Intimidated by a limited knowledge of wine? There's no need to worry when you visit Goosecross Cellars, a friendly, family operated micro-winery in Yountville. Goosecross is a fun and relaxed place to experience wine. Visitors to the Old English style estate can feel the soil, touch the vines, witness production and meet the friendly and knowledgeable family and staff. Click here for your complimentary tasting room coupon and receive a complimentary tasting for two people.
Two tasting room locations! At the Winery, 1119 State Lane, Yountville (800) 276-9210, or in Downtown Napa at Wineries of Napa Valley, 10am - 8pm, 1285 Napa Town Center, (800) 328-7815.
Pine Ridge Winery
The Pine Ridge Hillside Room has been created to afford visitors an experience that is unique in the Napa Valley. Upon entering the winery, guests are greeted by our concierge and escorted to the Hillside Room. Visitors are invited to sit down, relax and compare barrel samples to current release, bottle-aged reserve wines. The barrel-to-bottle samplings illustrate the evolutions and development of a wine. A personal wine educator is on hand to guide our guests through the tasting.
Pinot Gris Overtakes Sauvignon Blanc in Recent Survey
Pinot Gris overtook Sauvignon Blanc to become the second most popular white wine, according to Wine and Spirits Magazine's 15th Annual Restaurant Poll. Pinot Gris is loved for its approachability and versatility with many foods. Inman Family Pinot Gris, one of the finest new producers of the varietal, released their 2003 last month, which is available only directly from the winery and at selected fine restaurants.
Inman Family Pinot Gris is perfect to enjoy as an aperitif on a summer evening, but it has the weight and body to accompany richer dishes such as Spicy Crab Cakes or Monkfish in a Saffron Sauce. To purchase Inman Family's Russian River Valley Pinot Gris or Pinot Noir, visit their website at www.inmanfamilywines.com or telephone 707 395 0689.
Part 1 in this series of articles looked at some of the recent epidemiological evidence that demonstrates a positive association between moderate wine consumption and improved cardiac health. Part 2 of this 3 part series examines the scientific basis underlying this association, in other words, how could regular, moderate consumption of wine allow us to live longer?
We all know that laughter is the best medicine and that wine makes you laugh. Is it as simple as that? Perhaps. However, because 750,000 Americans die every year of heart attacks, medical scientists have taken a more critical approach to answering this question.
A heart attack is usually the result of coronary artery disease. The heart is a pump which supplies the rest of our body with freshly oxygenated blood. Its uninterrupted function is therefore critical for life. The heart itself requires oxygen to function and gets its supply via the coronary arteries. A heart attack occurs when the heart stops getting oxygen, usually due to a plug in coronary artery system.
There are two major factors at play in causing heart attacks. The first, atherosclerosis, is one of the great scourges of life in the modern, industrialized world. The term refers to a building up of deposits, consisting of cholesterol and other materials, along the walls of our arteries. The deposits narrow the diameter of the artery, decreasing blood flow to the end organ.
The other factor that is responsible for the occurrence of heart attacks is thrombosis, or the formation of blood clots. Our blood is in a constant battle to maintain a balance between remaining in the fluid state and being able to clot at a moment's notice. Blood's ability to clot is essential in preventing blood loss whenever there is damage, even very minor, within the body.
Blood clots can, however, be life threatening if they show up at the wrong place or at the wrong time. A heart attack is usually caused by the formation of a blood clot in a coronary artery that is already narrowed by atherosclerosis. If the clot is not quickly dissolved, the heart does not receive enough oxygen and is no longer able to pump blood (and life sustaining oxygen) to the rest of the body.
Many people are told by their physicians to take an aspirin a day to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin has this life saving effect by making the blood less likely to clot. Decreased thrombosis is the single, critical function of aspirin in preventing heart attacks.
Alcohol, has been shown to help prevent heart attacks by interfering both with atherosclerosis and thrombosis, on many different levels.
First of all, alcohol has been definitively shown to affect our cholesterol level in a beneficial manner.
