Did you know that red wine could be healthy? There is abundant evidence that moderate intake of red wine may have have beneficial effects. It may promote heart health and even fight some forms of cancer. However, moderate consumption of red wine is key.
In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about red wine, including the ways it can benefit your health.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Red Wine?
- What Are The Types Of Red Wine?
- What Is The History Of Red Wine?
- What Ingredients In Red Wine Make It So Beneficial?
- Is Red Wine Good For You?
- What Are The Benefits Of Red Wine For Health?
- How Does Red Wine Benefit The Skin?
- Any Benefits For Hair?
- How Is Red Wine Made?
- Red Wine Vs White Wine: Which Is Healthier?
- What Are The Side Effects Of Red Wine?
- How To Drink Wine In Moderation?
- What Are The Popular Red Wine Recipes?
- How To Buy Red Wine? What To Consider?
- How To Select And Store Red Wine?
- What Are The Best Uses Of Red Wine?
- Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What Is Red Wine?
This is the type of wine made from black grape varieties. But the color of the wine may differ – ranging from intense violet (young wines) to brick red (mature wines) and brown (older wines).
How the wine is made is an interesting story – right from being handpicked to bottled. We will discuss the process in detail in a later section in this post. But, simply put, red wine is made by crushing and fermenting dark colored grapes (the whole fruit).
The alcohol content of red wine usually ranges from 12% to 15%.
Organic wine is another type of wine that has a subtle difference. This wine is produced from grapes that are grown according to the principles of organic farming – which prohibits the use of chemicals and other artificial fertilizers.
One glass of red wine has about 125 calories. It contains about 3.8 grams of carbohydrates and no cholesterol.
But hey, did you know there are different types of red wine?
What Are The Types Of Red Wine?
There are different types of red wine, each with its own unique element. Some of the most popular ones are:
– Syrah, which is also called Shiraz. This variety produces spicy and hearty red wine. The variety is usually used to produce average wines. But some of the wines coming from this variety have intense flavors and great longevity.
– Merlot, whose softness has made this variety an ‘introducing wine’ to new wine drinkers.
– Cabernet, which is one of the world’s best varieties. This wine type usually undergoes oak treatment.
– Malbec, having originated from the district of Bordeaux in France, this variety is often blended with cabernet and merlot.
– Pinot noir, which is one of the noblest red wine grapes. This variety is difficult to grow.
– Zinfandel, the world’s most versatile wine grape variety.
– Sangiovese, which can be a good choice for Italian style cuisines.
– Barbera, which has similar attributes as Merlot, though not as popular.
Not just the varieties, but red wine has a rich history too.
What Is The History Of Red Wine?
Red wine was first produced (using the fermentation process) in Georgia and Iran way back around 6000 BC. And wine was first mentioned as a man-made medicine around 2200 BC, in ancient Egyptian Papyri and Sumerian tablets.
Hippocrates, widely known as the father of Western medicine, promoted wine as a part of a healthy diet. According to him, wine was also good for disinfecting wounds, easing the pain during childbirth, and treating symptoms of diarrhea and lethargy. Even during the Middle Ages, Catholic monks were known to frequently use wine for a variety of medical treatments. And during the 1892 cholera epidemic that shook Germany, wine was used to sterilize water.
The early 20th century saw the rise of the Temperance movement that discouraged wine consumption, linking it to alcoholism.
And over the recent years, numerous studies have been conducted that threw a positive light on wine, especially the red variety. Research has shown that moderate wine consumption has beneficial effects on heart health and diabetes management. It might also help fight obesity and diseases of the nervous system. You will see a ton of this research in this post. Just keep reading.
Before we proceed any further, you need to know about the French paradox. This is the observation that the French have very low rates of heart disease, despite consuming large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat (1). Certain experts believe that the regular consumption of red wine by the French could be a reason.
Well, this does show red wine as an elixir for vitality and good health. We don’t know that yet, but what ingredients in red wine could make it so beneficial?
What Ingredients In Red Wine Make It So Beneficial?
Red wine is made from grapes, and grapes are rich in several antioxidants. Some of these include catechins, resveratrol, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins (4).
Resveratrol, the antioxidant coming from grape skins, has anti-aging and heart-healthy benefits.
Flavonoids, especially the anthocyanins, that render the wine a rich red color, can have beneficial effects for overall health. And proanthocyanidins can reduce heart disease risk (5). These antioxidants also help combat free radical damage. Wines contain sugar too – which is something you need to consider.
- Dry wine – 4 grams of sugar per liter
- Medium dry wine – 4 to 12 grams of sugar per liter (0.5 to 2 grams per glass)
- Sweet wine – 45 grams of sugar per liter (6 grams per glass)
Red wine could be available in all these types, and if possible, try to go for the dry variety.
And coming to the big question –
Is Red Wine Good For You?
That’s the entire deal, isn’t it? Oh yes, overconsumption is hazardous. It can wreck your life and make you wonder why you even had that first sip.
But red wine, in moderation, has benefits.
Benefits. Hard to associate the term with wine, isn’t it? Well – not anymore. Consuming red wine (in moderation, remember) can cut the risk of dementia (6). It can even prevent liver disease and offer protection against cancer (prostate cancer, especially) (7), (8).
