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Why Drink Wine?

picnic wine

Wine has been around almost as long as humans have harvested crops. It's mentioned in the Bible, been talked about by Confucius, and was discussed by ancient Greek philosophers, who wrote things like, "No poem was ever written by a drinker of water" (Homer) or, "It warms the blood, adds luster to the eyes, And wine and love have ever been allies" (Ovid). The Egyptians recorded information about their grape harvest in hieroglyphs and buried bottles of wine with their pharaohs. Whether it was as a show of wealth, a way of softening business deals, or used in religious ceremonies and celebrations, wine has always been important in our history.

People enjoy drinking wine alone, with a partner, or in wider social settings, and wine has also been shown to have numerous health benefits. In the United States, more and more people are drinking wine over other beverages, including beer.

Wine is Now as Ubiquitous as Beer

In 2013, a Gallup poll showed wine and beer statistically tied in being the number one preference of Americans. Studies have shown that the younger generation (21- to 34-year-olds) sees wine as a good pick for casual occasions and that more women are switching over to wine. Over 324 million cases of wine were consumed in the US in 2012, a number that has been slowly increasing year over year.

Health Benefits

Many studies have linked drinking wine to health benefits. Some possible ways that wine can be good for you:

  • Red wine contains resveratrol, which has been causing a buzz in scientific circles as it's shown some very good benefits in initial testing. It's been shown to decrease "bad" cholesterol numbers, to possibly help prevent Alzheimer's disease by protecting nerve cells, and helps fight against diabetes by preventing insulin resistance.
  • It is heart healthy, reducing heart attack risk and the risk of heart disease.
  • In 2013, a study came out that showed a correlation to people drinking regularly and a decrease in the risk of developing depression.
  • Red wine has been known to reduce the risk of certain cancers, notably breast and colon cancer.
  • White wine can increase lung function.
  • Wine triggers the body to produce Omega-3 fatty acids, usually found in things like fish or something like flaxseed oil. Omega-3 is necessary for a healthy body, particularly in developing the brain, eyes, and nerves. Studies have shown that it may have deeper health benefits for those with arthritis, working as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Harvard Medical researchers have shown that red wine has anti-aging properties.
  • Wine can reduce the damage done to skin by UV light.
  • Red wine appears to raise enzyme levels in the brain, which can protect the brain from damage during a stroke.

Why Do People Drink Wine?

wine with cheese.jpg

There are many reasons people drink wine. People who are well traveled might like to visit their memories of different countries with wine vintages from the area. Or you can take an imaginary trip around the globe, sampling wine from Italy, Spain, Germany, South Africa, or Tasmania. Decide to focus on the United States and drink and compare wines from Napa Valley in California, Woodinville in Washington, St. Augustine in Florida, or Erie in Pennsylvania.

Some people love the sensory lures of wine, the bottles with their interesting labels, the differently shaped wine glasses and the feel of the glass or crystal stem in their hand, savoring the smell and the taste, and how the wine tastes when paired with different food.

For others it's the ritual. The relaxation of setting down with a nice bottle of wine and watching the stars, or sitting in front of a fire and getting into a good book. Others enjoy social drinking, gathering with friends and family on special occasions or the holidays, or maybe just at a mid-week get together. Many people who enjoy wine like attending or throwing tasting parties, trying out new wines while enjoying good company.

Wine has always been romantic, and what better way to remember a anniversary or special date than to treat a loved one or spouse to a good vintage? Sharing a bottle of wine is also a great way to get acquainted on a first date.

If You Want to Start a Wine Collection

Things to note if you want to start collecting wine:
  • Keep your wine cool. Temperatures of hotter than 70°F age a wine quickly and can "cook" your wine, changing the intended flavor of the wine. Keeping wines in a refrigerator too long is also bad, since the average temperature will dip below 45°F, which could dry out the cork and let air into the bottle.
  • Most wines are sold to be drunk quickly, within a few months or a few years. If you want to age your wine, make sure you buy the right type and have a good cellar or closet to set your wine in for many years that it needs to ripen and that you carefully read through guides on how to correctly age your vintages.
  • Choose what you want to drink. If you are interested in a diverse experience there are many lists and guides online, but don't feel that you need to spend hundreds of dollars or try wines of types that you already know that you don't prefer.
  • Make note of wine pairing recommendations. Sometimes a slice of crisp fruit or a bit of cheese can really enhance the experience.
  • Different wines have different ideal storage temperatures and also different ideal serving temperatures. For instance, red wines are served (and stored) at higher temperatures that a light sparkling wine.

How to Store Wine

We've already mentioned that wine needs to be chilled, but not too chilled. People who have a single storage area for wines default to 55°F as a good medium, although red wine is ideally stored at 50-64°F and white wine at 40-50°F. Dual zone wine coolers have separate areas for wine, and can cool both depending on where the wine is positioned.

Things that can damage your wine:

  • UV light, which can degrade and prematurely age wine (which is one reason why many wines come in dark or tinted bottles)
  • Vibrations, which can disturb sediments in older wines or cause newer wines to age too quickly
  • Uneven temperature
  • Dried out corks
  • Being near other foods with strong smells, which will be absorbed by the wine and the cork
  • Fruits and vegetables that can rot, which could cause a moldy flavoring to the wine through the cork

Wine Coolers Make Things Easy

wine cooler edited

If it's a little too much to keep track of everything you need to keep your wine at its best, or if you don't have a dry and cool area to store your wine that won't have temperature variations through the seasons, or if you want your wine to make a nice display for your enjoyment or to have easy access to, consider a wine cooler.

There are two types of cooling methods for wine coolers, a compressor cooler (just like your fridge) or a thermoelectric cooler. While thermoelectric wine coolers can be cheaper in energy use, they have weaker cooling power and can only keep wine at 20°F below the ambient temperature of where it is stored. Compressor coolers are much better at handling variations in room temperature and are better at cooling larger amounts of bottles as well.

Higher end models come with dual chambers for white and red wines, have adjustable racks depending on the types of wine that you store, and come with things that dampen vibrations and UV light.

There are both standalone versions and built-in types that can go under your cabinets, or you could look at one like the NewAir AWR-460DB 46 Bottle Dual Zone Compressor Wine Cooler that can do both. It has the added benefit of having LED lights that light up your bottles, which looks nice and emits very low heat while allowing you to easily read your wine labels. It comes with a lock, for added security if you tend to have lots of parties or have open houses, and wooden racks that protect your wine from vibrations of music or outside traffic.

So figure out around how many bottles you want to store, measure out some space for a nice wine cooler, and find something that is reliable and that complements your decor and shows off your bottles, and remember to have fun while exploring different tastes from around the world, whether alone, sharing a bottle with a loved one, or throwing a party.