There are two major forms of cholesterol: LDL, the so-called 'bad cholesterol', and HDL, the so-called 'good cholesterol'. HDL is cholesterol packaged in a form designed for transporting cholesterol from the blood stream to the liver, in preparation for excretion from the body. Therefore, HDL cholesterol does not cause a build up of deposits in blood vessels. LDL, on the other hand, is a storage form of cholesterol and causes atherosclerosis or clogging of the arteries.
Until a decade ago or so, doctors used to only measure a patient's cholesterol level. Today physicians know that the overall cholesterol level is not as important as the individual levels of the LDL and HDL components and, most importantly, the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol. The higher the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol, the lesser your risk of a heart attack.
Alcohol plays a significant role in the reduction of coronary heart disease by its effect on the body's handling of cholesterol. Alcohol has been shown to substantially increase HDL levels, mildly decrease LDL levels and, therefore, very favorably affect the HDL to LDL ratio. Researchers have determined that approximately 50% of the effect of alcohol on the reduction of cardiac mortality is mediated through increased levels of HDL which may be the single most important action of alcohol in the prevention of cardiac disease.
Since some epidemiological studies have shown that wine is more cardio-protective than other forms of alcohol, scientists have studied wine to determine whether it has constituents other than alcohol that can function to prevent heart attacks and decrease cardiac mortality.
Wine is a complex, natural product containing over 200 identified organic compounds including vitamins (A, B, and C) and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc). Wine also contains many phenolic compounds, which are complex molecules derived from fruits and vegetables, including grapes. During fermentation, the phenolics found in grapes undergo chemical changes that yield a vast array of compounds which give wine its special aromas and flavors.
Some of wine's phenolic compounds have been shown to be potentially beneficial in that they have powerful antioxidant effects.
Antioxidants are compounds which prevent and reverse the attack of oxygen on body tissues. Although oxygen is essential for life, oxygen can also cause harm by altering the structure of many of the chemicals within our body, making them more reactive and able to cause damage or disease. To combat this never ending process of oxidation, nature has provided us with antioxidants such as vitamins E, A, and C. Vitamin E is thought to be the most powerful natural antioxidant and it is taken as a dietary supplement by many individuals for this very reason.
Recent research at the University of California , Davis , has shown that phenolic compounds in wine may act as antioxidants more powerful even than Vitamin E. The author of the study, Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, states that "wine is one of the best sources of phenolic antioxidants available to Americans".
This is great news, but how do antioxidants help prevent heart attacks?
In 1993, it was shown that the phenolic compounds in wine prevent the oxidation of LDL, the bad cholesterol. When LDL is in an oxidized form, it is most able to damage the arterial wall and cause atherosclerosis. In short, LDL is bad cholesterol, but oxidized LDL is very bad cholesterol. Antioxidants, including the phenolic compounds found in wine, prevent the formation of oxidized LDL and thereby decrease atherosclerosis.
More recently, scientists have learned that the phenolic compounds found in wine also act to prevent clot formation, or thrombosis, the second major culprit responsible for causing heart attacks.
Phenolic compounds decrease thrombosis by several different mechanisms, all of which collectively make clot formation less likely. In a manner similar to aspirin, the phenolic compounds in wine prevent platelets from sticking together, the first and most important step in clot formation.
Wine's phenolic compounds, however, have mechanisms additional to that of aspirin's in preventing thrombosis. They have been shown to decrease the level of fibrinogen, the major blood clot forming protein of the body, and increase the level of tissue plasminogen activator, the major clot disrupting protein of the body. A major advance in the treatment of heart attacks has been to make a synthetic form of tissue plasminogen activator and give it to patients early in the course of a heart attack in hopes of dissolving the clot to re-establish blood flow to the heart.
In addition to decreasing atherosclerosis and thrombosis, wine has the added benefit of a favorable potassium to sodium ratio. It has twice as much potassium as sodium, the reverse ratio found in most foods. High sodium intake can cause hypertension, or high blood pressure, and fluid retention, both which make the heart to work harder and make it more susceptible to failure.
Alcohol, and wine in particular, has been scientifically shown to have many beneficial effects in reducing the chance of a heart attack. These scientific facts have been further substantiated by epidemiological studies as reviewed in the first article of this series. Part 3 of Wine and your Heart , will examine how this information is being put to use to help shape current public policy.
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