There are so many other benefits. Really.
And we will look at all of them. But before that, if you are against wine consumption (for any reason) but still want the benefits this wine offers, you have good news.
A red wine pill. Popping a pill can help you receive the benefits of resveratrol without having to uncork a single bottle. Taking a red wine pill can also help you avoid all the empty calories and sugars that come with red wine.
Before we head to the benefits, we want to make one thing very clear.
Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends you drink alcohol just to prevent disease. Alcohol can be addictive and can lead to serious health problems or even aggravate some.
What Are The Benefits Of Red Wine For Health?
Check out some of the best health benefits of red wine.
1. Boosts Heart Health
The antioxidants in red wine can increase the levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). This prevents cholesterol build-up, preventing heart disease. The polyphenols in red wine, especially resveratrol, can protect the linings of the blood vessels in your heart. Resveratrol has been found to reduce blood clots (9). Though more research is required, the possibilities are promising.
Resveratrol in red wine can also prevent immature fat cells from maturing. It can also activate a protein called sirtuin 1, which protects the heart from inflammation (10).
According to another study by the Israel Institute of Technology, red wine can enhance the health of the cells in the blood vessels. As per the report, regular (and moderate) red wine consumption for 21 days can significantly enhance vascular endothelial function. But, we want to stress again, moderation is the key. And in no way do we want to promote alcohol. A glass of wine here and there is okay. Or if you are going out on the weekend and having a few drinks with dinner. But practice moderation.
Red wine also dilates the arteries. And in terms of the health benefits, two glasses of red wine are the same as five liters of fruit juice (11). But if you are someone with an alcohol problem, red wine is not the way to go about it.
As per another Indian study, quercetin, another red wine polyphenol, exhibits cardioprotective properties (12). The wine was also found to promote the regression of blood pressure. Wine drinkers were also found to have higher levels of good cholesterol than their counterparts. The study concludes that red wine, as a diet supplement, can be beneficial for the heart. But mind you, only as a diet supplement.
Another American study states that resveratrol in red wine can prevent the age-related decline in cardiovascular function (13). And as per another Italian study, though red wine has its benefits, we don’t know its effects on nondrinkers (14). Hence, this post doesn’t ask nondrinkers to start taking red wine to get its benefits, but asks heavy drinkers to limit its intake to obtain its benefits. And nondrinkers can get their share of resveratrol through grapes as well.
Talking about the healthy dosage, men can limit their consumption to 1 to 2 drinks a day. And women can limit themselves to 1 drink a day. This is on the higher end, by the way. One ‘drink’ equals 118 ml of wine, or 355 ml of beer, or 44 ml of 80-proof spirits, or 30 ml of 100-proof spirits (15).
And if you are looking for a wine that is healthiest for the heart, go for Pinot Noir – the grapes grown for this red wine come from wet and cold environments. This means, the healthiest parts of the fruit are kept the freshest.
Though we know moderate red wine consumption can prevent heart disease, what we don’t know is if it can reverse an existing condition (16). We require more research in that aspect.
2. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
In addition to raising good cholesterol levels, the resveratrol in red wine can also lower the levels of bad cholesterol. But according to the National Cholesterol Education Program, lowering the consumption of trans fat and getting exercise every day could be better ways of keeping your cholesterol levels in check.
Studies say that a daily glass of red wine for four weeks can elevate good cholesterol levels by 16 percent, and reduce the amount of fibrinogen (a clotting compound) by 15 percent (17). It is particularly the alcohol in the wine that provides these benefits, which may not be achieved by just any red grape extract. Other studies say that though red wine is protective, other forms of alcohol may not have similar beneficial effects.
Red wine can help if you have dark meat. It prevents the release of harmful compounds in dark meat that could raise cholesterol levels (18). And as per a Brazilian study, red wine might help prevent plaque formation, which is a direct consequence of increased cholesterol (19).
Not only does red wine increase good cholesterol, but it also makes the particles bigger. Big and fluffy versions of HDL are great news for the heart (20).
3. Helps Fight Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, drinking red wine can lower your blood sugar for up to 24 hours. But that aside, there is some research that shows how red wine can help diabetics.
As per a recent study, moderate red wine consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes (21). But apart from moderation, what diabetics (the ones on medication, especially) must also consider is the time of day when they consume the wine.
More interestingly, as per a study, people who consumed wine three to four times a week were 30% less likely to develop diabetes than those who drank less than once a week. The credit could be given to the polyphenols in red wine, which may help manage blood sugar levels (22). However, the doctors involved in the study don’t recommend their patients to start drinking just to reduce the risk of diabetes. One must also know that different types of alcohol can have different effects on blood sugar levels. For example, beer can raise blood sugar while hard drinks can dangerously lower the levels.
It is important to take your diabetes case seriously because the statistics are alarming. According to the WHO reports, the number of diabetes patients has increased rapidly – from 108 million registered cases in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 (23). Diabetes can also cause stroke, kidney failure, heart disease, and lower limb amputation (24).
Another study has confirmed that taking a glass of red wine every night might cut the risk of diabetes (25). It suggests that the non-alcoholic constituents of red wine could be given credit for its antidiabetic properties. And as per another Ukraine study conducted on diabetic rats, red wine and its polyphenols show great promise in treating and even preventing diabetes (26). Tannic acid, one of the non-alcoholic compounds in red wine, can also aid in diabetes treatment (27).
