Is Young Wine Better Than Old Wine?

Is young wine better than old wine?

To be more exact, youthful red wines may be “better for you” than old red wines. Research reveals that 90% of several key antioxidants in red wines disappear as wine ages. We’ve raved about antioxidants in wine because of their potential health benefits. But apparently, we’re drinking wine too old.

young-wine-vs-old-wine

Is Young Wine Better Than Old Wine?

Several studies on anthocyanin (anthocyanin is a polyphenol found in red wine, chocolate, and tea) offer some updates to the bioavailability of antioxidants in red wine. Here’s what we know:

Young red wines have more antioxidants than old red wines

A research group in China tested Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc. They found that 90% of the anthocyanin content in red wine disappears after a few months of aging. There are several reasons why this happens, but it’s mostly due to the fact that antioxidant volatility.

High acid wines stabilize antioxidants longer

A group of scientists studying Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in Brazil noted anthocyanins stabilize at low pH levels (high acidity). Stability occurs around 3.2 pH which, by the way, is pretty darn acidic for red wine!

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Despite this nifty discovery, it’s hard to know if drinking more acidic wines is good for you. Studies on antioxidant absorbance in humans suggest that your body needs to be a little bit basic (aka alkaline or lower acid) in order to actually benefit from antioxidants like anthocyanins.

Condensed tannin is highest in young wines

Besides anthocyanin, another beneficial polyphenol found in red wine is called proanthocyanidin, or more commonly known as condensed tannin. Tannins in wine come from grape skins, grape seeds and even oak barrels. There are actually 2 kinds of tannin commonly found in wine and the bitter and astringent-tasting condensed tannins that are found mostly in grape seeds have incredible anti-inflammatory effects on the body. By the way, anti-inflammatory food is a keystone to a healthy diabetes diet. Condensed tannins are highest in full-bodied red wines.


Are The Health Benefits of Wine Negated By The Alcohol in Wine?

A recent study published by Circulation Research tested wine on a group of men who were at high risk for heart disease. Their health improved when they drank non-alcoholic red wine but not when they drank regular wine. Whoa, big deal! The men’s health appeared to stay the same when they drank alcoholic red wine… in case you were wondering.

Thus far, this was the only study we could find that really discusses the relationship between the bioavailability of antioxidants in red wine with the potential negative effect of alcohol. By the way, dealcholizing wines removes a number of the antioxidants in wine, including condensed tannin, so non-alcoholic wines aren’t necessarily the answer either. So, hopefully, now you’re just as confused as we are!


Conclusion: Drink Wine Because You Love It

Is young wine better than old wine? Yes, but that’s not valid really a reason to drink.

We might kid ourselves into thinking that wine is a miracle drug but there are many nuanced factors that go into this equation. While there is ample information supporting wine in moderation, there is not really any conclusive evidence that we are absorbing any of the health benefits of wine. Thus, drink wine because you love it. Hopefully, that’s obvious.

If you’re seeking the amazing health benefits found in red wine grapes, you might just want to eat them straight off the vine (and be sure to chew on the seeds). By the way, American table grapes don’t have the same benefits as red wine grapes because, sadly, they were bred out long ago… save for maybe Scuppernongs.

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Sources:
  • Lowering the alcohol content of red wine does not alter its cardioprotective properties Link
  • Dealcoholized Red Wine Decreases Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure and Increases Plasma Nitric Oxide Link
  • Catechin and Epicatechin Concentrations of Red Wines: Regional and Cultivar-Related Differences Link
  • Phenolics: From Chemistry to Biology Link
  • Effect of pH on the copigmentation of anthocyanins from Cabernet Sauvignon grape extracts with organic acids Link
  • Plant Phenolics: Extraction, Analysis and Their Antioxidant and Anticancer Properties Link
  • Jane Says: Not All Antioxidants Are Created Equal Link
  • Ellagic acid and flavonoid antioxidant content of muscadine wine and juice Link
  • Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype Link
  • Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine Link
  • Anthocyanins and their variation in red wines I. Monomeric anthocyanins and their color expression Link

About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly