The health benefits of wine have been apparent to experts for years, and many doctors are now getting in on the ground floor of a theory that a glass or two of red wine a day contains many emotional, physical and mental well-being benefits. Wine is one of the oldest forms of libation, and has been used by ancient cultures on every continent to celebrate, relax, entertain guests and even poison enemies (at least in Shakespeare’s mind!)
Wine is made from the pulp and skin of red, black or white grapes, but there are as many different theories for production as there are types of grape or personal taste preference.
- The grapes are grown on vines at a vineyard.
- They are either picked by hand or by specialized machines.
- Next, the stems of the grapes are removed and the fruits themselves are lightly crushed, once again either by hand or electrically.
- The pulp and skins of the grapes then go into a large vat to begin the fermentation process, which is where the wine acquires its color.
- While the sugar of the grapes converts into alcohol, winemakers add substances in to give them the type of wine they desire: carbon dioxide, yeast and other nutrients are often added.
After the wine has properly fermented, it must be aged. This can take place in stainless steel barrels, American oak barrels, French oak barrels, new or old barrels, and even charred barrels that have been previously toasted. The winemaker has several unique options that can dramatically change the outcome of the aging process. After the wine has reached its full maturity, it is bottled and either consumed by makers and buyers or sold to independent retailers.
This is the stage in the wine process that most of us are familiar with — the drinking stage! As we covered before, the consumption of wine is widely viewed as a positive force in moderation. Many of the health boons that are derived from wine consumption come from a substance called resveratrol, which is generated by plants to help them fight off diseases and other harmful bacteria. Although the effects of resveratrol are not seen when the ingredient is isolated, when it is found in wine this magical substance is responsible for many different physical improvements in the human body. Here are a few health benefits that a nice full glass of red wine at the end of the day will confer to your body:
Researchers have determined the resveratrol activates health-promoting proteins and increases the activity of sirtuins, which are a group of genes that work to enhance the body’s longetivity and protect it from the ravages of age. The most common mode of death for elderly patients is cardiovascular disease, and red wine tannins have a compound called procyanidins that protects the heart against inflammatory diseases as well as bacterial buildups.
Short-Term Memory Improvement with Red Wine
Although short-term memory may actually be harmed by drinking TOO much red wine, it pays off for forgetful people to indulge in a glass or two every now and then. The formation of new memories and the learning process are both improved through the ingestion of resveratrol, even when it is isolated from red wine entirely. The benefits of red wine are certainly not just physical — it can help people learn and retain words in a more meaningful way, which increases the human capacity to process information.
Reduced risk of Liver Disease
Modest consumption of medium-alcohol content spirits such as wine appears to decrease the possibility of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the human body. This benefit does not appear to extend to beer or hard alcohol drinkers, who actually show an increased propensity for the disease.
Improved Mental Condition
Drinking wine has a host of mental benefits, including lowering the risk of depression in middle aged and elderly patients and improving social skills, social awareness and interest in other people. Studies have shown that wine drinkers are more likely to attend social events and interact with other people, two behaviors which are key in avoidance of depression and social isolation syndrome. Turns out all types of red wine really do make their drinkers merrier!
Antimicrobial Effects on Skin and Teeth
Drinking wine in modest quantities can actually protect the skin from acne outbreaks and the teeth from bacterial infection and plaque. Red wine even appears to inhibit bacterial growth more effectively than benzoyl peroxide, which is a commonly prescribed over-the-counter treatment for acne and related skin infections.
Decrease Risk of Cancer
Red wine consumption decreases the likelihood that you will be a victim of several cancers, including stomach cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer. In fact, red wine’s effectiveness against cancer cells actually appears to improve when the cancer is either aggressive or acute. The antioxidants in wine are often perceived to be a powerful force able to fight against androgens, which helps to cause prostate cancer in men, and estrogen production by breast tumors. Who knew that making wine from grapes could help protect against so much more than a lousy mood!
Regulate the Body’s Blood Sugar Levels
Red wine contains a tremendous amount of polyphenols, which by nature interact with cells in the body that store and retain fat. These cells are also charged with regulating blood sugar levels, and in multiple tests red wine has actually shown results comparable with leading diabetes drugs in combating high blood sugar.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
HDL, which is a type of good cholesterol that keeps cells in your body from being disgustingly smeared with plaque, can be increased by drinking red wine and its magical substance, resveratrol. Negative cholesterol, or LDL, can also be diminished in the body with moderate consumption. For all of those cavemen in your life who can only parrot sayings like “Red wine good for heart!”, you’ve got these eight facts as an excellent scientific antidote to their oversimplification of the benefits of red wine.
However, we haven’t even gotten into the true potential benefits of wine. Organic and sulfate free wines, which are taking the nation and the wine community by storm thanks to the organic movement and the successes of the farm-to-table movement, are wines that are specially engineered to have extremely low or even non-existent sulfate levels. These sulfate free wine varieties make excellent gifts, not least because they confer several physical benefits to you that even normal red wines cannot. Here are a few:
- Sulfates and sulfites are largely responsible for the headaches and nausea that the human body experiences the day after a large amount of wine was consumed. An absence of sulfates means that the risk of severe hangovers and post-binge physical trauma is severely diminished. If you’re looking for a nice red wine for gift, you can’t do better than one that has no consequences!
- Organic wine is made without harmful insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides that can cause decreased taste, unintentionally higher alcohol contents and damage to the grapes that were chosen to make the wine. If you wouldn’t consent to your apple or orange being sprayed with harmful substances, why is it okay for the grapes in your wine to be?
- A general lack of added sugar can help the body recover more quickly from drinking wine, which means that you can be up and at ’em earlier in the morning than otherwise. The sugars found in sulfate free wine are all natural, and in fact are solely generated from the process of fermentation. If you’re looking to get someone a corporate champagne gift, why settle for a bottle of champagne that may contain artificial sugar? Our veins are already harmed enough by the insertion of artificial sugars in regular foods — our wines and champagnes should stay clean.
- You always know exactly what you are getting, so you can determine for yourself the physical risks and benefits that the wine is giving you. Transparency is the name of the game when sulfate-free wine is being talked about, and a comprehensive list of ingredients is always nice, particularly when buying red wine online. Physical, mental and emotional benefits should not be approximated or guessed at — they should be openly acknowledged by the makers in the form of ingredient lists, transparency in bottling and manufacturing, and openness in all forms of advertising.
- Joly, N. (2008). Biodynamic wine, demystified. San Francisco: Wine Appreciation Guild.
- Natural News. 2015. How to Increase Brain Power : Improve Brain Function Naturally. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.naturalnewsblogs.com/increase-brain-power-improve-brain-function-naturally/. [Accessed 02 February 16].
- iGiftWine. 2015. Organic Wine. [ONLINE] Available at: http://igiftwine.com.au/shop-now/organic-wine.aspx. [Accessed 02 February 16].
- Natural News. 2014. Study: A Glass of Red Wine May Be Equivalent to an Hour at the Gym. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.naturalnewsblogs.com/study-glass-red-wine-may-equivalent-hour-gym/. [Accessed 02 February 16].
- Naturally Savvy. 2014. DRINK IN THE BENEFITS OF ORGANIC WINE. [ONLINE] Available at:http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/drink-in-the-benefits-of-organic-wine. [Accessed 02 February 16].
- Feiring, A. (2011). Naked wine. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.