Red Wine Versus White Wine: Which One Is Better For You?

If you enjoy raising a glass of red or white wine on a regular basis, you're sipping in good company. According to Statista, wine drinking in the United States has been on a steady rise, increasing by 33% between 2005 and 2020. Americans drank, on average, over 3 gallons of wine in 2020. 

The potential health benefits of wine have been touted by various cultures across the globe for thousands of years. In ancient times, for example, the Greeks and Romans used wine as a cure-all. "It was an antiseptic. It's an analgesic. It's antimicrobial, so you treat all your wounds with wine," Pat McGovern, scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at Penn Museum, told Wine Enthusiast. "And it turns out that is actually the best way to do it. Alcohol is a disinfectant, but it is even beyond that: The tannins and so on in wine set up a perfect environment for healing wounds."

Fast forward to the late 20th century when wine experienced a resurgence. French people were known to have a low rate of heart disease, despite eating a rich diet — dubbed the "French paradox" — which caused wine to become viewed more widely as a healthy beverage. However, while health experts agree that there are some health benefits to wine, more research is needed to determine recommended amounts (via Wine Enthusiast).

This is how red wine and white wine differ

According to Healthline, how red and white wine are made impacts their chemical makeup and how they may support our health. Red wines are fermented with the grapes' skins, seeds, and stems. White wines have their skins, seeds, and stems removed during fermentation. As a result, red wine retains certain compounds that are absent in white wine.

While red wine and white wine have similar nutritional profiles, it is the unique compounds in red wine that provide certain potential health benefits. Research has shown that drinking red wine may reduce the risk of heart disease due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Drinking red wine is also known to increase HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol that can help prevent heart disease. Some studies have also indicated that red wine may deter brain decline due to its antioxidant resveratrol, which seems to help prevent plaque from building up in the brain. This plaque can contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease (via Healthline).

While red wine gets most of the publicity, observational studies have indicated that drinking white wine may also lead to potential health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.

Bottom line: Red wine and white wine contain similar amounts of vitamins and minerals, but red tends to win the health battle in the end. Whether you prefer red or white wine, both should be only consumed in low-to-moderate amounts and as part of a well-balanced diet.