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This article is primarily about the connection between wine and health. One of the thrusts of these words will be to destroy the illusion that spirits, beer and wine have the same health effects upon the body. They are similar in that they all contain alcohol, which leads to intoxication. However here the similarity ends. We will demonstrate that wine with meals contributes to a long healthy life. While getting drunk in bars is fun in the short term, it leads to a short unhealthy life.
First let us establish some basic facts about wine. Wine is fermented grape juice unless otherwise specified. Grape is in the genus vitis, but vinifera is nearly the only species used for wine making. Hence the winemaking grape is in the species, vitis vinifera. Grape juice is turned into wine in a totally natural process. Yeast is a microorganism, which is everywhere. It eats sugar and spits out alcohol. This process of turning fruit sugar into alcohol is called fermentation. Natural wines contain 9%>15% alcohol. This is the most alcohol that occurs naturally due to yeast fermentation.
This is as contrasted with liquor or spirits which contain 40% to 75% alcohol due to the distillation process, which extracts the pure alcohol of any fermented liquid, such as either beer or wine, through heating. Natural wine is also contrasted with fortified wines, like ports, sherries, and even dessert wines, which have 15-21% alcohol. With the discovery of distillation, alcohol was added to leftover wine to make port, which became an English favorite, and sherry, which became a Spanish favorite. In each case distilled alcohol has been added to the naturally fermented wine. In a similar way the Japanese add alcohol to rice wine to make sake.
On one level it gives these wines more of a punch - But more importantly alcohol adds to their shelf life. Alcohol is a natural preservative and has been added to medicines for over a hundred years to preserve the active ingredients and to add to the potency of the medicine. As an antiseptic substance it was probably one of the main active ingredients in many of the cough syrups that did and still do exist. Many quality herbs, such as echinacea or ginseng, come in a liquid mixture that is mainly pure grain alcohol. Alcohol preserves the vitality of medicine and wine.
It also adds to the vitality of humans. If it is given to humans in the proper dosage and in the right form it adds to the quality of their shelf life as well, preserving their vitality over a longer period of time. However in order to preserve human vitality, the alcohol must be in the right form and consumed at the right time. In general, as we shall see, alcohol consumed in the form of wine at mealtime is healthy, while alcohol consumed in any form on an empty stomach to get drunk is unhealthy. This is certainly one of the themes of this presentation.