Drinking wine with a meal can make a good dish great and enhance your overall experience. But is wine good for you? Many will claim that drinking wine provides health benefits. Here’s the thing: Not all wines are created equal.
When it comes to potential health benefits, red wines typically have the upper edge. When people say wine is good for you, they’re likely referring to this type of wine. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the grape skins stay on during the wine-making process. Many winemakers ferment the grapes in whole bunches, including the stems.
As for which red wines may provide the greatest benefits, Pinot Noir stands above them all. Pinot Noir has the highest levels of resveratrol, a polyphenol found in the grape skins.
Studies show that polyphenols may help to improve your heart health by lowering bad cholesterol levels and keeping your blood pressure in check. Pinot Noir is also a dry wine, so it doesn’t have a lot of sugar.
Merlot, like Pinot Noir, is a dry wine. The process of making Merlot wine involves giving yeast enough time to convert the sugar in the grapes into alcohol until there is little to no residual sugar left. The grapes are fermented with the skins on, a process that results in not only vibrant color but high levels of antioxidants in the final product — including resveratrol.
The antioxidant compounds in Merlot and other red wines aren’t just good for heart health. They may also provide other benefits, such as anti-inflammatory properties. Reduced inflammation in the body may help to reduce pain and could even slow the process of cognitive decline.
Another dry red wine with little to no residual sugar is Cabernet Sauvignon. After fermentation, it’s often aged in oak barrels, a process that imparts incredible flavors to the final product.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are thick-skinned, and therefore contain high concentrations of polyphenols and other antioxidants. The climate in which they grow plays a role in their concentrations, however, and the aging process can lead to lower levels. Still, the antioxidant content is fairly high and the sugar content is low.
Petite Sirah wines come from Durif grapes, which are a cross between Syrah and Pelisourn varieties. The berries are small, with a high skin to pulp ratio — which leads to an inky, bold red wine with rich flavors and powerful tannins.
As a deep red wine, Petite Sirah has high concentrations of antioxidants, including anthocyanins. Studies show that these antioxidants may help to lower the risk of developing conditions like heart disease and cancer. Like the other wines listed above, it’s a dry red wine with little residual sugar. It also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, which may contribute to your overall health.
Rose wines are much lighter wines than reds due to the way grape skins are handled during the wine-making process.
Instead of several weeks, rose wines ferment for only a few hours with the skins. Less time with the grape skins results in a wine with a lighter color and fewer antioxidants. Additionally, some rose wines are dry while others are sweet.
The sweeter ones have more sugar, which isn’t all that great for your health. Too much sugar in your diet increases your risk of developing health concerns like diabetes, heart disease, and accelerated aging.
As a white wine, Pinot Grigio is fermented without the skins. The grapes are crushed, the skins removed, and the juice collected into vats to ferment.
Even though Pinot Grigio doesn’t ferment with the grape skin, it still has some antioxidants. Along with fewer antioxidants, the wine is also higher in sugar than the above reds. Despite this, it’s lower in calories.
The calories in red wines typically fall around 125 to 130 per serving, while a glass of Pinot Grigio has about 120 calories.
Like Pinot Grigio and other white wines, Sauvignon Blanc is fermented without the grape skins on. These wines ferment in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures to preserve the fruity flavors. They’re typically bottled a few months later.
While red wines typically get the spotlight in terms of health benefits, Sauvignon Blanc and other white varieties still offer some of their own.
White wines don’t have resveratrol, but they do have caffeic acid and quercetin. A study performed in 2018 demonstrated that caffeic acid could potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that it might help lower the risk of heart and kidney issues.
Sauvignon Blanc can be dry or sweet, depending on how much residual sugar the winemaker leaves. Sweeter versions will be higher in sugar, which is something to keep in mind.
Chardonnay wines are typically made in the dry style, so they normally have less residual sugars than other white wines. Like other white wines, the skins of the green grapes are removed before undergoing fermentation. Some varieties are aged in oak barrels, which adds extra flavor.
With fewer antioxidants, Chardonnay may not be as healthy as red wines. It does, however, contain caffeic acid, along with several important vitamins and minerals — such as B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and manganese. Chardonnay is also lower in sugar than Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
Sweet wines like Moscato and Riesling varieties are made like other white wines — without the grape skins. Due to this process, they contain far fewer antioxidants than red wines. They’re also much higher in sugar than other white wines.
As such, they offer the least potential health benefits. This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid them entirely. You can still enjoy a sweet wine occasionally. If you enjoy whites over reds, opt for drier versions to balance out times when you choose to drink sweet wine.
Enjoy Your Favorite Wines in Moderation
So, is wine good for you? While some wines provide more potential health benefits than others, it is still alcohol. You can enjoy your favorite varieties but do so in moderation.
If you’re looking to add a bottle to your wine collection, JJ Buckley Fine Wines has everything you need. Whether you’re looking for a great bottle to share with friends over a delicious meal or a sparkling variety to celebrate a joyous occasion, our consultancy services can help you select the perfect wines. Feel free to browse our selection or contact us today for more information.