The health benefits of a daily glass of red wine are well established, and scientists generally agree that it’s a compound called resveratrol found in red wines that is responsible for the positive effects. Red wine has been shown to protect against a number of diseases, including Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease; it has even been shown to play a role in extending lifespan. Now, a UK scientist is trying to quantify the differences between individual wines:
But Dr Richard Hoffman, of the University of Hertfordshire, says that while the health-giving properties of resveratrol have been well studied, no-one has systematically measured its levels in different brands. “As a result, they assume that all red wines are the same, but this is certainly not the case as the levels of resveratrol vary,” he says. Dr Hoffman’s team is comparing the levels of resveratrol in a random selection of red wines using liquid chromatography techniques to separate and collect the compounds in them. [From How Saintly is Your Shiraz?]
The objective of the research is to help persuade wine makers to include health benefit information on their labels. Hoffman would like supermarket shoppers to see how much resveratrol they are getting in each wine at a glance, allowing them to make more informed decisions on which wines offer the maximum health benefits.
It’s an interesting idea, but mandating labeling changes for wines is bound to be an arduous political process. Also, one wonders if we know enough to advise consumers on what a particular level of resveratrol means. Is more always better? Or is there a threshold that, if met, provides a maximum level of protection? Labeling issues aside, it should be interesting to see the results of the research and find out what differences exist between varietals and/or brands.