Unlocking the Health Benefits of Red Wine: Science, Substances, and Selecting the Right Pour

May 30, 2023

Martin Kuchynka

Explore the production, active components, health benefits, and considerations of consuming red wine, emphasizing its unique attributes, positive effects on brain, cardiovascular health and gut, and offering recommendations for selecting wines, all while advocating for responsible, moderate consumption due to alcohol content.

What we'll talk about

Wine is made from the grapes of the grapevine, a woody heat-loving vine that is naturally found in Central and Southern Europe, Eastern and Central Asia and North Africa. The main active ingredients are resveratrol, pterostilbene and Proanthocyanidins. There are no two same wines – even red wine contains melatonin, an important ingredient for good health. Red wine is healthier than white wine, because it goes through a process of maceration and subsequent fermentation. Altitude, intense sun, weather fluctuations and other types of adverse weather conditions stress grapes.

Wine from Sardinia and southwestern France contain more health-promoting substances than domestic wines. Domestic and other wines as such do not have to be bad at all (after all, like anything else) The effects of red wine are probably based mainly on its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Regular consumption of red wine leads to an antithrombotic effect – the formation of blood clots is a high risk factor for myocardial infarction, stroke and other acute problems. Red wine also reduces the circulation of endothelial progenitor cells in the blood and thus further reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.

Red Wine: A Brief Introduction

The origin of wine and the foundations of winemaking can be traced deep into history, quite possibly to prehistoric times. But the targeted cultivation of vines for wine production came later, and its roots can surprisingly be traced back to Georgia. Most people have the origins of wine linked to ancient Greece and Rome, the empires that gave it its real fame.

The wine is made from the grapes of the grapevine, a woody heat-loving vine that is naturally found in Central and Southern Europe, Eastern and Central Asia, and marginally in the Middle East and North Africa. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants, which is what the oldest, still fruiting grape bush speaks of.

Active Substances in Red Wine

The Mystery of Wine's Health Effects

If you want to prove the effectiveness of any substance on human health, you cannot do without solid scientific research and measurements to defend it. But then you can come across many substances and foods about which you simply know that their effect has been tested by time and humanity itself, and somehow you cannot doubt their effects, even though there is little or even no relevant research.

Wine is still somewhat of a mystery. A large number of scientific studies that demonstrate its positive effects on health exist, but we are still not sure what is the “miracle” substance that is attributed to the phenomenon known as the French Paradox. So there is probably nothing left to admit, other than that a whole is the miracle substance.

Key Components

   - Resveratrol – this is probably the best-known substance contained in wine, which in recent years has gone through a wave of enthusiasm and glorification, but also dishonor.

   - Pterostilbene – pterostilbene is a substance similar to resveratrol, but stands out for its higher bioavailability and ability to reach the brain to a greater extent. Its biggest source is not wine, but blueberries.

   - Proanthocyanidins – OPCs that are in grape seeds, which are also used in the preparation of red wine. It is the most abundant substance in red wine extract.

   - Melatonin – even red wine contains melatonin. It was only relatively recently (2006) when Italian scientists discovered that melatonin is not only produced by mammals, but also by certain plants (such as cherry). At the same time, melatonin not only helps us sleep (affects the sleep-wake rhythm), but also acts in our body as a very strong antioxidant, and according to some scientists, it may be the one behind the French paradox.

What Sets Red Wines Apart

Distinctive Factors

The fact that we deal with wine and its consumption at all results from its positive effects on health. Of course, you can’t expect such effects from every wine.

The effect is determined by the composition – a cocktail of active substances that you can only expect from high quality red wine, the grapes of which grew in (ideally) very unfavorable conditions and were subsequently processed using traditional methods.

The important factors are:

   - Type of grapes and where they grow: Altitude, intense sun, weather fluctuations and other types of adverse weather conditions stress grapes and they then produce more beneficial polyphenols. For this reason, we prefer foreign wines from the point of view of health, especially from Chile and Argentina (Andes), Italy (Alps, south, Sardinia), or France (Pyrenees region).

   - Duration of maceration and fermentation: Red wine is healthier than white wine, because during its preparation it goes through a process of maceration and subsequent fermentation, during which the active substances from the grapes and their seeds get into the alcohol and at the same time beneficial bacteria multiply there. The longer the maceration and fermentation process, the more substances are released into the wine. Today, unfortunately, the maceration is shortened to 8-10 days and is carried out in stainless steel tanks.  However, you can find wines that macerate for 2-3 weeks (in barrique barrels that increase the phenolic content).

