Best Red Wine For Health: Our Top Bottle Recommendations
We are being bombarded with warning on the possible health problems that drinking alcohol can cause, yet at the same time, as with many health warnings, we seem to be getting contradictory information telling that drinking wine can be good for us – so which is true?
Before we look at any potential health benefits of drinking wine, even the most vocal proponent of the health benefits of wine drinking agrees that alcohol to excess is bad for your health.
The truth is that it can be both. Below we take a look at some of the health benefits and some of the possible detrimental effects of wine drinking.
Drinking Wine is Good for You
When research first emerged about the possible beneficial effects of drinking wine, it seemed that it was only red wine that was good for you. However, as research continues, it seems that both red and white wines can have beneficial effects.
Less risk of blocked arteries – drinking one or two glasses of red wine every day reduces the likelihood of getting blocked arteries in your legs. Additionally, levels of good cholesterol are raised and circulation is improved.
Less risk of Infections – many forms of alcohol suppress the immune system, leaving the body more susceptible to infections. Red wine, in moderate amounts, does not does not affect infection fighting cells.
May help ward off or reduce the effects of dementia – drinking a glass of red wine every day can help. In red wine there is a molecule called resveratrol. Resveratrol helps stimulate within the brain an enzyme that is linked to nerve regeneration
Helps prevent food poisoning – a glass or two of either white or red wine with your meal kills off the bacteria that is responsible for nearly all cases of food poisoning.
Can help lose weight – various studies have found that people who drink wine have less abdominal fat that people who drink liquor. It is believed that wine can increase the amount of calories burned for 90 minutes after it is drunk.
Reduces the risk of osteoporosis – several studies have found that women who drink wine moderately have a higher bone density that women who do not.
Less chance of type 2 diabetes in women – a 10-year study by Harvard Medical School showed that pre-menopausal women who drink one to two glasses of wine every day are 40% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t drink. It appears that wine seems to reduce insulin resistance, although the actual reasons for this are still not clear.
But are there any downsides?
Fertility – it has been show that women who drink less than 5 glasses of wine per week are nearly two time more likely to conceive within 6 months than women who drink 10 or more glasses of wine a week.
Depression – although alcohol is often used by people with anxiety, after 3 glasses wine can have a depressing effect.
Heavy drinking has been linked to several types of cancer – in men who consumed the equivalent of over 30 glasses of wine a week over a prolonged period there is a significant increased risk of mouth, colon, throat, liver and stomach cancers. In woman heavy prolonged drinking has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Breast feeding – any alcohol is toxic to the development of babies’ brains. Breast feeding mothers are advised to avoid alcohol for the first two years.
Acne – red wine, among many other alcohols, has been associated as a trigger for causing acne.
Best Wine Drinking Habits for Health
The benefits and downsides, collected from a wide variety of sources, seem to point to drinking wine in moderation – say a glass a day for women and 2 glasses a day for men, can have a beneficial effect. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and this suggested amount is no different. Wine should be enjoyed and if it does you good, so much the better.
Are Cheap Wines Less Healthy?
In simple terms no – it is the compounds within the wine that give any health benefits. These same compound are found in all wine irrespective of the cost of the bottle.
Why is Pinot Noir Wine Considered Healthy?
Pinot Noir is considered by many to be the wine with the greatest health benefits. Resveratrol is an antioxidant compound found in wine that helps rid the body of free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage that is believed to aid the development of cancerous cells. Pinot Noir contains more resveratrol than any other type of wine.
The Pinot Noir grape is the foremost grape in the Burgundy region of France, but quality Pinot Noir wines of notable quality are available from many regions around the world. In the US, California and Oregon produce some very high quality examples. The wine itself has delicate light flavors of strawberry and cherry with a medium to light acidity with light tannins. Pinot Noir is seldom blended with other wines, although it is often added to Champagne and other sparkling wines to add more body and give color to rose sparkling wines.
Why is Malbec Wine Considered Healthy?
Malbec wine is, like Pinot Noir, a very high source of resveratrol. Resveratrol, which is a source of anti-oxidants is found in high quantities in Malbec wine. Malbec that comes from cooler regions, such as Washington state has higher amount of resveratrol than that from warmer climates.
The levels of resveratrol not only vary depending on the climate in which the grape is grown, but so does the taste. Cooler regions tend to have a more pronounced strawberry and cherry flavor while wine grown in warmer climes, such as Argentina tend toward a more plum and blackberry taste. The wine produced from cooler grown grapes tend to have less acidity and lighter tannins and age better than the warmer grown grape produced wine.
Why is Merlot Wine Considered Healthy?
In 2003, a study called ‘Drugs Under Experimental and Clinical Research’ found that of the 19 wines that were being studied, Merlot contained the highest levels of the resveratrol derivative trans-piceid. The study further found that the wine was produced and the growing conditions of the grape affected the amount of antioxidant in the final wine.
Merlot wine was traditionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon until the mid-nineteenth century when the wine spread out to the Americas. The American wine producers started producing 100% Merlot bottles. Wine grown in warmer climates tends to have higher alcohol levels, 14.5% compared to 13.5% with wine grown in cooler regions. The taste of Merlot is quite light, velvety and tends to be considered as a good wine for drinkers new to red wine.
Why is Riesling Wine Considered Healthy?
It was originally thought that it was only red wine that provided any health benefits until the publication of a study by the University of Barcelona entitled ‘Beneficial Effects of White Wine’ showed that white wines can have even greater capacity of antioxidants than many red wines. The cardio benefits were further shown in a study by the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Over several studies it was found that Riesling was particularly high in tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol (coincidently so is olive oil). These two compounds are particularly high in antioxidants, believed to help in the prevention of the formation of many tumors.
Riesling, originally from Germany, if produced in many wine growing regions of the world. Although the largest areas of cultivation are in Europe, Australia has over 10,000 acres under cultivation followed by Washington state with over 5,300 acres of Riesling grape grown. The wine itself has a variety of styles although it is generally lighter in alcohol than many wines. The style is generally light and fruity and refreshing. The wine can be enjoyed young but does age extremely well. When buying a Riesling be careful as there are many with names that are very similar to Riesling but are unrelated.
Why is Madiran Wine Considered Healthy?
Known as one of the healthiest red wines, Madiran wines contain very high levels of procyanidins. Procyanidins are said to be good for lowering cholesterol, aiding in blood clotting as well as reducing blood pressure.
Madiran wines, made primarily with the Tannat grape, come only from the Madiran area of southern France. The wines typically were full bodied textured wines that improved with aging. In more recent years the wine has been developed and, with the use of micro-oxygenation, Madiran wines can be enjoyed younger and have a lighter taste.
Although it has long been told anecdotally that red wine is good for you, it has been shown in many independent scientific studies that this is indeed the case. However, with wine it is definitely not the case of ‘if a little is good, a lot must be better’. All health experts agree that to reap the benefits and avoid the downside, moderation is the key. It is generally accepted that a ‘safe’ amount is one glass of wine per day for women and two glasses of wine per day for men is a reasonable amount. This raises the question, how big is a glass? In the US it is widely taken to mean 4 oz. although in many bars the measure given may vary greatly in quantity.