Wine and health - FAQ

Questions and answers

Can wine be good for your health?

In moderation, wine, particularly red, has been shown to be good for your health.

Wine, as we all know, is good for us – or is it? Barely a week goes by without new scientific research claiming that wine can either prevent or reduce the severity of numerous illnesses and ailments.

The link between wine and health has always been a major topic for the media. An episode of 60 Minutes broadcast in the United States in the early 1990s about the French Paradox did wonders for the US wine industry, with millions of Americans delighted to hear that all they had to do to protect their heart was to drink more red wine.

And in the UK, a similar effect was caused by Roger Corder's book The Wine Diet, which convinced many that red wine, in particular, does us a lot of good.

But sadly, it is not as simple as that.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that wine consumption can lead to a wide variety of conditions, including dementia, depression, and cancer.

Of course, everyone knows that excessive alcohol consumption can be fatal, and while we would never seek to trivialise this important research – or, for that matter, the seriousness of the conditions listed below – such contradictory evidence makes it impossible for those who drink wine within reasonable limits to know what the long-term effects on their health will be.

And until incontrovertible medical proof exists that wine should be approached with extreme caution, we should – and we will – carry on drinking.

To get an idea of how the media has reported the the health benefits - and dangers - of wine over the years, see our Wine and Health chart.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is drinking heavily in a short space of time to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol.

The amount of alcohol someone needs to drink in a session for it to be classed as ‘bingeing’ is less clearly defined but the marker used by the UK's national health service and National Office of Statistics is drinking more than double the daily recommended units of alcohol in one session.  

The Government guidelines state that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day, and women should not regularly exceed more than two to three units daily.

Bing drinking for men, therefore, is drinking more than eight units of alcohol – or about three pints of strong beer. For women, it’s drinking more than six units of alcohol, equivalent to two large glasses of wine.

What is the recommended daily alcohol consumption?

The British Government's guidelines say that a man should not regularly drink more than 3-4 alcohol units a day and a woman should not regularly exceed 2-3 units a day.

One alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. This equals one 25ml single measure of whisky (ABV 40%), or a third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%) or half a standard (175ml) glass of red wine (ABV 12%).

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