Sipping your way through a glass of cabernet sauvignon wine, you take notice of the body, the tannin and the rich, deep hue.
Wine-drinking can be a pleasurable experience, and a moderate amount of wine consumption (up to one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, two for men) may even be beneficial to your health. So take advantage of the virtues of these fruits of the vine when you’re selecting wines to use for both cooking and imbibing.
Red or white?
No matter what the end use will be, red or white is usually the first question in wine selection. Red wine is the easy answer if you’re looking for potential health benefits: It contains antioxidants and other substances that may reduce your risk of certain cancers and promote heart health.
Resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine that may be the key to wine’s role in good health, is also available in grapes, grape juice, peanuts, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries.
But white wine has its strengths too, because it’s not just antioxidants that may offer health benefits. The alcohol itself could be a boon to your wellbeing. Alcohol may reduce blood-clotting that could lead to a stroke (if you’re a modest–not heavy–drinker).
If you’re a healthy woman without dietary restrictions, you have the enjoyable choice of hundreds of wines, such as a luscious red merlot or a sunny white chardonnay. Your decision may also be based on alcohol content: Will it be a low-alcohol French Vouvray or the higher alcohol sauvignon blanc?
Cooking with wine
Any wine that you enjoy sipping can also have a second life flavoring soups, stews and sauces. As with drinking, you’ll find red wine a good match for meat, and white wine for fish recipes. Best of all, when you cook with wine, you’re not only flavoring a dish–you could be boosting its health profile.
For example, substitute wine for some of the high-sodium broth you use in a stew or braise meat in a combination of wine and broth instead of sautéing it in fat.
If you’re preparing meals for someone who should not have any alcohol, however, adding wine may not be an option. Even though some percentage of alcohol is eliminated during cooking, anywhere from 5 to 45 percent is retained, depending on the cooking method and the length of cooking, according to research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Drinking wine with health restrictions
Despite wine’s health halo, you should be cautious about consuming any kind of wine or other alcoholic beverages if you have certain health restrictions.
Having diabetes, for example, will affect the way you process wine and other forms of alcohol. A glass of wine will initially lower your blood sugar, then raise it.
Try staying hydrated with a zero-calorie beverage, preferably water, while you’re having a glass of wine, or better yet, opting for a wine spritzer and don’t drink on an empty stomach or skip a meal to save calories because you want a glass of wine. Drinking on an empty stomach, especially if you have diabetes, isn’t healthy.
If you’re taking a medication for diabetes, be sure to ask your physician whether it’s OK to drink wine, she adds. Medicines for other conditions may preclude alcohol as well.