Italy has been known as home to the best wine for centuries now. Every year millions of tourists visit this country for this particular reason – to see what is it with Italian wine that makes it taste so good. Unfortunately for them, once you taste Italian wine, there is no going back – that’s just the effect it makes on people.
Since Italy is home to many well-known wines, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the whole year is full of events connected with wine. For instance, just like Americans have wine auctions (such as the ones from Acker Merrall and Condit), so do Italians. What’s more, often the auctions would take place directly at the winery where the wine in question was produced, and the guests taking part in it have a choice to tour it and see everything for themselves.
However, have you ever wondered why wine is such an important thing in Italy, or whether they drink so much wine has any effect on their health? If you have, then you’re in the right place, as that’s exactly what we will be looking at today.
Wine – More Than Just a Drink
If you think that for Italians, wine is just another drink, like beer or water, you are wrong. Wine is a huge part of the Italian culture and a must-have at a dinner table. The importance of wine in Italy dates back to ancient times and Pliny the Elder, who is sometimes considered the first wine critic. From his work titled ‘Naturalis Historia’ (Natural History) comes the famous saying ‘in vino, veritas,’ or in English – in wine, there is truth.
Italians drink wine all day – it doesn’t really matter what time it is. It is not unusual to go for lunch and see people drinking wine – aside from water, this is the most commonly ordered drink. Fizzy drinks, such as Coca-Cola or Sprite, or juices, are mostly ordered by children.
Each region has its own typical wine – depending on where you are in Italy, it might be red or white. For instance, Tuscany is home to the Chianti region, in which the key grape is Sangiovese, used in the production of red wine.
Wine – Key to Longevity?
‘Vino rosso fa buon sangue’ – say Italians, which literally means ‘red wine makes good blood.’ However, is that really the truth? How does drinking wine impact one’s health? That’s what we will be looking at now.
First of all – does drinking wine really makes you live longer? Well, studies seem to confirm it. In 1965, a group of almost 1600 Italian men went under examination, which included an ECG recording, blood pressure, serum cholesterol measurements, etc. They were observed for 30 years. According to the authors of the study, “during a period of 30 years, 1096 deaths occurred. Age-adjusted life expectancy for men assuming a mean daily quantity of 63 g of alcohol (range 4–7 drinks per day) was 21.6 ± 0.4 years, roughly 2 years more than men taking a mean quantity of 3.7 g (≤1 drink) and men consuming >10 drinks per day.”
However, that’s not the only benefit of drinking wine – there are many, many more, including:
- Rich in antioxidants – darker grapes contain antioxidants such as resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, which are mostly responsible for keeping you in good health.
- Lowers bad cholesterol – a study confirmed that certain wines, such as Rioja, which contains the high-fiber Tempranillo grapes, can lower the levels of body cholesterol in one’s organism.
- Keeps the heart in good health – polyphenols – an antioxidant present in red wines – is known to prevent unwanted clotting, as it keeps the blood vessels flexible.
- Reduces the risk of depression – a study performed on middle-aged and older people discovered that those who drink red wine are less likely to become depressed than those who don’t.
Those are just a few of the things proving that wine has a positive impact on the human body. So, can we say that drinking wine can make someone more healthy? Definitely, and it looks like Italians know it.
The Bottom Line
Wine is more than just a drink for Italians – it’s a very important part of their culture, originating in ancient times. It’s rare to find an Italian person who doesn’t like wine or doesn’t drink it – after all, it is always wine o’clock for natives. If you go to a restaurant for lunch, don’t be surprised at seeing people drink – that’s just their culture.
What’s more, wine helps in keeping you in good health, so if you ever wondered why people in Italy often are 100 years old or older, that might be one of the reasons. Wine makes you live longer, and as it turns out, Italians know it. That’s one more reason to drink it. Cheers!