Month: January 2018

Global wine markets, 1860 to 2016: a statistical compendium

Today I open the blog mailbox, and what surprise! Professor Kim Anderson wrote me! Yes, it is true! What an honour! What a professionalism! What a generosity!
Professor Kym Anderson is Professor of Economics, foundation Executive Director of the Wine Economics Research Centre, and formerly foundation Executive Director of the Centre for International Economic Studies at the University of Adelaide, where he has been affiliated since 1984.
The reason of his email was to share with me, and with all my readers, the latest “Annual Database of Global Wine Markets, 1835 to 2016” (2017). The Excel file can be downloaded in Annual Database of Global Wine Markets web page.
Data are summarized in two books the “Global wine markets, 1860 to 2016: a statistical compendium” and the “Wine Globalization. A New Comparative History”.
The first one is a free e-book shared also in University of Adelaide web page. The new compendium updates the authors’ 2011 e-book where 1961 up to 2009 period was covered, and provide comprehensive recent wine market statistics that are comparable across countries. The book also covers other beverages including beer, spirits and soft drink.
Wine Globalization. A New Comparative History” is a book edited by Professor Kim Anderson and Professor Vicente Pinilla, who asked to world's leading wine economists and economic historians to analyse the development of national wine industries before and during the two waves of globalization. This book is very useful for all who want to know more about new technologies, policies, institutions, as well as exchange rate movements, international market developments, evolutions in grape varieties, and wine quality changes.
Both books will be launched at International Workshop in Adelaide on 6 February 2018. See program here.
Thank you so much Professor Kym Anderson, once more for your generosity, and for realizing that Science & Wine blog essence is “sharing knowledge”.

Posted by in Economy | Marketing

Saint Vicent of Zaragoza

Saint Vicent of Zaragosa - Patron Saint for Wine Makers

I decided to publish my blog on 22nd January because it is the day when the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the day of Saint Vicent of Zaragoza. Why Saint Vicent? For two reasons: firstly, it is the best-known Patron Saint for wine and vinegar makers, and as you imagine I love wine (and a good vinegar too); secondly, it was the first Patron of Porto, the city where I live and for which I fell in love with, and the city that gives its name to the most famous Portuguese wine, the Port wine, that is produced in the Douro Region where I was born.
Born in Spain, Saint Vincent was the deacon of Zaragoza in the beginning of the fourth century. Under the Emperor Diocletian, he was martyred in Valencia for refusing to burn his sacred texts, dying under torture on 22nd January 304. Why is Saint Vicent of Zaragoza the patron of wine makers? There are different accounts. The simplest one is associated with his name “Vin” that means wine. Regarding his name, there is also a romantic theory, which associates his French pronunciation “Vin-sang” (wine blood) to the fact that Saint Vincent’s Day falls between the beginning of dormancy and bud-break in the vine’s growing cycle, that was the time when pruning used to begin.

When grapevines are pruned, they often bleed sap from the cuts, which explains the association to “Vin-sang”. There is also a theory that associates Saint Vicente’s choice as Patron Saint of wine makers with his death, due to the fact that his body was crushed like grapes in the press. For me the most fascinating explanation is the donkey story. According to the legend, one day Saint Vicent was travelling through the countryside with his donkey, and he stopped next to some workers in a vineyard. While Vicent was talking with the workers, the donkey was eating all the young shoots of a nearby grapevine, reducing the limbs stubs. At harvest the workers noticed that the vine that had been nipped down by the donkey produced more abundant and healthier fruit than the rest of the vineyard. Saint Vincent’s donkey had invented the art of vine pruning, that is now a standard vineyard practice, which is a meticulous task that keeps many skilled vineyard workers busy each winter, and consists in pruning the grapevines to make sure that the plant’s energy is directed more towards producing fruit than growing and sustaining shoots.

Patron Saint First Patron of Porto

As far as Porto is concerned, not many people know that between 1176 and 1453 Saint Vicent was the first Patron of the city. In 1176, D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, ordered that Saint Vicent’s body be transferred from the cape with his name in Algarve to Lisbon. He also ordered that Saint Vicent’s death relics went through Braga, which is considered the most Catholic city in Portugal. During the trip, the procession went through Porto and the mule that was carrying the urn accidentally entered into the Cathedral, where suddenly it died. This event was seen as a divine sign Saint Vicent wished to be buried in Porto. The death relics are now in Lisbon, but it is said that an arm is still buried in Porto’s Cathedral. Saint Vicent was designated Patron of Porto until 1453, when Saint Pantaleão replaced him.

