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This FREE Wine Education Course Includes: Why Wine? | Wine & Health | Social History | Sensory User's Manual | Grape Growing | Wine Making | Varietal Profiles | Sparkling Wine Wine Information on Reading Labels, Selecting and Buying Wine, Serving and Storing, etc. Taste includes the compiled wine tasting notes from our monthly panel, as well as reports on public tasting events, wherever we attend them, and notices of recurring wine events in Central California. There is also a Food & Wine section with a few wine-friendly recipes. In Aftertaste, see if you agree with our opinions and editorials in Wrath, find our Reading List and pages of Links in Bacchanalia, to discover additional sources of wine information. Contact and sponsor information, short bios of the PfW tasting panel and the stories of PfW's formation and the web site genesis. Return to the starting point.


Why Wine? ...pleasurable, sensual, social, intellectual, and stimulating...

Wine is a pleasant stimulant to four of our five basic senses, as well as to the human spirit. Wine has a nearly limitless variety of flavors. Due to its origin as a product of soil, geography, climate and vintage conditions, grape variety, production technology and aging regimen, it offers more variations and possibilities for sensual appeal than possibly any other stimulus.

Wine is also stimulating to the intellect, since a true understanding of wine and its various aspects involves many areas for study. Although most of the literature about wine has historically come from the wealthy and educated, even the poor and illiterate partake of wine's pleasures; therefore, it is a democratic beverage. The grapevine flourishes in most of the temperate climates of the world and has been cultivated since before the earliest historical records. Wine has a broad commercial scope, involving one of every ten persons on earth in one or more facets, from farming, to production, to distribution, to regulation.

Composed of roughly 85% water, 12% ethyl alcohol, a touch of tartaric, malic and several other acids, wine also contains various sugars and carbohydrates, less common alcohols, aromatic aldehydes, ketones, phenolics, enzymes, pigments, many vitamins, some minerals and other substances yet to be identified. There are in all, over 300 separate components identified in wine so far, more than half of them discovered since 1956, when modern chemistry techniques began to improve.

Most of these elements lend complexity to wine flavors with nearly insignificant nutritional impact, either positively or negatively, on the diet, other than to assist in digestion. There are, however, compounds in wine, specifically catechins, flavonoids, resveratrol and quercetin, which have either prophylactic effects against human diseases or preservative effects on the human body itself (see Wine and Health).

While wine does not contain any fat or cholesterol, it does contain calories from carbohydrates. The actual caloric content, therefore, of any wine depends entirely on its levels of both sugar and alcohol. Each six-ounce glass of dry (12.5% alcohol) wine measures about 150 calories, which is about the same as a pint of beer. A stronger, sweeter wine such as Port (20% alcohol) may pack 250 calories or more in a much smaller three-ounce serving.

The chemical composition of wine makes it a natural accompaniment to many foods, since the mild acidity of wine contrasts with the oily or fatty content of some foods. On the other hand, the carbohydrates, sugars and alcohols in wine tend to complement these elements in other foods. Wine and food may each taste good alone, but the end result of this contrasting and complementing is that most wines and foods taste especially good together.

As with all beverages that contain ethanol, wine is a psychotropic drug. The effects or response vary by individual metabolism and quantity consumed and are somewhat variable, but begin with relaxation and stimulation. This can be positive for the individual and also promote social interaction. It is deceptively easy, however, to indulge beyond the safe measure.

As the quantity of alcohol in the blood increases, its toxic effects become more pronounced. What began as relaxation may become loss of motor control or, in the most extreme and sustained situations, loss of conscious, or death. Initial stimulation can proceed to aggravation or aggression. Drinking any alcohol until drunk is unhealthy for mind and body and a foolish and lazy way to attempt entertainment. Drunkenness can be both painful to the drunk and dangerous to the bystander.

Regardless of age, weight, gender, type or quantity of food accompaniment, or any other mythical reference point or supposed buffer, a six to eight ounce portion of table wine within a four-hour period is the proper serving to avoid overindulgence.

The best way to prevent consuming too much is to consume slowly and to be certain to always accompany with plenty of available water. Moderation is the watchword in order to include wine as part of a healthful lifestyle. In fact, self-discipline may be the most important skill an individual can learn and practice in order to extend life and its pleasures. (see Wine and Health)

Jim LaMar

Using body weight, percentage of beverage alcohol, number of ounces consumed, and time spent to consuming, there is a Blood Alcohol Calculator that can tell when to give up the keys, although it's doubtful this is useful when most needed.





Page created April 3, 1999; last updated August 11, 2017
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