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In Vinum Medicine?

The ups and downs of resveratrol are enough to drive mice to drink

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In the narrow field of memorable winery mottos, it's tough to beat Ravenwood's "No Wimpy Wines."

More entertaining is their line of translated variations on the theme, such as, "Nullum vinum flaccidum," in Latin. But my favorite was a winner of Ravenswood's annual employee T-shirt contest for harvest, 2003: "Thanks to resveratrol, Joel can work another harvest!"

he joke was both gently wry—winemaker Joel Peterson, although past master of Zinfandel, is no dotager—and timely. Researchers at Harvard Medical School had just published a study linking resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, to a longer lifespan—for yeast, worms and flies. In 2006, they concluded that fat mice on a rich diet lived longer when dosed with resveratrol. Others found that resveratrol-revved mice were better able to run pointlessly on a treadmill. And who doesn't aspire to more of that?

Naysayers nagged that you'd have to chug dozens of cases of wine to get the same dosage given the mice. The dietary supplements industry sprang to the rescue: as noted in the Bohemian (Jan. 19, 2011), consumers were "spending anywhere from $17 to $44 for 60 capsules of resveratrol."

Then in May, 2014, a long-term study of senior citizens in Chianti, by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, concluded that a high-resveratrol diet had no effect on whether individuals developed life-threatening diseases or not.

Headlines went from "Is Resveratrol the Magic Bullet?" to "Resveratrol Is No Help at All." Depressing narrative? Cheer up—with a glass of wine. Or two. In 2010, another study concluded that people who abstain from drink entirely might end up with shorter lifespans—not only as compared to moderate drinkers, but heavy drinkers as well.

Anybody can tell you, of course, that there's little harm and probably some benefit to a habit of moderate wine consumption—they just won't make headlines. If you're still waiting to be told whether to drink red or white, hedge your bets and go with pink.

So fresh off the vine, it's got to be good for you (I am not a doctor; please consult with your physician and/or sommelier before starting any heavy drinking program), Martin Ray Winery's 2014 Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir ($18) enjoys the palest hue of a pink rose and evokes happy memories of frozen cheesecake and pink bubblegum. Strawberry, bubblegum flavors repeat on the palate, finishing crisp but with a bit of sweet viscosity. Have it with a mild cheese, like Point Reyes toma. Sure, it's a wimpy wine, but we mice don't mind at all.

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