The quality of wine may have an impact on health, as high-quality wines are likely to contain higher levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. Before buying wine online, it’s good to inform ourselves of all the potential health benefits different wines have, as some are better than others. If you are anxious to find out why and how just keep reading!
How Wine Quality Impacts Health
Historically, wine has been seen as something healthy & certain wines have been marketed to imply positive health benefits. Sanatogen Tonic Wine has been sold in the UK for over half a century &, although the manufacturers are keen not to promote it as a magical elixir, there’s many a grandmother that will swear by a glass.
Moderate consumption has been associated with some health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as promoting healthy ageing. However, these benefits are linked to the polyphenols and antioxidants present in wine, and not necessarily to wine quality, although a good quality wine will have been made in a way that is likely to enhance the beneficial ingredients. That said, if you can’t afford a good quality wine, you can get the same health benefits as with a more expensive wine, just without the bragging rights!
The Nutritional Benefits of Drinking Wine
Wine contains several nutrients that can provide health benefits in moderation. These include:
- Polyphenols – Antioxidants found in wine, especially red, that have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers
- Resveratrol – A type of polyphenol found in wine that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
- Flavonoids – Another type of antioxidant found in wine that helps protect the heart and improve blood flow
- Vitamins – contains small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B6, and niacin
The benefits of these nutrients can also be obtained from other sources, but it’s nice to know that you can get them from a good bottle of wine.
In addition, you may feel that there’s more body to a nice red wine but that doesn’t mean that they’re more healthy. The colour of the grape will dictate the colour of the wine & this doesn’t impact its quality. So you can find just as much natural benefit in a white wine or a rose.
The Mental Health Benefits of Drinking Wine
Wine consumption has been linked with a number of mental health benefits, such as reducing stress and improving mood. However, excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on mental health, such as increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
Studies have shown that moderate wine consumption can help improve social bonding and facilitate relaxation, which can help to reduce stress levels. Additionally, the polyphenols and antioxidants found in wine have been shown to have neuroprotective properties, which may help to protect against age-related mental decline.
That said, there can be benefits to choosing a quality wine, although they might not be what you’d expect.
The Physical Health Benefits of Drinking Wine
There are a number of potential physical health benefits, including:
- Heart Health – Polyphenols and antioxidants in wine, particularly red wine, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and reducing oxidative stress
- Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers – Moderate consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, such as colon, breast, and prostate cancer
- Improved Brain Function – The polyphenols in wine have been shown to have neuroprotective properties and may help to improve brain function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline
- Improved Digestion – Wine contains polyphenols that can help to improve digestion and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut
Drinking to excess can have the opposite effect, however, causing an increased risk of liver disease & cognitive decline. Furthermore, alcohol consumption can loosen the reigns on your judgement, making it easier to justify eating less healthily (as anyone who has gone for a late-night kebab or to an all-night Mcdonald’s after a night out can attest).
Differentiating a Quality Wine
There are a number of ways of differentiating a good quality wine. Wines are differentiated by:
- Aroma – A good wine should have a pleasant and distinctive aroma
- Taste – should taste smooth, well-balanced and have a good finish
- Colour – The colour can indicate its age, type, and quality
- Body – The body of a wine refers to its weight and texture, with good quality wines often having a full body
- Acid – Good acidity should be crisp, clean, and refreshing
- Tannins – Tannins add structure and bitterness to wine and are important for the ageing potential of red wines
- Alcohol content – The alcohol content can affect its balance and overall taste
- Vintage – The vintage or year the grapes were harvested can have a significant impact on the quality
We’ll go into more detail on some of these indicators of quality below.
Appearance can give some clues to the quality of a wine. As well as the ingredients & the manufacturing process, appearance can be affected by factors such as the wine’s storage conditions and handling. Here are a few ways that appearance can distinguish a good quality wine:
- Clarity – A good quality wine should be clear, with no visible sediment or particles suspended in it
- Colour – The colour of a wine can be an indication of its age, type, and quality. For example, red wines typically deepen in colour as they age, while white wines can become more yellow
- Consistency – A wine’s appearance should be consistent from bottle to bottle of the same wine
Not all good-looking wines need to be expensive though. The Cortefresca Pinot Grigio Blush is only £7.99.
A good quality wine will have an aroma that will develop over time as it ages. This process is known as “bottle bouquet”. As a wine ages, its primary fruit aromas become more subdued, and secondary and tertiary aromas, such as earthy, spicy, or leathery scents, become more prominent. This change in aroma is a sign of good quality wine, as it indicates the wine’s complexity and depth.
A good quality wine with a good aroma doesn’t have to be expensive too. Take Flagstone Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon, as an example – inexpensive but provides a mixture of dark red fruit, mocha, cigar box and mint aromas.
Additionally, the aging process also contributes to the wine’s bouquet by releasing esters, aldehydes, and other volatile organic compounds, which interact with each other to produce new, unique aromas.
Not all wines will develop a bottle bouquet and some, such as lighter whites and certain red wines, are meant to be consumed young and fresh. In these cases, the wine’s aroma is meant to be enjoyed as it is and does not change much over time.
Taste is a key factor in determining the quality of a wine. A good quality bottle should have a well-balanced taste, with no overpowering flavours or harsh tannins. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating the taste:
- Flavour – A good quality wine should have a pleasant, distinctive flavour that is in balance with its aroma
- Balance – The wine should have a good balance between its sweetness, acidity, tannins, and alcohol
- Finish – A good quality wine should have a long, satisfying finish, with no harsh or bitter aftertaste
- Complexity – A good quality wine should have multiple flavours and aromas that are layered and harmonious
- Structure – A wine’s structure refers to the way its flavours and tannins are integrated, and a good quality wine should have a good structure that contributes to its overall balance and drinkability
Taste is subjective. What makes a good quality wine for one person may not be the same for another. However, by considering the factors listed above, you can get a better understanding of the wine’s quality, whether it’s to your taste or not.
The direct health benefits of wine come from moderate consumption, regardless of quality, and are due to the presence of polyphenols and antioxidants. That’s the good news: expensive vintage or cheap plonk, you’ll still have the same potential health benefits.
Perhaps it’s not quality over quantity & it’s not quantity over quality either, but, by drinking a good quality wine, you are likely to enjoy the experience & experience its benefits. Making an occasion of drinking wine & enjoying the best quality you can afford will make it a more enjoyable experience & ensure you are enjoying good quality in moderation.
High-quality is not necessarily a guarantee of improved health. There is a great deal of variability in the composition and quality of wine, even within a single type or vintage.
By choosing a quality wine can mean that you are driven by intention when you drink – you want a nice bottle to mark a nice occasion. This is a better approach than just drinking what is around. By intentionally looking for an exceptional wine & taking the time to enjoy it, you can accrue more benefits than by just drinking what’s around because it’s around: just drinking because there’s a ‘free bar’ or because they offer alcohol on a plane probably won’t be healthy in the way that eating at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet likely won’t be the best long-term eating strategy. By choosing the occasion & going for quality, your enjoyment & your long-term health could benefit.
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