I’ll never forget that cheery day, years ago, when new customers entered the tasting room. I was fresh off reading The French Paradox and couldn’t wait to share all that I’d learned. The couple stepped up to a bar, and we began to talk about wine. We got into it so much that I easily brought up the French Paradox. The couple became eager to also read about how the French can consume so much cheese and yet not suffer from heart disease… the killer that’s so rampant in America’s health care system. (And, right now Americans are in a bit of a bind on health care. You wouldn’t see the French scrambling online for a cheap health plan. C’est la vie, n’est ce pas?)

All was well, they bought a good amount of wine; because the wines were good, I had been friendly and helpful, and they wanted to savor the moments when they returned home. I was pleased, because I had successful done my job… I thought.

From the back room I heard the stern words, “Jo, would you come in here?” from the tasting room manager.

I walked into the back room, and was met with a finger pointing right into my face, “Don’t you EVER talk about wine and health EVER again.”

“Jeeze, Louise,” I thought to myself. No further explanation, no further discussion… Just “Don’t you ever dare to do that again…”

“Okay, Lady,” I thought to myself, and now was expected to go back to being cheery again. Shaken and stirred, I returned to my job.

Thank God times have changed and we’re so past that one. That was back in the 1990s, and isn’t it fabulous that not only can I talk about this openly now with no reprisals, but also everyone else can. It’s no longer taboo to be able to associate what we eat and drink with our health. In fact, it’s imperative that we do connect those dots for better quality of life.

Recently, the new study by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that moderate alcohol consumption is one of four healthy lifestyle behaviors that help people live longer, and has become the buzz.

According to the CDC, the four lifestyle behaviors were: having never smoked, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and moderate alcohol consumption. Each was “significantly associated with a reduced risk of mortality.”

The CDC researchers concluded that these low-risk lifestyle behaviors, “exert a powerful and beneficial effect on mortality.”

This study adds to the mounting evidence of the substantial gain in life associated with healthy behaviors, and underscores the need for the clinical and public health communities to work together to promote greater adoption of these behaviors.

I was recently queried by Nan Gibbons (right), a personal trainer, nutritionist, and fitness advisor. She wanted to know if she could contribute to Wine-blog with an article about wine and health. For me, it’s so lovely that I’m seen as someone who would advocate for this, versus the days of being the “radical one.” I know my manager was concerned about someone coming along and suing the winery over something I had said… Like talking about wine and health to someone, who two weeks later had a heart attack then came back to blame it on the winery. That’s what it was all about back then. Today, it’s a positive buzz…

From Nan Gibbons:

Wine & Health: Myths & Facts

As a licensed nutritionist, personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur, I would love a nickel for every time I’ve heard the question: “I heard wine is good for me? Is it true?”

Even a penny would suffice.

I’ve had countless clients, family members, and friends ask me if the rumors are true–can wine really improve overall health?

There’s no definite answer, as the response differs for each person. To find out if wine could offer health benefits for you, let’s take a look at these common myths about wine consumption and speak with your doctor about whether or not it’s a good option.

Myth: Drinking Wine Will Make Me Healthy

Fact: Moderate Wine Consumption Can Improve Health

Going out for five or more drinks every weekend is not making you any healthier. However, moderate drinking can improve health. I’ll later define moderate drinking, but for now, let’s focus on the possible health benefits of alcohol.

Red wine contains antioxidants that can be great for raising good cholesterol levels (HDL) and keeping your arteries clean and clear. Resveratrol, polyphenols and flavonoids, are three of the types of antioxidants in wine that reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and help guard against blood clots, both of which are common causes of heart disease.

Myth: I Can Drink All The Wine I Want For Heart Health

Fact: A 5 oz. Glass May Improve Heart Health

Again, drinking six long island iced teas with your friends every weekend isn’t doing you any favors, in any way.

The key to reaping the health benefits alcohol has to offer is to drink in moderation. But, many people don’t know how much is too much and how moderation is truly defined.

Firstly, the definition of a moderate drink depends on the type of liquor. The standard rules for drinking in moderation are 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (typically defined as 80-proof). Women should consume one drink daily and men should have no more than two, due to differing average weights and metabolizing capabilities.

The long island iced tea that left you buzzed before the glass was half empty probably contained double the amount of a moderate drink.

Furthermore, alcohol and wine specifically are not guaranteed to improve your health. If you are able to drink alcohol, it might not hurt to drink in moderation daily, but don’t expect a cardiovascular miracle.

Myth: Alcohol Is Good For Me

Fact: One Drink A Day Presents Possible Health Benefits

Alcohol in and of itself is not good for you, especially in excess. Moderate Drinking, as defined above poses possible health benefits in the long run, but requires discipline and works best with diet and exercise.

Further, medical doctors and health associations do not suggest that you start drinking as a preventative measure against heart disease and certainly not to cure a per-existing condition. Excess consumption of alcohol increases your risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, obesity and types of cancer.

Myth: Red Wine is the Healthiest

Fact: More Research is Required to Determine That Red Wine Is The Best Option

Red wine is generally thought to be the healthiest option, but the research has not yet been set in stone and fully verified on humans. Red and white wines as well as beer and hard alcohol all pose the same benefits when used correctly and in a controlled manner.


When combined with diet and exercise moderate consumption of red wine or other types of alcohol can possibly improve heart health, raise good cholesterol levels and help prevent obesity, types of cancer, or diabetes.

Moderation is the key, as excessive alcohol drinking can adversely affect health. To find out more information, ask your doctor if wine could be helpful for your per-existing health habits.

And right now Americans are in a bit of a bind on health care. You wouldn’t see the French scrambling online for a cheap health plan.