In his latest series, Jamie’s Super Food, Jamie is in Sardinia, visiting a winemaking family’s vineyard and investigating the health claims linked to their local speciality.
CAN WINE BE HEALTHY?
Sardinia is famous for Cannonau wine, which is another name for the Grenache grape. Cannonau contains higher levels of flavonoids (found in the dark grape’s skin) than other wines – and diets high in flavonoids have been found to benefit heart health.
As well as through red wine, you can get the benefits of flavonoids from other dark-skinned ingredients such as red berries or aubergines. Plus, they are found in myrtle leaves, which feature in Sardinian recipes and are used to make a liqueur.
Red wine also contains a compound called resveratrol, which could play a role in protecting against some cancers. But it’s important to remember that excessive alcohol consumption is also linked to other cancers – so we shouldn’t overindulge.
HOW MUCH WINE SHOULD WE DRINK?
As part of the Mediterranean diet, research suggests that a little bit of red wine could help lower cholesterol. The government’s Chief Medical Officer advises people not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer, or six 175ml glasses of wine.
WHAT HAPPENS TO WINE WHEN YOU COOK IT?
The majority of alcohol in wine burns off during the cooking process. The amount that remains in the dish depends on the cooking method and amount of cooking time. A quick flambé may not burn off all the alcohol, whereas a wine reduction sauce will leave very little, if any, alcohol content. Heat and time are key. For instance, slow-cooking a stew for two and a half hours will leave just 5% of the alcohol, while 20 minutes will leave 40%.
Although some traces of alcohol might remain in the recipes below, they won’t be in a quantity that is harmful to children. If you’re cooking for a child under the age of two, leave the alcohol out or replace it with a low-salt stock or unsweetened fruit juice.