John Golden

Red wine, ambrosia of the gods: A scientific study…study


The studies surrounding the apparent benefits of red wine are numerous. So, in classic wine tasting pomp, I’ll be sampling them all. But I shan’t be swallowing easily.




The latest research points to red wine protecting you from sunburn. Really? Maybe that means you get a wine bar tan from staying in the bar and avoiding sunlight.

The ongoing research into whether wine is good, bad or indifferent for your health continues, and the tenor of the answers always seems to come from the predisposition of the researchers. They would never actually say that, but when you read the results you find yourself asking why anyone would research that question unless they were searching for a preferred answer.

In that light, it was interesting to read a recent study that provides “13 reasons you need to drink more wine”. Anything that suggests 13 reasons has to be worth investigating.

The research is from various sources and presents positive benefits, such as red wine helping to reduce the harmful effects of too much sun. The study also suggests that red wine helps prevents liver disease, protects against prostate cancer, prevents type 2 diabetes and prevents blindness.

Not bad!

And you thought you needed professional medical advice to handle these conditions.

On the issue of blindness, the report states: “Overgrown blood vessels in the eye can cause diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, but the good news is that red wine can stop that blood vessel growth in its tracks”. This comes from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, so it surely has to be right.

The same chemical is at work preventing diabetes: “Insulin resistance is a critical factor that contributes to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The Chinese Academy of Sciences found in an experiment with mice that the chemical resveratrol can improve sensitivity to insulin.” It turns out that resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes, which sounds pretty good to me. They did say the link hadn’t yet been proven in humans, but in the interests of science, I’m willing to give it a try. And we know the mice are okay.

The brain is obviously a big part of wine appreciation. That’s not a bad thing. Neurologist Dr Gordon Shepherd says that tiny sips are the most critical element to achieving a full-brain workout.

As a red wine drinker I’d like to think that all this is true, but you have to be cynical. The research report is guarded in a number of respects. For example, on the effectiveness of preventing sunburn, there’s a comment that although the flavonoids found in wine help protect against ultraviolet rays, that doesn’t mean that drinking wine in the sun is a great healthcare plan.

Another recent study suggests that drinking wine is associated with better brain performance.

This report sounds quite scientific and provides insights like, “The taste is not in the wine; the taste is created by the brain of the wine taster… Factors including age, gender, the genetic makeup of our saliva and whether or not we’re depressed can also impact how we taste wine.”

So the brain is obviously a big part of wine appreciation. That’s not a bad thing. It does mean, I think, that wine drinkers should treat the experience of drinking wine with more respect. Think about the wine and taste it properly. The research backs me up here – neurologist Dr Gordon Shepherd says that tiny sips are the most critical element to achieving a full-brain workout. He states that big gulps saturate your system. And really, it’s more enjoyable to take smaller sips, savouring all the flavours on the palate before swallowing.

I like this particular research, and there was one line I found that I thought was especially insightful:

“Spitting your sip out prevents you from fully appreciating the flavour. So, sip slowly and often”.

I think I’m doing that. I feel better already.


John Golden

John Golden is a writer specialising in industrial relations and employment law, something he’s done for over 35 years. Now he’s a cynical man of mature years with plenty of axes to grind

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