Choosing the right wine for your healthier lifestyle

If you’re interested in preserving the health of your brain as you age, the MIND diet is for you.

It includes a glass of wine a day.

The reason? Polyphenols, particularly resveratrol, found in the skins of red wine grapes.

Resveratrol works against the effects of aging on the brain by helping to preserve the function of the hippocampus, the area of the brain where memories are coded and stored.

“There’s no question that people who drink moderately have lower rates of heart attacks, lower rates of diabetes, and live longer,” says Dr. Eric Rimm, a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

There are hundreds of studies that show this.

However, not all wines are created equal.

So, other than personal preference and perhaps choosing red over white for its polyphenol content, how do you go about finding a wine that offers you the best health benefits possible?

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Stay away from “junk food” wines

For the most part, the wines on your grocery or liquor store shelves are mass-produced and processed in factories. So, not unlike other “processed” foods, they’re not the highest-quality wine you can get.

Another problem is that there is little or no regulation around how the grapes in these wines are grown. Even small wineries or vineyards may use pesticides that you would avoid in your food, so you certainly don’t want to be drinking them.

If you’ve read about the hidden danger of juicing non-organic fruits and vegetables, then you know some of what I’m talking about…

After all, wine is basically fermented juice if you think about it. That means you’re pulverizing the grape to extract the juice and everything else the fruit absorbed while growing, and what’s left is a concentrate of all those things — including pesticides.

In fact, grapes come in at number six on the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 “Dirty Dozen” list of foods highest in pesticides.

Glyphosate is the most common of these pesticides. A well-known carcinogen, it’s the main ingredient in Monsanto’s pesticide, Roundup®.

It only takes one part per trillion of glyphosate to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Research by the Public Interest Research Group found 51ppb in Sutter Home’s Merlot wine.

But pesticides aren’t the only foreign things hiding in your wine.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the agency that regulates the sale of wine, has a list of 17 substances that can legally be added to wine, including potato protein, chitosan (a sugar from the shells of shellfish), baker’s yeast and acacia gum.

Some of these additives can cause you to have an intolerance to wine. Sulfites are perhaps the most problematic of these.

People who are allergic to this preservative react with itchy throat, congestion, hives and other skin rashes. A very small percentage of people will have a more severe reaction.

Migraines are also a common complaint among those who’ve had bad experiences drinking wine. Do that mean a wine tasting with friends it out of the question for you?

It doesn’t have to be if you make wiser wine choices…

There ARE healthier wine choices out there

When we’re looking for healthier, preservative-free foods, we usually turn first to organic produce and other products.

Organic wine is available. Organic grapes are grown using the principles of organic farming, so no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and no sulfites added. Organic wine is regulated much like organic food is.

Two other choices are biodynamic wines and natural wines.

Biodynamic wines also follow organic farming principles in the cultivating of their grapes. In addition, biodynamic agriculture pays special attention to enriching the soil and promoting sustainability of the land.

Dry farming is a practice that makes wine healthier. It uses no irrigation, depending instead on the water naturally found in the land. This forces grapevines to dig deep to find water. On the way, they absorb many more nutrients, thus producing a wine that’s got some nutritional value.

Natural wines are produced with the least processing of all. Grapes are often hand-picked, and the natural fermentation process is not interfered with by machine pumping or mechanical separation

These wines are often cloudy, but don’t let that worry you. Unlike other wines, natural wines may contain probiotic bacteria that can balance your gut microbiome and promote health in the same way that other fermented foods do.

If wine tends to give you a migraine, depending on your level of sensitivity, you need only look for a wine made from thin-skinned grapes. Tannins, the compound responsible for migraines in some people, is naturally occurring in grapes.

However, the thinner the skin of the grape, the less tannin it contains. The wine blog, VinePair, recommends Pino Noir for a wine with relatively low tannins.

The bottom line: Choose your wine as carefully as you do your food, and you will be adding to your health with every sip!


  1. Healthier Wines Are A Thing: Here’s What to Know — Parsley Health
  2. Wine and Juice Treating Materials and Processes for Domestic Wine Production — Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  3. What is dry-farming? — The Source
  4. Resveratrol prevents age-related memory and mood dysfunction with increased hippocampal neurogenesis and microvasculature, and reduced glial activationScientific Reports
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.