How wine affects your body

There has been much suggestion that the drinking of wine is somehow “good for you.”

While it might calm your nerves a bit, what many want to say is that, for whatever reason, it can protect you from heart disease, perhaps by lowering cholesterol. Some point to those parts of the world where people eat high fat diets, drink lots of wine, and live to a very old age.

At this stage of knowledge, it probably isn’t a good idea to start drinking to obtain hypothetical protective effects. Whether it helps you if you are drinking is controversial. Most people will agree that if you drink “too much,” it is not good for you (for a variety of reasons).


Getting drunk happens in some social circumstances — like the end of college. The liver filters alcohol and sends it to the blood stream. This notably affects your brain (and damages it a little for many weeks). You should switch to water when you are feeling dizzy. In any case, do not ever drive a car (or a bike) after a glass.

Lead in wine

Lead-acid batteriesSome people are concerned about high levels of lead in wine. A possible reason is that the high acidity levels in wine help to cause lead to leach out of things that it touches. Lead “capsules” (the foil at the top of the bottle) have all but disappeared from new bottles of wine for this reason. You can wipe the top of a bottle with a damp cloth before pouring if you have an older bottle with a lead capsule. There is some reason to believe that lead can be leached out of lead crystal glasses.

Whether this occurs in significant numbers in the short run I do not at this time know, but I have read some material that indicates it is not a good idea to store an alcoholic beverage in crystal decanters for long periods of time.

Other negative effects

Addition to alcohol is called alcoholism. It pushes you to continue taking alcohol.
Alcohol can damage your liver.

Allergies, sulphites, natural wines

The biggest complaint here is that some people develop headaches from drinking wine. There are several proposed causes. One is that sulphites added by the producer (or can be naturally present in lesser amounts) cause the allergic reaction. Furthermore, it has been suggested that cheaper wines are likely to have more sulphites as a cheap substitute for careful grape selection and winemaking. Some people say that it is only red wine that causes them a problem. Sulphites are present in both red and white wines. Another possible cause is anthocyanin pigments which are what makes “red” grapes red. These are also present in blue cheese. If both cause you problems, maybe you’ve found a reason?

Solutions suggested by some (but not recommended or approved by me in any way) are: Drink lots of water before drinking the wine. Take a pain-killer first. The problem with this last one is that is known to enhance the alcoholic affect. The best answer is, if this is a problem, don’t drink wine.

While there are wines that claim to be sulphite free, some people will tell you that this is not possible, as sulphites exist in nature on the grape. However, the amount would be less if not artificially introduced. The French Scout details explanations on organic winemaking and sulphite use.

But since sulfur dioxide is often used to control how the wine is produced (getting rid of unwanted yeasts, molds and bacteria), some feel that you may not get as good a wine. United States law requires that wine with over 10 parts per million of sulphites state that the wine “contains” sulphites.

Yet some wineries produce wine with very little sulphites. If this is important to you, you should look for sulphite-free wines near you.

Calories in wine

Most of the calories in wine come from alcohol, though some additional calories come from the “food” that came from the fruit (proteins, carbohydrates [like sugar], etc.). Since some wines are more dry than sweet (that is, they have less sugar), those wines would have a little less calories.
Also, wines vary in alcohol content, which would, of course, also affect the number of calories from alcohol. The United States Department of Agriculture says that 100 grams of “table wine” (12.2 percent alcohol by volume) has 85 calories while 100 grams of “dessert wine” (18.8 percent alcohol by volume) has 135 calories.

In any event, a pretty good rule of thumb is that table wine has approximately 25 calories per ounce. When cooking with wine, you can end up boiling out the alcohol. The result is that the calorie impact from the wine is drastically reduced.

Pregnancy and wine

Heavy alcohol use in pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Some doctors feel that the safest course is not to drink any alcohol at all during pregnancy. Others feel that light, occasional drinking has not been shown to be harmful. Check with your doctor but take your own decision!

Wine as a sleeping aid

The general consensus is that alcohol might help you fall asleep immediately but that you’ll be up in the middle of the night. A warm glass of milk seems to be a better idea.

Tannins, resveratrol

Polyphenols and beneficial tannins are found in some young red wines.

It has been reported that resveratrol may induce a number of beneficial health effects, such as anti-cancer, antiviral, neuroprotective, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and life-prolonging effects. Beware that some of these studies used animal subjects (e.g. rats). Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine but, based on extrapolation from animal trials, apparently not in sufficient amounts to explain the “French paradox”. The French paradox is that the incidence of coronary heart disease is relatively low in southern France despite high dietary intake of saturated fats.

