The Future of Red Wine Labeling

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.

5 thoughts on “The Future of Red Wine Labeling”

  1. Please be aware that the labeling of wine bottles really is for marketing purposes and serves no real use to a humans health. The fact is that wine has very little Resveratrol, and there is a study that was done on humans using 25mg, which is about 20-25 glasses of wine.

    Where the resveratrol simply got flushed away in the persons urine, and only traces were found in the plasma.

    Here is the study:

    You really need a large dose 350mg, 500mg or more per day to get significant Resveratrol in a humans blood, and wine simply won’t do that.

    You simply need a supplement.

    Anthony Loera

  2. Interesting, Anthony. I think some of the tests showing the benefits of wine had nothing to do with resveratrol – they just found that moderate consumers of red wine had better outcomes. Perhaps the real question is whether resveratrol is the key factor in wine health benefits.

  3. Roger,

    I am not sure you can rule it out. Why don’t you go to this ‘google scholar’ webpage or the following one below and click on the link buttons.

    It will show you hundreds of different studies associated with resveratrol from universities, and other institutions. These don’t come from advertisements, marketing, or supplement companies. The studies are from scientists interested in how Resveratrol works.

    I am talking strictly about resveratrol and how it should be taken, as the article states that resveratrol labeling is being considered.

    You are aimply saying that wine benefits have nothing to do with resveratrol, which is a different argument altogether regarding health and not about the article.

    Who has the proof that wine has any health benefits at all at this point?

  4. Roger

    Good point. I found this series of articles promoting a new “Wine Diet” book out of England to be really interesting –

    The author claims that you should look for wines high in procyanidin. This article has me drinking more high altitude wine from South America, which have aged for a while, versus the new school wines from the US. Unfortunately, none of these come in a box just yet…..

  5. Anthony, I’m not saying that resveratrol has no effect as a component of wine, but that if you are correct about its low concentration then perhaps other factors are at work in addition to or in conjunction with resveratrol. From the Mayo Clinic:
    “How does alcohol help the heart?
    Various studies have indicated that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit your heart, not just alcohol found in red wine. Some heart-healthy benefits of alcohol include:

    – Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol
    – Lowers blood pressure
    – Inhibits the formation of blood clots
    – Helps prevent artery damage caused by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol

    Is red wine better?
    Red wine in particular seems to have even more heart-health benefits than other types of alcohol, according to a large Danish study from 2000. The study, known as the Copenhagen City Heart Study, found that those who drank red wine had about half the risk of dying of heart disease as those who didn’t. (From Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?)

    Red wine ‘protects from colds’

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