You'll notice some changes at your Super Bowl party this year…healthier foods, moderate consumption and a back-up at the wine bar.

Reach for a Cold One on Game Day

You'll notice some changes at your Super Bowl party this year…healthier foods, moderate consumption and a back-up at the wine bar.

In the humor column of our Best of Year issue in 2001, Mark Golodetz offered the opinion that wine and football don't mix. Of course, he based this view on Super Bowl parties he'd attended where La Tache and Le Montrachet were served alongside foie gras, pan-roasted skate and sweetbreads, all seasoned with impossibly haute attitudes and utter indifference to the game itself. It was a fun essay, but it hardly portrayed real life.

On page 50 of this issue, Stephen Beaumont examines Super Bowl parties as they are actually held on Planet Earth. He recommends beverages that best pair with the salty, oily and fatty foods so often found on such occasions. It won't surprise you to find beer featured prominently. That is the alcoholic beverage most closely associated with football. But—Mr. Golodetz's experiences notwithstanding—might I suggest that wine is making inroads even on this most sacred of beer-centric days?

Now it's true that I see the world through Baby Boomer lenses. Many of my contemporaries are drinking beer and spirits less often in favor of wine. Some are doing this because their preferences are evolving, others because they're counting calories: a single serving of wine (measured at five ounces) is about 90 calories, while a serving of beer (12 ounces) is 146 calories. That adds up over time. And, though scientists are mum on the subject, just take a look around at beer drinkers: all those yeasts and hops tend to have an inflationary effect, if you know what I mean.

But quite apart from calorie counting, there is a trend afoot in America. People are willing to spend a little more for quality—for snack foods that aren't loaded with preservatives, for micro-brewed, artisan-crafted beers, for wines that have character and quality. They're taking smaller portions of these quality foods and beverages. They're electing designated drivers. They're exercising more. In so many respects, Americans are growing up. Even on that most sybaritic of days, people are putting the brakes on. It's all about quality, moderation and long-term health.

Which leads me to our cover story. It's been 11 years since CBS's 60 Minutes broadcast its story examining the so-called French Paradox. For years, health professionals had wondered at statistics indicating that French men and women lived longer and had less heart disease than their American counterparts, despite the fact that they smoked more, exercised less and had a diet rich in fats. The crucial difference, according to the report, was wine consumption. It is quite possible, according to the report, that moderate wine consumption is beneficial to the functions of the heart and lungs, and can reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease and stroke. It was a controversial conclusion. Now ten years and many studies later, we are closer to proving the link. In this issue, Peter Kupfer summarizes the many studies that support or refute the link, and examines other factors that could lead to the conclusions reached by Morley Safer and the producers of 60 Minutes. It's an issue I feel strongly about, and am very proud to see it so well portrayed in this magazine.

Also in this issue we provide our coverage of the 2002 grape harvest worldwide. It's a more dramatic epic than usual this year, due to some extremes of weather in many parts of the world. In addition to the harvest report, you'll find our vintage chart, which is possibly the most sought-after single page we produce every year. It's an in-depth look at vintages back to 1987 from the most prestigious winemaking areas—plus a summary of quality vintages going back to the 1940s. Take it with you when you go shopping for wine, and it will maximize the value you get for your money.

This month, Michael Schachner goes out on a limb to recommend Chile's ten best wines. Michael has been to Chile's wine regions many times over the past few years, and is a witness to that country's astounding progress. His report is yet another invaluable guide in this issue, because if you're looking for good value and the cutting edge of new regions, Chile is a great place to start.

Let me take this occasion to wish you good times and good health. And let 2003's Super Bowl be the year when you reach for a cold one, and find a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in your hand.


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