From antioxidants to vitamins, there are plenty of reasons to feel good about drinking that glass of wine.
A central part of French culture and cuisine, wine is often the alcoholic beverage of choice for those who lean toward fine dining and/or healthy food choices. The fermented drink is over 6,100 years old, according to a report from National Geographic stating that archaeologists have discovered what appears to be the world’s oldest winery, in Armenia. While the drink may be ancient, the modern world is still learning about the health benefits of wine consumption. Here is what we know so far about this delectable drink.
Are all wines vegan?
Fining agents (used within a system that filters out unwanted proteins, coloring, and other aspects) are often used in the winemaking process. Sometimes, the fining agents used to carry out this filtration process are of animal origin. Gelatin (from animals), casein (from milk), and egg whites are commonly used within fining agents. So technically, not all wine is vegan – and you usually will not be able to find this out by simply reading the ingredient list on the label.
However, there are plenty of wine brands to choose from that are vegan-friendly. Nineteen of these brands can be found on Peta’s list of vegan wine brands – including Californian winery Frey Vineyards and Italian-sourced wine Bellissima. Both of these brands are committed to making organic wines that are both environmentally-conscious and vegan.
What are the health benefits of drinking wine?
In one study, published by Jama Internal Medicine, it was discovered that there is a link between drinking wine and having a higher IQ, higher parental educational levels, and a higher socioeconomic status – compared with drinking beer. While this suggests that socioeconomic status might play a part in the type of beverage we choose to drink, wine may also be an educated choice for some people.
“Grapes are packed with phytonutrients, including phenols, polyphenols, resveratrol, carotenoids, B vitamins, and vitamin K”, explains Eliza Frey from Frey Vineyards. “Wine has been widely studied and is noted for its high concentration of potent antioxidants like flavonoids, resveratrol, and quercetin. High fruit quality and gentle handling through the winemaking processes lead to the most nutrient-dense wines. Frey wine is made from 100% organic grapes, and processing aids are limited to yeast, oak chips, and bentonite clay. Our low-impact, gentle winemaking process allows the full flavor and chemistry of the grapes to be preserved.”
Monica Lazar from Bellissima agrees that the winemaking process plays an important role in the final quality and nutritional value of a wine: “In our Bellissima vineyards, we do not use any pesticides, herbicides, or any other chemical products. Our vineyards are cultivated organically, in harmony with the region’s natural rhythms. We work with a deep respect for our soil and the entire ecosystem. Our commitment is to preserve the entire ecosystem in order to protect and support the natural balance and to ensure high-quality wines, using no chemical coadjutants. We do not rush nature but, instead, work patiently to achieve Prosecco and sparkling wines that are always made with organic grapes. Our commitment is to transfer all of the natural characteristics of the grapes into the bottle. We do not use any product of animal origin.”
How much wine should you drink per day?
While there are proven health benefits to drinking wine, over-consumption has been linked to some serious health issues such as liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease. Low-to-moderate intake is recommended. In 2019, the French government encouraged its citizens to take care of their health by only drinking up to two glasses per day, and not every day. It is a suggestion supported by the World Health Organization, who state in their Brief Intervention manual For Hazardous and Harmful Drinking:
“If you do drink, please do not consume more than two drinks per day, and always make sure that you avoid drinking at least two days of the week, even in small amounts.”
When these guidelines are followed, wine drinking appears to be a healthy choice for most.
“Moderate consumption of wine has been studied for health benefits including stress reduction, antioxidant content, cardiovascular health, and lower levels of dementia”, tells Eliza. “Phenolic compounds, notably resveratrol, have been linked with lower levels of heart attacks and cancer inhibition. Overconsumption of wine is linked with a myriad of health risks.”
A study published in the Annual Review of Nutrition in 2000 confirms that healthy wine consumption is key to experiencing healthy results:
“Epidemiologic studies from numerous disparate populations reveal that individuals with the habit of daily moderate wine consumption enjoy significant reductions in all-cause and particularly cardiovascular mortality when compared with individuals who abstain or who drink alcohol to excess.”
If you want to learn more about selecting vegan-friendly brands of wine that are good for your health, be sure to check out Judging a Wine by the Label? Think Again!