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Delhi Wine Club
Blog: Taking Red Wine with a Pinch of Salt

Posted: Thursday, 07 July 2016 15:13


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Blog: Taking Red Wine with a Pinch of Salt

July 07: It is fairly well established through various studies during the last 4 decades now that red wine is healthy for heart health, and several journalists have gotten on the gravy train writing about Resveratrol, Flavonoids and the anti-oxidants that are good for heart health, but in their enthusiasm they have started going overboard in singing paeans for it while going slow on Moderation as the Mantra when it is actually harmful for many cancers in any proportion and especially breast cancer, and this enthusiasm needs to be checked in the novice journalists who ought to know how to hold their wine

When I founded the Delhi Wine Club in 2002 there was only one other club. I was so keen to see 100 clubs and a 100 wine writers in 10 years if we wanted to proliferate the wine culture in India. Although there has not been much increase in the wine clubs in Delhi  (barring a sprinkling of small, local clubs there has been no increase in the number in Delhi NCR-only two have stood the test of time. Delhi Wine Club has had 258 wine dinners so far, I am not sure of the other one). But the number of wine writers, journalists and bloggers did proliferate and might even be over a hundred, if you count everyone who has penned at least one Article online or media.

The problem with errors and blunders by many of the newbie journos  continues to be erroneous reporting, due to their ignorance or  lack of knowledge . At times there are ‘criminal’  and unacceptable errors in reporting that are far and contrary to the truth.

Reshmi Dasgupta who is a journalist with ET is well travelled and well heeled in wines culture and used to be a regular writer in Times of India and even ET. She has more or less quit on the wine front. She says with disdain, ‘where is the need to write when every Tom, Dick and Harry has started writing about wine? ‘She is right of course. When I started writing about wine out of sheer passion in 2002 (imagine an IIT graduate in Electrical Engineering writing about wine at the time when there was hardly anyone writing about wine besides her!) and wrote a weekly column in Hindustan Times, I knew we needed to encourage newspapers and magazines to write about wine. But as we started expanding in the wine writing arena, the errors have kept pace with the number of writers and bloggers.

There is a lot of erroneous information in every aspect of writing. This is natural in the internet –Google on any information and you will find endless inaccuracies and you must filter your information. But serious errors need t be censured, especially if they are health related or factually incorrect. Many such errors that I notice (I am also prone to such errors and in fact, in our website, where we do not make any change in the copy once delWine goes out, we do allow change if there has been an error in reporting facts, or acknowledge it in the Comment column.

But errors in print media cannot be corrected once the issue is out. Thanks to the reckless reporting they go unchecked under the noses of the newspaper/magazine s, this can cause damage to the reputation  of the wine producer, restaurant or bar – or where wine is the  protagonist. Recently, I was at a Sula Tasting where a couple of young journalists represented different Dailies. Sula is the top producer and conducts around 2000 tastings every year since its inception (surely the number has increased gradually to this annual level during the recent years!). Several tastings are conducted regularly at various forums-in fact they have a full time trainer employed and must have conducted hundreds of such tastings in Delhi alone. I was shocked to read his report that said explicitly that  Sula had conducted 2000 tastings in India and  it was time they had their first tasting in Delhi. For that reporter, yes! But it was the wrong facts regarding health. 

Tooth enamel

‘Want to possess a set of perfectly white teeth that would be your friends’ envy?  Try red wine which will harden your enamel and in turn prevent tooth decay and bacterial growth. Polyphenols, a substance found in red wine prevents inflammation and diseases of the gum.’ No reliable studies have been done regarding wine and dental health. In private many dentists have confirmed that the acid in the wine is harmful for the enamel and one must be more particular about dental hygiene after wine tasting

Wine and Cancer

I particularly take umbrage to the misrepresented ‘fact “that ‘ moderate consumption greatly lowers the risk of breast cancer in women and bowel tumours in general. Quercetin, another chemical substance present in red wine keeps lung cancer at bay.’ Not only is the statement is not true depiction of reality but the contrary is true, according to most studies.

I had twice attended the ‘Heart Health Summit’ in Napa Valley in 2003 and 2005. I also met twice in these conventions, late Dr. Serge Renaud who became famous with his Study that explained that it was because of regular consumption of red wine that people in South France had good health despite poor eating habits. Along with Dr. Ellison he talked about the benefits of red wine at the world-famous TV programme in 1990.

I also met Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, Professor & Chairman, Public Health and Epidemiology, Boston University, who has been involved with similar studies and together they ‘convinced’ the world about the heart health benefits of red wine in moderation. I met several heart specialists from the USA and overseas, who all seemed to be in unison about the heart health improvement with wine drinking in moderation.

Cancer Risk higher with Wine or Alcohol

The one apprehension expressed at these conferences and subsequent studies seem to confirm that even one glass of red wine for women increases the risk of breast cancer by 10% and rises exponentially with more glasses. Therefore, women are advised to take follates regularly if they drink more than one glass of wine. In my correspondence with Dr. Erikson he said that this risk is marginal and can be neutralised by taking the folic acid pills regularly. I advise my women subscribers to be careful while imbibing wine or any alcohol (it’s the alcohol that’s the culprit and hence both wine and liquor are equally the culprits). The fact was further elaborated by the Alcohol Forum in 2010

However, to say that ‘moderate consumption greatly lowers the risk of breast cancer in women’ is irresponsible and deplorable at best and liable to prosecution for wrong medical advice at worst. We don’t need to be so positive for wine where women drink wine to reduce the chance of occurrence of breast cancer and in the process, increase the risk of breast cancer or any other form proportionately.

It’s not important to refer to the Article which is otherwise well written but contents may not be fully authentic. Perhaps the newspapers should appoint wine knowledgeable people to act as mentors or give a cursory glance before sending it to the Press. But then we are not living in  perfect world, are we! 

For earlier article please click

Wine & Heart Health Summit to Open on Feb. 14 at Napa

Subhash Arora

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