Whether it's "wine-o-clock" or "wine-down-Wednesday," there always seems to be a reason to enjoy a glass of wine. But is that pinot doing more harm than good? We spoke with two dietitians to get their thoughts on if wine is healthy. Here's what they had to say.
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Two people clanking two wine glasses together
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A recent Gallup poll reveals that 60% of U.S. adults drink alcohol, and those who do consume an average of 3.6 alcoholic drinks per week. While beer is the most commonly consumed (39%), wine comes in at a close second (31%). So what is it about wine that has us uncorking, sniffing, swirling and sipping? Perhaps it's the ritual. There's something mesmerizing about the preparation and aeration of wine before you even take a sip. Maybe it's the camaraderie—wine tastings, wine parties and wine clubs are evidence that people who like wine enjoy the company of others who like wine. Or maybe it's because it pairs well with a meal or certain type of food. It could be that you've heard wine is good for you, as well.

Whatever the reason, we're buying it and drinking it. But are there any health implications? Is wine healthy? We dug a little deeper and spoke with two registered dietitians to find out a little more about this tasty beverage. Here's what they had to say about the health benefits of wine.

A Quick Briefing on Wine

For many of us, drinking wine doesn't go much deeper than picking out a bottle at the store and consuming it. But winemaking is a nuanced labor of love dependent upon terroir, says Thomas Vogele, owner/winemaker of Luke Columbia Valley Wines, with location, climate and topography playing a huge role: "Soil, elevation, position to the sun all play a role in how successful an area may be in cultivating and harvesting consistently mature and quality wine grapes." He explains that table grapes and wine grapes can both be used to create wine, but wine grapes tend to be sweeter, smaller, thicker-skinned and more concentrated in flavor than table grapes. Table grapes lack the sugar, acidity and skin that are valued among winemakers.

Grapes are harvested on average at about 22-25 Brix (a standard measure of sugar content commonly used in the wine industry). From there they are crushed and stored for fermentation. During fermentation, sulfur dioxide is often added. Vogele explains that sulfites help stabilize the wine, preventing oxidation and keeping it free of unwanted bacteria or undesirable yeasts. Sometimes sugars, acids and tannins are added, he notes, to correct the flavor and body of wine. Finally, egg or milk products are sometimes added to clarify wines before bottling. But, Vogele says, "While there are many ways to "manipulate" winemaking, whether it's in the vineyard or back in the winery, the majority of us strive to do as little as possible with the grapes we are blessed with working with."

Wine Nutrition

Here is the nutritional information for 1 glass (5 fluid ounces) of wine:

Red wine (like a merlot)

  • Calories: 122
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 6 mg
  • Potassium: 187 mg
  • Phosphorus: 34 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Alcohol: 16 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugars: 1 g
  • Protein: <1 g
  • Calcium: 12 mg

White wine (like a chardonnay)

  • Calories: 123
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 7 mg
  • Potassium: 104 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Alcohol: 16 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugars: 1 g
  • Protein: <1 g
  • Calcium: 13 mg
  • Calories: 125
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 8 mg
  • Potassium: 90 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Alcohol: 15 g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Sugars: 6 g
  • Protein: <1 g
  • Calcium: 15 mg


Health practitioners agree that all types of alcohol should be consumed in moderation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderation equates to one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less per day for men. One drink of wine is considered 5 fluid ounces. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests that all adults, both men and women, limit their intake to no more than one drink a day. And if you don't drink alcohol, don't start. But why the need for moderation? According to the Dietary Guidelines, it's because of the health risk involved. Their latest report indicates that there is new evidence that overconsumption of alcohol can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers.

Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist, Ginger Hultin, M.S., RDN, owner of ChampagneNutrition and author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep (buy it: amazon.com, $12) and How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook (buy it: amazon.com, $16), advises that anyone under legal drinking age, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with substance use disorder should not drink alcohol. And since there are many medications that are contraindicated with alcohol consumption, Hultin recommends that you to speak with your doctor and pharmacist about any potential interactions.

Wine Benefits

Is wine a healthy beverage? Let's just say, not exactly. According to Hultin, "Wine isn't innately 'nutritional' as it's not a rich source of macronutrients or micronutrients and has some proven negative effects on the body. However, it does contain bioactive compounds, including antioxidants, and there are some proven health benefits." Let's explore a few here.

1. Heart Health

Many of the health benefits associated with wine are linked to the antioxidants present in wine grapes. These polyphenols, found in high concentrations in grape skin, appear to have some cardioprotective benefits, including raising good cholesterol (HDL) and helping lower blood pressure. Polyphenolic compounds work to relax (dilate) arteries while also protecting the lining of your heart's blood vessels "by curtailing and reversing the buildup that can lead to blood clots," notes Maggie Moon, M.S., RD, associate vice president of nutrition communications for the Wonderful Company and author of The MIND Diet: A Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function and Helping Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia (buy it: amazon.com, $14). She adds that moderate wine intake may increase the body's nitric oxide production, relaxing blood vessels, which can also help lower blood pressure.

2. Alzheimer's Disease

Light to moderate consumption of wine may reduce the risk of dementia as we age. As part of the brain-healthy MIND diet, Moon notes, a glass of wine a day has been associated with reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 53% and slowing down age-related cognitive decline by 7.5 years. She also adds that it's a matter of balance. Drinking too much, and doing so regularly, can lead to alcohol-related dementia. It causes the brain to shrink, and deprives the brain of folate and thiamine.

Nonalcoholic Wine

Consumers are driving the demand for more nonalcoholic beverages, and winemakers are responding with the production of nonalcoholic wines. How exactly is nonalcoholic wine made? Vogele explains that nonalcoholic varieties are produced by either picking fruit with a lower sugar content, which will mitigate the amount of alcohol produced through fermentation, or by reducing the alcohol in the winery. This can be done by adding small amounts of water, using reverse osmosis (passing wine through a membrane that strips it of ethanol) or using a spinning cone method which uses centrifugal force to extract alcohol. The benefit of nonalcoholic wine is that you'll get the flavor and the antioxidants, but without the alcohol and its extra calories.

What Are the Healthiest Wines?

Weighing a few factors, from the sugar content, the ABV and to the amount of antioxidants per serving there are a some wines that out-rank others.

Lower-sugar wines often mean fewer calories per serving and with it, fewer blood sugar spikes. If you're looking for a tasty glass of wine that's not too sweet, opt for a chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon or extra brut Champagne or prosecco.

Lower-alcohol wines or spritzers allow you to enjoy a glass or two without the nagging next-day hangover—or the negative health consequences. Here are our favorite low-alcohol wines and spritzers.

Opting for a red over a white or rose means you'll get a little extra resveratrol (a type of antioxidant) per glass. (Not that you should be relying on vino for your anti-oxidant intake.)

Bottom Line

So, is wine healthy? While research points to some health benefits, it's wise to limit your intake. Hultin and Moon agree that quantity matters. "There are many proven negative outcomes related to high consumption, but at lower intakes there's some compelling research about potential benefits," says Hultin. But, she's quick to note that while there seem to be some health benefits to drinking wine, you can gain similar benefits through changes in your dietary pattern, sleep habits and exercise. The bottom line: Enjoying wine in moderation is key.