Red and White Wine Health Facts and Fiction

By Global Master Chef Karl Guggenmos

I was taught from childhood on, especially by my brother who was really more of a father figure to me as he was 10 years older, that drinking wine is to be enjoyed with a meal and not to be consumed indiscriminately.

In addition to perspective, he taught me how to choose the right wine for the right food.  

I have followed by older brother’s advice throughout the years and can truly say that I have tasted some great wines during my lifetime, and of course, in concert with wonderful food and equally delightful conversation with family and friends.

I have also had the good fortune to visit most of the world’s greatest wine regions.

One of my favorite wine experiences was the annual trip my brother, brother-in-law and I made to various vineyards in Europe to buy cases of the new fall harvest.

These were wines you would not see overseas or even in restaurants for the most part.

These were wines that the vintners would sell ONLY to the local folks. They were absolutely the best.

We would taste and buy a few cases and bring them home to be opened and enjoyed during the course of the year or to build up the wine collection.

Back in those days, however, we were never fully aware of the health benefits wine offers to the moderate and appreciative connoisseur.

Today, there is much discussion regarding the benefits of both reds and whites.

With any health claim one has to differentiate between anecdotal information and evidence based facts.

Based on long term studies and research, it is now pretty clear that there may be several health benefits to drinking wine.

While they are not completely understood, they nevertheless seem to be valid. Here are the major findings:

 8 Things You Should Know about Red and White Wine  

  •  Both red and white wine contain the antioxidant polyphenol called resveratrol. It is believed to increase the levels of high density lipoprotein HDL (the good cholesterol) that in turn protects the arteries from  (the bad Cholesterol).
  •  Wine reduces the formation of blood clots.
  •  Wine improves the function of the cells lining the blood vessels.
  • The question of which has more benefits red or white is still to be researched. The only extra sure benefit of red wine is that it contains the skin of the grapes where most of the resveratrol is found.
  • There are other claims made about both wines including the slowing of the aging process, supporting the fight against cancer and helping towards weight loss. We have to be careful with theses claims because a lot more research is needed.
  • Champagne may have similar benefits as wine, but since it’s not consumed as regularly as wine it has not been researched enough to get clear answers.
  • It is believed that there are health benefits to cooking with wine. Though much of the alcohol may burn out during the cooking process, some of the antioxidants remain. 
  • Non alcoholic wine may have some of the same benefits but more research is needed.

Note: Consuming alcohol must be done in moderation and responsibly, otherwise it will cause other problems that far outweigh the benefits.

The recommendation is for 1 – 2 drinks (5 ounces of wine) per day.

Also, you can’t “bank” the drinks, meaning not drinking all week then drink the entire weekly recommendation in one weekend.

And my concluding thought…as my older brother taught, wine is best served with a meal to get the most enjoyment.


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