Column: Enjoy wine (and exercise) to live to a ripe old age

Cast doesn't sell Merlot by the glass.
Cast doesn't sell Merlot by the glass.

Much is written about the health benefits of wine.

It seems every other week a new study is published, and canny journalists pluck out a few ‘facts’ about how our favourite tipple enables us to live to a ripe old age, fight free-radicals and gives us fresh breath.

The story began in the nineties when Chilean wine was extolled for its health benefits. It was an elixir that drew in many non-wine drinkers who demanded the tipple that would turn them into the best versions of themselves, a wonder drink with magical powers. Well, perhaps we are exaggerating a little - it was a long time ago.

Anyway, the magical ingredient, resveratrol - an antioxidant present in the skin of red grapes - is particularly prevalent when grown at high altitude,such as in Chile.

In hindsight we are little sceptical that the Association of Chilean Wine had a particularly successful marketing campaign that year, but still remember the welcome boost in sales.

Over the years there has been talk of how we should drink three glasses of Champagne a day, (totally loving this one), as a compound found in two of the main grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, prevents the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

More recently a study has shown that a few glasses of wine a day and 15 minutes of exercise will help you live to a ripe old age, (additionally you must keep your weight down and talk to strangers).

Then, to achieve fresh breath, it is recommended a few glasses of red will promise better oral health. For this we can thank the polyphenols that prevent potentially harmful microbes from sticking to gums, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.

Diabetics who drink white wine regularly have a lower risk of eyesight loss due to complications from diabetes; resveratrol fights the growth of acne-causing bacteria longer than specific pimple products; and it helps convert “white fat” build up in the body to “beige fat,” which is easier to burn off.

Whatever your conclusions, there is an enormous sense of wellbeing to be gained from the satisfying pop of a cork, the glug of the liquid going into the glass, the tantalising aromas and finally the satiating taste in the mouth.

And, as long as the drinking is in moderation, we can harvest these benefits. If in doubt let’s remember the slogan that The American Heart Association went with in 2001 “A drink a day takes some arterial stiffness away”.