Notes for the Road: Walk Georgia Blog

Toast to Your Health

Wine in glasses

Wine, healthy? Believe it or not, wine is full of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect our bodies from oxidative damage and free radicals that can cause us to age quickly or become ill.

If you already drink alcohol, wine in moderation may be a good beverage choice. However, if you do not drink alcohol, it is not a good idea to start. No one can predict who may tend to abuse alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol is definitely not healthy and can reverse any benefits you may get from drinking alcohol in moderation.

What is moderation? For women, it is one drink per day or less, and for men, two drinks a day.

Health benefits
Much of the research about wine’s health benefits has focused on the chemical resveratrol, which is an antioxidant in red wine. Resveratrol helps lower inflammation and prevent blood clots. It also interferes with cancer cell growth and possibly lessens some diabetes symptoms. Other types of alcohol, including beer, liquor and white wine, have been linked to similar benefits.

Growing wine
Wines are made from grapes (and other fruits including blueberry, apple and peach) grown worldwide. The type of grapes used depend on the varieties that grow best in a given location. In Georgia, wines are commonly made from muscadine, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay grapes.

Grapes are harvested in the fall after the sugars have had a chance to concentrate over the summer. Grapes are smashed, barreled and aged in a cooled area to enhance the flavor. Sometimes different grapes are mixed together to make unique blends. These wines are referred to as varietals.

When serving wines, white wines should be chilled. Red wines are typically served at room temperature. About an hour before serving, uncork red wines to allow them to breathe, which opens up the flavors of the wine. Certain wines are paired with certain foods to bring out the flavors in both. It is fun to experiment with different foods and wines to discover which tastes you like.

Fun wine facts

  • When grapes change color and are ready to be picked, the color change is referred to as veraison.
  • Ice wine is a very sweet, very expensive dessert wine. To make it, grapes are picked early in the morning after the first frost and crushed while still frozen. The ultra-concentrated sugars give the wine its natural sweetness.
  • Georgia has more than 30 vineyards, according togeorgiawinecountry.com. Oregon has 200, and California has over 1,000.

End of Summer Sangria

Summer Sangria

While the weather is still warm, enjoy this drink on your deck, balcony or porch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 to 2 citrus fruit, cut into wedges (lemon, lime or orange)
  • 5 to 10 fresh strawberries, sliced (or 1 peach, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened lime juice
  • 2 cups ginger ale or club soda
  • 1 shot gin, brandy or rum (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a pitcher, squeeze the juice from the citrus fruit into the wine.
  2. Add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the ginger ale or club soda.
  3. Let chill in refrigerator overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, add ginger ale or club soda.
  5. To serve immediately after making, pre-chill the wine, and put ice in glasses before pouring.

Serves 8

Nutrition Analysis (per serving when made without added liquor and with club soda):
Calories: 109, Carbohydrates: 10 grams, Protein: less than 1 gram, Total Fat: less than 1 gram, Sodium: 13 milligrams, Fiber: less than 1 gram

Note: For fun try adding kiwi, raspberries or blackberries. You can also substitute white wine for the red wine to have white sangria. Be creative.