Red Wine: How to choose and is it healthy?
Before you rush out to a party and buy a fancy Bordequx or the cheap box of white wine, you should know a few very important things about wine; including some dark information about the wine industry, a few ways to ensure the healthy habit of regular wine consumption without destroying your chances of losing body fat and lowering your metabolism and the kind of wine healthy people should drink.
Choose Your Wine Carefully
Earlier this year “California Winemakers were Sued Over High Levels of Arsenic in Wines”. Basically, a class action lawsuit was filed in California against some of the country’s top winemakers over the high levels of arsenic in wine.
The lawsuit claims that some of the most popular wines have “up to four and five times the maximum amount of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for drinking water.” The fact is, there are basically no federal requirements to tell you what’s really in the wine you’re drinking, and one big reason for this is that the wine lobby is constantly fighting government action to require alcohol companies to label what’s in their wine. But in this recent arsenic wine scandal, a Denver laboratory called BeverageGrades started running tests to uncover the calorie counts in bottles of wine.
Since arsenic is highly toxic even at a parts per billion level, this is pretty disturbing. Some of the wines contained levels of arsenic up to 500% or more than what is what is considered the maximum acceptable safe daily intake limit. Put differently, this means that just a glass or two of an arsenic-contaminated wine a day over time could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity.
Curious if you’re drinking any of these arsenic contaminated beverages? Here’s a list of the wines that are included in the lawsuit:
Acronym GR8RW Red Blend 2011
Almaden Heritage White Zinfandel
Almaden Heritage Moscato
Almaden Heritage White Zinfandel
Almaden Heritage Chardonnay
Almaden Mountain Burgundy
Almaden Mountain Rhine
Almaden Mountain Chablis
Arrow Creek Coastal Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Bandit Pinot Grigio
Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon
Bay Bridge Chardonnay
Beringer White Merlot 2011
Beringer White Zinfandel 2011
Beringer Red Moscato
Beringer Refreshingly Sweet Moscato
Charles Shaw White Zinfandel 2012
Colores del Sol Malbec 2010
Glen Ellen by Concannon’s Glen Ellen Reserve Pinot Grigio 2012
Concannon Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011
Glen Ellen by Concannon’s Glen Ellen Reserve Merlot 2010
Corbett Canyon Pinot Grigio
Corbett Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon
Cupcake Malbec 2011
Fetzer Moscato 2010
Fetzer Pinot Grigio 2011
Fisheye Pinot Grigio 2012
Flipflop Pinot Grigio 2012
Flipflop Cabernet Sauvignon
Foxhorn White Zinfandel
Franzia Vintner Select White Grenache
Franzia Vintner Select White Zinfandel
Franzia Vintner Select White Merlot
Franzia Vintner Select Burgundy
Hawkstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
HRM Rex Goliath’s Moscato
Korbel Sweet Rose Sparkling Wine
Korbel Extra Dry Sparkling Wine
Menage a Trois Pinot Grigio 2011
Menage a Trois Moscato 2010
Menage a Trois White Blend 2011
Menage a Trois Chardonnay 2011
Menage a Trois Rose 2011
Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Menage a Trois California Red Wine 2011
Mogen David Concord
Mogen David Blackberry Wine
Oak Leaf White Zinfandel
Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc 2011
R Collection by Raymond’s Chardonnay 2012
Richards Wild Irish Rose Red Wine
Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Simply Naked Moscato 2011
Smoking Loon Viognier 2011
Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Sutter Home Gewurztraminer 2011
Sutter Home Pink Moscato
Sutter Home Pinot Grigio 2011
Sutter Home Moscato
Sutter Home Chenin Blanc 2011
Sutter Home Sweet Red 2010
Sutter Home Riesling 2011
Sutter Home White Merlot 2011
Sutter Home Merlot 2011
Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2011
Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2012
Sutter Home Zinfandel 2010
Trapiche Malbec 2012
Tribuno Sweet Vermouth
Vendange White Zinfandel
Wine Cube Moscato
Wine Cube Pink Moscato 2011
Wine Cube Pinot Grigio 2011
Wine Cube Pinot Grigio
Wine Cube Chardonnay 2011
Wine Cube Chardonnay
Wine Cube Red Sangria
Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Wine Cube Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2011
Why You Shouldn’t Drink Cheap Wine
Wine is an agricultural product and just like carrots, milk, or meat, it costs money to grow grapes, especially if you are interested in growing your grapes organically or even sustainably. To paraphrase Michael Pollan; if you are concerned about the environment, or the workers health, or your own, you should be drinking wine made by winemakers, not corporations.
When you see a $4 bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s or Costco, think about it for a minute. Is it really possible to grow grapes, ferment them, bottle them – often in glass bottles with corks – ship them to various parts of the world, and then have them retail for $4? Yes, if you are spraying your vines with chemicals, yes, if you are underpaying your vineyard workers, and yes, if you are unconcerned about the end product and only concerned about your bottom line.
