Recent studies suggest red wine may prevent ulcers and strokes, clear the arteries, suppress cancer, help the lungs, and act like an antibiotic against certain bacteria. Research has now shown the benefits could be captured in a tablet.

Scientists at the Pavese Pharma Biochemical Institute in Pavia, Italy have taken liquid remaining in red wine after the ethyl alcohol is distilled off and mixed it with sugars, amino acids and a preservative. The blend is then filtered, freeze-dried, and compacted into tablets.

‘Freeze-drying and compacting the mix leaves a tablet with all the benefits of a glass of wine, say the inventors,’ New Scientist magazine reports.

However, others argue a tablet cannot deliver red wine’s advantages.

‘I would say the viability of a red wine tablet is limited,’ Tony Wierzbicki, consultant lipidologist and chemical pathologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust in London said.

‘Good cholesterol is raised by wine among other things but this is mainly due to the alcohol, which would removed in the red wine tablet.’

The other health benefits of red wine reportedly come from its high level of antioxidants, which are found in the polyphenols abundant in grape skin, pulp and seeds.

Dr. Wierzbicki points out, ‘Although the benefits of red wine antioxidants work nicely in models and in tissue cultures, all major clinical trials on humans have been negative.’

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported wine drinkers live longer, healthier lives because they followed a diet richer in fruit, vegetables and fibre, smoked less, and exercised more than non-drinkers.

Written by Carolyn Hammond