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Ask the Farmer - Wine & Your Weight

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                               Ask the Farmer

Today we have John Salisbury from Salisbury Vineyards who  farms wine grapes in the cool coastal region of San Luis Obispo answering a wine related question from a Winery Advisor member.

Question: I am gaining weight and my girlfriend says it's because I  enjoy good wine with our meals. I tell her she is nuts and that wine consumption does not add that many extra calories. Am I wrong? Is my girlfriend right (agian).




Answer:   "Doggonit, I am gaining weight. It must be the wine” Well, actually you can drink wine, gain all the health benefits, and not necessarily gain weight. Wine has no fat, cholesterol, sodium, and it is low in carbohydrates. There have been many studies showing that drinking a couple of glasses a day shouldn’t cause you to gain weight.
Although wine is listed as a food, it isn’t treated by the body as food and is processed by the liver, not the stomach, which removes it quickly as a diuretic from the body’s system. Very little wine converts into fat, and the rest becomes relatively mild acetate and is absorbed into the blood stream. The average number of calories in a 4 oz. glass of the more popular wines is around 95 calories (1 – 2 carb grams). The sweeter the wine, the more calories (Port is about 170). Compare this to a Gin & Tonic at 200 calories, beer at around 200 calories and more with darker colors, and some frozen fruit cocktails up to 800 calories (Margarita – 275). So one to two of glasses of wine a day, knock off a daily soda pop, or a dessert, and the numbers should balance out. This said––you do not want to skip a few meals before a night on the town. Dropping blood sucrose levels tell your brain you are hungry and may cause you to start eating too much of probably the wrong thing (rich appetizers, etc.) and negate any leveling of your calorie count. Instead of chips with guacamole, order veggies.
Women surprisingly metabolize alcohol differently than men and the calories in the wine tend to burn off quicker for them. A study done by Harvard followed 138,000 men and women over 10 years and found that increasing their alcohol intake caused no corresponding weight gain. In fact, strangely enough, the women as a whole lost 15% of their weight (Lucky them!) and the men stayed the same.

You don’t hear about “wine belly” like you do “beer belly” and one of the reasons may be that moderate wine drinkers, as a group, tend to exercise more and consume a good diet. So dropping some unhealthy foods and having a glass of wine happens to fit right into the healthier lifestyle of wine drinkers.
A while back, there was a move by some wineries to put low-carbs on their label and list the calories in a bottle. Well, all dry wines have low carbs so this was just a ploy by some to gain a marketing edge. Some new yeast techniques were used in the wine-making process to cut a few calories, but it just ended up with some washed out wines.
Moderate wine drinking only adds up to around 6% of the recommended daily calorie intake so that leaves plenty of room for the rest of the food consumed in a day. It all boils down to moderation, and the choices of what and how much you drink and eat if you want to stay fit and healthy.
On other news, an interesting thing has happened in our wine tasting lineup – Rose. I have never been a big fan of pink wines but our 2006 Rosea di Pinot made by Signe Zoller is great and has been jumping out of the tasting room–– and it is not even summer yet! We sold as much Rosea in April as we did our popular Chardonnay.
United States sales of Rose surged over 53% last year. It grew 8 times faster by value and 17 times faster by volume than total wine sales. At least 75% of it is imported but domestic sales are increasing as our wineries are getting on the band wagon and gearing up for this “Summer of Rose”. The cities that had the most increases in growth were Miami (89%), Seattle (86%), New York City (75%), and surprisingly San Francisco with a 40% jump in sales. These cities are trend setters so it could be interesting.
On the farming front, the statewide wine crop got hit by a very cool, dry spring that caused some frost damage throughout the State. We got a touch of it on the east end
of our Pinot Naturale field, but we probably only lost around 40 cases at best. Vines are OK but not much fruit. Without frost control, we are at the mercy of the weather after bud break. Our biggest worry is the flat Maridel Pinot Noir block next to See Canyon Creek because cold flows like water which isn’t a big problem on the hillsides. But where it can pool up in a low spot is where you can get burned. Therefore, on that block, we keep it clean of grasses (no soil runoff problems there) in the spring so that the dark soil can absorb the heat from the sun and release it throughout the night, warming the vineyard, the few degrees it needs to be safe. “If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner, and take a light claret (dry red table wine) instead of a pale ale.” Henry Leigh, Carols of Cocayne, “On Corpulence”.

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