The Hidden Benefits of Drinking Wine

As recent studies reveal the health benefits connected to drinking wine, what better time to book onto one of our wine tours! Find out more below.

Wine has existed in our society for thousands of years, with the earliest evidence of the alcoholic drink being found in China in 7000 BC. Since that time the use of wine has stayed relatively the same. It is still used on celebratory occasions, religious traditions, and for its intoxicating effects. Some of the oldest literary texts from the Greek poet Homer mention wine repeatedly, demonstrating its association with the upper-class society, not dissimilar to the modern day. Vintage wine, for instance, is seen as a luxury item as it only uses grapes picked within a single harvest year before it is left to age. Although the finished product of each bottle can vary, vintage wine is considered much higher in quality than non-vintage wine.

In the modern day, wine is considered a treat or guilty pleasure, especially when consumed in large amounts. However, recent studies from across the globe have started to reveal the benefits behind drinking this biochemically developed drink.

There is both an art and a science to making wine, and the process can vary depending on the type of wine and the maker, as each winemaker will vary the process slightly to achieve their unique product. However, the core method for all wine is pretty much the same. It starts by handpicking grapes and sorting them into bunches. The best bunches are harvested, de-stemmed and crushed. This is in order to get the freshly pressed grape juice used to make the wine. Then it’s time for fermentation. Here, yeast begins to consume and convert the natural sugars into alcohol. This is a very important step in the wine-making process, as fermentation will determine what the wine will taste like. For a dry wine a winemaker waits until all the sugar is converted. Whereas a sweet wine is produced when the maker stops the process before the sugar is converted, saving some for the sweet taste.

So, if the process of creating wine is this simple and natural, why does it attract such negative connotations?

The alcohol in wine affects our body’s ability to breakdown certain particles and toxins, as well as slowing down our brain’s neurotransmitters which carry messages to other parts of the body. Although this sounds bad, the important phrase to consider here is everything in moderation. These effects are only to be taken seriously when you’ve drunk more alcohol than your liver and body can process.

Now let’s turn our attention to the list of benefits that drinking just one glass of wine a day may have on your mental and physical wellbeing.

  • Promotes a Healthy Gut

    Recent studies have found that drinking wine improves the microbiota diversity in your gut due to high levels of polyphenols in grapes. Polyphenols are micronutrients found in many plant-based foods, that can help improve digestion, diabetes and disease. This is because they are packed with antioxidants that neutralise harmful free radicals and inflammation, which can damage your cells and lead to health problems.

    Because red wine grapes have higher levels of antioxidants than white wine grapes, it’s thought that drinking red wine increases your gut diversity more than white. A study published in the Gastroenterology journal proves this when it used twins as participants. It found that the gut microbiota of the red wine twin was more diverse than the twin drinking white wine. Gut diversity is important for our overall health and helps lower the risk of disease and allergies.

  • Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

    Leading on from gut diversity, the polyphenols in grapes have also shown to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and metabolic disease, all of which contribute to heart disease. Again, research has shown that red wine drinkers over white, will benefit more from a glass now and then. This could be in part due to the resveratrol found in the skin of grapes, which for red wine, is fermented for longer. Resveratrol helps prevent damage to the blood vessels by reducing bad cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, preventing the risk of blood clots, contributing to an overall healthy heart. For reference, one drink, or glass of wine, has been defined as 100ml.

  • Improves Mental Health

    Studies have shown that small amounts of wine, consumed with meals, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is partly down to its antioxidant qualities which provide healthy supplements to the bloodstream, and partly down to its effects of conviviality, which is also hugely important for our mental health. The biological and social benefits combined result in lower levels of anxiety and depression, whilst boosting high energy levels and overall contentment. Too much however can have the opposite effect, so drink responsibly and in moderation.

  • Promotes Longevity

    With these benefits combined, wine can ultimately increase our longevity, as research shows that a healthy mind as well as a healthy diet contributes to how long we live. So, whilst we should all continue to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, along with regular exercise, drinking wine in moderation is not something you need to cut from your diet, especially if this is something your body is used to.

Hopefully this article has opened your eyes to some of the lesser known effects of drinking wine and reassures you that you can keep your well-loved evening glass without the guilt.

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