Red wine is one of the richest dietary sources of resveratrol, which, as per a study, can improve the health of diabetics’ arteries (28).
If you are in a dilemma as to take red wine or white wine for diabetes treatment, here goes your answer – in one study, red wine could inhibit the activity of alpha-glucosidase (an enzyme that triggers the absorption of glucose by the small intestine) by nearly 100 percent, while white wine could achieve so by only as much as 20 percent. Red wine also contains 10 times more polyphenols than white wine, which could be responsible for this desirable effect (29).
Red wine also contains 13 times more resveratrol than white wine (because red wine ferments for a longer time with the grape skins). Research shows that the post-meal spike in sugar levels is one of the biggest reasons for inflammation, which often leads to diabetes (30). But if you have a glass of red wine with your evening meal, your blood sugar levels would be about 30% lower than if you hadn’t taken the wine.
But it is important to consider the words of Dr. Emily Burns, Head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, who says that although the studies are interesting, the results should not be seen as a green light to drink lots of alcohol (31).
4. Fights Cancer
According to a report by the University of Rochester Medical Center, resveratrol in red wine can destroy pancreatic cancer cells. The antioxidant achieves this by crippling the function of the cells’ core energy source (also called the mitochondria) (32).
In fact, the importance of red wine during cancer treatment is so much that doctors wouldn’t advise the patient to give up on red wine if (s)he is already taking it (in moderation, obviously). Research suggests resveratrol not only destroys the malignant cells but also protects the normal tissue from the detrimental effects of radiation.
More interestingly, pancreatic cells are particularly resistant to chemotherapy. This is because the organ usually pumps powerful digestive enzymes into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine right behind the stomach). This natural pumping process of the pancreas can even rid the needed chemotherapy from cells. But what’s fascinating is that resveratrol in red wine can also reduce the power available to pump chemotherapy out of the cell.
Research has also revealed that individuals who take at least a glass of red wine a week are less likely to suffer from bowel cancer than non-drinkers or drinkers of spirits or beer (33).
Resveratrol also makes the cancer cells more sensitive by obstructing the proteins that otherwise inhibit chemotherapy treatment (34). And the concentration of resveratrol in red wine can be as high as 30 micrograms/ml.
As per a Chinese study, red wine polyphenols can also inhibit the proliferation of colon cancer cells (35). The wine was also found to be better than white wine in breast cancer treatment. Apart from resveratrol, another compound called myricetin in red wine gives it its cancer-preventive properties. And in mice studies, red wine polyphenols were found to delay the onset of tumors. Another Spanish study suggests that red wine is negatively associated with the development of lung cancer – although further research is warranted (36).
One report published by Harvard Medical School emphasizes on the possibility of red wine preventing prostate cancer (37). Men who consume moderate amounts of red wine are only half as likely to suffer from prostate cancer than those who don’t drink it at all. Researchers assume that the resveratrol in the beverage might work against the male hormones that stimulate the prostate gland. Red wine can also lower the risk of certain advanced and aggressive cancers by as much as 60 percent (38).
And as per researchers from the University of Colorado, if you are going to drink alcohol, choose red wine (39).
But there’s some contradictory evidence too – which is as important. One report states that red wine can, conversely, increase cancer risk. This could be attributed to the alcoholic content in the wine (40). So we recommend you take your doctor’s advice at least in this aspect – as cancer is not an everyday ailment that we can take a chance at. Also, to reduce the ill effects of alcohol, you can add a low-calorie mixer to your drink or have a glass of water in between each drink. Of course, the best way is to practice moderation or to quit altogether.
5. Prevents Obesity
Research says that resveratrol in red wine can convert the bad fat into calorie-burning brown fat. And diets containing the antioxidant can help combat obesity (41). Resveratrol enhances the oxidation of dietary fats and prevents the body from getting overloaded. It converts white fat into brown fat (also called beige fat) that burns off as heat – thereby preventing obesity and metabolic dysfunction.
But it is important to note that certain wine brands, especially merlot and cabernet sauvignon, contain a fraction of resveratrol that is found in grapes. This is because most of the beneficial polyphenols are insoluble and filtered out during the winemaking process. Though this may not be the case with all brands of red wine, it is important to inquire into the winemaking process from the seller. A little extra knowledge can help.
Red wine consumption can also reduce the damaging effects of smoking (42). It can reduce inflammation and the aging process in cells (triggered by an enzyme called telomerase), which usually accelerates post smoking.
As per another Spanish study, the polyphenols in red wine modulate the gut microbiota and help prevent metabolic diseases in obese individuals (43). These polyphenols can also prevent cardiac ailments associated with obesity (44).
According to a report by Purdue University, resveratrol gets converted into piceatannol post consumption. Piceatannol alters the way adipogenesis (the process where fat cells in the early stage become mature) happens – which means, the compound can delay or even inhibit adipogenesis (45). Piceatannol is also found in the skins of red grapes and their seeds, blueberries, and passion fruit.
But allow us to stress this again – M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the calories and alcohol in red wine can promote weight gain and increase disease risk if taken in large amounts over the long term (46). They can cause cancer as well. Hence, limit consumption to 1 drink or less for women and 2 drinks or less for men. Per day.
