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Health

Bubbly benefits brains

Popping the cork.
Medical news worth remembering at the New Year! (Originally posted in Examiner, May 23, 2013. Bonus video below shows how to open a bottle of champagne.)

We’ve all heard that drinking red wine in moderation can be good for us. Advisors from the prestigious Mayo Clinic have stated that “Red wine’s potential heart-healthy benefits look promising.”

Since the late 1990s, researchers have praised these heart benefits of red wine:

• Raises HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol
• Reduces the formation of blood clots, and
• Helps prevent artery damage caused by high LDL (“bad” cholesterol).

Credible claims for red wine have also been made for some cancer remediation and for memory loss, even when it occurs with Alzheimer’s disease.

While physicians usually think of alcohol use in terms of memory dysfunction (lower performance, blackouts, and amnesia) produced by overuse, epidemiological and biochemical research suggest a paradox:

Low amounts of alcohol consumption may actually facilitate memory.

Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes, may partly account for the findings that red wine can improve memory. Red wine usually contains much more of the substance than white because vintners remove the skin of white grapes before primary fermentation and use the juice, not the skins, to produce the fresh wine.

Here’s the new news, though, and it’s great for those who prefer the bubbly: scientists from the University of Reading, England, have shown that phenols in champagne can help the brain record and store information.

Winemakers create the incomparable dry bubbling wine with the white grape Chardonnay, the sole grape in blanc de blancs champagne.

However, vintners usually mix in black Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier grapes and remove the skins immediately after pressing, leaving the juice clear. (For sparkling rose, they leave the skins in briefly or add red Pinot Noir just enough to tint the mixture. The bubbles come from sugar and yeast added after primary fermentation.)

Because champagne contains a large proportion of dark grapes, it confers health benefits similar to those of red wine.

“These exciting results illustrate for the first time that the moderate consumption of champagne has the potential to influence cognitive functioning, such as memory,” says Professor Jeremy Spencer of Reading’s Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences.

Perhaps most importantly, they may contribute to the reduction or postponement of memory lapses due to aging, particularly in various forms of Alzheimer’s disease.


Every New Year’s Eve, many people wonder how to open champagne.

 Chef Jason Hill of CookingSessions.com shows us how to open champagne the correct way, using tips from a recent visit to Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley.

But here’s the bad news (for some oenophiles and vineyards, maybe not!):

Brewers And Vintners Must Brace For Climate Change




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