So from extremely toxic levels of arsenic, to an irresponsible lack of sustainability, to underpaid vineyard workers, it’s looking like crap, cheap, mass-produced wine is not going to do your body or the environment any favors.
Even organic wine can have issues not just limited to those listed above, but also headaches from the sulfites in wine, boatloads of sugars, and high pH levels that increase the possibility of contamination by unwanted organisms, a less than stellar taste.
So what’s a wino to do?
#1. Purify Your Wine To Get Rid of Sulphites
Purifying your wine is especially good idea if you get headaches from the sulphites in wine, and this trick can be a lifesaver if wine consumption results in headaches, migraines, or brain fog for you, especially the day after.
#2 Improve the Flavor
You may be familiar with decanting wine, and beating your wine is essentially based on a similar concept, specifically the idea that exposing your wine to more air than the wine gets exposed to in the bottle with improve the flavor of the wine. But decanting can take hours and hours.
Pour 1–2 glasses of the wine into a large mixing bowl, a wine glass, or a carafe. Leave plenty of room at the top. The first time you do this, take a sip so you can see what the wine tastes like before. Then, lower an immersion blender or a latte frother into the bowl and blend the wine for 20-30 seconds. Tip the bowl, glass or carafe or move the blender in circles to enhance the foaming effect.
This aeration exposes more of a liquid surface area to air, and increases the number of flavorful molecules that reach your palate and your smell receptors. If you do this correctly, your wine should now have a nice heady froth on it, just like Guinness beer. The froth will disappear in about 1-2 minutes..
#3 Drink Biohacked Wine
Here are actually steps that a winemaker can take to make wine “fit”.
The first wine biohack is elevation.
When grapes are grown at a high elevation, specifically at 2000 feet or higher elevation, the grapes get a deeper exposure to the sun, while still at cooler temperatures, which helps elevate the resveratrol and polyphenols in the grapes.
The second wine biohack is extended fermentation.
To further concentrate these antioxidants, a winemaker can do an extended fermentation of 10-15 days, versus the standard 1-2 days fermentation that most wine companies use. With this one-two combo of high elevation and long fermentation, a wine can be concentrated to have up to 10x higher levels of resveratrol and polyphenols.
The third wine biohack is to appropriately adjust the pH of the wine.
The acid-alkaline balance, or pH of the wine, dictates the taste, texture, body and color of the wine. If the pH isn’t balanced, the taste of the wine can be just a bit skunky, but rather than adjusting pH, many wine companies simply add sugar to sweeten and balance out an improper pH. We make sure our pH levels are at optimal levels. For example, the optimum pH for a Cabernet (red) is 3.4. The optimal pH for a Chardonnay (white) is 3.2. If this pH can be achieved during the winemaking process, the end result is a great tasting wine that doesn’t need additional sugar added. A winemaker can do this via a process called malolactic, secondary fermentation, which not only lowers pH, but also helps keep bugs out of the wine. Lower pH levels in wine also reduce the possibility of contamination by unwanted organisms, and give the wine greater stability to retain flavor and color.
Next comes filtration.
A proper filtration process can significantly reduce the sulfites in wine, especially if the starting grape is a pesticide-free grape. Most wines have sulfites that range at around 50 parts per million (ppm). But if a wine is cold stabilized and chilled to drop out impurities prior to filtration, then filtered with extremely tight filters like diatomaceous earth and micron pads, sulfites can be cut significantly, down to as low as 35ppm. With lower sugar and lower sulfites, the risk of blood sugar swings and headaches goes way down when this kind of filtration process is used.
The final biohack is to reduce both calorie and carbohydrate levels without lowering alcohol content.
A typical cabernet ranges from 130-170 calories per 5oz glass, and a typical chardonnay ranges from 130-200 calories. But by avoiding the addition of residual sugars to the completed wine, then using a Brix scale, which is a special scale for measuring the amount of sugar in a solution at a given temperature, the sugar content of the wine can be significantly decreased. For example, a cabernet without added residual sugars is just 95 calories and 12.55g of carbohydrates, and a chardonnay just 90 calories and 5.9g of carbohydrates.
#4 Drink FitVine Wine
This is the current wine that I am drinking. It satisfies all of the criteria above, from pesticide-free grapes grown at a high altitude, to superior filtration, to a secondary fermentation, to lower residual sugars. These can be found at most local health food stores.
So That’s It!
Since it was only a week ago I told you not to drink soda, I figured why not dive right in and get you all equipped with the highs and lows of wine. I also hope that you’ll think twice before pouring a typical cheap bottle of non-organic wine into a giant glass 🙂
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Sauvignon Blanc