Here is more about the chemicals in wine and their effects on the body.

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23 Responses to “How wine affects your body”

  1. Obagi Blue Peel says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you….

  2. Thank you for the kind words. It keeps the motivation up!

  3. linda fan says:

    Hi, I am a breast cancer patient. I was told that red wine has much antioxidant, which may help me. I am undergoing chemo now. Should I take some now, or after the Chemo. Thanks in advance for your advice.

  4. Hi, you may try some red wine indeed. But I don’t know the specifics with respect to your state. I would advise you to discuss the timing and doses with a doctor.
    With respect to the wine itself, consider having only good wine in a company you enjoy.

  5. Troy says:

    I always get a stuffed up nose after drinking a few glasses. Have no clue why… but it’s not fun to go to bed with.

  6. Kim Spears says:

    Ouch Troy, that must be nasty. Does it happen with all varieties of wine?

  7. Kim – The effects may vary with the varieties. But Yes, they more or less happen with all wines.

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  9. James says:

    @ champagne:

    WOW! Is it the wine talking? Or am I out of accent?

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  11. austin fuchs says:

    Pussies! Drink beer instead and stop all this jibberish concern about your health. Your dead in the end anyways. All this propaganda about alcohol as if you got to fear it. Nonsense! Drink up for tomorrow you die. Enjoy life, get drunk and don’t worry about it. Pull back the intake valves if you can’t function the next day, but don’t fear it. If your a fat batard, you need to pull back on shoveling food down your gullet too. But don’t be afraid of food for heaven’s sake! What I’m saying basically is don’t be a ninny who let’s everyone shit on them with their petty fears. Stand up for yourself. Do it with a beer or wine, but do it! Enjoyed the blog.

  12. cee says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I respect the effort you have undertaken to explain possible situations. It’s commendable and informative.

  13. elly says:

    My husband drink a lot of wine .am skied I hope it will not afect his sex orgasm

  14. Our favorite holding period is forever.
    An economist’s guess is liable to become as effective as anybody else’s.

  15. rachelgirl says:

    Wine, soothes the soul but too much makes me GIGGLE and sleepy and serves as a aphrodisiac lol sorry may have had a bottle!

  16. Megan says:

    My mum drinks every night from about 4pm. She starts getting hateful to me and my sister aged 8 and 13. She starts wobbling when she walks and is not capable of cooking basic meals because she eats late and by then is drunk. She goes to bed early due to the drinking. She wont accept any help and says shes ok. Shes a good worker during the day and can concentrate very well. I dont know what to do with her. Help me please.

  17. You could persuade your mother to seek medical help (detox). You could also alter social service (if there is a thing in your country). Take care.

  18. glenn says:

    For an article about the affects of wine on your body you sure do focus on sulphites, general reasons why alcohol is bad (including misuse, which has nothing to do with wine itself since it’s up to our discretion as the supposed educated drinker to make responsible decisions), and you make no mention of polyphenols or specific benefits. I think when you write an article about “affects” of something you list pros and cons, not just cons, otherwise you look biased and lose credibility. Poor writing style in general really.

  19. Michael says:

    Great article, most of what I found on the web focused basically just on effects of alcohol, but yours really is about wine effects. Am researching about this subject right now and found your site to be very helpful :-)

  20. Warren Jolly says:

    I’m eight teen years old of age I’ve never drinked before and all of a sudden I want to drink red wine and it said its good for me and it says I could live in a very old age so I’m ganna drink thou my friend zack is selling me his red wine and your not ganna belove this he’s just 13 years old and he already drinks damn zack believe me he drink I could prove it visit me in my own town my address is [Nemiscau QC J0Y 3B0 8A Fox Trail ]I ain’t lyin he drinks my address is up^ sincerely WarrenJolly

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  22. michie says:

    The other night I was drinking an Old Vine Zin and had a couple of glasses. I believe that I didn’t have much to eat that day and all of a sudden I got kinda mean verbally. Not a usual behavior that I have. Was it the kind of wine. is it possible for a certain kind of wine to have an effect like that, was it the alcohol content of the wine? I’m usually very fun and friendly when I’m out having a few drinks. That was very unusual for me.

  23. You might have been tense in the first place. The alcohol may have liberated your inner aggressivity.