Research says red wine is good for your health – here’s why

Researchers from King’s College London say their new research shows red wine is good for your health. The findings suggest that red wine increases the number of different good bacteria in your gut, which improve general health.

The research team say that the benefits from red wine comes from the polyphenols present. These compounds are still present in cider, beer and white wine, but in much smaller quantities. They’re also found in many vegetables and fruit, which is why they’re so good for you.

Wine is good for your health, but how much should you drink?

Just one glass of red wine every two weeks is enough to make a positive difference to your gut health. The researchers say that it’s about limited quantities of the high levels of polyphenols.

Polyphenols are present in lots of plant foods. The micronutrients are full of antioxidants, which is why they offer health benefits. Current scientific thinking suggests that polyphenols can help improve digestive issues, help to manage weight, control diabetes and improve the prognosis for people suffering from cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disease.

The polyphenols present in red wine include resveratrol, which comes from the skin of the grapes. They are thought to act as fuel for the useful bacteria and microbes that live in the bowel.

Gut bacteria is essential for good health

Human guts are crammed with trillions of micro-organisms and bacteria. It’s these so-called ‘friendly’ bacteria that work to keep us healthy. A growing raft of research shows that tiny alterations to the microbiota in our gut can make us much more susceptible to illnesses. The common problems associated with this include irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, heart disease and mental health.

If we eat poor diets, have sedentary lifestyles or even take certain types of medication, it’s possible that the fine balance of our gut health can be destroyed. And that’s what leads to illnesses.

The King’s College London study on the possible health benefits of red wine was published in medical journal Gastroenterology. It studied thousands of people and their eating and drinking habits from all around the world. Participants from the Netherlands, the US and the UK, are all twins. During the study they reported on their diet, what they eat, what they drink and what type of alcohol they regularly ingest.

Red wine drinkers show diversity in gut bacteria

Red wine drinkers from the study showed much more diverse gut bacteria than those who drink other alcoholic drinks, or none at all. And the more red wine you drink, the more the good bugs multiply. However, the researchers say that none of the people studied are heavy drinkers.

Just one glass a week or a fortnight, depending on your gut makeup, is enough to reap the microbe advantages of red wine. Needless to say, heavy drinking is not encouraged by the research team. They warn that drinking too much red wine will have a poor effect not only on gut bacteria, but the overall health of the person.

As this is what’s called an ‘observational’ study, it does not prove red wine is good for the gut. However, it can be surmised that if you want to drink something, red wine is probably better for you and your health than other alcoholic drinks.

Researcher Dr Le Roy says that she wants to do further study on people drinking red wine or red grape juice without alcohol. She tells BBC.com: “Gut bacteria is complex, and we need more research. But we know that the more diversity there is, the better it appears to be for our health.”

New survey says wine is the UK’s favourite drink

Wine has officially overtaken beer and spirits as the UK’s favourite alcoholic drinks, according to a new YouGov survey. More than 60% of adults say they prefer a glass of wine to any other alcoholic drink.

 

White wine topped the list, with joint first position going to pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. Third is Malbec, with Shiraz in fourth, and the always popular prosecco coming in fifth.

 

Why wine is the nation’s favourite drink

 

Two thousand people were surveyed, and results show that 81% say they regularly enjoyed wine over the last 12 months. The wine-lovers just edged out those who prefer beer or spirits, which came in at 79%.

 

The last time wine was voted in as the nation’s favourite drink was in 2015, when a survey by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) showed people aged between 25 and 34 prefer wine to other alcoholic drinks.

 

It’s unsurprising to see that wine is the nation’s favourite tipple, when the UK is now one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world. Thanks to the weather warming up significantly, more than three million vines have been planted across Suffolk, Northampton, Essex and Norfolk in 2019 alone. This is twice the number of vines planted in the whole of 2018.

 

More people drink wine than beer or spirits

 

Two thousand people were surveyed, and results show that 81% say they regularly enjoyed wine over the last 12 months. The wine-lovers just edged out those who prefer beer or spirits, which came in at 79%.

