Fifteen years ago, TV's "60-Minutes" aired a program with a startling revelation. They brought to attention an observation that French people, especially from the south west of France, who regularly dine on fatty foods have less heart disease than people in North America and other countries around the world. It was called "The French Paradox." It confounded current thinking about high fat consumption causing heart disease. The Paradox was explained by a purported beneficial effect of drinking wine daily - more red wine consumption than white, but wine. What a wonderful prescription! Imagine, if you could drink wine every day and have less heart disease.
Scientific studies have shown that drinking wine in moderation may be beneficial to your health. Most studies show that moderation is one-to-two glasses a day for women, and two glasses a day for men. Consumption greater than that may result in other medical complications. Interestingly, red wine may be more beneficial than white wine for health.
Red and white wines may come from the same red grapes. Where red and white wines differ, and how they get different color, lies in a difference in production. Red wines are left in contact with the skins and stems of the grapes which give color and give red wines tannins, which are lacking in white wines. We taste tannins as slight tartness, or bitterness, and a structure or firmness in the mouth. The skin and stem contact also results in red wines having histamines which white wines do not. Some people find their nose gets stuffed, as if they have a cold, when drinking red wines. This is because histamines cause an allergic response. People who think they are 'allergic' to red wine may be able to thoroughly enjoy white wines.
All over the world, the last few decades have shown an agricultural movement towards "Organic" farming. Even before the 1990s winemakers in France and California began bio-dynamic or organic viticultural methods. This means not using chemical pesticides. It takes several years for a vineyard to convert to bio-dynamic or organic farming methods. It also takes meeting government regulations to be recognized as an "organic" wine. The wine-makers have to go through many years of testing by agricultural authorities, culminating (typically after a ten-year process) in their being certified and allowed by law to release their wine as "organic."
We hope that wine and other food stuffs grown organically will be healthier to consume. Farmers are trying to produce more and more products in pure and natural ways, just so wine-makers are 'greening' their vineyards and their wine-making facilities.
Vini's Vino Wine & Spirits Boutique carries a number of wines from France which are raised by organic farming methods. Domaines Elie - Sumeire in Provence, the south of France, has a currently featured range of organic wines. These wine-makers produce a crisp white wine, from characteristic grapes grown in the south of France: Ugni Blanc, Clairette and Rolle. These grapes produce a wine with a crisp acidity and plenty of fruit which is refreshing as an aperitif, but is also very food-friendly. The Rosé is traditional for Provence - dry, a very pretty shell-pink color, and tastes like summer in a glass -- irresistible with lunch or to share at dinner if one of you is having a meat and the other a fish. They also make an interesting red wine comprised of the juice of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache grapes which combine to make a wine which is perfect for barbecued meats including steaks and baby-back ribs. All their cuvees are nice to drink chilled. Best of all -- these are great values, being under $8.00 a bottle and perfect summer-styled wines as you'd expect from France's famous region where the "Route to the Sun" ends in the vineyards and flower fields of Provence.
When you are in St. Maarten-St. Martin or its neighboring Islands, stop by Vini's to try these wines, or in one of the many restaurants which feature them, and perhaps you'll raise your glass to each other with that famous toast in many languages: "A Votre Santé (French), Salute! (Italian), Salud! (Spanish), Skal! (Swedish)" -- "To Your Health!" - one can offer no better wish for another. Perhaps with wine we mean it literally -- a healthy beverage that affects us in a positive way being a health-full drink.
Vini's Vino Wine & Spirits Boutique, #105 Puerta Del Sol, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
Contributor Author Jean Rich has lived in Sint Maarten for over 20 years since she retired from cancer research. She explores her passion for wine, dining and people at Bel Mar Restaurant & Wine Bar on Pelican Key; and, Vini’s Vino Wine & Spirits,is located at Puerto del Sol across from the Dolphin Casino in Cole Bay, St. Maarten. Its wine bar features wine experiences and offers for sale the benefits of the Sommelier's efforts to bring fine wine values to its clientele.