Battle Royale: Which Wine Is Most Healthy?


Reds, whites and sparkling wines battled it out in a recent NBC News story in which TODAY contributor Bill Briggs spoke with a professor emeritus, a wine scientist, a sommelier, a health reporter and a nutritionist to find out which of the three types of wine is the healthiest.
The results, shall we say, were more blend than they were varietal; though there was a consensus about the well-known benefits of red wine.
“Experts say that while red wines trump whites when weighing overall health benefits, drier white wines like Rieslings or Savignon Blancs have perks of their own,” Briggs wrote.
Cornell University Professor Emeritus Dr. Leroy Creasy said there is one clear winner: Pinot Noir.
“If you're going to go out and by any wine and you're looking for something for something healthy, go with a Pinot Noir,” Creasy said. 
As has been lauded many times over, the wine – and all red wines – contains higher levels of resveratrol.
“Studies have indicated resveratrol contributes to lower cholesterol, a reduced risk of blood clots and general longevity,” Briggs wrote. 
Keith Wallace, president of The Wine School of Philadelphia, told TODAY the reason for red wine's higher levels of resveratrol is due to the fact that reds are fermented in their skin, which is home to the grape's greatest concentration of resveratrol.
TODAY Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom countered the red wine love-fest with a succinct polemic.
“It's biologically true for some people, that tannins in red wine may offer hangovers, so they should avoid red wine if they're sensitive to tannins,” Fernstrom said.
Not be left out of the discussion was Champagne, the French titan who recently hit the headlines when researchers confirmed that the sparkler was associated with vascular, cardiovascular and brain performance.
White or red, choosing wine over beer and spirits may make your lungs happy, noted Gary Pickering, professor of wine science at .Ontario's Brock University.
“When it comes to … upsides, however, not all alcohols are the same,” he told Briggs. “A chronically high intake of beer or spirits has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.”
Moderation is important in achieving the maximum benefits from wine.
“This is partly why there has been such limited advocacy or even recognition of the concept of 'wine-as-medicine' among health systems and educators, despite the compelling evidence … of its truth,” Pickering told TODAY.

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  • In most studies Tannat has been found to be the healthiest of red wines with 3-4 times more antioxidants and an average resveratrol concentration of 4.2%. Scientists in conjunction with the United Nations University recently sequenced the Tannat genome, only the 2nd grape after Pinot Noir to be sequenced, confirming these findings.

    Feb 02, 2015 at 3:51 PM

  • I agree, Leslie. In The Red Wine Diet, Dr. Roger Corder did extensive and impressive work showing that the procyanidin content of red wines (not resveratrol) correlates with human longevity. Astringent red wines are generally highest in procyanidin polyphenols.

    Feb 11, 2015 at 6:17 PM

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