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In Ancient Times: 


Hippocrates 400 years B.C.:
"Wine is something truly marvellous for Man. Both in sickness as well as in health, if we make use of it with good purpose and in its just measure".

There are ancient treatises dedicated exclusively to the therapeutic properties of wine and there is a whole chapter of the "Pharmacopea Matritensis" devoted to its medicinal applications.

The Egyptians used it as an antiseptic.

Today:
There is no doubt about the fact that wine can be considered a healthy drink. The many virtues of wine have been extolled as a real panacea since ancient times. However, most of the beneficial characteristics of wine were considered up until only recently to be purely anecdotal. The vast majority of the research studies undertaken have centred around the antioxidants, the low density lipoproteins (LDL) and cardiovascular well-being.

Of the more than five hundred components which have been discovered in wine, many of these elements have been found to be very important for human nutrition. There is more potassium in wine than in milk, for example, and more calcium, iron and magnesium than in most fruit. As for vitamins, wine contains all the hydro-soluble vitamins in large amounts except for vitamin C, which appears in smaller proportions. Wine contains the eight essential amino acids, which are very abundant in food of an animal origin, but scarce in vegetables.

This highly remarkable nutritional value of the wine is reinforced with other interesting properties: The acidic content of the wine, with a PH which ranges between 2.7 and 3.6, is situated at levels similar to that of the gastric juices, and so a moderate ingestion of wine favours digestion. Alcohol and above all the tannin of the red wines act as efficient and selective bactericides, capable of successfully curing minor infections, including salmonella, at the same time that it respects the bacterial flora of the organism.

In a speech on the diet and eating habits of sportsmen, Dr. Cabeza spoke about the disadvantages of eating a full meal and then drinking juice, water, tea, coffee, milk, etc. Instead, Dr. Cabeza stressed the fact that wine is of great help in the digestion of proteins.

Drinking wine with meals, especially with raw foods, salads, etc., can prove to be an effective weapon for combating the presence of harmful germs. It is considered as an excellent antidote for preventing the spreading of trichinosis. It is also recommended, at warm temperatures, as a remedy for minor diseases of the respiratory system. The recipe for colds is: hot red wine with honey and some chopped up, dried fruits, such as walnuts and almonds.

At present, its beneficial properties are widely recognised throughout the world, as long as it is consumed in moderation, as a tonic in geriatrics and in the depuration of cholesterol in the blood. In fact, this latter application has been contrasted in several studies and the results show that individuals who drink moderate quantities of wine are less likely to have heart problems.

These beneficial effects are due to a substance called "Resveratrol", which is believed to be responsible for a significant decline in the presence of low density lipoproteins in the blood, which are called the "bad cholesterol".

Resveratrol is a substance found in the skin of the grape and so, it is highly abundant in red wines. According to these studies, the protection it affords against cardio-vascular diseases is corroborated when consumption does not exceed more than half a litre of red wine a day. Drinking between half and three quarters of a litre of wine does not provide any greater protection.

In order to control wine consumption, it is important to know that the organism of a normal, healthy man weighing 70 Kg is able to eliminate the equivalent of ¾ of a bottle of wine without difficulty every day, as long as the wine is consumed over an extended period of time. Hormonal differences situate a woman's capacity at approximately half a litre.

We know that water interferes in the dissolution of salts such as magnesium in the intestines, which is also important for the assimilation of proteins.

Louis Pasteur culminated his studies on wine by saying: "Wine is the best and most hygienic of the beverages consumed in moderation".

 

 

Bibliography and references:
Bruce W. Zoecklein - Virginia Polytechnic Institute State University, Blacksburg 
Fitzpatrick - 1993
Frankel - 1993 
Gurr - 1992 
Kinsella - 1992 
Muller y Fugelsang - 1993 
Sharp - 1993 
Troup - 1994 
Waterhouse y Frankel - 1993 
Monografía Vinos de Madrid (Monograph on the Wines of Madrid - Consejo Regulador D.O. Vinos de Madrid - Regulating Board of the Wines C.O. of Madrid)

 

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