Posted by in Curiosities

Analysis of High Cited Papers: Part I – Food Science and Technology and Nutrition Dietetics Research Areas

One of the main goals of this blog is to inform people about the latest news in wine research area. People need to know the state-of-the-art to be able to apply that knowledge in their works on the way to evolution and success. Ranking the papers according with the number of times that they were cited, is one of the ways to measure the impact of several studies in a specific area of research. I ordered the papers according with the number of times that they were cited in the period between January of 2015 and December of 2017. The results were obtained in a search performed in Web of Science Core Collection, the field tag used was “wine” and the results were filtered to list all Highly Cited in Field or Hot Papers in Field.

Analysing the list, we can see that most of the papers are in the Food Science and Technology and Nutrition Dietetics research areas. Consequently, the journals with higher number of records on the list are: Food Chemistry, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Food Control, International Journal of Food Microbiology and Nutrients. On top three of these research area’s list are three reviews, which was already expected as this type of papers are used by a huge number of researchers to support their hypothesis. This fact is confirmed when the analysis is made by document type, as almost half of the papers are Reviews. The paper with more citations belongs to Food Science and Technology research area and it is entitled Electronic noses for food quality: A review. An exhaustive bibliographic research was made about the use of electronic noses for food quality monitoring (meat, milk, fish, tea, coffee and wines). Regarding wine, electronic noses were used mainly to verify its quality. The authors mentioned studies where the electronic nose was used with other goals, namely discrimination between aging techniques, discrimination between products (based on geographic origin or grape) and the prediction of sensorial descriptions. From their research, the authors concluded that it is necessary more developments in this field before the transition from an experimental scale to an industrial one in real contexts. I am a wine lover, and I learned that wine tasting is a unique experience for each type of wine. It is a multifactorial analysis that depends the factors that can be controlled (temperature, humidity, light…) but, also by factors that are difficult, or even impossible, the “human” ones. Each wine taste exercise is a journey that comprises all the senses, that starts in the past, in the things that we have in our memory and ends in the future, with the wine taster trying to predict the wine evolution. Could the human features be replaced by a nose and/or an electronic tong? I invite all wine tasters to share their thoughts with me. (Photo: Bento Amaral)

Regarding the other two reviews of the top 3 mentioned above, let me talk first of the one that is in third place. This paper is the only one of the all list that was considered Hot Papers in Field. The Green alternative methods for the extraction of antioxidant bioactive compounds from winery wastes and by-products: A review, is a paper written by Francisco Barba et al. and published in March 2016. This is really an interesting issue, since winemaking is a seasonal activity, and in grape harvesting period a great accumulation of residues is generated. Usually, winemaking by-products have been sent to distilleries to obtain ethanol or to be used as fertilizers or biomass. Nevertheless, these activities are usually carried out by external companies representing economic costs for the wine industry. So, finding alternative solutions for the exploitation and valorisation of those by-products, which would involve economic, social, and environmental advantages, will be of great interest. Several studies about the chemical composition of winemaking by-products were made, which confirmed that those represent low-cost sources of many phenolic compounds, which have potential industrial applications (pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutritional, or agricultural) due to their strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial effects. 

The health benefits of polyphenols depend on their plasma concentration, and consequently depend on their intestinal absorption. So, it is without surprise that we observe that in second place on our list of Food and Nutrition area is a review paper entitled “Interaction of dietary compounds, especially polyphenols, with the intestinal microbiota: a review”. In their analysis, the authors concluded that “the products of bacterial metabolism may exhibit enhanced or more beneficial effects, or they may be degraded to inactive or toxic compounds.”. Therefore, they recommended future studies on the metabolism of polyphenols by the intestinal microbiota since they are crucial to understand the role of these compounds and their effects on human health. Two years later, in 2017, Isabel Moreno-Indias and her group published "Red wine polyphenols modulate fecal microbiota and reduce markers of the metabolic syndrome in obese patients”, that is also a Highly Cited in Field paper. They conducted a randomized, crossover, controlled intervention study and concluded that moderate intake of red wine by obese adults with the metabolic syndrome lead to in positive effects on the composition of the gut microbiota and a reduction in the metabolic syndrome risk markers.
The increase in absorption and bioavailability of polyphenols, including the ones of wine, can be achieved improving the aqueous solubility by encapsulating them. One of the Highly Cited papers in Food Science and Technology field is “A review: Using nanoparticles to enhance absorption and bioavailability of phenolic phytochemicals”. Nanoparticles have several advantages such as: improve the aqueous solubility of phenolic phytochemicals, prevent those against oxidation/degradation in the gastrointestinal tract and nanoparticles increase the absorption of phenolic phytochemicals. However, the authors recommend future studies “focused on phenolic phytochemical encapsulated nanoparticles designed for oral administration, better gastrointestinal stability, mucus penetrating function, and intestinal epithelial cell targeting properties.”

