, non-affluent countries tend to get those things too, you know. They're just less represented because of other things tending to kill off the population earlier.

I mean, don't get me wrong, whole-foods diets are great (the vegetarian whole-foods diets not so much), I'm on one pretty much, and these things do have many health benefits, but one thing that is certain with health food movements is the invariable tendency of plenty of people to claim that the diets do things that they do not. =)

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by AvidReader:
That was a great article, Samp. I noticed on page three that wine traders were thankful for the strong economy. I know i haven't seen it on CNN, but would you happen to know if the big collapse the economist was predicting happened when the markets tanked?

Things are not good in Bordeaux. their sales have flatlined since the economic crisis hit, and this is after they lost most of the benefits of artificial lineage-based prestige.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/08/FDDT17ATKM.DTL

http://uk.truveo.com/bordeaux-wine-economic-crisis-forces-winemakers/id/1651713070

The SFGate article notes, to my amusement, that even Bordeaux had resigned itself into the habit of setting their wine prices based on the numerical review of Robert Parker, so it makes a good afterword to the Atlantic article.

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fugu13
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Or, instead of changing his entire diet, he could drink a glass of red wine a day and have his health greatly improved in many ways, plus adding a new, large set of beverages with interesting and nuanced flavors to his choices.

Heck, he could change his diet and add the red wine, and probably be even better off.

As has been pointed out, the comments about certain diseases not being present in the developing world due to questions of diet are, in most cases, sampling errors.

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Tatiana
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Obviously, I believe you're mistaken about that, since I changed my whole diet due to overwhelming findings of positive results. But I just wanted to mention it as an avenue people might want to consider/research, because I wish I'd started decades ago, and I felt a little disappointed that I'd never even heard this before from my doctors. There is just a whole wealth of information from large peer reviewed studies showing that a whole foods plant based diet is the healthiest way for humans to eat.

In such a short time it's already made me feel so much better. I was essentially disabled before, so it's 180 degree turnaround. I know it's a big change, but the choice is a no-brainer for me, because I'd far rather be healthy than suffer from multiple debilitating conditions.

That's why whenever anyone with high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or any auto-immune disorder asks for advice, I want to present this option to them. It's definitely drastically changed my health for the better in just a short time, so I don't want to be stingy but I want to share what I've found.

Some books to read for more information, if anyone's interested, are "The China Study" by Colin Campbell and "Stop Inflammation Now" by Richard Fleming.

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Chris Bridges
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An update: went to watch a friend play guitar at the Sanford Wine Company last night, and on his recommendation tried a Moscato. I expected to find it tolerable, but to my considerable surprise I liked it. Teresa and I split three glasses, quite possibly the only time I have voluntarily ordered more alcohol rather than just one sociable one to be held onto throughout the evening.

Checking now to find out about the possible red variety mentioned above.

I still don't see me becoming a big wine drinker -- for one thing, three glasses of wine bump up your dinner bill quite a bit, especially when you're used to ordering Cokes, with free refills. But nice to have the option.

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Pegasus
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My uncle is a scientist working with concord grapes for Welches, and has extolled the virtues of the grapes. Sounds good, but I hate grape juice and wine, oh well.
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dabbler
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By the way I'm pretty sure it's one glass of any alcoholic beverage for equivalent health benefits. So if you don't want to drink red wine, you can drink your girly stuff instead.
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fugu13
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I thought the health benefits were different for wine (any type, including fortified) vs beer; I could easily be wrong, though.

If you liked the Moscato, there's a whole world of sweet whites you might like.

I'm not a huge sweet white drinker, but we had one recently we really, really liked (and I think most non-wine drinkers would like), the Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Piesporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese (about $20, widely available). We had the 2007, but I suspect all available vintages are acceptable.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
I thought the health benefits were different for wine (any type, including fortified) vs beer; I could easily be wrong, though.

Some of them; cholesterol seems to be more affected by red wine.
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