Healthy drinking
Food and Drink opinion

Healthy drinking

Should the health-conscious drinker be looking first at grape varieties?

Andrew J. Linn


Friday, 7 June 2024, 14:07

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When buying wine we tend to go through a series of mental filters before making a final decision. The obvious ones are grape variety: the most popular are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Then comes region of origin, and, within these regions, specific areas like Bordeaux, Rioja, Tuscany, Napa Valley, etc. Wines are also grouped by style, such as red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert, and fortified.

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But should the health-conscious drinker be looking first at grape varieties? Pinot Noir is considered the healthiest, being rich in antioxidants and low in sugar. Dietitian Cynthia Sass, writing for, states that red wines contain up to eight times more antioxidants than other varieties, offering benefits like heart disease protection and improved cholesterol levels. Red wine, particularly due to resveratrol found in red grape skins, can increase lifespan and reduce risks of colon and prostate cancer.

Orange wine, a trending choice, ranks second in health benefits. Its production process retains more antioxidants, making it comparable to red wine in supporting heart health.

Rosé, with shorter skin-contact time than red or orange wines, still contains more antioxidants than white wine. Dry white wines, with lower sugar content, are healthier than sweet whites and other alcoholic drinks. Despite lower antioxidant levels due to no skin-contact time, white wines still offer some health benefits.

Sass also advocates organic wines, which are better for the environment and avoid pesticide residues, potentially offering additional health benefits. She advises choosing organic wines whenever possible, though the full extent of their benefits is still under research.

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