[ Read: Superfoods For Weight Loss ]
6. Prevents High Blood Pressure And Stroke
One report by the Harvard Medical School recommends non-alcoholic red wine over the regular variety. The wine protects against artery damage, consequently lowering blood pressure (47). Also, consuming non-alcoholic red wine can elevate nitric oxide levels in your blood. This is good news as nitric oxide relaxes the walls of the blood vessels, encouraging better blood flow. However, regular exercise and a proper diet are the best options on any given day.
Spanish researchers also say that the alcohol in red wine weakens its ability to lower blood pressure (48). So, non-alcoholic red wine could be the way to go.
Red wine can also reduce blood pressure by lowering stress. Stress can elevate your blood pressure levels, but a serving of red wine at night can help you relax.
A small glass of wine per day was also found to reduce the risk of ischemic stroke by 10 percent (49). Anything beyond that amount could be problematic – as alcohol can elevate blood pressure levels, causing stroke.
Resveratrol in red wine can also prompt the brain cells to defend themselves from free radicals, thereby preventing stroke (50). But more research is required – as not all types of red wine contain the same amounts of resveratrol. But otherwise, if you choose to drink, let red wine be the first choice – as it can protect the brain (51).
But again, we have contradictory evidence here – another set of researchers say that the blood pressure effects of red wine are the same as beer. And removing alcohol from red wine may not make a big difference. As per researchers, it’s a delicate balance. Men must drink less than 2 drinks per day; and women, not more than 1. Alcohol, when taken in moderation, can decrease the risk of blood clots – which might otherwise cause strokes (52). But yes, you got it – moderation is key.
In yet another study, it was found that red wine polyphenols didn’t lower blood pressure levels (53). The drink may not even have positive effects on hypertension. And another Australian study suggests that red wine might elevate blood pressure levels in normotensive men (54).
7. Promotes Longevity
Research done by French scientists reveals that resveratrol in red wine can increase lifespan by as much as 60% (55). The antioxidant could also provide higher energy levels. Though the tests have been conducted on worms, researchers believe similar effects can be seen in humans. Resveratrol might activate an evolutionary stress response in human cells that might enhance longevity.
The antioxidant is found in some berries, grapes, peanuts, and cacao beans – it is produced in these plants as a response to stress. It is a naturally occurring phytoalexin (also called defender of the plant) that is produced in response to mechanical trauma (like an injury), ultraviolet light, or infection by fungi – it provides a means for defense (56). Research suggests that it can work similarly in humans as well.
An Italian study says that wine can increase lifespan by inducing longevity genes (57). And according to the Stanford Center on Longevity, resveratrol in red wine can protect our neurons from the undesirable effects of aging (58). However, the amount of resveratrol that you can get from red wine is quite small compared to that in a pill. If you should get a comparable amount of resveratrol from wine alone, you might have to drink 600 bottles of red wine per day (59). And that’s certainly not a good idea, right?
8. Reduces Stress
We have already seen this.
And yes, it is resveratrol again. This compound in red wine stimulates a particular protein that activates certain genes that repair DNA, suppresses the tumor genes, and promotes longevity genes. Basically, what we mean to say is a glass of red wine a day can help you stress less. The best way to achieve this is to have a glass of wine along with your dinner, and not right before sleep – this can have a calming effect on you without disturbing your sleep cycle.
But the stress-relieving effects of red wine are not applicable to pregnant women. Women who are expecting do undergo a lot of stress – and drinking red wine is not the best option to combat it. Alcohol, in any form, can be detrimental to the baby (60).
Comfort foods like cookies sure can relieve stress, but the downside is you crash. Fruits and vegetables, and red wine, of course, relieve stress and also offer antioxidants that can be beneficial (61).
9. Improves Bone Strength
One study published in the Oxford Academic Journal has revealed that resveratrol in red wine can improve spinal bone density in men suffering from metabolic syndrome (62). The study suggests that resveratrol positively affects the bone by stimulating formation or mineralization. The compound also has anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent bone loss. It stimulates bone-forming cells in the body (63).
One or two glasses of wine can work as good as drugs to protect older women from thinning bones. Moderate alcohol intake post menopause was found to maintain bone strength in the later years. More interestingly, the imbalance between the dissolving of an old bone and production of a new bone is what causes osteoporosis in older women – and alcohol, when consumed in moderation, remedies this imbalance (64). Nevertheless, the National Osteoporosis Society warns against drinking more alcohol to protect the bones. Excessive alcohol can increase the risk of fractures.
10. Reduces The Risk Of Cataracts
As per studies, resveratrol and other antioxidants in red wine can help prevent blindness (65). In another study by the Washington University School of Medicine, resveratrol in the wine prevents the out-of-control growth of the blood vessels in the eye. It also prevents diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (66).
Resveratrol might also reduce the risk of cataracts by increasing the levels of glutathione in your system (67).
As per other studies, grapes (and wine coming from them), green or red or black, can act as a magic bullet in the fight against cataracts (68).
11. Promotes Liver Health
Modest wine consumption was not only found to be safe for the liver, but it could even cut the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (69). On the contrary, intake of beer or liquor could increase the risk of the disease by four times.
