When people talk about the health benefits of wine, they're often zeroing in on red wine, which has long been the one to choose for its high level of antioxidants. But the way white wine affects your body is interesting, too. And it may be well worth dropping into conversation, should you find yourself sipping on some in the near future.
Of course, what sets these two beverages apart are the grapes used, as well as the fermentation process. "Red wine comes from black grapes and is fermented with the skins and seeds left in tact, while white wine comes from white grapes and the skins and seeds of the grapes are pressed off before the fermentation process," Tess M. Patterson, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietician nutritionist, tells Bustle.
As a result, "white wines do lose a lot of the antioxidant properties naturally," Patterson says, "but they do still have many that are kept in tact." A glass of red wine may contain more, but white wine is going to offer some benefits as well, including higher levels of protection for lung tissue, Patterson says, than red.
Beyond that, white wine may have a few other plus sides. "When we [drink] a moderate amount of dry white wine, it promotes digestion and relaxation," Dr. Marina Yuabova, DNP, FNP, a family nurse practitioner, tells Bustle. It may also have beneficial effects on blood pressure, mood, and blood cholesterol, Dr. Richard Honaker, M.D., and chief medical advisor at Your Doctors Online, tells Bustle.
As it goes with any alcoholic beverage, however, moderation is key, Yuobova says. And it certainly isn't necessary to drink white wine every day in order to be healthy, especially since you can get even more antioxidants from other foods, like berries, dark chocolate, and kale.
In fact, drinking too much white wine can lead to some unpleasant side effects, which may make it not worth it. "With many wines, there is a chemical compound called sulfites that can cause some ‘flu-like’ symptoms to occur," Patterson says. "Sulfites are typically added to wines in order to keep them from spoiling, and while most organic wines do not have added sulfites, individuals who are more sensitive to sulfites may experience more coughing, sneezing, or runny-noses than others." And the more you drink, the stronger this side effect will be.
If white wine makes you feel bad, go ahead and skip it. And this is even more important if it gives you get indigestion. "The acidity content in white wine has some effects on gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) in individuals with stomach sensitivity," Patterson says, "therefore reflux may occur the more you drink."
But the same may be true for red wine, and all other alcoholic drinks, which is why one glass a day may be a good limit to set. "Moderate means one drink per day for women and two for men," Megan Wong, RD, a registered dietician, tells Bustle. "And one drink is a 5 oz. glass (most restaurants offer 6 or even 9 oz. glasses)."
If you don't already drink white wine, Wong says, there's no need to start now if you don't want to. But if you're a big fan of how light and refreshing it tastes, it's fine to go ahead and enjoy a glass — as well as a health benefit or two.
University At Buffalo. "Drinking Wine, Particularly White Wine, May Help Keep Lungs Healthy, University At Buffalo Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020521072618.htm>.
Chen, S.-H., Wang, J.-W., & Li, Y.-M. (2010). Is alcohol consumption associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease? Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B, 11(6), 423–428. doi: 10.1631/jzus.b1000013
Tess M. Patterson, MS, RD, LD, registered dietician nutritionist
Dr. Marina Yuabova, DNP, FNP, family nurse practitioner
Megan Wong, RD, registered dietician