If you like wine, you’ve probably raised a glass (or two) to the reports that drinking it is good for you. Some research has shown that moderate wine drinkers are leaner, exercise more(!), and consume more antioxidants, including those not found in wine. But you might be wondering, are certain wines healthier than others? The short answer is yes. Read on for the ranking of wines based on the health protection they may offer—and why moderation is key, regardless of what you pour into your glass.
1. Dry reds
Ruby red wines are the healthiest wines, with more antioxidants than all the other varieties. That’s because the grape skins aren’t removed during fermentation. The antioxidants the dark skins provide, such as procyanidins, have been linked to health benefits including heart disease protection, and possibly longevity.
For the record, researchers note that wines from southwest France and Sardinia tend to have higher levels of procyanidins. On average, wines from these two areas had five times more procyanidins than wines from Spain, South America, the U.S., and Australia.
2. Orange wines
After dry red, your best bet is orange wine, which has been described as “white wine made like red.” In white wine making, the skins are typically removed just after the grapes are pressed. In orange wines—which are made with green grapes—the skins remain in contact with the juice (for anywhere from one week to one year), which results in wine with an orange hue. This is why orange wine is sometimes referred to as “skin contact wine.” In addition to colour, the skins impart plenty for good-for-you antioxidants.
Generally, rosé is made using red wine grapes, but the “skin contact” time is shorter than with red wine and orange wine. For red wine, it may be one to two months; whereas for rosé, it’s often 2 to 20 hours. Less contact time means fewer antioxidants.
4. Dry whites
In white wine production there is generally no “skin contact” time, which means phytonutrients from the skin don’t make their way into the wine. While I don’t think dry white is a “bad” choice, it’s just missing some of the potentially protective properties of its more colourful counterparts.
5. Sweet whites
Sweet white wines are sweet because, of course, they contain more sugar. For example, a five-ounce pour of Moscato contains 21 grams of carb, with 13 as sugar. Compare that to the same portion of chardonnay, which has 3 grams of carb with 1 as sugar. Think of these varieties as dessert, and make them occasional treats.