 

The wine industry has been pushing a campaign against Government increases on duty for wine over the last few years. The industry wants Chancellor Sajid Javid to cut duty tax on wine, which has gone up by 39% over the last ten years. However, beer has gone up by 16%, and spirits by 27%, both considerably lower than wine.

 

According to industry experts in an article in The Morning Advertiser, wine duty tax accounts for more than half (£2.68) of the cost of a £5 wine. And according to the WSTA, more than two thirds of UK adults also believe that wine is taxed too highly, and that the Government should cut rates.

White wine comes out as top choice for UK consumers

 

The survey also shows that UK wine consumers are most likely to select a white wine, with 41% opting for a Pinot Grigio as their first choice. Each wine type is broken down by percentage of drinkers who choose it:

 

  1. 41% choose a crisp, fresh white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  2. 38% prefer a full-bodied red wine, like a Shiraz or Malbec
  3. 34% love prosecco
  4. 24% opt for champagne as their favourite
  5. 23% like their red wine a little lighter, like a Pinot Noir
  6. 22% love a light blush rose, such as White Zinfandel
  7. 17% go for a rich, oaky white – a Chardonnay for example
  8. 16% stick to their roots with an English sparkling wine
  9. 16% love a dry rose, such as Pinot Grigio rose.

 

YouGov’s survey results show that old assumptions about wine being for the middle classes are no longer correct. The social grade C2DE (classified as the old ‘working class’) show that wine is as popular as beer, with 23% saying each is their favourite.

 

What is fortified wine, and should you try it?

If you’re a wine lover, you may stick to tried and tested favourites, or you might be willing to try pretty much anything. But have you tried fortified wine? And what exactly is it?

Fortified wine is differentiated from regular wine as it contains a distilled spirit. This can be brandy, whisky or others, and gives the wine a unique flavour. It’s also higher in alcohol and has more sugar than normal wine.

Why was fortified wine first made?

The idea behind fortified wine was originally to prevent it spoiling by upping its alcohol. Before modern refrigeration it was much more difficult to stop all kinds of produce from getting spoiled, including wine. It is fermented, which is a process that converts the grapes’ sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

During this process, the distilled spirit is added at different times. This boosts the amount of alcohol in the wine and alters the flavour. If the spirit is added to the wine before fermentation is complete, the end result is much sweeter. If the spirit is added after the process is finished, it will be a drier end product.

Both dry and sweet fortified wines are traditionally served before or after meals as aperitifs or digestifs. They’re thought to stimulate the appetite and help digestion, which is why they assumed these roles over the years. Other types are commonly used in cooking to add extra flavour to dishes.

Types of fortified wine

The most common types of fortified wine include Port, Sherry, Vermouth, Marsala and Madeira. You’ve probably heard of all of these, but do you know the difference between them?

  • Port wine originally came from Portugal, although it’s now made everywhere. Before the wine finishes the fermentation process, brandy is added, which gives a rich, sweet flavour.
  • Sherry comes in lots of different kinds, depending on the grapes used. Traditionally dry, it can also be sweetened and serves as a dessert wine.
  • Madeira originally hailed from the Madeira Islands in Portugal. It is oxidised and heated, with brandy added at different times during the fermentation process.
  • Marsala is fortified with spirits after fermentation, leading to its unique, dry flavour.
  • Vermouth is available in both sweet and dry versions and is a fortified white, flavoured with different herbs and spices. These include cinnamon and cloves but differ according to the brand. It’s the main ingredients of famous cocktails, including Martinis and Manhattans.
Fortified wine is higher in sugar and alcohol

Fortified wine has high levels of antioxidants, which are thought to protect against cell damage, and help fight some diseases. It is, however, higher in calories than normal wine. For example, Sherry contains almost twice as many calories as red wine, but as it’s served in smaller quantities than wine, this doesn’t necessarily cause a problem.

It also has higher levels of alcohol than normal wine, due to the addition of the distilled spirits. Fortified wines generally contain around 20% alcohol, while regular wine hovers between 10% and 15%.

Scientists create ‘supergrapes’ to combat fungal attack on vineyards

Growing vines that are impervious to rot or any parasites is surely the dream for wine makers. And now, scientists in France have made that dream a reality by creating four supergrape varieties that they say need almost zero pesticides.

