If you take a look at all the literature put out by the French wine industry, you'll start to wonder whether you should replace wine drinking by intravenous infusions of red wine. They make a case for wine being virtually a drug to prevent heart disease. They offer reams of scientific evidence about neutralizing free radicals and preventing cholesterol from damaging the walls of arteries. Of course, that doesn't prove that wine is responsible for the French Paradox. That paradox is the low rate of heart disease compared to North America in spite of a high fat diet.
Red wine may indeed be part of the answer because the skin of red grapes contains compounds called polyphenols which do have antioxidant properties and which may prevent cholesterol from being converted into a damaging form. But what about people who favour white wine? This has a far smaller antioxidant capacity than red wine. Leave it to French ingenuity though. A team of wine researchers at Montpelier University have come up with a Chardonnay that has almost the same antioxidant potential as red wine. They found that if the grapes were macerated with the skins and seeds and the fermentation temperature increased, the polyphenol content of the wine increased dramatically.
Furthermore, these scientists managed to show that the wine really has an effect on the antioxidant potential of the blood. They destroyed some of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas of rats to make the animals diabetic. This is because diabetes is known to reduce the antioxidant capacity of the blood. Then they administered the new Chardonnay to the critters for six weeks and found that the antioxidant capacity was restored. Who says laboratory rats don't lead good lives? The special polyphenol enriched Chardonnay will be available soon to humans as well. So those of you who prefer white over red will be able to ask for “Paradoxe Blanc.” Of course the real paradox is why people just don't eat more fruits and vegetables which have more antioxidants than red or white wine!