Anyone who has followed my syndicated, monthly wine column, Woman on Wine, knows I have a weakness for champagne. (In truth, my desire extends to all sparkling wine; I just prefer the sound of the word champagne. The word alone conjures a festive air, doesn’t it?)
Now, we have a brilliant excuse to pop corks and toast with relish. Thanks to a University of Reading study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, we now know that Sparkling Wine can benefit the heart in the same way as red wine. And so it is for our hearts that I dedicate this to the drink of amore, champagne.
Champagne’s aphrodisiac reputation is very much intertwined with its history as the drink of celebration. It is also much loved as an aphrodisiac of inhibition. With its stream of delicate bubbles, sparkling wine hits the blood stream a little more quickly than still wine, offering that delicious giddiness that occurs right around the third sip. But now that we know we could be potentially giving ourselves the gift of heart health with that magical third sip, the taste of sparkling wine has suddenly become so much more sweet!
Most champagne and other sparkling wines are made from a combination of red and white grapes (or all red grapes). This got the folks at the University of Reading, clearly bubbly lovers after my own heart, wondering if sparkling wine could potentially offer the heart healthy benefits of red wine. A study involving a group of volunteers ranging in age from 20-65 were asked to drink champagne. (I know, why couldn’t we all have been test subjects for this one?) Blood tests of the subjects showed elevated nitric oxide, a molecule that controls blood pressure. Urine samples taken from the volunteers the next day showed metabolites of Champagne polyphenols, an indication that quite a bit of polyphenols (which contain potent antioxidents) were absorbed by the blood. Ultimately, what this proves is that a glass or two of bubbly a day may keep the doctor away at least with similar effectiveness as red wine.
(The same university researchers released findings a few years ago that a particular polyphenol found in sparkling wine – this one found in higher concentration in champagne than in red wine – can help protect the brain. It is believed that because of this polyphenol, bubbly can help protect the brain from injury as well as the degenerative effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.)
Now that we know that champagne is potentially good for the heart, the mind, and according to my years of field research, the soul, I hope you will all join me for a toast, not of the New Year but of the new us, the CDBL (Champagne Drinkers for Better Life.)