Is there anything quite like a good libation at the end of a long day spent working or taking care of your kids? I think not. But not all drinks are created equal. There’s one beverage that outshines the rest in terms of keeping you sane and healthy, and it’s delicious, too. We’re talking about red wine.
The health benefits of red wine are well-documented. Here, I’ll explain what those health benefits entail. And, in case you’re new to the wonderful world of red wine, I’ll also show you how to choose a bottle that will make your tastebuds go crazy in the best way. Think of me as your personal guide up to the peak of Merlot Mountain.
Top 3 Benefits of Drinking Red Wine
When consumed in moderation, red wine offers numerous potential health advantages. Here are the top three.
- Red wine contains polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties.
- Red wine could help you live longer, especially if you also follow a Mediterranean diet full of fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s no fountain of youth, but it can keep life-limiting diseases away.
- Studies show that drinking any kind of alcohol—including red wine—might make you feel happier. Alcohol tells your brain to release dopamine, which is commonly called the “feel good” chemical.
Polyphenols, which are in every bottle of red wine, may play a role in keeping you healthy. These micronutrients can help you control your blood sugar levels, lessen your risk of heart disease, and prevent blood clots from forming. They can also guard against cancer, encourage healthy digestion, and even support brain function. Not too shabby.
Moderation is Key
If all this sounds too good to be true, you’re right. There is a catch. Studies linking red wine and positive health outcomes assume you drink a moderate amount of alcohol.
But what does that mean?
Moderate alcohol consumption means one five-ounce glass of wine per day for women and two glasses for men. Imbibing beyond the recommended amount, however, increases your risk of liver damage, depression, cardiovascular disease, and a wide range of cancers, so keep your teetotaling in check. Drinking more than a moderate amount of wine can also make you gain weight because a five-ounce glass contains about 120 calories but doesn’t fill you up the way a handful of almonds would.
Wine is also much more delicious than almonds. Funny how that works.
You can minimize red wine’s harmful effects by enjoying a glass with a balanced meal. Drink it slowly, savoring every sip, giving your body ample time to process the alcohol. Trust me, the only thing worse than your toddler waking you up at 4am is having your toddler wake you up at 4am while you’re suffering a hangover.
Choosing the Right Bottle
If you’re new to the red wine game, perusing the wine aisles of your local grocery store can be overwhelming because there are so many varieties of red wine available. But choosing the right wine doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s how to pick a bottle you’ll enjoy.
For starters, there are three main categories of red wine: light-bodied, medium-bodied, and full-bodied. Lighter-bodied wines tend to pair well with many types of meals, while fuller-bodied types usually have more polarizing flavors and are best savored with steak and other red meat.
Keep in mind when choosing your next bottle that full-bodied wines contain the highest amount of alcohol per ounce.
Next, there are a plethora of varietals from which to choose. The most common types include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Malbec. You might also find less famous – but still delightful – bottles of Zinfandel, Syrah, Sangiovese, and others on the shelves.
Finally, check the bottle for a description of the wine’s flavor profile. Does the vintner describe the taste as having notes of cherry, fig, clove, or cinnamon? Flavors vary widely from one bottle to the next, so you should always read the label.
The Bottom Line
While red wine isn’t exactly a superfood, it certainly provides health benefits that other drinks don’t offer. Research doesn’t suggest that you should start sipping red wine for its health benefits, but if you’re going to indulge in alcoholic beverages anyway, choosing red wine is a good option.