KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill reported today in a new study that suggests moderate red wine consumption may reduce the risk of breat cancer for women. This finding contests previous research that indicated alcohol raised women's cancer risk.
I've actually been watching the back-and-forth over the health benefits of moderate wine consumption for more than decade now. I'm very glad to see that real science is being focused on the issue. But I also strongly (and unscientifically) believe that one of the best things about drinking wine is that it creates a context for reduced stress.
Yes, there may be compounds in wine that lead to better health. But wine also compels people to stop, relax, sip, mellow out, spend time with friends. This gets even better when wine is consumed with food at meals. The idea is that you unplug for a while and concentrate on the human-ness of being human.
So, what kind of wine will help you achieve this joyful, stressless condition? Well, I'm glad you asked. I have two recommendations for the weekend.
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Santa Barbara. This is an entry level bottling from this highly regarded California winery. Look for the 2009 or 2010 vintage, and be prepared to spend around $30 (although I've seen it for less). Completely delicious and about all you could want from a Chardonnay. Not too heavy on the tropical fruit flavors or oakiness, either. So an excellent wine to enjoy with food. With roasted chicken, pure bliss.
Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles. This is a very tasty and very cheap red that can be found at Trader Joe's for around $5. They don't seem to have it all the time, so it's worth keeping and eye out for, so you can stock up. Rabbit Ridge makes it as a poor man's Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It's made with French-style grapes — Syrah, Grenache — not the usual Cali customers, like Cabernet and Merlot. So the flavors might be a bit unfamiliar. But this is a great wine to serve with grilled meats.
One thing I'll point out here is that, as a general rule of thumb, I think you can get a better red wine at a low price than a white wine. These are two of my California favorites, and they prove that point.