Uncorked: Study finds Champagne to reverse memory loss
Jul 23, 2013 | 2559 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For those of us who misplace keys, constantly search for sunglasses and listen for that tell-tale ring summoning us to our lost phone’s location, help may be on the way — via a bottle of Champagne.

Test results released by the University of Reading, located just south of London, indicate consuming approximately three glasses of Champagne per week may counteract memory loss associated with aging and could delay the onset of dementia in others.

It has long been widely accepted that moderate consumption of red wine imparts health benefits to stave off a world of ailments including everything from heart disease to various cancers. Antioxidants in the form of flavonoids found in red wines impart many health benefits. Scientists at the university, one of England’s top research institutions, wondered if a white wine like Champagne, made from red grapes, would impart the same health benefits.

Flavonoids are most concentrated in the skins, seeds and stems of red grapes. Juice for red wine is left in contact with the skins of red grapes for the wine to acquire its color and flavor. In the case of Champagne, two red grapes, although they are called black grapes in the Champagne region, are used in its composition, pinot noir and pinot meunier. These grapes are crushed immediately after picking in crushing houses located on the vineyard grounds. Clear juice is immediately separated from the skins of red grapes so no color is imparted.

Champagne made exclusively from chardonnay is called blanc de blanc, white wine from white grapes. Champagne made exclusively from pinot noir and pinot meunier is called blanc de noir, white wine from red grapes. Most Champagnes are made from a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Wines from the blends of these three varietals are called simply Champagne.

Research on lab rats was led by Reading researcher Dr. David Vauzour. One group of rats found champagne-doused food when they successfully negotiated a maze. Alas, the rat control group received just regular rat food. Initially the Champagne-guzzling rats were 70 percent effective in remembering how to negotiate the maze while the control group had a 50 percent success rate.

Remarkably, after six weeks of Champagne with dinner, the Champagne rats had an increase of 200 percent in memory-boosting proteins found by brain biopsy. The researchers attribute this to phenolic compounds imparted to Champagnes made with red grapes.

From their findings the scientists project that humans should drink three glasses of Champagne a week to counteract memory loss associated with aging and degenerative brain disorders.

Phenolic compounds found in Champagne work by modulating signals in the hippocampus and cortex, which control memory and learning. The compounds were found to favorably alter a number of proteins linked to the effective storage of memories in the brain. Many of these are known to be depleted with age, making memory storage less efficient, and leading to poorer memory in old age and conditions such as dementia.

“Champagne slows these losses and therefore may help prevent the cognitive losses that occur during typical and atypical brain aging,” the press release from Reading stated.

But before we start pouring Cristal over our Special K each morning, let’s remember the good scientist have tried their experiment only on rats. They will be looking in the near future to translate these findings to humans.

The remarkable change in rat memory took place after six weeks of guzzling champagne, but according to Reading scientists, it might take up to three years of Champagne guzzling before improvement is seen in humans.

In the meantime, it would likely be OK to try this experiment at home. Avoid blanc de blanc Champagnes. Blanc de noir or just generic Champagne will work because both are made from predominantly red grapes would be better choices for experimentation.

Big Summer red wine dinner

Dave Garfrerick, owner of Garfrericks’s Café, cordially invites you to join Katie Lazar of Cain Vineyard & Winery for an evening of fine dining and wine.

On Monday at 6 p.m., the Oxford café, 655 Creekside Drive, will host the Big Summer Red Wine Dinner featuring award winning wines by Cain. The dinner will feature a five-course menu with a different wine served with each course, but the stars of the evening will be the three red wines by Cain including Cain Cuvee, Cain Concept and the pricey but spectacular Cain Five.

Cain Vineyard & Winery is located high in the Spring Mountain district overlooking the Napa Valley. Alabama natives Jim and Nancy Meadlock, formerly of Huntsville and now of Orange Beach, own and operate Cain. The tariff for the evening is $75 per person plus tax and gratuities. A portion of the proceeds go to fund the Anniston Soup Bowl.

To make your reservations, call 256-831-0044.

Email Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com
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