Raise your glass | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Raise your glass

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports
Peter Arcuri

Have you ever heard the classic toast “Here’s to your health” just before hoisting a drink? We all have, and surprisingly, wine can be good for your health. The consumption of a couple of glasses of wine each day can have a major effect on the cardiovascular system.

In the early 1990s, “60 Minutes” aired a segment called “The French Paradox.” Dr. Serge Renauld asserted that red wines keep the level of heart disease low in France, even with a diet of cheese, butter and cream. His study also showed how the French have a 30 percent reduction in mortality, or in other words, they live longer.

One recent study by the American Medical Association concluded that moderate consumption – two glasses of red wine a day – reduces coronary heart problems 24.7 percent. However, it does not state that eight glasses of wine reduces coronary problems 98.8 percent!

Coronary disease is caused by cholesterol build-up in arteries where the heart cannot receive enough oxygen. The cholesterol that builds up is the low-density lipoprotein LDP that I call “the bad guys.” The high-density cholesterol HDP, “the good guys,” clears this cholesterol. Wine also contains anticoagulant, known as resveratrol, which prevents blood from clotting. According to some, red wine is more beneficial than white wine.

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Additional research has found that wine consumption lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and a study by Spanish scientists stated that wine protects against cerebral and cortical infarction, decreasing the risk of strokes.

This does not mean you should start drinking red wine by the barrel. There is bad news about wine drinking. All wines contain antioxidants, which do not prevent cancer, and may increase the chances of developing cancer of the esophagus and other digestive problems.

The most common reaction to wine is an allergic reaction due to sulfur, which can cause headaches. The serotonin released by phenolics, which originate in grape skins, can start a migraine. How about a hangover? Congeners that are present in wine cause hangovers. Drinking plenty of water and eating while drinking reduces the hammering feeling the next day. Asthmatics are troubled by the sulfites that naturally occur in soils of vineyards and the skins of grapes. Wine has calories, about 110 per glass. Sweeter wines have more sugar and more calories.

Excessive wine drinking can also result in fetal alcohol syndrome in pregnant women. Do not drink and drive – I don’t even putt while drinking. Your liver metabolizes one glass of wine per hour, so take a cab after three glasses in less than three hours.

The message is: If you drink red wine moderately, and get a ride home, you may live to be a ripe old vintage.

Salsa Besciamella or Bechamel Sauce

Here is an easy, fattening sauce recipe sure to clog an artery. Serve sauce over pasta, fish, chicken breast or as a replacement for the tomato sauce in a vegetarian lasagna and wash it down with a light style Chianti.


6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups hot milk

3 tablespoons parmesan cheese


Melt butter in a copper- bottomed pan. Stir in flour and salt. Cook gently for a few minutes without browning, gradually stir in milk. Stir with wooden spoon or whisk until thick, and the raw taste of flour has disappeared. Pour sauce into bowl, and beat lightly, then add parmesan cheese.

– Peter Arcuri is the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s food and wine writer. He can be reached at petervino@aol.com

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