Wine and Chocolate: Not Just a Cliche

By Barbara Hay ~

Wine and chocolate. Wine and chocolate have a lot of similarities . It seems intuitively natural to pair them, since both are considered aphrodisiacs and both contain flavanols (antioxidants). Yet we generally have no idea why it can be somewhat challenging to pair wine and chocolate together.

But, according to a scientific breakthrough, compounds found in both dark chocolate and red wine could help rejuvenate cells and make them appear younger. When researchers applied compounds called reversatrol analogues—chemicals based on a substance naturally found in red wine dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries—to cells in culture.

Dr. Eva Latorre, Research Associate at the University of Exeter, who carried out the experiments, was surprised by the extent and rapidity of the changes in the cells. “When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it. These old cells were looking like young cells. It was like magic,” she said.

“I repeated the experiments several times and in each case the cells rejuvenated. I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research.”

In another study, Hershey’s Center for Health and Nutrition announced a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that showed resveratrol is also found in cocoa and dark chocolate products. Scientists reported that cocoa powder, baking chocolate and dark chocolate all have significant levels of naturally occurring resveratrol.

“This study shows that the levels of resveratrol found in cocoa and chocolate products is second to red wine among known sources of resveratrol and forms yet another important link between the antioxidants found in cocoa and dark chocolate to other foods,” said David Stuart, PhD, Director of Natural Product Science at The Hershey Company who partnered with Planta Analytica to conduct this study.

The amount of resveratrol in wines not only depends on what type of grape is used, but also the region. Dry red wines are more likely to contain all the beneficial antioxidants in higher levels. Among these, the wines made with traditional pressing and aging techniques are more likely to preserve the high levels of these antioxidants. The study  found that wines from cooler regions like Ontario and the Bordeaux region of France had higher concentrations of resveratrol compared to wines from warmer regions like California, Australia, Spain and South America.

According to Leroy Creasy, Cornell University professor of fruit and vegetable science, who completed an analysis of more than 100 red wines from five states and foreign countries, New York state red wines have higher levels of resveratrol than comparable wines from other regions. Creasy’s study included 70 New York state red wines, 19 from California and 22 from other states or countries. He found New York wines had the highest resveratrol concentration compared with wines from other regions, “Some of New York wines, particularly in the pinot noir category, have extraordinary levels,” he said.

New York wines used for Creasy’s project came from Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes and the Lake Erie regions. The California wines came from the Central Coast, Mendocino, North Coast and Sonoma. And the other U.S. wines came from Mississippi, Oregon and the state of Washington. Countries represented include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, Slovenia and South Africa.

The varieties with most resveratrol in the wine include Malbec, Petite Sirah, St. Laurent and Pinot Noir. Although all grapes contain resveratrol, most of the resveratrol comes from grape skin, so white wine, which  has  the skin is removed during production, is a much lower source of resveratrol.

Resveratrol rich wines include:

Malbec 
Malbec grapes have a thick, inky dark-colored skin and robust tannins. Malbec is known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. in South West France.

Petite Sirah
Petite Sirah is actually a grape called Durif—a small, intensely colored berry that is high in tannins, acidity and resveratrols.

St. Laurent

A highly aromatic dark-skinned wine grape variety with high acidity and velvety tannins.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noirs grown in cool, wet climates have been found to contain the highest concentrations of resveratrol. Look for Pinot Noir from small traditional, old-fashioned wineries, for the highest resveratrol concentrations.

Other grape varietals containing high resveratrols include:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet wines contain high concentrations of polyphenols that benefit inflammation and blood clots, improving blood flow. Several studies have found these wines linked with higher longevity.

Madiran
Madiran wines are  from Tannat grapes and contain high levels of procyanidins. Madirans sourced from Sardinia, southwestern France, and Italy are tpreferred, since traditional methods of aging keep the compounds intact.

Merlot
A medium-bodied wine  is also rich in procyanidins. Wines from Sardinia and southwestern France often contain the highest concentrations of these compounds.

Syrah (or Shiraz)
Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is darker than Cabernet Sauvignon and this a dark-skinned grape contains high amounts of antioxidants.

Barbera
This versatile wine of Italian origin is now widely produced in California. It contains very high levels of resveratrol and offers similar health benefits.

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2018-02-23T11:51:54+00:00