Health Components in Wine
Wine in some cases goes beyond just the alcohol in producing health benefits. Recent research focuses on identifying specific components in wine and explaining how they work. Much of the emphasis is on antioxidants, which inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the blood. This oxidation has been linked to clogged arteries, blood-clot formation, and tumor growth.
Antioxidants in wine come in the form of phenolic compounds such as tannins and flavonoids. The flavonoids in red wine are especially powerful, more than twenty times more powerful than those in vegetables.
The antioxidant that's getting most of the attention these days is resveratrol. Resveratrol is produced in the skins of grapes in response to fungus attacks and stress. Because red wines are fermented in contact with the skins, they acquire more resveratrol than white wines and carry more potential benefits than either white wines or other alcoholic beverages.
Grapes from cold, damp climates that have to fight harder to survive produce more resveratrol than those in warm climates, and grapes that are more sensitive to growing conditions — such as Pinot Noir — seem to have more resveratrol than their hardier counterparts — such as Cabernets.
The antioxidants found in wine come from the grapes. But the antioxidants aren't exclusive to grapes. The same ones are also found in allium vegetables — onions, leeks, garlic, shallots — and in broccoli, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, tea, and chocolate!