Two glasses of white wine in front of a fireplace and a bottle of Shiraz

What is the best red wine for health?

Generally, wine is considered to be bad for you. But, in moderation, it turns out, it can be good. ‘Moderation’ is the key, as is choosing the right red wine for maximum health benefits. Drinking anything to excess is not going to help your heart, or any other part of you.

Many articles in the last few years have suggested that red wine in moderation may offer health benefits due to the antioxidants, and the polyphenol resveratrol in particular, which seem to help the heart. Resveratrol comes from the skin of the grapes, so technically, eating a bunch of grapes throughout the day can also help your health.

But if you’re determined to enjoy a glass after work, what are the best types of wine to try? The experts have been tasting and testing, and the results are in.

Top of the list is Pinot Noir, especially if grown in a cool, wet climate. The French may have the edge here, after all.

Next on the list is Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like a dry red, then these wines will suit your palate as well as giving a boost to your health. It is often blended with the Madiran grape to make it more ‘drinkable’.

The Madiran strain (from the Tannat grape) is found in Basque France, Italy, Sardinia and Uruguay. Some winemakers from California have also been trying production of this wine in the last couple of decades. Together with a traditional Mediterranean diet, a glass or so per night is probably responsible for the fabled longevity and energy of people from those regions. It is one of the best wines for cardiovascular health because of its high concentration of polyphenols.

Merlot grapes are also grown in south western France and Sardinia. Like the Tannat from the Madiran AOC, they too have exceptionally high concentrations of resveratrol and other antioxidants.

Syrah – or Shiraz – with or without added blackcurrants, also has a heap of health benefits from resveratrol.

Barbera is grown in Italy and California, but is not as popular as its cousin Merlot. It offers similar levels of resveratrol and corresponding health benefits, however, so the opportunity to try it should not be passed up.

Many articles tend to concentrate on the health benefits of generic ‘red wine’ rather than specifying whether one variety is better than another. Drinkers wanting to maximise their health benefits should go for moderation (one or two glasses a night only) and aim for a wine with a high concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols. New York turns out to be a great winegrowing region from that point of view, with the perfect climate to produce wines with naturally high resveratrol. A ‘healthy’ wine is described as a dry wine, 12.5% ABV or less, with a high concentration of polyphenols.

So maybe the next time you fancy splashing out, you should opt for a high end restaurant in New York with one of their local wines to flavour your steak?

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