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Sun, April 21

Cheers: Glass of wine a day may help keep the doctor away image image

I can still remember the first time I tasted wine. The price was right, the bottle was pretty, and after a glass or two, it tasted pretty darn good. The wine was Boone's Farm and it was 1989.

Fast forward a bit. It was 1993 and my future husband said, "Here, try this homemade Italian wine." So I took a sip and I was immediately stunned by the bold, velvety flavor. So I took another sip, and another, and then before I knew it, I was a bit tipsy! Little did I know that homemade Italian wine has more alcohol content than regular store-bought wine.

So now it's 2010 and I currently have two batches of wine fermenting in my kitchen. In 28 days, I will bottle them into 60 bottles of wine and no, I don't drink all of it myself. Wine is a great gift to give to friends and family. It's a conversation starter, a mood breaker. In fact, the first public miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana, so that tells me wine must be good.

Wine is rich with spirit (drink homemade Italian wine and you'll know what I mean) and when consumed in moderation, has many health benefits.

• Red wine is higher in Phenolic antioxidants that may help decrease your LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise your HDL (good cholesterol).

• May reduce blood clotting.

• According to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a daily glass of wine may increase the blood's level of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.

• You may lower your risk of hip fracture later in life by 20 percent. This is because of the fact that alcohol increases estrogen and other hormones important to strong bones.

• People who drink one glass of wine regularly have half the risk of fatty liver disease compared to tea drinkers, according to researchers from the University of California, San Diego.

• Having a glass of wine on a regular basis may improve your body's sensitivity to insulin, which can help prevent diabetes!

• Resveratrol, which is found in wine, has also been shown to protect against lung cancer.

• Studies supporting red wine suggest antioxidants in red wine, called polyphenols, help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart.

With all these great health benefits, it's extremely important to remember a few things. If you don't drink, don't start. If you do drink, drink in moderation. Drinking in excess of one glass of wine for women or two glasses of wine for men will not increase wine's health benefits. In fact, it may cancel them out completely. Don't drink alcohol if you're pregnant or if you are on medications that may interfere with alcohol, such as Warfarin, or if you have certain health conditions. Alcohol can be addicting so use common sense, people.

I mentioned earlier that I have two batches of wine fermenting in my kitchen. Some of you may be wondering how I make my own wine. Some of you may be wondering if you can buy a bottle of my homemade wine, and then there may be some of you who still drink Boone's Farm and you think I am a wine snob.

To answer the first question, I order all of the equipment and wine-making supplies from a company called E.C. Kraus. It takes about a month from start to finish and then after bottling the wine, you can either drink it or let it age. It's a great hobby that I have enjoyed for two years now.

Now, on to the second question. No, you may not buy wine from me. I do not want the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) at my door.

Thirdly, I am most definitely a wine snob because I drink only my own wine. It's my favorite!



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