Here are 12 facts from Wine Folly that will completely change the way you think about red wine.
1. Drinking red wine in small doses is better for you than not drinking at all!
It might come as a surprise, but several human trial studies have shown moderate red wine consumption to be better for you than not drinking at all. Why? The antioxidants found in red wine lower incidences of cardiovascular disease, mortality, and type-2 diabetes. Of course, if you drink more than you’re supposed to, the benefits are replaced by increased health risks.
2. Red wine’s health benefits come from tannin.
Pretty much everything in wine that’s not alcohol or water is a type of polyphenol. Polyphenols include tannin, colour pigment, wine aromas, resveratrol, and about 5,000 other plant compounds. Of these polyphenols, the most abundant in wine for health reasons are Procyanidins, which are a type of condensed tannin also found in green tea and dark chocolate. This compound is specifically associated with inhibiting cholesterol plaque in blood vessels, which is highly beneficial to heart health and longevity.
3. Some red wines are better for you than others.
Not all red wines are made the same. Some wines have significantly higher levels of “good for you stuff” than others (condensed tannins–see above). For example, Cabernet Sauvignon has more condensed tannins than Pinot Noir, but both wines have much less than Tannat, Petite Sirah, or Sagrantino. While it’s rather difficult to determine which wines are best (exactly), here are some clues:
- Dry red wines are better than sweet wines.
- Red wines with lower alcohol (preferably below 13% ABV) are better than high alcohol wines
- Red wines with higher tannin (those that are more astringent) are better than low tannin wines.
4. Young red wines are better for you than old red wines.
We’ve been told for years that old wines are the best wines. It’s true that some wines taste better when well-aged, but when it comes to the health aspects of wine, old wine isn’t as good! Young red wines contain greater tannin levels than any other type of wine.
5. The colour in red wine comes from the grape skins.
The colour in wine comes from a plant pigment called anthocyanin, which is found in the skins of red grapes.
6. As red wines age, they become lighter in colour.
The colour becomes less intense as wine ages. Very old wines are pale and translucent in colour.
7. Nearly all red wines are made from one species of grape.
All of the most common red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are of just one species of grape: Vitis vinifera. There are certainly other species used for wine (there are some 65-70 vitis species), but they are very rarely used for wine. Vitis vinifera is commonly considered the wine grape species.
8. Red grapes are older than white wine grapes.
The yellow and green-colored grapes that produce white wines are thought to have originally come from a DNA mutation of red grapevines. This is a pretty convincing hypothesis, since Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc share the same DNA.