Since 1991, when CBS Broadcasting Inc. featured a story on the French Paradox suggesting red wine consumption reduces the risk for heart disease, that several studies were conducted aimed to disclose the beneficial effects of moderate wine consumption on cardiovascular diseases. In 2015, Kazuo Yamagata et al. published the paper “Dietary polyphenols regulate endothelial function and prevent cardiovascular disease”, that enclose a bibliographic research of the many studies about the preventive effects of polyphenols on cardiovascular disease. In conclusion, they pointed out to the great number of studies that show the beneficial effect of polyphenols on vascular endothelial cell function. Kazuo Yamagata et al. recommend that in future more studies are necessary to discover the mechanisms by which dietary polyphenols act to provide their protective effects. Cardiovascular disease is the greatest cause of morbidity and mortality associated with type 2 diabetes and needs severe control of glucose and lipid concentrations as well as blood pressure to minimise risk of complications and disease progression. Heather A. Hausenblas et al. performed a systematic review and meta-analysis study and concluded that exist a rational reason for the use of resveratrol interventions as an aid to standard pharmaceutical management in type 2 diabetes through larger, long-duration clinical trials with additional outcome measures. However, one year after, in 2016, was published another review entitled “Polyphenols and Glycemic Control” with opposite conclusion. This review, also a paper highly cited in Nutrition and Dietetics field, the mechanisms of action of dietary polyphenols in glucose homeostasis and insulin are discussed. The authors show that there is little evidence of an effect of grape and wine polyphenols on glucose and insulin. However, these results are not discouraging, quite the opposite these results show that larger and better designed clinical studies are necessary before any recommendations can be made.

Posted by in Food Science and Technology, Nutrition

Monthly Assignment Challenge – February

By Daniele Del Rio

Ah, red wine! I have met this fantastic product for the first time when I was a little boy. The wine typically drunk in my area is called “Lambrusco”. Red and sparkling, not really too much alcohol in it. Very unusual, as I realized after growing up and tasting so many other reds in Italy and around the world. I still remember my father and my grandfather, both never drinking wine, telling us kids to drink a few drops of Lambrusco to get smarter. It was a joke back then, but what if this idea wasn't completely naïf? What if some molecules in red wine were actually able to interact with the brain….maybe even making us smarter? I guess I never really thought about this idea for many years. Then I suddenly found myself in Glasgow, working with Prof. Alan Crozier, for my PhD. Alan had just published a couple of papers on the phenolic profiles of red wines from all over the world, where Chilean reds were stars on their own (and the Chilean winemakers couldn't believe how the market reacted to the publication of a nice piece in some central page of a UK newspaper!). Then I met Roger Corder, a brilliant scientist and the author of “The Wine Diet”, a masterpiece of popular science on wine and health.

And then, more than 30 years later, I am involved in a research project called VALID (, in which, with colleagues from Coleraine (Northern Ireland) and Dublin (Republic of Ireland), we are trying hard to understand how polyphenols present in wine and in many other sources, called procyanidins, could interact with our gut microbes and be transformed in metabolites that are then in turn able to mitigate some of the processes that lead to the cognitive decline of the aging brain. We were inspired by preliminary results of our own as well as from other groups, that led us to hypothesize that it’s these metabolites, and not the polyphenols contained in the wine or in the other plant foods we consume in our diet, that may act within our body and, perhaps, reduce our risk of dementia and potentially other chronic illnesses. If this is true….I still don't know, but the results we will obtain from the dietary and blood analyses of the >5000 subjects that composed our cohort of study (the TUDA cohort) will certainly cast some light on the science that lies underneath what 30 years ago was just a joke for us kids. And to be honest, Lambrusco does not even contain a lot of procyanidins…..

