Need another reason to sip red wine? Red wine has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including longevity, lower blood pressure, and heart health. Go ahead and pour a glass of one of these heart-healthy wines to celebrate.
So, what makes red wine good for the heart? And which red wines are the most beneficial?
Some of these wines may surprise you.
Take a look at the top 9 heart-healthy red wines.
How Does Red Wine Help Protect the Heart?
The benefits of red wine come from polyphenols – naturally occurring compounds that have antioxidant properties. Polyphenols like resveratrol and procyanidins have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including cardiovascular health.
How exactly do these compounds protect the heart?
Studies suggest that these polyphenols:
- Boost good cholesterol (or HDL)
- Lower bad cholesterol (or LDL)
- Reduce blood clotting
So, wines with high levels of resveratrol and procyanidins are considered the best for your heart.
Picking a Heart-healthy Red Wine
Heart-healthy red wines share a few common traits.
First, red wines made in a dry style tend to have the most health benefits.
What does “dry” mean, exactly? Dry red wines – including popular varietals like Pinot Noir and Merlot – are fermented longer than sweet wines, so they don’t have residual sugar. That doesn’t mean that these wines aren’t bursting with fruit flavors. The fruitiness you taste in wine is different from sweetness.
Next, red wines with high tannins generally have more health benefits – but this is not always the case.
Tannins – which give wine an astringent quality that you feel as a scratchy sensation on your tongue – come from grape skins. In general, thicker grape skins have more tannins and polyphenols.
Wines with seriously high levels of these polyphenols can taste slightly bitter, so they encourage you to sip slowly. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Slowing down will help you appreciate a wine’s many aromas. Plus, when you sip slowly, you often end up consuming a smaller quantity and drinking in moderation is what allows you to reap the health benefits of red wine.
Not a fan of high tannins? Not to worry. The red wine that experts consider to be healthiest actually has low tannins.
The 9 Most Heart-healthy Red Wines
1. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is considered the healthiest red wine you can drink. Unlike many of the reds on this list, Pinot grapes have a thin skin, so Pinot Noir has low tannins but high levels of resveratrol. Additionally, Pinot grapes – particularly those grown in cool-climate regions – start out with less sugar, so Pinot Noir has a lower ABV and fewer calories than fuller-bodied wines.
A rare grape from Umbria – a region in central Italy – Sagrantino is an antioxidant-rich wine. In fact, according to a study, Sagrantino might contain the most antioxidants of any red wine out there. With bold notes of plum sauce, blueberry jam, black tea, and cocoa, this full-bodied red also has super high tannins.
Much easier to come by, Merlot is a medium-bodied red wine with notes of black cherry and plum. The second most popular wine grape in the world, Merlot has high levels of resveratrol and procyanidin which help to lower cholesterol and promote cardiovascular health.
4. Cabernet Sauvignon
This full-bodied red wine with notes of dark fruit and baking spice has similar cardiovascular benefits. Additionally, thanks to its particular flavonoid makeup, Cabernet Sauvignon helps to stimulate the production of a protein that plays a role in cell health.
This red wine from Piedmont, Italy has bright notes of cherry plus a hint of licorice and dried herbs. Aside from being more affordable than other wines made in this region, Barbera is also noted for its heart-health benefits thanks to high levels of resveratrol.
Malbec, a smooth red wine with notes of blackberry and chocolate, has high levels of antioxidants and has been linked to both heart health and immune health. Grown mostly in Argentina and France, Malbec grapes have a thick skin, giving this bold red wine robust tannins.
Another red wine from Piedmont, Nebbiolo contains high levels of polyphenols like procyanidin. With red fruit notes and a hint of star anise, Nebbiolo also has some of the highest levels of melatonin, making it a good wine to sip at night if you have trouble sleeping.
Tannat is a full-bodied red wine with notes of dark fruit and smoke. French Tannat – known as Madiran – can have intense tannins, so it’s sometimes blended with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon. In Uruguay, Tannat has smoother tannins and softer fruit flavors. Wherever it’s grown, this dark grape contains high levels of the antioxidant procyanidins, giving it cardiovascular benefits.
You may not have heard of Cannonau, but it’s actually the same as Grenache – a popular French grape. In Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy, this grape develops an especially thick skin, giving it an abundance of antioxidants. With notes of ripe red cherries and blackberries, Cannonau has been linked to heart health and longevity.
In Vino Finito
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