New wine causing a stir in New Zealand

New wine causing a stir in New Zealand
Balancing Act is a new wine packed with antixoidants

A new wine has hit the shelves in New Zealand. It has also hit a nerve.

The wine producers and distributors claim the drink carries health benefits because it contains 40 times more resveratrol than a regular bottle of wine.

Balancing Act is a new label in New Zealand which contains 40 times more resveratrol than regular wines. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in all wine and that is known to promote longevity as well as protect against a range of illnesses including cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

Resveratrol is derived from grape skins and is currently the subject of extensive research internationally, and increasingly used in skincare products and health supplements. However, some studies show that the substance is absorbed 250 times more effectively when consumed in wine versus capsule form.

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Balancing Act is being introduced to New Zealand by Christchurch company Southern Wines NZ (SWNZ), led by Kathleen Corsbie and Annie Winmill. The product was developed and patented by Phillip Norrie, a Sydney-based GP and medical historian and the wine is made by Alan McCorkindale.

While the naturally occurring resveratrol content in each bottle of Balancing Act gets boosted from an average 1-6mg to a whopping 75mg, Kathleen Corsbie says the wine’s clarity and taste is not altered in any way.

Corsbie says the wine is causing people to talk, with some arguing that the health benefit claims will lead to people drinking excessively. “Controversy is good”, Corsbie says, adding that there is no need for extra warning labels. “This is putting something back in that is already there, so we’re not altering anything. Also, the resveratrol we use is 100 percent natural and derived from grapes, it’s not synthetically produced,” she says, adding that the company has all the medical research to back up the claims that this is a wine with health benefits. “We can’t say that alcohol is healthy, but we can say that resveratrol is. And there is clinical research to back that up.”

Like all wine dealers, Corsbie says the company advises customers to drink in moderation and adds that they are targeting people who already drinking wine and “not trying to turn people into drinkers”. “If you are going to have a glass of wine, why not have one with health benefits?”

According to studies from the Harvard School of Medicine, resveratrol is a free radical scavenger and the only substance known to activate the SIRT 1 protein – one of a group of genes called sirtuins, which are believed to protect against diseases of ageing, promoting health and longevity.

“It is an exciting development,” says Southern Wines’ Annie Winmill. “We’ve caught the tiger by the tail. I have spent 27 years in the wine industry, and this is the first time that I have a totally unique and positive product to bring to the market.

Norrie, the GP who created the product, is a strong advocate for drinking wine in moderation, claiming that the medical profession has been using it as a medicine for the past 5000 years.

“Besides being man’s oldest medicine, wine is also our best preventative medicine,” he writes in the International Journal of Wine Research, referring to a Copenhagen City Study which showed a 50 per cent reduction in the death rate of wine drinkers compared to abstainers.

The new wine is currently available in a Central Otago Pinot Noir (RRP $24.99) and Marlborough/Waipara Sauvignon Blanc (RRP $19.99). Pinot Gris and Chardonnay will be introduced in the coming months.

The range can be purchased online through the edgy new Murder a Drink website and at select New World, Pak’n Save and Four Square stores, Super Liquor, Fresh Choice and fine wine outlets.