Red Wine is Fine

The fact that there are health benefits to consuming red wine has always felt to me like a reminder that we can live well and still enjoy ourselves in moderation. In my kitchen, there is always a bottle around for sauces, reductions and, of course, sipping. But it’s important to understand how cooking with red wine alters its chemical state and therefore, differs in terms of health benefits gained from drinking it.

This was a question recently asked by a New York Times reader, and the answer was quite informative. As explained in the article, health benefits derived from red wine stem from different sources: alcohol, which helps to increase HDL cholesterol (often described as “the good” cholesterol), and polyphenols like resveratrol that offer a host of skin friendly benefits.

When heat is introduced through the cooking process, much of the alcohol burns off, stripping the wine of its cholesterol balancing benefits. Your cooking method – preparing a sauce versus a reduction, for example – will determine how much alcohol will remain in the dish. Quite simply, the longer the wine is cooked and the higher the temperature it reaches, the more the alcohol will evaporate.

Of course, to enjoy the full effects of the alcohol (both health and otherwise) as well as the polyphenols, nothing beats a nice glass after work.