The Daily Dish

Resveratrol the old-fashioned way

By Cathy Huyghe

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There’s not a wine drinker among us who hasn’t heard of the potential health benefits of resveratrol — you know, the chemical compound found in the skin of red grapes and, it follows, in red wine as well. The possibility of resveratrol having anti-aging effects and cardiovascular benefits is just too tantalizing, and it’s been a hot topic in the scientific community in recent years.

Makes for great dinner conversation over a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, yes?

Well, call me old-fashioned but I prefer to get my resveratrol the way Bacchus intended. As popular as it may be in supplement form, I’d rather find it in my glass. So long as there’s a good red to drink, and I’m happy and among friends, I figure a long and healthy life is headed my way anyway.

I’ll leave research to the scientists — including some of our neighbors over in Technology Square in Cambridge — who’ve seen a tough week for resveratrol-related studies.

Imagine this. A group of scientists at Sirtris Pharmaceuticals decided to get up-close and personal with the chemical composition of red wines. Not because it’s happy hour, and not because they prefer red over white. They’re doing it because it’s their job.

Intrigued? Well, in 2008 Sirtris was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, and GlaxoSmithKline has continued to research a proprietary version of resveratrol called SRT501. That is, perhaps, old news to some of you.

The new news, reported on by a number of sources this week, is that the clinical trial of SRT501 has been halted due to possible safety concerns. It’s a setback, to be sure — but it’s all part of the research process.

And it’s certainly no reason to set down the syrah.

We may not have discovered the fountain of youth just yet, but the right glass of wine certainly can feel like it. And perhaps we needn’t look for it at all.  Just remember the words of Oliver Goldsmith: “I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.”

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.



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