Health benefits of red wine aside, unwinding with a cold glass of the beverage after a hectic day is like a much-needed hug for the soul. Right from Biblical times, wine has been presented as a sacred elixir which is healing, soothing and even life-giving. This, probably, makes it one of the most loved alcoholic beverages worldwide. The benefits of red wine are thus something you should know about.
A glass of red wine is like a best friend we can’t do without owing to its versatility. A reliable party companion, a key ingredient in your signature recipe, a therapist and a confidante — drinking red wine can mean different things to different people.
However, knowing the right bottle of red is a form of art, which sommeliers spend decades mastering by unravelling the mystery behind this deep, richly textured magic potion. But in addition to its major cultural relevance, it’s also touted to have health benefits, while avoiding excessive drinking.
Making, ageing and preserving wine is an art which has been perfected for over 8,000 years. While there have been changes in the types of equipment used with innovative technology, the basic method remains true to its origin. Specially cultivated grapes go through around 12 steps before reaching your table in a rich, red, consumable form.
A special variety of black (or purple) grapes rich in anthocyanin gives red wine its signature red colour. They are harvested when perfectly ripe and prepared for fermentation. Harvesting grapes for wine is the primary step in winemaking as well as for cultivators who own some of the best vineyards.
Then, the grapes are taken to the winery where yeast is added to the fermentation process — a crucial stage of red winemaking. This process is critical for the wine’s colour, texture and aroma. Different methods are employed to extract the flavours from grape skins and other fermenting elements.
The grapes are then transferred to a press. Making red wine is a little more complicated because the pressed grape liquid goes through fermentation once again while they are stored in barrels and containers of different types. The quality of red wine depends on how well it has been aged and rested.
Winemakers do a final blending of two or more grape liquids, which gives the wine a more nuanced taste. Each red wine type — be it Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Pinot Noir — gets its unique texture and flavour from such processes. The liquid is then filtered and bottled. At this stage, bottled wine is aged again in a cellar before it is ready to be consumed.
It is believed by some that moderate drinking of red wine should no longer be a guilty pleasure, as it has several health benefits.
Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skins of black grapes used to make red wine, might be linked to reducing heart diseases. It is touted that drinking red wine can reduce bad cholesterol and the subsequent formation of blood clots in the body.
A Science Direct report (2005) claims that this antioxidant does not directly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases but the resveratrol present in it may prevent damage to blood vessels along with another compound procyanidins found in the grapes. Reports studying the implication of red wine on cardiovascular health suggest that people who generally consume antioxidant-rich whole foods with a light to moderate quantity of red wine have decent heart health.
An NCBI report (2021) states that by drinking red wine in moderation, useful compounds are secreted in blood flow which in turn make positive changes in our body’s metabolic profile with an increase in fatty acids, cholesterol, branched-chain amino acids, ketone bodies, bacterial co-metabolites and cellular antioxidants. The report adds that drinking red wine might increase your longevity by seven percent.
Another red wine health benefit is associated with the improvement of gut bacteria in the body. A 2015 Medical News Today study states that resveratrol found in red wine is a natural phytoalexin, which encourages the formation of good gut bacteria which act like probiotics. The research is still ongoing to unlock the maximum health benefits of red wine on the gut.
This one is a bit of a paradox because excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increase in depression. Still, studies show that moderate red wine consumption on a daily basis can help in beat stress and put you in a relaxed mood.
Resveratrol seems to be the magic ingredient found in red wine, as it is also linked to preventing cancer. Drinking red wine in moderation can unlock protective elements present in resveratrol, which work against the growth of cancer cells in the body. Though regular alcohol consumption raises breast cancer risk, red wine is an exception to this. Red wine has the opposite effect when consumed in moderation as reported by researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in the Journal of Women’s Health.
A BMJ medical report published in 2018 states that individuals who have never consumed alcohol, especially red wine, are at an increased risk of disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s. One of the major health benefits of polyphenols, found in red wine, is that it has neuroprotective qualities. Thus, moderate red wine consumption might actually be helpful.
While sipping wine has been associated with wellness, in addition to relieving emotional stress, the key, as confirmed by research, is moderate red wine consumption. To get the most health benefits from this evergreen drink, doctors suggest that both men and women should limit their red wine consumption to two glasses per day. Additionally, individuals with a medical condition or seeking treatment for the same should consult their doctors before drinking red wine or any alcohol, as it can have counterproductive effects on their health.
(Hero Image Credit: Kelsey Knight/Unsplash; Featured Image Credit: Rikkia Hughes/Unsplash)
This story first appeared here.
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