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Is Red Wine Healthier Than White Wine?

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By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Whether you prefer white or red wine is generally a matter of taste.

But if you want the healthiest pick, which should you choose?

Red wine has drawn lots of attention for its research-backed potential to lower the risk of heart disease and lengthen your lifespan.

Does white wine have the same benefits?

This article will review what you need to know about red and white wine—how they're made, what to watch out for and which is healthier.

What Is Wine?

Wine is made from fermented grape juice.

Grapes are picked, crushed and placed in buckets or vats to ferment. The process of fermentation turns the natural sugars in the grape juice into alcohol.

Fermentation can occur naturally, but sometimes winemakers add yeast to help control the process.

The crushed grapes are put through a press, which removes the skins and other sediment. Whether this step is done before or after fermentation determines whether the wine becomes red or white.

To make white wine, grapes are pressed before fermentation. Red wine is pressed after fermentation.

After this step, the wine is aged in stainless steel or oak barrels until it's ready to be bottled.

Summary: Wine is made from fermented grape juice. The grapes are picked, crushed and then allowed to ferment in buckets or vats.

What's the Difference Between Red and White Wine?

The main difference between white and red wine has to do with whether the grape juice is fermented with the grape skins.

To make white wine, grapes are pressed and skins, seeds and stems are removed before fermentation.

However, to make red wine, the crushed grapes are transferred to vats directly and they ferment with the skin, seeds and stems. The grape skins lend the wine its pigment, as well as many of the distinctive health compounds found in red wine.

As a result of steeping with the grape skins, red wine is particularly rich in plant compounds that are present in those skins, such as tannins and resveratrol (1).

White wine also has some of these healthy plant compounds, but generally in much lower amounts (2).

Many different grape varietals are used to produce wine, including Pinot Gris, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

While red varietals are used to make red wine, white wine can actually be made from red or white grapes. For instance, traditional French champagne is made with the red Pinot Noir grape.

Many countries produce wine. Some of the main wine-growing regions are in France, Italy, Spain, Chile, South Africa, Australia and California in the U.S.

While most regions grow several types of grape varietals, some places are particularly known for one or two, such as Napa Valley Chardonnay, Spanish Tempranillo and South African Chenin Blanc.

Summary: Red wine grapes are fermented with the skin on, which gives the wine its color and provides beneficial plant compounds. Grapes for white wine, on the other hand, have their skins removed.

Nutrition Comparison

Red and white wine have very similar nutrition profiles.

However, looking at the nutrient content per 5-ounce (148-ml) glass, you can see that there are some differences (3, 4):

Overall, red wine has a slight edge over white because it has higher amounts of some vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, white wine contains fewer calories.

Summary: In terms of nutrients, red and white wine are neck and neck. However, red wine has slightly higher levels of some vitamins and minerals.

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