I don't know if polyphenols are really the secret of living a long and healthy life. I’m pretty sure that if they are...their efficacy depends on the capacity of our gut microbes to make them different and more “active”. I’m also sure, though, that a bottle of tasty and full bodied (and tannic!) red wine drunk with my fellow researchers and friends has the best effect on my brain and on my heart any food can have! The best ideas always originated in these convivial situations, and a glass of red was always the glue between me and the best friends I have around the world! What say you, Chris Gill? Do you agree with this?

Daniele Del Rio is an Associate Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Parma, Italy, where he serves as Deputy Director of the Microbiome Research Hub (, and the Scientific Director of the Need For Nutrition Education/Innovation Programme Global Centre for Nutrition & Health, in Cambridge, UK ( He serves as Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Taylor & Francis). He is a proud Commendatore (Knight Commander, possibly one of the youngest!!) of the Italian Republic, and he is happily growing a team of very very brilliant scientists.

Posted by in Health

Does resveratrol prevent cisplatin-induced hepatotoxicity?

By Filipa Correia and Paula Silva


Most people heard about cisplatin (CSP) for the first time in the news, because it was the drug that helped Lance Armstrong (Tour de France winner) fight testicular cancer. Others heard about it because, unfortunately, someone close to them took or takes CSP. In fact, until the turn of the century, CPS was the most prescribed medicine, alone or combined with other compounds, in the world for cancer therapy (1).

Cisplatin-induced hepatotoxicity

Nonetheless, it can bring nefarious consequences to the surrounding tissues, inducing spermiotoxicity, ototoxicity, gastrointestinal toxicity, nephrotoxicity, haematological toxicity, neurotoxicity, and hepatotoxicity (2-4). Due to the mild and transient nature of the liver toxicity, when the drug is administered under standard doses, not much attention has been given to this subject and it has only been explored in a small number of papers (5). However, these toxic effects shouldn’t be underestimated, since the coadministration with other hepatotoxic agents could cause significant harm to the liver (6). Furthermore, although CSP-induced acute hepatic injury is reportedly dose-related, being high doses correlated to hepatotoxicity (7), a low dose repeated therapy may also carry the same side effects (1). The impairment of hepatic functions is known to arise from the disruption of mitochondrial function and the increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by CSP (8). This compound weakens antioxidant activity, as suggested by the detection of high levels of lipid and protein oxidation, and compromises the efficiency of respiratory chain (1). If a partial hepatectomy is performed, this drug will also damage the regenerating liver by inducing the initiation of apoptosis (9).

Does resveratrol prevent cisplatin-induced hepatotoxicity?

Near the turn of the century, since 1991 when CBS featured a story on the French Paradox suggesting red wine consumption reduces the risk of heart disease, resveratrol (RSV) had been the most investigated molecule as the possible anti-aging miracle. RSV and other phenolic compounds, highly commended for their antioxidant characteristic, are found in a wide range of natural products, being particularly abundant in red wine, and confer to them a multitude of beneficial health properties (10). RSV is a stilbenoid that can be found in peanuts, pistachios, berries, dark chocolate and grapes, with the latter presenting a notably higher content than the others (10). The protection conferred to cells by this polyphenol has been associated to the activation of the sirtuin 1 pathway, which is known to be implicated in mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolic control (11). RSV operates, within the mitochondria, as an activator of the protein deacetylase and its substrate, peroxisome gamma coactivator-1α, which is a nuclear transcription factor. This is essential for the phenolic compound to exert its protective effect towards the preservation of normal mitochondrial activity (12). As a matter of fact, the pathway has already been targeted in toxicity studies with the intent to tackle pharmaceutical drugs awful consequences (13). Mice primary hepatocytes and HepG2 cells’ mitochondrial function was also found to be modulated by RSV in a SIRT1 dependent manner (12). Moreover, not only does this polyphenol display a chemoprotective activity, but also appears to have a therapeutic effect against cancer in various organs, including the liver (14). Combination therapy seems to be a promisor therapeutic strategy to liver cancer, it was found that a combinational synergism cytotoxicity of tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) and RSV on human liver cancer HepG2 cells (15).

Considering CSP-induced toxicity, not much is known regarding RSV activity. RSV was shown to have a protective effect against myocardial damage and cardiac dysfunction induced by CSP in rats (16). However, when coadministrated with CSP it also displayed cytotoxic potential (16). It was found to potentiate the inhibitory effect of a non-toxic dose of CSP (14). A recent study showed a hepatoprotective effect of methanolic extract of leaves Capparis spinose. Using HPLC-analysis, RSV and other three compounds were found to be predominant in the extract. Rats were pre-treated with the extract 7 days before CSP being administered by gastric gavage. It was observed that the methanol extract of Capparis spinosa leaves has hepatoprotective effects, since allows the preventing from the destructive lipid peroxidation, the preserving of biochemical indicators and antioxidant enzyme activities at near-normal values, and the improving of liver lesions (17).

