Wine Flour, Vine Power
By Freya Erickson , Justbaking.net - November 28, 2006
The French are charmingly smug about their devotion to red wine, Gitanes and food cooked in goose fat. A study of 34,000 Frenchmen, conducted in 1997, indicated that a glass or two of red wine each day reduced mortality rates by a startling 30%. This is despite heavy consumption of saturated fats, stressful working conditions, smoking, etc.
First noted by physicians as early as 1819, this is called the French Paradox: people who lead a seemingly unhealthy lifestyle living well into their 80's and 90's.
A startling investigation carried out by the British Heart Foundation in 1992 shows that in spite of the French consuming over four times as much butter, 60% more cheese and 3 times as much pork as their American counterparts, the rate of heart disease among the French was only 83 per 100,000 compared to 230 per 100,000 in the US.
Red Wine contains Resveratrol, which can reduce Cardiovascular Disease and other heart ailments that cause stress on the body, although in such minute dilutions that the human body shouldn't really benefit from it at all. However, if the studies are correct - and the longevity of the French, and to a lesser extent, the Italians, who also enjoy a glass or two, seems to be ongoing proof of this - the consumption of red wine in particular provides a number of health benefits including anti-cancer, anti-aging and anti-viral. Current reports suggest that it might be particularly beneficial with the fight against Alzheimer's Disease and HIV.
It is no wonder then, that when these findings were released to the general public in the 1990's that sales of wine increased notably.
However, whilst the French has pulled off this medical paradox for years, probably centuries, it is not advisable to counter the obvious health risks of smoking or eating fat-laden foods by drinking extra gallons of wine. A daily intake of more than two glasses of wine can increase the risk of Cirrhosis (a degenerative disease of the liver exacerbated by a large consumption of alcohol and the main cause of death in chronic alcoholics) and cancer of the mouth/respiratory system, therefore, of course, removing any health benefits that it initially offers.
This is all very well, but how can you gain from these obvious health benefits if you are unable to drink wine? You may be teetotal because of religious abstinence or for other reasons; you or your children might be underage or maybe you just don't like the taste.
A Canadian company called Vinifera For Life has produced a cunning product that promises to give you all the benefits of Resveratrol found in grapes but without the alcohol intake: flour, or (the company themselves seem a little unsure as to what is actually is yet) a powder that is used in small quantities in home baking or pasta.
The flour is make from what is left of the grape after it has been discarded following the wine making process, more astutely known as the pomace. It is a proven fact that, as with most fruits and vegetables in nature, that the main nutrients are found in the skin and the grape is no different. The pomace is put through a drying, sifting and grinding process to produce the flour which is added to normal flour to produce a deep purple coloured, more flavourful bread or, apparently, a lighter pasta. It certainly seems to me that if you were to serve violet coloured pasta or bread to children, they would eat it with gusto, because children seem to enjoy lurid coloured foods, plus they would be benefiting from the high levels or Resveratrol, thus theoretically ensuring them a good start in life.
Vinifera For Life have a number of recipes on their site using their flour: Focaccia (where approximately a tenth of the regular flour is replaced with the wine flour), Pasta (where is replaces a quarter of the regular flour) and even a wine-scented frozen yogurt.
According to CK Foods Website, currently one of the few distributors of this highly specialized flour, you can also incorporate it into cheese-making and bring in a variety of 'noses,' Chardonnay, Cabernet and Icewine. The selling point is that you could serve a Chardonnay Baguette with Cabernet Pasta for supper, and in addition to impressing your guests, be gaining all the benefits of wine without over-extending any potential health risks.
Wine Flour is only available in Canada at the moment but it does seem to hold great promise. Vinifera For Life is planning on introducing this into the US and more pertinently into Europe where wine consumption is prevalent and, depending on certain factors (cost and taste are two that spring to mind), this could be the new wonder health product of the millennium.
And no hangover in the morning either!
Funding for this project was provided in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Adaptation Council's CanAdvance Program.