However, traditional vineyard owners say that the supergrapes could lead to lesser quality ‘Frankenstein’ wine in the future. This is because they mix grape genes from different regions and grow the creation in labs, therefore diluting the purity.

Visually identical

The white and red grapes currently growing at the National Institute of Agronomical Research in Colmar, France, look just the same as any other you’d see in the region. But they’re very different.

They’re grown the lab as part of an ongoing programme named “Resdur”, which aims to create grapes that are “durably resistant” to any kind of fungi, including the two that can destroy whole crops: powdery and downy mildew

Over the last few months, scientists at Inra have been given permission by the state to grow four different supergrapes. Named Araban, Floreal, Vidoc and Voltis, wines made from then will be bottled next year and in 2020.

Decades-long research

Growing grapes that are resistant to rot isn’t a new idea. First attempts to do so started in the 1970s when scientists singled out a resistant gene. Since then, Inra has identified three more by crossing European, Asian and American grapes.

The man in charge of Inra is called Didier Merdinoglu. He says that the grapes will allow winemakers to reduce pesticide use by up to a whopping 90%: “We are talking about dropping from an average of 15 treatments per year to one or two, above all to kill off other diseases and parasites.”

Environmental breakthrough

As 20% of all pesticide use in France is concentrated onto vineyards, even though wine grapes consist of just 3% of the country’s crops, researchers say that these new grapes could be an environmental breakthrough. It will also make growing grapes cheaper for the owner.

France is under increasing pressure to reduce pesticide use fast, after a number of cancer cases among vintners. However, some winemakers remain resistant to the idea of a supergrapes.

They say that grapes grown in the lab could decimate centuries of careful growing traditions that have melded European crops with the local soil, producing subtly different varieties of wine. They say that replacing cultivated grapes with cheaper, much more robust but artificially cultivated ones will mean wine lacks the quality and flavour of the existing regional varieties.

Not GM

These grapes aren’t genetically modified, but purists worry that crossing over different varieties from around the world will lead to “artificial and unnatural ‘Frankenstein wine’”. One said: “This is like crossing a monkey with a man: it may be technically possible, but it goes against nature.”

While that may well be hyperbole from a traditionalist, France must lower pesticide use somehow and it’s likely that this will be the fastest way to hit their targets.

Foreign Office shifts to English wine

Around 52 per cent of wine served at high-end events at the British Foreign Office is now English. The government is increasing the number of wines made in England that they buy every year, as well as those served at official events. Ideal Wine Company take a look at why the shift to English wine has occurred.

Figures show that 3,052 bottles of wine were bought during the last 12 months. Of these, 1,500 are English (equivalent to 50 per cent). Ten years ago, English wines in the government’s cellar consisted of only 20 per cent.

Ideal Wine Company english wine
How is the Government shifting to English wine?

Serve British for Brexit

Miles Beale of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association is happy with this increase. He says: “We have urged government departments to ‘serve British’ and it’s great to hear that the FCO is stocking, serving and therefore supporting English wine.

“Consumers worldwide have woken up to the fact that English wine is a product of supreme quality.”

Government wine cellar
The government has had its very own wine cellar for many years. It’s looked after by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and is meant to be self-sustaining in financial terms.

Wines are generally bought young and left to mature. The annual statement for 2015 to 2016 shows that the cellar boasted 33,669 bottles of wine and spirits. The total value for the cellar’s inventory was £800,000 as at March 2016.

Selecting wine for events

Wines are selected for use at each event, depending on what kind of event it is and who is invited. The more senior the invited guests, the better the quality of wine they are served.

A private member’s bill was introduced in March by MP Nusrat Ghani to make sure that British consulates and embassies serve English wine at events. She said: “In a post-Brexit world, we must do all we can to get behind industries that show the sort of potential of our wine industry.”

Wine producer Jonica Fox, who is based in East Sussex, is also pleased with the figures. She said: “The Foreign Office is now flying the flag for us all.” As the UK is now home to more than 500 vineyards and produces millions of bottles of wine every year, it looks like this is one industry that could thrive post Brexit.