I'll never forget my first Grignolino...
In Italian, the name loosely means "the little strawberry."
For me, it meant "strange red wine" as I clinked glasses while sitting on hay bales in the barn of Napa Valley's famed winemaker Joseph Heitz.
It was 1976, and my first trip to California wine country. My friend and I stayed with my aunt and uncle who lived on the valley floor, just west of the iconic Napa highway 29.
Heitz's place was across the road, and drinking with him was the start of my four-decade-long passion for wine.
Wine has been not only a cultural influence in my life, but a health benefit, too. Subscribers to Retirement Millionaire have heard me discuss my love of wine for years. I usually drink a daily glass of around five ounces.
For men in particular, wine lowers blood sugar, decreases your risk of dementia, and protects your prostate. It's also a rich source of antioxidants.
The main antioxidant is called resveratrol. Resveratrol has known cardiovascular benefits, including lowering inflammation and keeping blood flowing smoothly through the vessels... preventing blood clots.
Interestingly, white wine has similar benefits. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that white wine is just as good for your heart as red is. Both red and white wine contain the antioxidants tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, which also lower inflammation. Other studies have suggested that white wine contains higher levels of antioxidants than red wine, due mostly to the different types of grapes used.
A study out of Italy published by the Public Library of Science showed that another molecule ‒ an acid ‒ found in both red and white wine probably protects your blood vessels. The acid, called caffeic acid, regulates the release of nitric oxide (NO). NO helps dilate blood vessels, an important function that allows your blood to flow slower or faster in response to things like digestion, body temperature regulation, and exercise.
The caffeic acid helps protect against stress and inflammation by helping your blood vessels dilate naturally. Stress and inflammation can cause a whole host of problems, including kidney disease and high blood pressure, so a glass of red or white wine will provide you with great health benefits.
And although I usually prefer a glass of red as it has more proven effects, white wine could rival that soon. Either way, do what I do and enjoy a glass every day, or at least a few times a week.
Remember though, moderation is always key. Too much disrupts your sleep cycles, increases blood pressure, and increases your risk of cancer.
Your New Favorite Wine May Be $0.33 a Glass
I've learned a lot since that first toast with Joe Heitz and conducted many tastings with friends and family (next time you see me in person, ask me about my Goldman Sachs wine tastings).
The bottom line is that wine preference is about you and your likes. So ignore what others want you to experience.
The wine industry will tell you that the more money you pay for a bottle of wine, the better the wine will be. People follow professional reviews and tasting notes, and pay buckets of money for overpriced wine.
It turns out that even sommeliers and wine specialists at high-end restaurants can't always tell the difference between some wines.
In one study, 54 professional sommeliers tasted two wines – one red, one white. All of the sommeliers ranked the red wine with typical flavors and characteristics of red wines, flavors they didn't cite in the white wine. The only problem... they tasted the exact same wine. The red wine was the white wine with some flavorless, odorless food coloring added.
So we decided to hold our own taste test, without anyone knowing what they were drinking...
Earlier this year, I poured a bunch of (inexpensive) white wine for myself and nine coworkers in our office... We rated eight brands from the top 20 best-selling wines in the U.S., based on the rankings from Wines & Vines, a wine-industry magazine and analytics service and a ninth sample that came from my personal stash. Each wine cost less than $20.
We rated the wines on taste, aftertaste, and overall enjoyment. I also had everyone guess how much a typical bottle of each wine would cost.
The results surprised us, especially me...
Our taste testers ranked Franzia Crisp White as their No. 1 favorite wine. Although many of our testers are wine aficionados (and drink a glass daily), this pick was the lowest-cost wine we had in the lineup (and one of the two boxed wines we tested), at $10.99 for a five-liter box.
Since the five-liter box holds about 6.5 bottles of wine, the equivalent price for one regular-sized bottle (750 milliliters) works out to about $1.64. At $0.33 per five-ounce glass, this is a crazy good deal. It proves my point that anyone can find an enjoyable wine for an extremely good price.
As I said, the most important thing is that the value of wine tasting lies with you, the individual taster. Spending hundreds of dollars on a "good" bottle of wine doesn't mean you will enjoy it. As we saw in our taste test, reactions differed wildly on the same wine.
One great way to experience new wines is to stop by your local wine store for free tastings – often done several times a month. Just call the store or check its website to see when it offers an event. It's a great way to drink wine for free.
One other thing I love doing is a tasting party – I provide the cheese and bread and ask folks to bring their own wine based on a theme – like sweet wines or Chardonnays or wines from a specific region (say Sonoma Valley)... You can even try a tasting based on the wines we did and see how you like them, and then send us your results. (You can read our full tasting review here if you're a subscriber to my Retirement Millionaire newsletter. If you're not yet a subscriber, you can join here.)
And as our taste testers will tell you, don't shy away from the "discount" boxed wines – you might discover another secret of living like a true Retirement Millionaire.
What We're Reading...
- A great place to learn the basics of wine is right here at Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
- My friends at Mutt Lynch Winery have great wines for great prices. Right now, just for Retirement Millionaire Daily subscribers, Mutt Lynch is offering $1 shipping. Use the code "MILLIONAIRE" when you order.
- If you're looking for a great gift... My friend Jim Ricci at Tres Ricci Wines has some Dry Creek Valley Cabernets that are tasting well. Give him a call at (707) 484-4676 and tell him Dr. Dave sent you.
- Something different: A new way to find out when scientists are lying about their work.