Red wines are produced by fermenting grapes on their skins; white wines are usually whole-cluster pressed, and only the juice is fermented. The result is that red wines have much higher concentrations of polyphenols, organic compounds found in the skins and seeds of grapes that research has shown provide several potential health benefits. Resveratrol is the best-known and most studied phenolic compound.
One glass of red wine has 200 mg of polyphenols compared to 40 mg for white wine. It’s said that two glasses of red wine a day will enhance the polyphenol content of the average diet by 40 percent.
However, white wines contain alcohol and alcohol itself has cardiovascular benefits, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Recent research published in the online journal “PLUS ONE,” suggests that white wine may be as healthy as red. This Italian study focused specifically on the polyphenol caffeic acid that is found in both red and white wines. The results show that it improves the health of arteries by increasing the availability of the vasodilator nitric oxide in lab mice. The researchers theorize that the antioxidant property of caffeic acid might explain the potential cardiovascular protection resulting from moderate white wine consumption as part of a typical Mediterranean diet.
White wine may have been given a bad rap, so don’t avoid a glass of your favorite chardonnay for fear that it isn’t as “healthy” as that glass of zin. My advice for white wine aficionados: chill, open, chill.