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The Best Red Wine for Health Benefits

The Best Red Wine for Health Benefits
Glasses of red wine and a decanter on a table. Photo Credit dampphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Red wine can be a healthy beverage if you drink moderately -- no more than one or two 5-ounce glasses daily -- because it has more polyphenol antioxidants than other alcoholic beverages. Polyphenols are linked to cardiovascular benefits, blood sugar improvement and cancer prevention. Choose red wines with high polyphenol levels.

Madiran Wine For Procyanidin

The polyphenol procyanidin may provide cardiovascular benefits as it inhibits blood clots and inflammation, and relaxes and dilates blood vessels, improving blood flow. Procyanidin is the most potent polyphenol for improving cardiovascular health and is highest in the Tannat grape, according to researchers of a study published in the journal "Nature" in 2006. Researchers of this study found wines from Sardinia, Italy and southwestern France to have the highest procyanidin levels, likely as a result of the traditional production method which ensures a high level of procyandidin makes it into the wine. Among these wines, they found Madiran wines from southwestern France to be the highest in procyanidin likely because they are made mainly from Tannat grapes.

Pinot Noir Wine For Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol which may reduce cardiovascular and cancer risks and improve blood sugars. In the 1990s, Leroy Creasy, PhD emeritus professor in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University, studied over 100 different red wine varieties -- 70 from New York, 22 from California, and the rest from other states or countries. Creasy found that Pinot Noir wines had significantly higher resveratrol content than other wine varieties regardless of processing or geography.

Here Comes the Sun

The polyphenol anthocyanin gives wine its red color. The darker the wine, the more anthocyanin there is in it. Polyphenols multiply in humid weather and when grape skins are exposed to ultraviolet light. Creasy found that all New York wines-- not just Pinot Noir, but also Merlot and other wine varieties -- had significantly higher resveratrol content overall. This is likely a result of New York's often sunny and humid weather. Dr. James Harbertson, an enologist at Washington State University, advises choosing wines from regions farther from the equator because they have more daylight hours. Also choose dry -- less sweet -- wines, such as Cabernet, as they have higher anthocyanin and procyanidin levels.


According to the American Heart Association, there is insufficient evidence to recommend to people who do not drink to start drinking red wine as a protective measure for their cardiovascular health. The health benefits of red wine may be influenced by other factors such as genetics, physical activity, smoking, social life and environment. Discuss moderate drinking with your physician especially if you are a cardiac patient.

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