Resveratrol May Be Making Headlines, But Why?

Cru Curious: Weekly Wine Column

Wine, I congratulate you: you and your polyphenols are popular enough to fall prey to media sensationalism.

This Tuesday morning, a virtual wine storm erupted, the cause of which was a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. It found that resveratrol, the polyphenol found in red wine and dark chocolate that has garnered much interest for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, might not have the health benefits some were hoping for. The researchers found that there was no correlation between resveratrol and longevity, cancer, heart disease, or inflammation.

Everyone was covering this story, from major news outlets, to medical journals, business journals, wine publications, and bloggers. My heart rate increased as I channel surfed on the treadmill; network after network was weighing in with this news. Anxious, I ran faster, wishing I had a glass of red wine for it’s heart-healthy properties. Then, I was reminded by yet another commentator that it really doesn’t have any. Short of breath, I must have started hallucinating. I imagined newspaper boys circa 1900 running up and down the city streets, singing, “A penny for a paper This ain’t no regular headline! No miracle cure! Resveratrol’s a myth!” Young, waifish women would fall to their knees, hearts heavy with the news.

Wine, I congratulate you. You and your polyphenols are popular enough to fall prey to media sensationalism, and we all know you have to be pretty darn cool for that. Now, you didn’t get the hundreds of thousands of tweets that Jay-Z and Solange earned with their family feud, but boy do you have people talking. The question is why, exactly? I’m pretty sure something important is happening in Nigeria. And Karl Rove is machinating as usual, but then let’s face it; he’s as interesting as a Disney villain.

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I try to live health-consciously, but I don’t get the hype. I drink wine and I eat (a lot of) dark chocolate because I like it. I appreciate it. It makes me happy. I would like what I consume to be good for me; I certainly don’t want it to be bad for me. But, never have I thought, “This glass of Amarone is delicious, I just wish it had a little more resveratrol.” Wine is not a supplement. It’s wine. It’s romantic when opened with a lover. It’s comforting when shared with a group of friends and a good meal. It’s geeky and expansive and easy and not. And now it’s media-hypable.