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Ep 8: TNWG Wine Times: Why Do Some People Get Headaches from Red Wine?

🤕 Headaches! It is one of those things that some of us have to wrestle with in everyday life, from too much sunshine to not enough liquid drunk or in some cases, to drinking red wine. 

📝 It's a tough question to answer, but with new evidence maybe we just might be able to do just that! A recent study has just been published from the University of California and released on the 20th November (full article) highlighting what happens when some people consume red wine.

🍷 Prior to the study, it was thought that the phenolics (natural compounds) found in red wine were the root cause of headaches but the actual mechanism to proving and delving deeper into this had been lacking.

🤓 Ok, now the techie bit, so stay with me.....

Within red wine, are what's called FLAVONOL's which are naturally occurring and these phenolic compounds are ten times more prevalent than in white wines. The flavonol in question is QUERCETIN, which is actually a plant compound found in most everyday fruits and vegetables (not least grapes!).

Still with me? 🤞

🤓 Quercetin effectively interferes with the capacity for your body to metabolise alcohol when drunk, thus accumulating the amount of toxins which in turn can lead to headaches. 

So why do only some people get headaches from drinking red wine?

🤔 So taking what we have learnt from Quercetin (remember it is a type of flavonol - natural phenolic compound) - the University of California then did a test on a genetic variant of the enzyme called ALDH2 (easy to remember obviously 🙄). Having this variant of the enzyme has been associated with skin flushing, heart palpitations and severe headaches (affecting around 8% of the total population).

HOWEVER, and it is a big however, this has yet to be actively tested on human subjects, so there is caution here but the good news is for those who suffer from red wine headaches, there is light at the end of the tunnel in defining rationales and then looking at ways we can go about circumnavigating the issue.

💡 TNWG TIP: Quercetin levels appear to be linked to the amount of direct sunlight that the grapes receive during the growing season, so if you are finding that wines like Californian reds or southern European reds are causing you some discomfort, look to more northerly places for reds, like Burgundy, Alsace, Germany, UK etc to potentially assist - i.e. a cool climate orientated red wine.

🍇 Now to our Unusual Wine Varietal of the Week.....MARSELAN.

🍇UNUSUAL WINE - Xavier Roger's Le Professeur, Marselan Pays D'Oc, France🍇

No, I didn't just make MARSELAN up! 

MARSELAN - was created by Prof Paul Truel when he married together parents - CABERNET SAUVIGNON and GRENACHE. The grape getting it's name from Marseillan on the coast of the Mediterranean. 

What is also interesting is that many wine experts have suggested that this could also be the grape that puts China on the map within the global wine industry too. Introduced in 2001 to China, the planting of Marselan has increased 100 fold, although Cabernet Sauvignon is still the most planted, watch this heard it here first!

The wine though that I have tasted today, is not though from China, but the Pays D'Oc. The Pays D'Oc is the IGP (geographical region) of the Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France.

Le Professeur, Marselan 

First up - What A Label! 

We will come on to reading labels of bottles at another edition as it can make many uneasy or unsure of what they are buying - so we intend to iron that out. However, what we can say today, is the French are typically very conservative and 'Old World orientated' with their labelling - this is most certainly not and would strike you as 'New World' if I had not told you. The background to the story is actually this is a local artist, Sylvain Rouaud who created this in homage to Professor Truel!

🍷 So as you might expect from a southerly French vineyard, this is a dark and intense ruby red in colour. On the nose, you instantly get the big hits of blackberry, blackcurrant, cassis (think Ribena!), violet, red and black plum profiles. Continued on the palate with the black pepper spice, even a hint of cinnamon that makes it very Christmassy and really does feel rich, big, bold and opulent without a great mouthfeel. 

🍷 What is interesting about it, is that it actually has very subtle tannins, I was expecting something to really hit me given the origins but actually the tannins are integrated superbly well, so that it doesn't have that tannic misfire on the palate - this is a good food wine for sure!

🍽️ For a food pairing with this, I am looking at a lovely beef stifado, or even despite it being quite rich, a lamb risotto or a nice lamb tagine. For non-meat, think vegetable stew or hot pot that can carry weight, or a tomato based fish dish.

🍷 This is available from House of Townend at £10.49 a bottle and the reason I love this so much, is it is a perfect accompaniment to a lit log fire and a cosy night in front of the television when its a wintery evening! Enjoy!



This is an interesting article for a number of reasons - firstly, it is always difficult to assess the right price category for a wine tasting - it does depend in the UK at least, on a number of factors - the target audience, the fixed costs, the location of the event, the number attending and also the expectation. This is why at The Northern Wine Guy every experience is custom built and designed specifically for our clients. Whether that be 250+ people in a corporate setting to an intimate small party environment or a special occasion. For The Northern Wine Guy - let us know how we can help for your events!



