Wine, watermelon and libido

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Can watermelon and wine boost sexual desire?

By Mary Malik

Let’s explore an old wives’ tale. Jim Sperk, of the Northern Ohio Wine Guild, credits Betty Kaufman, an independent wine consultant in Napa, CA, with the one about wine and watermelon.

“There’s a story dating back to the 19th century about a town near a monastery in a region loaded with grapes and watermelons,” says Jim. “Several women were assaulted in the area and the monks determined that the combination of grapes and watermelon resulted in an increased libido in the attackers. In response, the monks told people consuming wine and watermelon together would cause them to die and go to hell.”

As crazy as the monks’ response sounds, there is some science behind their reasoning. Watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline that converts to arginine once in the bloodstream. Arginine is a main source of nitric oxide and nitric oxide is a main component of Sildenafil, a medication more commonly known as Viagra.

“Adding wine to the mix was like adding fuel to the fire since wine contains polyphenols that boost the formation of nitric oxide,” says Jim. “Wine also contains ethanol, which produces a rise in serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that regulates sexual desire, among other things.”

Thankfully, Betty says that further research has actually shown that this tale is just that—a tale. In fact, there are many great recipes that exist for the delicious combination of wine and watermelon. If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and try one.

For information on the Northern Ohio Wine Guild, contact Jim Sperk at