Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hope I Die Of Alcohol Poisoning Before I Get Old From Resveratrol Deficiency

I've been pronouncing it wrong for months--Resveratrol, the phytoalexin found in grape skins that's been turning rats into triatheletes, has tumbled adolescently from my lips as "uhh.. reservatrol" more times than I'll ever admit. Still, it has always been the straightest arrow in my quiver when summoned to defend my red wine habit against relative teetotalers. Purported benefits are cancer defense, increased athletic prowess, and reduced harm from scarfing fat.

Cheers to Nicholas Wade's article in yesterday's New York Times for setting my pronunciation straight and also for proffering a few more encouraging non-conclusions about why the compound may or may not prolong the lifespans of animals below us on the food chain. Cue nightmares of government scientists bottle-feeding La Tรขche to rhesus monkeys with YOUR TAX DOLLARS.

The concept of red wine as vital elixir has existed between fact and stumbling delusion for a while, and is undoubtedly responsible for at least a few hundred thousand cases of middle and upper-middle class alcoholism. As if the miracle of your head feeling balloon-light and boulder-heavy at the same time didn't already encourage (or force) you to pour the third glass, then finish the bottle, then stare lasciviously at the Macallan on the shelf, the thought of a life-extending tonic coursing through your capillaries makes willpower just a little pathetic.

But try telling that to the well-heeled oenophile who wants to educate himself by tasting Jaboulet La Chappelle next to Henschke Mt. Edelstone and insists leaving either bottle open overnight would be wasteful. Or more realistically, the young couple who follow after-work cocktails with a utilitarian 750ml accompanying their Wednesday evening takeout. Recall the genteel shitstorm that blew through the UK last year when the government railed against "hazardous drinking" among the affluent, with "hazardous" defined as intractably as one "large" glass of wine a day for men, and even less for women.

I will unscientifically conclude that four half-full Riedels every 24 hours will probably kill a person faster than they save him. Beyond that, I would love some straight answers that might help myself and others form consistent habits that balance the happy, fuzzy feelings of booze, the mysterious health benefits trumpeted on the front page of the Paper of Record, and the headaches, sinus-embedded snotwads, and weekday morning dry and not-so-dry heaves that follow too much of a very good thing.

Today's damage:
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale - Molasses color doesn't lie--supremely mouthfilling coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors that are powerful but never overbearing. Elegantly malty.
  • Moet & Chandon White Star NV - Luminous straw color with medium mousse. Tart aroma with a little ginger spice. On the palate, perceptible sweetness frames pear and green apple notes. Vanilla aura characterizes decently long finish. Probably best enjoyed shaken furiously and sprayed into Michael Jordan's face after a three-peat.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Hey JBH:
Here is a high-powered journal article that you might want to site at cocktail parties when discussing the anti-oxidant effects of red wine. :) I am sending you the pdf via personal email.

Harikumar KB, Aggarwal BB, Resveratrol: a multitargeted agent for age-associated chronic diseases. Cell Cycle. 2008 Apr;7(8):1020-35.