Saturday 18 November 2017

Wine: Serve yourself a glass of romance

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

With romance in the air in the week ahead, it seems a good time to share a piece of new research: Champagne is good for the heart.

The lucky guinea pigs in a recent study drank half a bottle of champers, made from the classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Smiles all around, I'm sure, but more than that, there were positive effects on their blood vessels.

Researchers were curious about whether the use of red-skinned grapes -- Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier -- in the making of the world's most celebrated bubbly could produce a happy heart benefit similar to that attributed to red wine.

While nothing is proven, the results suggest that, in moderation, Champagne may reduce cardiovascular risk.

Champers and other bubblies tick a lot of boxes for an unforgettable St Valentine's: the sparkle is infectious, they can be a mood-softening pink and are relatively low in alcohol -- Champagne comes in at about 12-12.5pc alc; Prosecco and Cava at about 11pc.

Pair a glass of Champagne with some notable love bites, such as strawberries and oysters, and not a lot else is needed.

For some extra sustenance, partner pink Champagne with smoked salmon.

In still wines, it is easier to find a lower alcohol white than red, but then they tell us red is good for the heart anyway, so splash out on your favourite.

Most famously, a Riesling from Germany's Mosel region is the lowest-alcohol white, starting at about 7.5pc alc.

Other good bets for 12pc alc or below are Australia's lemony Semillon or Spanish Verdejo, a wine that often finds favour with Sauvignon Blanc devotees.

Fortified wine, such as sherry and port, may seem a contradiction in terms in a low alcohol context, but then the measures are small. Aren't they?

For fuss-free nibbles, it's hard to beat the spine-tingling and widely available Tio Pepe Fino sherry with salted almonds.

Still peckish? Keep it Spanish with some Manchego cheese, Serrano ham and olives. And try a glass of port with chocolate, perhaps.

A glorious sweet wine, such as Sauternes or icewine, served well-chilled, will tickle your fancy all on its own.



Irish Independent

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