It would be well to begin this article by stating that you should not drink wine if: (a) you have a stomach ulcer; (b) you suffer from Bright’s disease or any other chronic kidney ailment; (c) you are acutely ill from any cause, or (d) you have religious scruples against the use of any alcoholic beverage.
As for the latter interdiction, it is based on the tragic demonstration furnished during the Volstead era that any form of prohibition leads inevitably to excessive consumption. However, many do get a certain impious satisfaction from the Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and other red wine varieties.
There is also something ironic in the paradox of certain church groups who interpret Scripture as requiring total abstention, while other denominations find, in the same Holy Bible, clear commands to use wine in their most sacred rites of worship.
Additionally, it is almost grimly comical that in the dozens of volumes that have been penned by fanatics in attempts to prove that the recommendations of wine in the Old and New Testaments meant only unfermented grape juice.
Anyone who has ever heard of Saccharomyces ellipsoideus (wine yeasts) knows that unless the Apostles were familiar with either pasteurization or refrigeration, or sulfur dioxide, the grape juice of the Bible would surely have turned to wine, even though they were not the Pinotage wine grapes we know and love today.
The drunkenness common among Moslems, whose religion commands them to abstain from alcohol, is another demonstration that a feeling of guilt produces excesses. In many predominantly Christian countries, including the United States, a kind of mass guilt complex seems to surround the use of alcoholic beverages.
But among the Latin nations wine seems specifically excluded from classification with intoxicating liquor. Ask an Italian: “Do you drink?” and he may answer in the negative, because he uses only red wines; Barbera wines at that, and perhaps other classic wines from Italy.
Returning to the medical aspects of wine, doctors are now coming to know a good deal about the values of this beverage that they did not know a generation ago. Strangely enough, earlier physicians were aware of the very things that modern science is only now beginning to discover.
Medical history furnishes the explanation of this. For centuries–since the time of Hippocrates, the father of medicine–doctors have observed the beneficial effects of wine upon individuals both in sickness and in health; and its prescription was virtually universal.
Then came the modern era of experimental medicine, in which every pharmaceutical substance has had to be tested and to prove its values. Wine, the oldest of remedies, was not among those first subjected to such tests; and as a result, its medical use gradually declined. With the advent of prohibition, the many references to wine in the United States Pharmacopoeia were summarily dropped.
Thus an entire generation of doctors began practicing their profession with virtually no knowledge of the subject. In more recent years, however, comprehensive programs of wine research have been instituted in many university laboratories and clinics.