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Wine: It's History and Health Benefits

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But nowadays, a glass of wine does, too.

In recent years, the medical world has done extensive studies to determine the health effects of wine. The interest in wine by researchers, and the number of tests done, demonstrates the recent surge in popularity. And with its popularity over the past twenty years, the beverage has spread around the world. For example, wineries have popped up in such unlikely places as the north of Japan and Sweden. They have also spread throughout New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and Chile. And because wine has become more and more popular, local cuisine and dining habits have changed. In Ireland, a place where Guinness and whiskey go hand in hand with history and tradition, wine now makes up 20% of all alcohol drunk there. People go to restaurants for wine and dinner instead of pubs for a few pints of beer.

You may be surprised to discover just when wine was first drunk, though. It's a very ancient beverage. Although no one knows exactly when people first began to drink it, wine has at least 8,000 years of history. Archaeologists have found evidence at many Old World sites as proof. No one knows how it was first discovered. Historians believe that early farmers collected wild fruit, which they then turned into alcohol. Wild grapes were probably included in the mix. Domesticated grapes, or grapes that were selected and raised by people, appeared about 5,000 years ago. And from then, wine moved through the ancient civilizations. It became an important part of the history and culture of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Through the Middle Ages, only the wealthy drank wine. The poor drank beer. Yet the development of wine continued, along with the creation of new varieties. Nowadays there are many different kinds of grapes, which produce many different kinds of wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay are household names, but there are hundreds of kinds of grapes grown for wine production. Each has a unique taste, which is also affected by soil, weather, and topography.

In recent years, especially since the early 1990s, researchers have spent a lot of time examining what they call "the French paradox." Traditional French food contains a lot of unhealthy fat. Yet the French have a much lower level of heart disease than Americans. The answer, many believe, comes from the amount of wine drunk by the French. And although other types of alcohol also have been discovered to possess health benefits, only wine contains additional chemicals that help fight cancer and Alzheimer's Disease.

Wine collecting has further driven the boom in wine. Some wines sell for thousands of dollars per bottle, and will likely never be drunk. Wine is a multi-billion dollar industry, which gets bigger and bigger every year.


Step 1: You will listen to an article about wine. The article is about 5 minutes long. Listen only, and don't worry about understanding everything.
Step 2: Read and understand the questions, then listen again. As you are listening, try to answer the questions in your head. Don't write the answers yet. Next, listen again and write the answers this time. Check your answers with a partner.
Step 3: Read the article. Check in your dictionary any unknown words. Now listen again. Can you understand more?
Step 4: Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to the article on the train or in your free time. Each time you listen, you will slowly improve!

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