Despite having taken a class on wine while at Cornell (it came complete with “Cornell Wine Expert Glasses” and a textbook, “Wine for Dummies”), and being in a five-year relationship with someone who not only collects wine, but whose parents actually have a vineyard in Napa, I’m pretty clueless when it comes to wine. I know that champagne makes a fantastic aperitif; white wines typically pair well with fish; when ordering steak, it’s best to go with a red. For a little more specific insight, I attended an event hosted by Food Network Chef Anne Burrell and Winemaker Karl Wente.
Held at The Kitchen NYC, the event was in celebration of the launch of a new wine collection from Food Network and Wente Vineyards called entwine. The initial line just launched this week with a 2009 vintage of four varietals: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, retailing for $12.99 each. Given that Food Network was involved each varietal is fittingly presented via the language of food, and each showcases suggested pairings on the back label.
The cool thing about the line is that it’s completely unpretentious. Off-the-shelf staples like potato chips and salami along with dishes like grilled pork and shellfish are recommended, making it fitting that laid-back chef Anne Burrell (decked out in her signature spiked hair and a faux Pucci dress) was on hand to unveil the line.
So what pairs with what?
- Pinot Grigio goes best with salty cheeses, guacamole, Asian takeout, tropical fruit, white fish, and ham.
- Merlot goes best with salami, mac and cheese, pizza, tomato sauce, and grilled pork.
- Chardonnay goes best with potato chips, grilled cheese, goat cheese, sandwiches, cream sauces, shellfish, and roast chicken.
- Cabernet Sauvignon goes best with cheese straws, steak and potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms, roasted carrots, burgers and blue cheese, and creamed vegetables.
The good news is that as most of us know by now drinking wine in moderation has a host of health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and decreasing the risk of developing gallstones — but it also has beauty benefits.
Wine contains a chemical compound called resveratrol (also found in grape juice, peanuts and certain berries), and recent research has shown that the compound has anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. While resveratrol is present in all wines, red wine has a higher concentration because of the way it’s produced.
That’s not all: a recent report from the University of Barcelona and the Spanish National Research Council showed that the flavonoids in grapes may stop the dangerous chemical reaction that can damage skin cells and lead to skin cancer when skin is exposed to the sun. The researchers speculate that eating grapes and drinking wine can provide some level of sun protection and they point out that many people in the Mediterranean region, where skin cancer rates are low and wine consumption is higher, have tan, sun-kissed skin.
That said, it’s important to remember that the benefits from drinking wine are only seen in those who drink wine in moderation, which for most women means one glass a day. Drinking too much alcohol comes with a slew of problems, including an increased risk of breast cancer. So pair and drink wisely!
Those who find no appeal in wine can still benefit from its anti-aging properties. Grapeseed extract is used in a slew of skincare products, most notably Caudalie, which is based entirely on grapes.