And now?

The development of chemoprotective and chemotherapeutic drugs from natural sources is of great importance. As already mentioned, there are very few articles discussing the influence of RSV on CSP induced hepatocytotoxicity. In future it will be interesting to study the antioxidant and mitochondrial protective activity of RSV, alone or co-administered with other polyphenols such (e.g. quercetin), to amplify the knowledge on the protective effects of polyphenols found in grapes and wine, key ingredients of the Mediterranean diet, against the damage caused by chemotherapeutic agents, in particular CSP, to the liver, one of the most affected organs in chemotherapy treatments.

Filipa Correia finished the First Degree in Biochemistry in September of 2017 at University of Porto. or


1.Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001;1537(1):79-88.

2.J Appl Toxicol. 2008;28(3):337-44.

3.Cancer Treat Rev. 1998;24(4):265-81.

4.Eur J Pharmacol. 2002;442(3):265-72.

5.Ann Pharmacother. 1993;27(4):438-41.

6.Food Chem Toxicol. 2010;48(8):2052-8.

7.Reprod Toxicol. 2006;21(1):42-7.

8.Drug Saf. 1995;13(4):228-44.

9.Drug Chem Toxicol. 2015;38(4):452-9.

10.Biomed Pharmacoth. 2017;87:171-9.

11.Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2009;24(6):675-80.

12.Anticancer Res. 2014;34(10):5473-80.

13.Anticancer Res. 2004;24(5a):2783-840.

14.Cell Physiol Biochem. 2015;35(3):1116-24.

15.Cell Metab. 2012;15(5):675-90.

16.Mol Cells. 2016;39(2):87-95.

17.Nat Prod Commun. 2009;4(5):635-58.

Posted by in Health


By Paula Silva

Believe me, your question is my question! Why does an assistant professor of histology decide to have a blog about Science and Wine? When I first had this idea, it was the question that haunted me night and day. In my daily life, it is very difficult to have time for myself. I teach, I do research work, I have management responsibilities in my university, I have a beautiful family of five. Really, do I need more work? Isn’t my life exciting enough? Do I need more challenges? Well, I believe that one of the most crucial things for progress and evolution is sharing knowledge, and I found that this is the reason why I’ve decided to create this blog. To have a free space where scientific advances in the field of wine can be shared amongst the scientists, winemakers, wine tasters and by all those who enjoy wine, and want to “sip” unbiased information about it.

In the academic world, we can spread scientific information through different means: in the classroom, at conferences, through papers…But, in my opinion, most of the scientific information does not arrive, or arrives in a biased way, to genuine users of that information. Why wine? Wine was always one of my passions. During my youth, I used to work in grape harvesting to earn money for my holidays. In fact, I’ve always lived surrounded by people associated to wine and I have always wanted to do something in this field. In 2015, I decided to do research about the influence of moderate wine consumption on chronic diseases. Since then, I have been studying a lot about this issue, I have attended lectures, conferences, workshops and I have started to do lab work about it.

In 2017, I challenged the University of Porto (U.Porto) to organise a conference entitled “Science & Wine – from terroir to glass”. The organising committee gathered people from U.Porto and from Port and Douro Wine Institute (IVDP) and focussed on some of the most important topics related to vine and wine: terroir, viticulture, winemaking, sensory evaluation, marketing and health ( It was a huge success, and at the end people asked for more. This blog is also a way of answering those requests. Science & Wine blog will be coordinated by me, but it will also be built by everyone and anyone who wants to share scientifically established information about wine. One of the posts is called “Monthly Assignment Challenge”, in which a researcher writes about something and nominates another one to write the post of the following month. In this challenge, the most important thing is to leave an open question that must be about wine, not necessarily in the expert area of the researcher who nominates. Professor Daniele Del Rio gave me the honour of being the first one. The blog will likewise have information about scientific journals, conferences, workshops and scientific papers in the wine area. Readers opinion is very important and people are encouraged, in different contexts, to give their opinion. Together we will be a team. I propose a toast to 2018 and to this project.

Posted by in Curiosities