With over 1,000 bottles to choose from inside the wine shop in Eataly, an Italian marketplace in New York City, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And when talking health benefits, not all wines are created equal.
The region really matters.
“With the reds, we're going to stay in the North, Northeast (of Italy),” said Dan Amatuzzi, Eataly’s wine director. “We go to Friuli, and Friuli is known for their Bordeaux-style wine – so Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. They're full body, but they're very silky, very soft, very velvety… full of antioxidants and polyphenols and other good things.”
In the region of Italy known as Umbria, there is a healthy grape called Sagrantino, which only grows in a little commune called Monte Falco.
“That's supposed to have the highest levels of polyphenols,” Amatuzzi said of the grape, “which helps relax blood vessels and promotes proper circulation.”
Even further south lie the regions of Calabria, Sicily, and also Sardinia.
“If we go to Sardinia, there's a grape there called Cannonau, which is universally known as Grenache – which is shown to have the highest level of resveratrol,” Amatuzzi said. Resveratrol is a type of natural phenol suspected to have many positive health effects in humans.
The antioxidants found in wine can also help prevent cancer and improve brain function.
Lidia Bastianich, chef and owner of Eataly, says wine is essential to a meal.
"Well, for us, Italian wine is food,” Bastianich said. “Ever since I can remember, on the table (there were always) food and wine. And us children, we didn't have soda. Water with a drop of wine and we always considered it as food, and I think that's the healthy approach to wine."