You no longer have to drink only red wine to benefit from its medicinal qualities. Now Israeli scientists have found a way to give white wine the same properties.
Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa published a study in 1995 in which they found that red wine contains flavonoids, a natural chemical that counteracts cholesterol oxidation, a major contributor to blocked arteries. The flavonoids, found in the skin of grapes, seep into the wine over several weeks when left in contact with the juices of the squeezed grapes.
Flavonoids are not present in white wine because the grape skin is discarded after squeezing. Leaving the skin in the grape juice, as is done when making red wine, was found to change the color, the taste and the aroma, according to Technion Professor Michael Aviram.
“So we decided that we can [let the skin sit in the juice] for a long period of time,” said Aviram. “And we added to the squeezed grapes alcohol that we obtained from normal wine.”
The added alcohol speeded up the extraction of flavonoids from the grape skin over a period of 18 hours. Removing the skin from the juice at that point allowed the white wine to retain its color, taste and aroma.
“We found we could extract the same amount of flavonoids in 18 hours” that it took weeks for the red wine to absorb, Aviram observed. “So now you have a white wine with all the health benefits of red wine.”
But there is a wrinkle to the process. The addition of alcohol prevents the conversion of sugar in the grapes to alcohol. As a result, some sugar remains and makes the wine a little sweet — perfect for a desert wine. So Aviram said he is now experimenting with a process that would allow the conversion to occur in order to produce a dry wine. That should be developed by the end of the year.