I was advised by my doctor to drink a glass of red wine daily. I know very little about wines and am not a regular drinker. I don’t really care for the taste of most wines or alcohol. Can you recommend a red wine that would give the health benefits that does not have too strong of a taste, has a touch of sweetness, definitely no strong alcohol taste, and is not too expensive?
While I know the health benefits of moderate, regular wine consumption are abundant, I’ve never liked the idea of wine as medicine. A healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet and exercise maintains the body; wine sustains the soul. But, I don’t much care what brought you to the doorstep of wine, I’m just glad you rang the bell.
You say you don’t have a taste for wine, but my hunch is that you’re just not looking in the right places. The face of wine is multi-faceted; you’d be the rare exception that did not have a few wines out there to tickle your palate. I’m quite sure we’ll find a few favorites that you’ll come to enjoy and perhaps love.
As for specific recommendations, I could suggest California pinot noirs or perhaps some light, mildly sweet pink wines, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to leave that to the capable hands of a wine retailer near you.
Why no specific wine recommendation? Well, I don’t sell wines. If I did, I would listen to your needs/wants and hand you two or three different wines from my shelves for you to try. You would come back in a week or two and we would modify that list and perhaps we could talk about proper storage ideas, especially after bottles are opened. We’d keep up this dialogue until we were sure that you had at least five or six “favorites.” If you felt the need to explore the world of wine further, you’d know you would have a willing and able guide at your service.
Having me, the wine writer, suggest a few wines that you might like, while not impossible, would just takes too much time (and frustration) on your part as you ferried around looking for my suggestions. As I explain to many readers who write in, not all wine stores will have the wines that writers talk about. Our suggestions should be used a guideposts for retailers to help you when they don’t have the ones we recommend in stock.
I believe Eagles Landing Bottle Shop will be capable and close enough to you to provide the kind of assistance you need. See if they have any wines from Montefalco, Italy, made with the sagrantino grape. Sagrantino has a high concentration of polyphenols, the substance in wine that all the scientists spend a lot of time studying. Arnaldo Caprai is a highly regarded producer from this region.
The cardiac, neurological and pulmonary benefits of wines have been well documented. The book The Red Wine Diet by Roger Corder (Penguin Group 2007, $15.95) recaps the dozens of health studies on moderate wine consumption. I applaud your physician for his or her open-minded suggestion. But frankly, I think the health advantages of moderate wine consumption have been overstated.
I believe the secret to wine’s health benefits has to do with its “mirth content.” My informal studies have shown that there is a minimum of 85 grams of mirth in a standard bottle of wine, way more than your daily recommendation of mirth (and a hundred times more mirthful than a bowl of oatmeal). I’m a firm believer that if you put more life in your years (a.k.a. mirth), you’ll wind up with more years in your life. That, Janet, is wine’s main benefit.
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators and teaches in-home wine classes. You can reach him at Gil.Kulers@WineKulers.com.