The 4 Healthiest Wines By Type

The 4 Healthiest Wines By Type

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Wine is an alcoholic beverage that can be healthy when drunk in moderation—variations of red such as pinot noir are among the healthiest wines. The benefits of wine come from its antioxidant content. Other types of wine, like white, orange, and rosé, also contain antioxidants. 

1. Healthiest: Red Wines
Ruby red wines are the healthiest types of wine. They contain more antioxidants than all the other varieties.

For example, red wine has eight times more antioxidants than white wine. That's because the grape skins aren't removed during fermentation.1 The antioxidants have been linked to health benefits, including heart disease protection and possibly longevity.2

They can decrease the levels of "bad" cholesterol and boost the levels of "good" cholesterol in your blood, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Daily consumption of red wine is linked to a 12% increase in "good" cholesterol.1

Drinking red wine in moderation may also increase your lifespan because of the chemical resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes. Pinot noir, in particular, can have up to 16 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of resveratrol.3

Vejarano R, Luján-Corro M. Red wine and health: approaches to improve the phenolic content during winemaking. Front Nutr. 2022;9:890066. doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.890066
Resveratrol acts like an antioxidant and may prevent age-related heart function decline. The resveratrol content of red wine has additional health benefits, too—it may decrease the risk of colon and prostate cancer.1

2. Second Healthiest: Orange Wines
After red, your best bet is orange wine, described as "white wine made like a red." In white wine making, the skins are typically removed just after the grapes are pressed.

In orange wines—made with green grapes—the skins and seeds remain in contact with the juice, resulting in an orange hue. This is why orange wine is sometimes called "skin-contact wine."4

While the skins and seeds ferment in the grape juice, their good-for-you antioxidants, polyphenols, seep into the juice, providing an antioxidant content similar to that of red wine.4

Since orange wine has similar antioxidant content to red wine, it may offer similar health benefits. Orange wine may be beneficial for heart health and protect against heart disease.4

3. Third Healthiest: Rosé
Rosé can be made with any red grape and is made worldwide—the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Australia, and Chile produce rosé.5 The crisp, bright flavor of rosé makes it a great choice in the spring and summer months and pairs well with various foods.

The wine-making process includes "skin contact" time, which is shorter than with red and orange wines. Less contact time means fewer antioxidants than red wine but more than white wine.

4. Least Healthy: White Wines
There is generally no "skin contact" time in white wine production. This means phytonutrients from the skin don't make their way into the wine because the skin is removed during fermentation.

Dry Whites
Since most of the benefits come from the skin, white wine doesn't have the same potentially protective properties as its more colorful counterparts. In addition, while dry white wines are not as healthy as red, orange, or rose, they are healthier than sweet white wines because they contain less sugar.6

Sweet Whites
Sweet white wines are sweet because, of course, they contain more sugar. During the fermentation process, yeast is added to the grape juice, which causes the sugar from the grapes to convert to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Producers use methods for sweet wines to ensure some of the grape sugar remains before bottling. For comparison, a six-ounce serving of Moscato contains 27 grams of carbs, 17 of which are sugar.7 Compare that to a five-ounce portion of chardonnay, which has three grams of carbs with one as sugar.

 Why Are So Many Wine Regions Dealing With Oversupply?

Is Wine Good for You?
Drinking wine can be good for you when enjoyed in moderation. Wine contains antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing the level of "bad" cholesterol and increasing the level of "good" cholesterol in your blood.1

In addition to increasing your antioxidant intake, drinking wine can be a fun social event. When paired with different foods and flavors, consuming wine may make for an enjoyable eating experience.

Risks of Drinking Wine
Even in moderation, wine and other types of alcohol are associated with a greater risk of breast cancer and other cancers.9 Consuming alcohol above moderate intake also increases the risk of heart disease. It is linked to a higher risk of:10

Breast cancer
Cancer of the gastrointestinal tract
High blood pressure
Liver disease


Organic wines can be better for the environment and avoid pesticide residues. One study found pesticides or their by-products in 49 grape and wine samples.11

While the full effects are unknown, one study showed links between pesticide residue exposure and infertility.12 Whatever the type of wine, choose organic whenever you can.

Recommended Daily Wine Intake
Make sure you stay within the recommended guidelines for the amount of wine or alcohol you consume—if it's safe for you to do so. Nutrition and health guidelines recommend a maximum of one drink per day for females and two for males.13

For wine, one drink is defined as five ounces, which is a little less than the size of a yogurt container. Your drink allowance doesn't "roll over," meaning you can't abstain for three days and then drink more than five ounces in one night.10

Even if you follow the guidelines of one drink per day, it may not be okay to drink wine every day. One review concluded that more than five drinks a week might shorten your life span.14

A Quick Review
The healthiest types of wine range from red wines to white wines. Their level of healthiness is based on their antioxidant content and, in terms of white wines, sugar content.

Wine may provide benefits such as a longer life and protection from heart disease. Keep in mind that though these are potential benefits, it's still best to drink wine in moderation.