On the week (as at 11:00, 14/12) changes:

EQUITIES: ⬆️ FTSE 100 up 2.8%; ⬆️ DAX up 1.6%; ⬆️ S&P up 3%; ⬆️Nikkei 225 up 0.5%; ⬆️ Dow Jones up 2.9%;

COMMODITIES: ⬆️ Brent Oil up 1.1%; ⬆️ Crude Oil up 1.3%; ⬇️ Gold down 0.01%; ⬆️ Silver up 0.3%; ⬆️ Copper up 3.3%

BONDS (in yield terms): ⬇️ UK 2yrs lower 0.305%; ⬇️ UK 10yrs lower 0.27%; ⬇️ German 10yrs lower 0.104%, ⬇️US 2yrs lower 0.296%; ⬇️ US 10yrs lower 0.186%;

🏛️ The Federal Reserve once again set the tone for a busy Central Bank week this week. Powell (Fed Chair) and co kicking off a seemingly cutting interest rate party! Huge rallies in government bonds ensued (essentially means the yield (the interest rate the bondholder receives) of bonds fell and inversely prices went up to buy them). This is because the global hiking cycle appears to be coming to an end certainly in the US, Eurozone and the UK.

📈 The market's reaction this week is to price cuts in to the US forward curve (so looking ahead in the coming months). In the next 12 months, it actually has closer to 1.6% worth of cuts priced, which to put it in context, has only been seen in recent years, back during the March banking crisis. Considerable easing! 

🤔 What does this mean to you and I? Well, it means that bond yields are reducing, so again it is another argument for locking in the highest interest rate you can find from savings and ISA accounts. As if the Bank of England follow suit, there will be a cutting cycle next year (currently priced for mid way through the year), which will see interest rates you can attain at banks fall. Good for mortgages though - so for those looking at buying a house or moving property and believing that it is doom and gloom for your mortgage levels - there is light at the end of the tunnel - although material effects will really be seen and passed over after around 12 months from now.

😓 I won't plug into another Asset Allocation Monthly - don't worry!

🍷 However, a quick deep dive into the Liv-ex annual report that has just been released (you can order yours here for FREE) does show the pain that the Fine Wine industry has felt in the alternative asset pool this year. Having seen the Liv-Ex 1000 down just over 13% this year, you would be smart to ensure you are diversified to offset this lack of performance. Obviously this year has seen highs in the S&P500 and Gold too - so it's wise to ensure, as mentioned many times over, that you are not overly exposed to one market or asset.

🍷 What is interesting and true of this year, is that investors have looked to find 'safe havens' within the fine wine world - and that means investing in the very top wines globally. So smaller amount of wine exposure to smaller vineyards and consolidation in the global leaders - which does make better viewing!

🍾 As per this article here, in fact maybe this is now the time to 'Buy the dip in price' Falling Price of Champagne offers buying opportunities . 


It's been a very eventful last few weeks and some really good announcements worthy of note for 2024 too - so here is a little drop down of announcements:

🧑⚖️ Wine Judge at the People's Choice Drinks Awards in London - People's Choice Drinks Awards - this is always a great occasion and fabulous to once more be invited to judge the wines that we are seeing being made for different levels of consumers. Look out for the announcement of the winners after the February evening, but find the finalists labelled here following the blind judging:

🙌 Big announcement in SHEFFIELD - is that The Northern Wine Guy will be hosting a Monthly Wine Tasting Event - the 3rd Thursday of each month - beginning in February. Location to be announced soon - so look out for more details.

🎓 The Northern Wine Guy has been in partnership with The University of Sheffield for the MBA Marketing Module and as a result had some brilliant and talented MBA student minds looking at the business model and marketing to ensure that the firm goes from strength to strength. A super initiative and well worth it for any SME or large corporate looking at enhancing their board room for a number of months.

🙌 The Northern Wine Guy will be joining @drinklusive as a mentor for the new mentorship programme designed by The Three Drinkers (Curious Camel Productions) in which it sets out a programme designed at breaking down barriers to entry in the drinks industry. Supporting and mentoring people from diverse backgrounds especially within the LGBTQIA+ community and underrepresented ethnicities and disabled communities with a firm belief on inclusivity for all. 

🎙️ Podcasting begins in January again once more but this time with TWO shows - The Andy and Olly Show Series 3 and also a new 'What Bottle Is On Your Table, Tonight?' Series with some great guests booked and planned - more to be revealed next week.

That is all from me this week. As always all thoughts, comments, questions, feedback welcome - either via comment on the back of this newsletter, email or DM. Next week will be our look ahead to 2024 and what we see of the wine industry plus announcements of where you will find The Northern Wine Guy in Q1 of 2024!

Remembering that if you are looking for any wine services in the future - keep us in mind. We cover (but not exclusively) the following areas:

  • Personalised sommelier service / wine cellar creation

  • Fine Wine Investment (via our good friends Vin-X Fine Wine Investment )

  • Wine Writing / Journalism

  • Wine Hosting - for corporate or personalised events

  • Wine Menu Redesign for the hospitality industry

  • Wine Content Creator, Advertising and Branding 

  • Wine Education via on-site staff training or learning for all events.

  • All wine collaborations welcome.

Have a great weekend!

Andy 🍷

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