High-Quality Red Wines

The jewel among them are the wines from Sardinia and southwestern France, where the traditional maceration is held for three Sundays, and these wines then contain more health-promoting substances. You could easily feel now that I am vilifying any other wines. But this is not the case, I only look at wine as a “medicine” and in that case, we have to take into account the most important thing – the content of active substances. Domestic and other wines as such do not have to be bad at all (after all, like anything else), in terms of quality and taste they would certainly compete with wines from Sardinia, Chile, and other mentioned locations.

But we assume that among you there are also biohackers looking for the best to boost their health, so there is nothing left but to look for the best from the given point of view.

The Effects of Drinking Red Wine

We cannot judge the positive effect of drinking red wine only by the effects of resveratrol (as has been thought of recently). Resveratrol is a very valuable substance that also has its use and I did separate blog article about it, but in red wine, the interplay of all polyphenols and antioxidants and probably also alcohol is far more important. In addition, resveratrol is several times more bioavailable if it is consumed together with other substances and also with alcohol, so if you want to use the full power of wine, there is no doubt.

The effects of red wine are probably based mainly on its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Neuroprotective Function

It can be said that drinking red wine is beneficial for the brain, both for its neuroprotective effect and for its positive effect on blood vessels, blood flow and cognitive function.

All the substances contained in wine (resveratrol, pterostilbene, OPC and melatonin) reach the brain, where their positive effects are mapped (this is why we also focus on individual polyphenols separately). Even substances produced by beneficial bacteria found in wine are protective for the brain.

Drinking small amounts of wine can also work as an effective nootropic, but it depends very much on your mood and also on the type of wine (if it contains a lot of melatonin, it will make you sleepy).

Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases

Regular consumption of red wine leads to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Many of you may argue that in this regard, overall lifestyle, environment, psyche and other factors play a role, which is of course true, but even in deteriorated conditions wine can fulfill its function quite well and at least it can help you improve your condition, create a better perspective if you have worse genetic predispositions, or maximize your progress if everything else is perfectly fine.

It has been found that regular drinking of red wine leads to an antithrombotic effect – the formation of blood clots is a high risk factor for myocardial infarction, but also for stroke and other acute problems. In addition, red wine increases the circulation of endothelial progenitor cells in the blood and thus further reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. By the fact that red wine also has a beneficial effect on blood vessels and blood pressure, you have almost the entire cardiovascular disease prevention package covered.

Gut Health and More

Red wine contains not only antioxidants and polyphenols (which in themselves have a beneficial effect on the intestine), but also symbiotic bacteria that help strengthen the intestinal microbiome. In addition, wine helps to strengthen the intestinal barrier, which ensures that pathogens do not enter from the alimentary canal further into the body. What’s more, it reduces intestinal inflammation and in some cases can be a good remedy for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. But in general, it can do a very good job of balancing your normal lifestyle if you’re relatively healthy.

These effects are among the most important and pivotal, in general it can be said that these are the main three pillars of human health, which can be influenced with the help of diet and supplementation. And do you know what the other effect of red wine is? It tastes great! And therefore it will also have a good effect on your mood, social behavior (if you don’t overdo it) and can make your life much more pleasant.

Choosing the Right Red Wine

As you have probably already seen from the post, there is number of different vines you can get, and your choice will depend heavily on the purpose for which you want to drink wine and how big a biohacker you are (because not everyone is willing to judge things only by their direct effect on health).

If it’s purely about taste, the choice will be up to you.

But if you want the best in terms of ingredients, try what I recommend now:

 • Merlot and Malbec Argentina

 • Merlot and Malbec Chile

 • Pinot Noir from the regions around the Pyrenees (Spain)

 • Barolo from Piedmont (Italy / Alps)

 • Primitivo from Puglia (Italy)

 • Any wine from Sardinia

Alcohol: A Cautionary Note

Red Wine vs. Alcohol

This is all nice and good, but don’t get me wrong. Even the best quality red wine is still alcohol, and drinking it in excessive quantities will not bring anything good, the negatives of ethanol outweigh the positives of the active substances and you will definitely not experience any positive effects. It is doubly true for a wine that the effect does not increase with the dose!

Responsible Consumption Advice

 still consider drinking alcohol as one of the biggest evils – alcohol is the biggest drug of the present, which is also socially tolerated to such an extent that if you do not respect it, you are completely out of the loop. It destroys health on all levels and should not be tolerated except for red wine, which is drunk in small quantities and the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Therefore, do not look at red wine as alcohol and a means of inducing an elevated mood, or as a vanishing point for the problems you want to escape from, but as a tincture of active substances loaded in alcohol.

If you are a strong and healthy individual, you can afford red wine on a daily basis – but the amount should not exceed 1 dcl.

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