On Friday afternoons, Yvette Vezina settles into a hairstylist’s chair at Tipsy Salonbar in Plantation, Fla., to get coloring and to indulge in a cold glass of pinot grigio.
“Drinking wine is relaxing,” Vezina said. “I really enjoy it.”
The salon offers an extensive menu of wine choices to customers as they have their fingernails polished and hair cut, manager Duke Hoang said. “Our customers love to drink their wine and get comfortable.”
In 2018, U.S. wine consumption rose again year over year — as it has since 1993 — with drinkers imbibing more than 750 million gallons of wine, according to the State of the Wine Industry 2019 report. Most people are drinking for enjoyment, of course, unaware that researchers have found that drinking wine can have health benefits.
“It’s an antioxidant,” said Dr. John Rivas, a board-certified liver specialist in Hollywood, Fla. “We have a big-time epidemic of fatty liver disease in this country with supersized foods and a lot of calories from fat. Wine actually helps protect the liver from inflammation caused by fat.”
Rivas, along with other medical experts, said the health benefits depend on moderation in drinking — no more than two glasses of wine a day. “You want to drink enough that you are getting the antioxidant properties, but not enough that it ends up causing damage.”
Beyond benefiting the liver, moderate wine drinking is linked with a longer life span. In a University of California, Irvine, study published last year of 1,600 people age 90 and older, researcher Prof. Dr. Claudia Kawas found that drinking wine regularly was associated with an 18% reduced risk of premature death.
“It did not necessarily have to be daily,” Kawas said. “It just had to be sometimes.”
Wine also may help with mental health as people age. A 2011 Loyola University Medical Center study of the older population, looking at data from 19 nations, found a lower risk of dementia among regular, moderate red wine drinkers in 14 countries.
“There are absolutely benefits in terms of stress relief,” said Dr. Kashmira Bhadha, medical director for women’s cardiac health at Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines. Fla.
Scientists have found red and white wines both contain resveratrol, a compound that has been tied to improved heart and blood health. Red wine has more resveratrol, which is why red wine is included in a heart-healthy diet, she said.
Wine also has the benefit of helping prevent dental cavities by getting rid of bacteria on the teeth, said Bruce Lein, a Florida dentist. “It’s best to drink a lot of water, though, to keep the wine from staining your teeth or deteriorating the enamel.”
Some studies take a different approach to wine’s effect on health. A U.K. study released recently found that drinking one bottle of wine each week could have the same carcinogenic impact as smoking five cigarettes for men and 10 cigarettes for women. Also, the National Cancer Institute has said that the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time, the higher the risk of developing certain alcohol-associated cancers such as colon and breast cancer.