12. May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
Resveratrol in red wine was found to repair the leaky blood-brain barriers, allowing the blood from the body to enter the brain. This repair slows down the advancement of cognitive issues in Alzheimer’s patients (70). Alzheimer’s patients face further problems by nervous tissue inflammation, which is often caused by the secretion of harmful immune molecules from the body into the brain. Resveratrol shuts out these immune molecules, which would otherwise cause inflammation and destroy neurons.
Researchers have also been studying the compounds that are left behind after red wine passes through the gut – they call these compounds human gut metabolites (71). These metabolites can prevent the brain cells from dying.
13. Boosts Brain Health
According to research conducted by the Yale School of Medicine, though wine molecules don’t have taste or flavor, they stimulate the brain to create that sensation. This makes your gray matter work harder, boosting brain health (72). In fact, the taste may never be in the wine, but it is created by the brain of the wine taster.
Moderate regular doses of red wine were also found to have an antioxidant effect in the hippocampus of diabetics. Resveratrol has similar effects on both the hippocampus and the frontal cortex (73).
But otherwise, excessive alcohol consumption can deteriorate your thinking skills and cause brain damage (74).
However, we again have a contradiction. Some research does not support the common belief that a glass of red wine a day can prevent brain damage (75). Hence, if you have any kind of brain ailment and also happen to consume wine, stop right away and consult your doctor. Don’t take a chance.
14. Fights Depression
As per research, 2 to 7 glasses of red wine a week might reduce depression. The same research also suggests that exceeding the limit, conversely, can cause depression.
Getting to the percentages (for clarity), consuming 5 to 15 grams of alcohol per day is considered fine. And a small glass of wine contains about 9 grams of alcohol. Now you get the idea, don’t you?
15. Improves Sleep
The grapes red wine is made of are rich in melatonin, the very same compound that induces sleep in humans. This hormone is produced in our brain by the pineal gland. And almost grapes used to produce red wine contain more melatonin than our blood. According to scientists, the melatonin content in red wine could be high enough to help us sleep (76).
The melatonin in red wine can regulate the circadian rhythm, thereby aiding sleep.
In yet another study, people who drank red wine reported better sleep quality than those who drank plain water (77).
16. Enhances Lung Function
As per a report, resveratrol in red wine can mitigate the inflammatory process that occurs in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (78). According to researchers from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, smoking is the primary cause of COPD – and the disease is irreversible. One Greek study found that two glasses of red wine assuaged the damage to the arteries caused by one cigarette.
According to an Ohio study, resveratrol can aid in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension (79). Although more research is required to scale the study, this does appear promising to human health.
17. Prevents Tooth Decay
Studies have revealed that red wine can protect your teeth by preventing cavities. The wine can help remove bacteria from the teeth, which otherwise produce acid that damages the teeth over time (80).
But this could be a trade-off between the pros and cons – a lowered risk of cavities vs. stained teeth and the extra calories from alcohol. In moderation, however, you can enjoy the benefits.
The bacteria red wine removes is streptococcus, which is routinely found in dental cavities. The polyphenols in red wine can help remove these bacteria (81).
The studies have contraindications, though. Firstly, the research was conducted in a laboratory, and certain critics claim that the conditions inside the laboratory are way different from those inside the mouth. It also could be possible that the alcohol, acids, and sugars in red wine could nullify the benefits of its polyphenols.
Hence, two things to remember – moderate consumption is what we are talking about here. And even before that, consult your dentist and take his/her advice.
18. Boosts Levels Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We don’t have to tell you how important omega-3 fatty acids are. According to a report by the Catholic University, moderate red wine intake can boost the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells. The study also suggests that red wine does better than other alcoholic drinks (82). Researchers guess this effect could be attributed to the wine polyphenols.
This could also explain why red wine consumption has been linked to heart health – as omega-3s are known to promote heart health.
19. Strengthens The Immune System
Research has found that a daily glass of wine (red wine, in specific) can boost the immune system and help fight infections (83). And a glass or two of red wine can also help you beat those annoying colds.
As per the American Journal of Epidemiology, this protection can be stronger with red wine than with the white variant. The study states that red wine can develop a kind of immunity that can ward off 200 viruses that trigger the cold (84).
According to a study by the University of Florida, red wine doesn’t suppress the immune response – which basically means the wine won’t harm your immune system (when taken in moderation, of course). You can get the benefits of red wine without any harm to your immune function (85).
20. Helps Fight Parkinson’s Disease
According to a 2008 study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, resveratrol can protect the cells and nerves and also reduce brain damage in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The study was conducted on rats with positive results.
Resveratrol was also found to protect the brain cells from damage caused by tubes inserted into the brain for DBS (deep brain stimulation) treatment.
Another American study states that resveratrol and quercetin in red wine might offer neuroprotection in patients with Parkinson’s (86). However, further research is required.
The catechins in red wine can also protect the brain against the injuries caused by neurotoxins (that are involved in the onset of Parkinson’s disease) (87).
How Does Red Wine Benefit The Skin?
Find here what are the benefits of red wine for your skin.
21. Slows Down Aging And Makes Skin Glow
We have already seen how red wine slows down the aging of your body and brain. Well, it also works well in keeping your skin young.
