Last year was a rough year for so many reasons. Wildfires, floods, a new administration defined by turmoil and greed; you’ve got the gist. It was a year in which much was lost and hearts were broken. So let’s begin 2018 with renewed hope and a discussion of what wines pair best with broken hearts.

Marie Gewirtz

Marie Gewirtz

Cabernet Sauvignon — strong, powerful, elegant — pairs well with hearts heavily worried that democracy is escaping us in America and abroad. Enjoy on top of Fitch Mountain, as close as possible to celestial gods who we hope are watching over us.

How about a Pinot Noir for the heart broken by unrequited love from a fickle, hard to rein in lover? Pairs best on the banks of the Russian River with a kayak nearby and Redwood Hill cheeses and Preston bread to soothe the soul.

A full-bodied, lush, aromatic Viognier might complement the elusive surfer girl or guy who couldn’t be caught at all. Pairs best dipping toes into sunset waters on the shores of Schoolhouse Beach with man’s best friend nearby.

Reserve a mixed case of the finest Sonoma County wines for hearts distraught by having lost all tangible reminders of their history in this world. Pairs best in the welcoming arms of a lifelong friend.

How about a ripe, robust Zinfandel to recharge a physically ailing heart — a subject I’ve had to contemplate these past months? While Sonoma County was in flames and so many of my loved ones literally caught in the cross fires, I was fighting for my life against sepsis and endocarditis. Talk about feeling helpless. Leaving the hospital, I was briefed about a heart-healthy diet, my only question being, “how about wine?” To which my cardiologist enthusiastically replied, “one glass a night of your favorite Sonoma County wines.”

Much has been written over the years about the benefits of wine on the heart. In 1991, Morley Safer began this dialog in America when he spoke of the “French Paradox” on 60 Minutes. This broadcast literally transformed wine consumption in America. He reported on the counterintuitive notion that the French may have 40 percent lower rates of heart disease because of a diet high in cheese, chocolate and wine.

We’ve learned that red wine is heart-healthy because of resveratrol. According to the Mayo Clinic, “any links between red wine and fewer heart attacks aren’t completely understood. But part of the benefit might be that antioxidants may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.”

In addition to lowering bad cholesterol, polyphenols — the antioxidants in red wine — can help blood vessels remain flexible and reduce the risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease.

Apparently, it’s not just red wine that is heart-healthy. Enjoying bubbles and white wine while convening with family and friends certainly does the heart good. The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet that emphasizes a rainbow of colors with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and healthy fats is often accompanied by wine, and the joy of laughter and conversation.

Recipe for good health: During this month of honoring resolutions, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow … well, you know how that ends. Remember to add the rainbow of colors to your diet. Continue your wine education by seeking out diverse varietals of Sonoma County wines, and pair them with fresh, locally grown foods. Reach out often to family and friends who lost their homes, toasting to a brighter future. Take off your shoes whenever possible to connect with the earth, while feeling gratitude for living in this incredible place we have the privilege to call home.

Marie Gewirtz represents wine and food clients with marketing and communications in Sonoma County and throughout the world. She can be reached at winewords@sonomawest.com.

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