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08.13.2004

As If You Needed an Excuse to Drink More Wine...

We've already been through most of the reasons why, really, you SHOULD have that sixth glass of red wine over dinner. In case you still get a look of suspicion from someone even after your convincing argument that you are treating your herpes, lowering your bad cholesterol, and preventing melanoma, here's the one final excuse you can use: we're evolutionarily predisposed to drink. Yes that's right, now you have Darwin on your side. I shudder to think about how this is going to play out in AA sessions all over the country, but it turns out that primates (us) as well as other animals are actually more attracted to foodstuffs and drinkstuffs that produce ethanol.

For those like me who have very little high school biology left rattling around upstairs but might manage to retain some odd facts here and there, ethanol is the stuff that fruit produces while it ripens, and more ethanol equals more ripening (which is why grandma always put fruit in a paper bag, and why most big agribusiness picks its fruits unripe and pumps the trucks full of ethanol to ripen the fruit on its way to the grocery store.)

In any case, one of the biggest producers of ethanol is the fermentation process whereby fruit goes to booze. Now some scientists say that we are evolutionarily sensitized and attracted to ethanol.

Primates appear to have a highly developed sensitivity to the smell of ethanol, Dudley said, which may give them an edge over other fruit-eating animals. And this sensitivity may have been passed on to humans. Today, we continue to be attracted to foods that benefited our ancestors.
So THATS why I have such a hard time passing up a good buy from Premier Cru. Oh well, can't fight evolution.

Read the full article here.

Comments (3)

08.13.04 at 1:40 PM

My bio degree has faded over time, but I think that while you get ethanol from fermentation, ethylene is the compound that causes ripening and that producers gas over fruits to help them ripen (though of course not mature, which is why we have unflavorful fruit in our stores).

Bananas (and maybe apples) off-gas ethylene, so if you really want to ripen things in a paper bag, stick a banana in there with them.

Alder wrote:
08.13.04 at 2:07 PM

DAMN! I knew I was probably getting it wrong. Oh well. Keep me honest, Derrick.

08.13.04 at 10:48 PM

:)

I rarely get to use my bio degree, so it's always nice when I actually remember some vague tidbit (usually, sadly, I only remember orders of insects--like that's something I'd choose to remember).

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