Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: October 6, 2023

9 Potential Health Benefits of Wine [Is Wine Good For You?]

heartbeat with wine bottle outline

Wine has been consumed for thousands of years and has long been touted as having benefits for our health.

But, how do you separate the facts from the fiction?

The truth is, none of the research is absolutely conclusive but there are certainly signs for optimism. 

We've put together an article covering the main potential health benefits of drinking wine and the studies that show promise.

But, no matter what you read it must always be remembered that alcohol can be harmful to health and consumed in moderation.

Disclaimer: We aren't physicians and we make no health claims in this article. We've simply compiled some interesting studies on wine that make for good reading.

9. Wine May have an Antidepressant Effect

Resveratrol (you'll hear more about this later) is a naturally occurring compound found in wine.

It comes from the skin of grapes and is found in red wine in concentrations of 3-10 times more than white wine (due to the increased skin contact in the winemaking process).

Researchers in 2014 discovered that it had an antidepressant effect on rats that were deemed to be depressed.

Researchers at the John Hopkins University suggest that resveratrol may protect your brain from stroke damage too.

depressed and sad woman

8. Wine Contains Antioxidants

Red wine in particular is a naturally plentiful source of antioxidants.

A 2007 study found that red wine "provides general oxidative protection" and "reduces oxidative stress" (oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants).

But, that's not to say white wines aren't loaded with antioxidants too.

A University of Barcelona study showed that the phenols in white wine had the same amount, if not more antioxidants than red wine. 

Wine phenolics themselves have shown health benefits but more research is needed on the subject to study their true potential.

Phenolic compounds in red wine, however, "have shown effectiveness against microorganisms involved in the development of caries and periodontitis" (oral diseases).

Resveratrol is another naturally occurring compound found in grapes (and many other fruits) that has many health promoting characteristics (it's actually produced by plants in response to injury). It's another compound that has "a very high antioxidant potential" (source).

Resveratrol is a hot subject in the world of scientific research as it has the potential to be used as a "pharmacological agent because of its potential therapeutic effects against cancer, aging, and inflammation".

A study at Harvard University actually found "conclusive evidence" that "the red wine compound resveratrol directly activates a protein that promotes health and longevity in animal models".

7. Can Wine Boost the Immune System?

Okay, perhaps you shouldn’t stop taking your daily vitamins just yet, but drinking a glass of wine may have some potential when it comes to your immune system.

In 2017, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that severe flu infections in mice can be prevented when a specific microbe found in the gut reacts with flavonoids (naturally occurring compounds) found in red wine.

More research needs to be done, specifically involving humans, but it's a really interesting prospect.

In their preliminary studies, The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at The University of Florida also found that red wine doesn't suppress the immune system. The opposite is actually true of most other alcoholic beverages.

Intestines and gut bacteria

6. Wine May Benefit Gut Health

A Spanish study concluded that drinking red wine can have a significant effect on specific gut bacteria in humans.

The study suggests there are "possible prebiotic benefits associated with the inclusion of red wine polyphenols in the diet".

Merlot was the wine used in the study, so good for you all you Merlot drinkers out there!

A team of researchers at King's College London further corroborated these findings. They discovered that gut microbiota in people who drank red wine was more diverse than in non-red wine drinkers. A diverse gut microbiota is a sign of gut health.

They also found an association with lower levels of harmful cholesterol and obesity. 

They studied a variety of alcoholic drinks and red wine was the only one to show up positively.

5. Wine May Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Both red and white wine consumption have shown that they may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (source 1, source 2).

Red wine polyphenols like resveratrol and catechins may also help to prevent insulin resistance and restrict hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Insulin regulates blood sugar levels in the body, so to develop insulin resistance is extremely harmful.

Muscadine wine is particularly high in polyphenols, which can decrease glucose levels in blood, insulin, and glycated haemoglobin.

Muscadine wine is actually thought to improve "antioxidant status and membrane fluidity in type II diabetics more than muscadine juice".

Woman testing for high blood sugar

4. Red Wine May Help Fight Against Memory Loss and Alzheimers

Red wine consumption (in moderation) has shown promise when it comes to slowing the rate of cognitive decline in the middle aged.

One particular study found that "red wine consumption was inversely associated with the decline in global cognitive function".

They concluded that "...only (moderate) red wine consumption was consistently associated with less strong cognitive decline. Therefore, it is most likely that non-alcoholic substances in red wine are responsible for any cognition-preserving effects.

"Moderate" is a key word here, as too much alcohol consumption (of any kind) has been found to be very harmful to our brains.

Interestingly, the study found the smallest cognitive declines were observed at a consumption rate of 1.5 glasses of red wine per day.

Human skeleton

3. Wine May Increase Bone Density

There is "Mounting epidemiological evidence" indicating an association "between the moderate ingestion of alcoholic beverages and higher bone mineral density" according to a study published by Cambridge University.

A further study published in 2022 found that white wine was most effective in this area (compared to red wine, beers, and spirits). 

Although red wine contains more polyphenols than white wine, it is thought at this moment that it is the specific polyphenols found in white wine that provide the benefits to bone mineral density.

White wine contains nearly double the amount of protocatechuic acid compared to red wine, for instance.

Why is bone mineral density important?

Well, you may be at risk of osteoporosis if your bones lose important minerals like calcium faster than they can be replaced.

Doctor measuring blood pressure

2. Wine May Lower Blood Pressure

Just like the combination of flavonoids (natural compounds found in red wine) and gut bacteria was found to prevent nasty flu infections in mice (see #6), researchers at Queen's University in Belfast have found mounting evidence suggesting the pairing can reduce blood pressure too.

A 2002 study also found that drinking 250ml of red wine with lunch reduced postprandial blood pressure for the rest of the day, in obese and hypertensive subjects.

An interesting 2012 study using dealcoholized red wine found that it had the same ability to lower blood pressure as alcoholic red wine. This result suggests that this ability is not caused solely by the alcohol.

1. Wine Might Be Good For Your Heart

A 2018 study found strokes and coronary heart disease to be the leading cause of death in developed countries.

Therefore research finding that "a moderate intake of red wine may produce cardioprotective effects" is extremely interesting. However, they continue to say that "more in-depth knowledge is required".

It is hypothesized that it's the large range of variety of polyphenolic compounds found in red wine that offer such health benefits.

Namely, resveratrol, epicatechin, anthocyanin, catechin, and quercetin.

A further study found that red wine may increase good cholesterol, however it had no effect on lowering bad cholesterol.

But, non-alcoholic red wine however, did.

Disclaimer: We aren't physicians and make no health claims in this article. We've simply compiled some interesting studies on wine that make for good reading.


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About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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