A glass of red wine a day can make your skin glow and cuts the risk of precancerous skin lesions (88). In fact, researchers predict that skin creams with resveratrol could be the next big thing in the cosmetic industry.
Red wine can also restore your skin’s original glow. The polyphenols in the wine can prevent cell oxidation that ages the skin (89). Also, the antioxidant properties of resveratrol work exceedingly well against the oxidative stress the skin cells are quite often subjected to (90). This antioxidant is so potent that it is now being researched for its ability to prevent skin cancer and other dangerous skin ailments.
Resveratrol in red wine also protects the skin from the harmful UV-induced effects (91).
22. Fights Acne
Resveratrol in red wine can slow down the growth of bacteria that cause acne, as per a recent study. It also inhibits keratinocyte proliferation, which can cause acne lesions (92).
The results were particularly effective when acne sufferers, along with a glass of red wine, also went for a topical treatment with benzoyl peroxide. Combining resveratrol and benzoyl peroxide could offer prolonged antibacterial effects on the acne bacteria (93).
23. Treats Sunburn
Did you know that sunburn can occur in just 20 minutes but can take as long as 6 hours to show up? This means, you could be sunburnt without even realizing it. And guess what – this is the biggest risk factor in the onset of skin cancer. But worry not – as rubbing red wine on the affected areas can ease sunburn (94).
The flavonoids in red wine prevent the skin from forming reactive oxygen species, compounds that react with UV rays and cause sunburn. This does not mean you can ditch your sunscreen altogether. Continue using your sunscreen, but also have a sip of red wine now and then.
How To Prepare A Red Wine Face Mask
You can either use red wine or use a red wine face mask. And preparing the mask is easy. In addition to red wine, you might also want to include seaweed and aloe vera. Mix one teaspoon each of the three ingredients in a bowl. Wash and tone your face, and apply the mix to your face (or the affected area) using a cotton ball. Leave the mask as it is for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry your face with a soft, clean towel.
Any Benefits For Hair?
Here are some of the benefits of red wine for hair.
24. Promotes Thick Hair
Drinking red wine is believed to improve circulation, ensuring adequate blood circulation to the scalp. This can reduce hair loss.
You can also rinse your hair with red wine. Post shampooing and using a conditioner and washing your hair, you can rinse with red wine.
Resveratrol in red wine is also believed to reduce inflammation and the formation of dead cells on your scalp, thereby promoting hair growth and making it thicker.
However, we would like to tell you that there is no concrete evidence for the benefits of red wine for hair. Hence, practice caution and consult a hair care specialist.
And coming to what we spoke in the very beginning – how is red wine made?
How Is Red Wine Made?
It is an interesting process, you see. Firstly, the grapes are handpicked. They then go through a stage of physical processing. The grapes are tipped into a bin and taken to the winery, where they are transported to the grape-processing equipment by a screw mechanism.
Then, there is the destemming process. The bunch of grapes arriving at the winery is a mixture of stems and leaves and other parts of the plant – which might render a bitter taste to the finished wine. Hence, the stems and leaves are separated from the fruit. Post this, the grapes are usually lightly crushed. The crushing intensity can vary from light to hard as per the winemaker’s preference. The crushed mixture (also called the ‘must’) is pumped into a stainless steel (or concrete) vessel for fermentation.
This is where the separation of the solid and liquid phases happens. The skins of the fruits float to the surface and form a cap. The temperature is also controlled as fermentation releases heat, which, if not controlled, can impair the flavor.
Post this, the juice is extracted from the grapes (also called ‘pressing‘). And then, there is the second stage of microbiological transformation – also called malolactic fermentation – where malic acid in the grapes is converted into lactic acid under the influence of bacteria. The red wine is then decanted (a sulfur dioxide preservative is added for preventing bacterial spoilage). And then it is aged before bottling (the period varies from a few days to several months) in stainless steel or concrete tanks. The wine then undergoes fining, where any faults (like excess tannins) are finally corrected. Filtration happens post this, where the wine is made completely clear by removing any yeast cells or bacteria that remain (this, again, depends on the winemaker’s preference). And in the end, the wine is filled in glass bottles with cork stoppers (called bottling).
All well – there goes the ton of research. The benefits (and a few contraindications) of red wine. But there’s another important question lurking around.
We saw white wine too has some benefits. And we have seen red wine is far better. But still, how else do these two types of wine differ?
Red Wine Vs. White Wine: Which Is Healthier?
The primary difference has to do with how the grape juice is fermented. For making white wine, the grapes are pressed, and the skins, seeds, and stems are removed before fermentation.
But in the case of red wine, the crushed grapes are directly transferred to vats, and they ferment with the skins, seeds, and stems (often the stems and leaves, if any, are removed). These grape skins lend the wine its color.
And since red wine is steeped with the grape skins (and white wine is not), it contains more beneficial compounds than white wine.
Certain types of white wine are made of white grapes while certain types of red wine are made of red grapes.
But in terms of nutritional content, red wine wins. Hands down. Antioxidants are more concentrated in red wine. Wine also contains ethanol, which has undesirable effects – it impairs fluid balance and has pro-oxidant effects. But the polyphenols in wine counter these negative effects. Since red wine has a higher concentration of polyphenols, it works better in negating the harmful effects of ethanol (95).
