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World of Wine: Higher elevation means higher resveratrol

Ron Smith, World of Wine columnist

Seasoned skiers know that the higher in elevation one goes, the potential for sunburn increases.

When we are in the mountains, we wear clothing to cover our body, hats to protect our head, and anything not covered, we treat with sunscreen.

Research has shown that grapes grown at higher elevations will also contain higher levels of resveratrol in their skins; that translates to a higher concentration of resveratrol when those grapes are used in making red wines.

In case you missed it in my earlier articles, resveratrol in grape skins reputedly possess anti-aging and disease-fighting properties. Studies have also suggested that it could inhibit tumor growth and curb pre-carcinogenic activity.

The French diet of high levels of saturated fats and low levels of cardiovascular disease are attributed to their high levels of per capita wine consumption of more than 42 liters/year.

Resveratrol elevation levels were recently given a boost when a researcher in the physics department at Universidad Autonoma Juan Misael Saracho in Bolivia found that wine grapes grown at the highest levels in his country contain up to 10 times more resveratrol than those grown at lower elevations.

Don't get your hopes up for finding some Bolivian wine in local American markets.

Find the country on a map of South America. It shares borders with five countries: Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Brazil. Your best hope is to plan a visit to the country and the high mountain wineries that produce these healthy wines.

Red wine lovers who don't want to make the trip to Bolivia can content themselves with drinking Argentinian wine — malbec in particular — from the Mendoza region, and feel noble about protecting their health with moderate consumption of red wines with their meals.

Resveratrol rich wines in mountainous states like California, Oregon, and Washington, will save the expense of trying to get to Bolivia to taste it along with the hassle of trying to bring it back.

Ron Smith, a retired NDSU Extension horticulturist, writes weekly about his love of wine and its history. Readers can reach him at tuftruck1@gmail.com.

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