Latest scientific news 23 February 2023

Moderate wine consumption and health – a narrative review

Italian researchers carried out an extensive literature review to re-evaluate the latest scientific evidence with regards to the type and amount of alcoholic beverage consumed and the risk of disease.

The correlation between wine consumption and health has been the subject of a long-standing debate. The low-to-moderate consumption of wine has been shown to be associated with various health advantages in both male and female populations. The beneficial effects of wine are mostly derived from its polyphenolic content, and this represents the crucial difference between wine and other alcoholic beverages. The major aim of this narrative review was to consider the correlation between low-to-moderate wine consumption and health.

For this purpose, the authors selected 24 scientific studies published between 2010 and 2022 on cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and longevity. Their results show moderate wine consumption not only in association with major chronic degenerative diseases but also as part of the Mediterranean diet. They also discuss viticultural and enological practices which potentially affect the content of bioactive components.

The Impact of Wine/Alcoholic beverages consumption on human health

Alcohol consumption is associated with health risks, even if these risks vary significantly in terms of magnitude and health consequences among drinkers, depending on the volume of alcohol consumed over time, the type of alcoholic beverage, the drinking pattern and the diet. The researchers emphasize that ethanol is a toxic and psychoactive substance which can cause a dependence due to a combination of genetic predispositions and brain damage from the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

However, there is strong scientific evidence from Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean countries that moderate wine consumption increases longevity, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and does not considerably influence the overall risk of cancer. Wine is actually a beverage with unique characteristics such as a rich composition of polyphenols and antioxidants. Red wine has a high concentration of polyphenolic compounds. In addition to polyphenols, there may also be other phenolic and nonphenolic bioactive components in wine, usually less considered, that may contribute to the alleged health effects.

The Mediterranean diet, which includes the consumption of wine during the meals, is considered among the healthiest. When consumed during meals, wine tends to be sipped more slowly than other alcoholic beverages and this may provide metabolic benefits. In addition, the presence of food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol, aiding its metabolism and hepatic clearance, and lowering the peak blood alcohol concentration. The presence of food may also reduce the amount of alcohol available to the oral microbiota, which has the ability to metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde, a compound associated with the cancerous effects of alcohol in the upper gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the presence of alcohol may improve the bioavailability of polyphenols in the food, making them more available to the body.

This analysis clearly indicates that wine is a distinctive beverage which differs from other alcoholic beverages containing a rich composition of polyphenols and anti-oxidants. Its moderate consumption not only decreases the risk of chronic degenerative diseases but is also associated with health benefits, particularly when included in a Mediterranean dietary pattern.

In conclusion, wine and its moderate consumption does not increase the risk of chronic degenerative diseases and is even associated to health benefits. However, health care professionals should not recommend alcoholic beverages to non-drinkers because of the potential for drinking problems even among individuals at apparently low risk, and every effort must be made to promote behavioral education to prevent abuse, especially among young people.

ReferenceModerate wine consumption and health – a narrative review


Hrelia S, Di Renzo L, Bavaresco L, Bernardi E, Malaguti M, Giacosa A. Moderate Wine Consumption and Health: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 30;15(1):175. doi: 10.3390/nu15010175. PMID: 36615832; PMCID: PMC9824172.