You don’t have to be a sommelier to understand the many aspects of wine. It has been cherished for its many characteristics and uses throughout human history, and the origin of wine may even reach far and beyond the archaeological record.
For those that enjoy its flavor, it may be drunk as an aperitif paired with light snacks for the preparation of a meal. It may also be consumed alongside the meal as an accouterment or perhaps to rival the flavor of a bold entree. Or a relaxing addition to a quiet night on the couch watching a movie, maybe even dreaming of the sights and wonders of touring the Vatican.
Though wine may be revered, its complexity ranges past the tongue and taste buds to a variety of common uses. The microbiology, alcohol, and chemical make-up of wine are flexible to use and can be administered towards a variety of applications in the home, aside from its function as a popular beverage.
Cooking or baking with wine is another way to appreciate the tender qualities of supple or bold flavor that can be achieved. Cooking with wine transforms food. Consider the interaction between alcohol and other ingredients. Or the effects that heat have on the reduction and concentration of sugars and acids, or the application of heat on the bouquet. Wine is often recommended for deglazing for its ability to dissolve both oil and water compounds. Its acid can also help with the texture of dishes, such as with heavy cheese or dairy sauces, by the tartaric acid binding with the calcium of the dairy to prevent coagulation. It is important to note that while cooking with wine will often evaporate much of the alcohol, there will always be roughly 5% remaining.
Wine can often enhance a sauce, marinade or stew. It can bring out the authentic taste of Italian cuisine, and yet can also be infused in baking or frozen for a refreshing sorbet. The following recipes utilize the nimble abilities that wine has while integrating it into a culinary experience.
The alcohol in wine can actually kill bacteria, making its use for cleaning and disinfecting difficult to ignore. Use leftover wine to wash veggies, or as a disinfectant on countertops or glass — just be careful, as the acidity of wine may damage some countertops and surfaces, such as granite.
The antioxidants found in wine that are famously known for their healing abilities and removal of free radicals that promote heart health may also be equally as beneficial for anti-aging properties. Vinotherapy, or therapeutic spa treatments including wine and grape products are said to help restore collagen and elastic fibers and improve blood circulation. The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory aspects of wine may also be used as a toner to fight acne caused by bacteria, soothing and clearing the face.
For those that are self-proclaimed horticulturalists and oenophiles, wine is often enjoyed in the garden, but it can also be enjoyed by the garden. With a high composition of both nitrogen and yeast, wine can be a great addition to composting. Nitrogen is both vitally important to the organic breakdown process of composting as well as a nutrient for plant growth and production. Yeast adds to the microbiology cultivated in compost and helps to break down lignin found in wood or other carbon sources. The addition of wine also increases liquid, which is vitally important to the process of decomposition, but must also be carefully regulated to the right moisture levels.
White wine can neutralize red wine, so it is great to use on clothing and carpets for accidental spills. Make sure to cover the entire red wine spill with white wine and dab or blot the liquid up. Rubbing will only force the stain into the carpet. Pour salt on the stain to lift the liquid and then vacuum up the salt after waiting up to – but not longer than – 15 minutes.
Arts and Crafts
As many have experienced, red wine can often produce hard-to-lift stains. However, with a little creativity and bravery, wine can also be used as a powerful fabric dye. Let the wine simmer in a non-reactive pot that is large enough to contain the fabric item you wish to dye. When the wine begins to simmer, place the fabric in the pot and stir with a wooden spoon for ten minutes. Rinse the fabric well.
Wine bottles can also be used for a variety of crafts. Empty wine bottles can also be reused for plant purposes including vases, watering globes, planters, and propagation tubes. Empty bottles may also be cut down and used as unique glassware.
Wine has been used for wound healing through the ages. Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, used wine to wash ulcers of his patients. The consumption of wine is popular worldwide for its contributions to human health protection and prevention of various chronic diseases. Much of the benefits have been credited to the presence of important antioxidants.
- Resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine is considered particularly active in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and protects the brain and nerve cells. It also reduces platelet aggregation and helps to decrease blood clots.
- Red wine has also been shown to decrease blood pressure.
- Phytochemicals such as lignans confirmed a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases, and may help reduce esophageal cancer, as well as the condition known as Barrett’s esophagus.
- The antibacterial qualities and flavonoids provide antibacterial activities against unhealthy bacteria in the stomach.
- Daily intake of wine can help prevent the development of stomach cancer.
- Compounds in red wine are also being studied for the treatment of depression and anxiety, due to resveratrol shutting down of depression causing enzymes in the brain, and protecting against extreme stress.
Winemaking has spread across the globe and is consumed and cherished across many cultures. Wine in the ancient Mediterranean was one of the most popular manufactured drinks, with people enjoying everyday consumption. Though drunkenness was warned against by Aristotle, and thought to reveal the truth by Pliny the Elder, it was also used as a party beverage, drunk at the Colosseum – and perhaps afterward by those touring the Colosseum. It was something to consume while discussing philosophy and politics. In addition to its uses as a social stimulus, it was often healthier than unreliable sources of water and was sometimes prescribed as a medicine. To this day its diversity of use remains, though perhaps with a more cleansing, and creative touch.
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