- Food and Cooking
Champagne: Recipes, Health Benefits, and a Brief History
First, a disclaimer: I am not an expert on champagne. I drink it maybe
once a year on New Year's Eve. Before researching this article, all I knew about champagne is that it's bubbly, it tastes good, and it makes a
party feel ... special . So, you ask, why did I decide to write about champagne when I know so little about it? I
like to write about foods that are good for you, and when I came across an article touting the health benefits of champagne, I decided to learn more. Here is a short description of some health benefits of champagne, a brief history of champagne, and a few easy champagne recipes that are also good for you.
What is an Antioxidant?
"Antioxidants are dietary substances including some nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamins C and E and selenium, that can prevent damage to your body cells or repair damage that has been done.
Antioxidants work by significantly slowing or preventing the oxidative - or damage from oxygen - process caused by substances called free radicals that can lead to cell dysfunction and the onset of problems like heart disease and diabetes. Antioxidants may also improve immune function and perhaps lower your risk for infection and cancer.
In your body, the antioxidant process is similar to stopping an apple from browning. Once you cut an apple, it begins to brown, but if you dip it in orange juice, which contains vitamin C, it stays white.
An eating plan containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts can supply all the antioxidants your body needs."
Source: American Dietetic Association, 9/14/06
Champagne is Good for the Heart
According to research reported in this article, champagne has the same health benefits as red wine, lowering blood pressure and possibly reducing the risk of strokes and heart attack. Just like red wine, champagne contains polyphenols, antioxidants that protect the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals, reactive agents that contribute to tissue damage in the body.
Champagne is Good for the Brain
The same polyphenols that help protect the heart may also protect the brain. A recent article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported findings that champagne may help protect the brain from stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease. The anti-inflammatory characteristics of the antioxidants found in polyphenols help rid the body of toxic chemicals, protecting the brain from injury and damage caused by free radicals.
A Brief History of Champagne
Many people are aware that champagne derives its name from the Champagne wine region in France. What many people may not know is that the bubbles in champagne were originally an accident that occurred during the fermenting of wine. The release of carbon dioxide gas is a byproduct of fermentation. In the early days of wine making in France, the bottles often could not withstand the pressure of the trapped carbon dioxide gas, causing the bottles to explode. If the bottle survived the pressure, the wine would contain bubbles, which at first was considered a fault, ruining the wine for consumption. Eventually, though, the resulting bubbly drink became popular among English royalty and the demand for champagne grew.
Dom Perignon was a Benedictine monk who didn't actually invent Champagne, but he is widely credited with perfecting the art of champagne production during his years at the abbey Pierre d'Hautvillers.
Champagne and Fruit
One of the most delicious and easy ways to enjoy champagne (besides straight from the glass) is with fruit. The refreshing combination of fruit and champagne is a perfect use for champagne left over from the previous night's celebration.
Fruit Parfait with Champagne
Any combination of the following fruits will do. Feel free to come up with your own combinations.
Watermelon cubes or balls
Honeydew melon cubes or balls
Cantaloupe cubes or balls
Peaches -- sliced
1/2 fresh lemon
Combine fruits in a large bowl and squeeze lemon juice over them. Gently mix. Arrange the fruits in a parfait glass, taking care to include some of each type in each glass. Fill each glass with champagne. Garnish with a mint sprig.
This is a delicious use for leftover champagne the morning after a celebration.
2 ounces orange juice
4-6 ounces champagne
Pour orange juice into a glass over a couple of ice cubes. Pour in chilled champagne. Gently stir and serve.
We grow fresh raspberries in our back yard, and last time I served champagne, I poured it over a few raspberries. It's a simple and elegant party drink that is tasty as well as pretty.
Champagne smoothies can include many of the same ingredients as the traditional fruit smoothie. Just substitute champagne for the liquid you would normally use. This recipe is from Fresh Fruit Daily:
1 cup Yogurt, plain or fruit flavored
2 cup Chopped fresh fruit
Freshly grated nutmeg - pinch
2/3 cup ice cold champagne, sparkling water or ginger ale
Mint sprigs or fruit slices, for garnish
Combine the yogurt, fruit, and nutmeg in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into glasses, filling 3/4 full. Top off with champagne. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with mint sprigs or fruit slices, if desired. Serves 2