Where white wine seems to have the upper hand is in terms of lung health. Wine might contain certain nutrients that can help the tissues in the lungs function better. Though red wine also contains these particular nutrients, this relationship was stronger for white wine (96).
The benefits of red wine are simply unbelievable. Oh yes, and there are some contradictions too. Which are also a must-know. Just like the side effects we are going to see now.
What Are The Side Effects Of Red Wine?
Check out here what are the adverse effects of not drinking red wine in moderation.
- Blood Thinning Effects
Resveratrol is also known for its anticoagulant properties. This means, the compound can inhibit the coagulation property of blood platelets that are required for blood clotting. All this becomes a threat when you take resveratrol along with blood-thinning medications. The result could be excessive bleeding.
- Effects During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Alcohol, in any form, is unsafe to consume during pregnancy. It can cause birth defects in the infant, and can even cause miscarriage.
Red wine is a big no-no to breastfeeding mothers too. The alcohol passes through breast milk, leading to abnormal learning skills in the baby (97).
- Inhibits Muscle Healing
When taken in high doses, resveratrol can hamper the muscle repair cycle and contribute to aging (98). Wine consumption might also increase the risk of breast cancer.
Also called red wine headache, this is a condition often accompanied by flushing and nausea. The headache occurs within 15 minutes after taking a glass of red wine. This condition is not observed with white wine or other alcoholic beverages.
The high concentrations of sulfites, tannins, histamines, and prostaglandins in red wine could cause these headaches.
A few ways you can prevent these headaches:
– Drinking a glass of water after each glass of wine.
– Take two aspirins, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which are blood thinners. These are recommended only if you are sticking to one or two glasses of wine, and not more.
– Avoid eating sugary stuff with wine.
- Other Side Effects
Drinking wine can also cause or worsen asthma, gout, insomnia, high blood pressure, and pancreatitis. If you are someone who is at a risk of or already suffers from any of these conditions, abstain from consuming red wine.
Consuming red wine in excess can cause one or more of these side effects. However, moderate intake, as per research, is fine. But to be on the safe side, refrain from consumption if you are at any likely risk.
Coming to the types of red wine, apart from what we have seen in the beginning, we also would like to add a few more to the list.
– German red wine, which includes Trollinger, Spätburgunder, and Dornfelder.
– Dry red wines, which are what we already saw – Merlot, Pinot Noir, Red Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz.
– Patritti wine, an Australian wine brand founded in 1926.
And in case you are still wondering…
How To Drink Wine In Moderation?
- Keep a log of your wine intake. This helps you know when you are drinking, and how much.
- Develop your own strategies for wine intake. Like having a glass of water in between two drinks.
- Or making sure you drink only with certain ‘responsible’ drink buddies. Resolve to stick to the limits, no matter what.
If you are wondering how to serve red wine, or any wine for that matter, it’s simple too.
- Choose the right wine glass. Serve wine slightly cool as that is when it tastes better. Learn the ritual of opening a bottle of wine. It is important. Decant the red wine. This also improves its taste.
- Learn how to pour a standard wine serving, and how to pour without the wine dripping.
- Also, learn how to hold the wine glass properly.
- And lastly, know how long wine keeps after the bottle is opened.
You can also use red wine for cooking. You can choose something that’s dry and light to medium. Cabernet, merlot, zinfandel, and pinot noir all work great. And talking about recipes, well, here they are!
What Are The Popular Red Wine Recipes?
1. Grilled Salmon With Red Wine Butter
What You Need
- 1 minced shallot
- ½ cup of red wine
- ½ cup of salted butter
- ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups of thyme leaves, fresh
- 2 fillets of wild salmon
- Olive oil, as required
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine the shallot, wine, and balsamic vinegar. Cook for about 10 minutes or till the liquid is reduced to half.
- After it cools, add the butter, thyme, and a few inches of pepper. Thoroughly mix the ingredients using a spatula. Scoop the mixture onto a plastic wrap. Roll it, twist the ends, and store in the freezer as you cook the fish.
- Preheat a grill on medium-high. Rub the salmon with olive oil, salt, and pepper and lay it on the grill. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes and then flip it and cook for 2 to 3 minutes again.
- Serve with a slice of red wine butter melted on top.
2. Red Wine Risotto
What You Need
- 500 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
- 85 grams of butter
- 1 chopped medium onion
- 200 grams of round grain risotto rice
- 500 ml of red wine (merlot, preferably)
- Grater parmesan, or any other alternative, to serve
- In a saucepan, heat the stock and keep it warm beside the stove. In another shallow saucepan, melt half the butter. Add the onion with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until soft. It must absorb the butter.
- Stir in half the wine along with a little salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until the rice starts to dry. Keep stirring. You can add a couple of ladlefuls of hot stock and continue to simmer – keep stirring gently. Once the rice has dried and needs more liquid, add the remaining wine.
- Keep adding more stock in batches, and keep stirring. By the time you are done with cooking, the rice will be tender. The starch will be leaching from the grains. This might take about 30 minutes – but do use plenty of stock.
- Remove the risotto from heat and add the remaining butter in pieces. Stir it into the rice as it melts. You can taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Serve in shallow bowls with a sprinkling of parmesan. Best served within a few minutes.
