Wine drinking dates back generations. Versions of the beverage have been in China, the Levant, and the Mediterranean since at least 7,000 BC.1 And some evidence suggests that wine was produced as early as 12,000 BC – about 7,000 years before the first city!2,3
We wish we could say people have drunk wine so long for its health benefits. However, it's more likely people enjoy wine because of its alcohol content, which releases dopamine in the brain, increases feelings of euphoria, and can help conversations flow.4,5 Wine drinkers are probably unsurprised that the Greek god of wine was also the god of merriment.6
Red wine likely increases ‘merriment’ more than other varieties; resveratrol, a compound of red wine, stops a depression causing enzyme functioning and boosts mood.7
Here, we’ll look at red wine’s health benefits, tell you who should avoid it, and advise on the latest guidance for weekly recommended intake.
What are the benefits of drinking red wine?
Red wine’s potential benefits include:
Emerging science shows that having a wider variety of gut bacteria is linked to better overall health.8 Women who drink red wine have greater gut bacteria diversity than their counterparts who don’t.9
Resveratrol, red wine’s depression-fighting enzyme, is linked to better heart health and longer life expectancy.10
Decreased bad cholesterol
Red wine can support heart health by reducing the bad cholesterol in the blood and boosting the right kind.11
The same study which demonstrated red wine drinkers can have more gut bacteria than their abstaining counterparts, also showed those women have a lower BMI.12
This is because of the polyphenol content of red wine. There’s more of this organic chemical In red than in any other alcohol, including white wines. It can support healthy metabolic function.
Red wine contains a lot of calories, though. This means that too much can contribute to weight gain.
Red wine contains a wide variety of antioxidants and compounds which boost heart health.13 Resveratrol encourages cell survival in the heart and brain.14 Furthermore, evidence suggests that moderate wine consumption can decrease the risk of a heart attack.15
Red wine and skin
Enjoying too much red wine will increase facial redness and can make you look flushed. This Is because histamine, the compound associated with allergic reactions, is released when you drink it. Those who already experience redness or rosacea will suffer the most.16
Who should avoid red wine?
Anyone with a history of alcohol misuse or dependence should avoid red wine because of its alcohol content. Depending on your treatment plan or current health outcomes, avoidance can mean abstaining from all red wine or enjoying it only in moderation.17
Plant-based supplements allow you to enjoy the benefits of red wine, without pouring a glass.
Recommended intake per week
Men and women are advised to drink no more than 10 glasses of red wine, or 1 ¾ bottles over a week.18
Last updated: 31 March 2021