Just the facts. From the experts.

The holiday season is in full swing and if you’re lucky, you may find a Champagne toast accompanying the festivities. Happily, that bubbly could also be a beneficial toast to your health. We asked registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil to break down the benefits. Here’s what she had to say:

Popping open some bubbly at holiday gatherings adds finesse to the festivities and it’s a fine way to say, “A toast to your health!”  More than just a luxury libation, Champagne brims with some happy health benefits. With only 78 calories in a four-ounce flute, dry or brut Champagne is one of the lowest calorie adult beverages you can pour. And, the bubbles in the effervescent liquid liven up the palate to enhance the pleasure of flavors so you can savor your holiday favorites.

Mireille Guiliano, author of the best-selling “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” believes that many of Champagne's health benefits are due to its trace minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and lithium (a natural mood regulator).  Another reason to cheerfully say, “Cheers!”

Add to that, research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows the antioxidant polyphenols in Champagne helped protect brain cells of mice exposed to stress (the lab served both a lovely blanc de blancs and blanc de noir to their little subjects) and you could theorize that sparkling wine in moderation might help our brains better tolerate the holiday rush and the relatives.

Champagne 101

What’s in a name? Just as onions must come from Vidalia, Georgia to be called Vidalia onions, you can’t call sparkling wine Champagne unless it’s from the Champagne region of France. Here are some definitions to spruce up your bubbly vocab:

Vintage Champagne is blended from the wines of a single outstanding year (read: pricier!) with the year listed on the label.  

Non-vintage Champagne wines are blended from grapes grown in different years to achieve a consistent and unique house style regardless of vintage variability.

Dosage is the step in making the wine where sugar is added. At the dry end of the scale is ‘Extra Brut’ (almost no sweetness added) and ‘Brut’. At the sweet end are ‘Sec’, ‘Demi-Sec’ and ‘Doux’ (which is very sweet). More than 90 percent of Champagne wines are categorized as ‘Brut’.

Cheers to your health!

Photo credit: ManicMorFF from morguefile.com

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