3. Red Wine Reduction Sauce
What You Need
- ¼ cup of minced shallots
- ½ cup of beef stock
- ½ cup of red wine
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary, optional
- Olive oil, as required, for coating the pan
- Over medium heat, add enough olive oil in a sauté pan and coat it.
- Add the shallots and cook until they are translucent.
- Add the red wine and the stock.
- Now, add the butter and chopped rosemary.
The recipes are great. But when it comes to buying red wine, there are few things we all must know.
How To Buy Red Wine? What To Consider?
When you want to buy red wine, keep these things in mind. Always.
- Tannin. To lower the tannins in the wine, the better (if you want to enjoy a smooth wine, that is). Low tannin options are – Pinot Noir, Barbera, and Sangiovese. High tannin options are – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Nebbiolo.
- Labeling. Check not just which grapes are in the bottle, but also which region those grapes come from. This can maximize your options.
- Blend. Most red wines are blends. But don’t worry about this. Simply choose a style that you like.
- Body. How bold or how light your red wine is going to be.
- Oak. Red wines are most often fermented in oak as it rounds out the rough edges of the wine and gives it a cohesive texture.
- Vintage. Understand what time can do to your red wine.
- Price. You can go for the inexpensive varieties often, but don’t shy away from splurging now and then.
Great. You know what to look for while buying your red wine. But how to select? And how do you store it?
How To Select And Store Red Wine?
Proper wine storage is essential to maintain its quality, color, taste, and flavor. Wine is quite perishable because of its low alcoholic content, so it should be stored with immense care. Red wine bottles should be ideally stored on their sides rather than upright. This will ensure that the corks stay moist. If the corks dry out with time, air can seep through and oxidize and spoil the wine.
People generally think that a wine’s taste keeps getting better with age, but this is not the case with all wines. The majority of red wines made today are meant for immediate consumption. These wines do not improve with age and should be consumed within a month or two. Red wines that are meant to improve with age last long but only with proper storage.
Red wine should be stored away from the UV light of the sun and even strong, fluorescent light as these can spoil it. Wine is usually stored in dark bottles to reduce the exposure. But this does not completely secure its taste as even a little light can seep through. You can keep the wine in a box or wrap it in a cloth. Wine should be stored away from chemicals, food, and other household odors as the cork of the bottle is quite porous; it can easily absorb scent or odor, ruining the taste and flavor of the wine. You can store your red wine in a specialized wine cellar to maximize the storing capacity. The wine should not be subjected to any kind of vibration as vibration interferes with aging and stirs up sediments that aid the maturing process.
Temperature is one of the most important factors influencing the quality and development of wines. The ideal serving temperature of wine is between 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Serving wine too warm makes the taste of alcohol overly evident, and serving it too cold will make it more bitter and astringent.
Allow the bottle to stand upright for a few moments before serving it so that any sediment present in the wine can settle down. Once opened, try to finish the bottle within two to three days as oxygen begins to enter the bottle, ruining and degrading red wine. You can store it in the refrigerator for a day or two and remove it in advance to warm it up to a suitable temperature. Red wine is best served in a distinct oval or egg-shaped glass to enjoy it to the fullest.
What Are The Best Uses Of Red Wine?
Red wine is used in cooking, as a marinade, as a cooking ingredient, and as a flavoring agent in a finished dish. Adding wine to cooking intensifies the flavor and aroma of food. Care should be taken regarding the amount of wine used during cooking. Adding too little wine will be inconsequential and too much will be very overpowering.
Use a small yet substantial quantity to enhance the flavor of the dish. Do not add wine to the food just before serving as it gives a harsh quality to the dish. Simmer wine for 10 minutes with the food or sauce to enhance the dish. Since red wines are highly acidic in nature, they punch up the flavors in the dish, provided there is not too much tannin in them.
Red wine is mainly used for flavoring desserts. It is used for braising and stewing meat, and for deglazing pans to make sauce for chicken or steak. Even dry red wine is used for cooking.
You might still have more questions. And we do have the answers.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is having a glass of wine at night healthy?
Yes. It can regulate your cholesterol levels and can even help you sleep better. But remember, just one glass of wine.
What is the optimal serving temperature of wine?
For red wine, it is 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And in the case of white wine, it is 49 to 55 degrees.
What are the benefits of bathing in red wine?
The bad news is it might dehydrate your skin. The good news is the wine polyphenols can do your skin good. So, proceed with care.
Is red wine vegan?
Depends on how the red wine is filtered. The fining agents through which the wine is filtered could be either animal-derived (like blood and bone marrow, chitin, egg albumen, etc.) or animal-friendly (like carbon, limestone, etc.) (99). Check with your supplier.
What is the alcohol content in red wine?
Around 13.5-14.5%. Which is on the higher side.
What does red wine taste like?
Hard to answer, because red wines are diverse. If you want to know the taste, you can try it yourself. If you don’t want to drink, don’t bother about how the wine tastes.
Which is healthier – beer or wine?
Wine. And red wine.
So what’s the conclusion? Something that we have been harping about all across the post. Red wine is great. It offers superb benefits. But only if you take it in moderation.
Keep that in mind, and you will be happy. And we will be happy too. Also, tell us how this post has helped you. Do comment in the box below.
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