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[NYC Journal – Health / NYC Journal]

Did you know that there is such a thing as alcohol-free wine? And that some are good and taste like (and are essentially) real wine?

Alcohol-free wine starts out like regular wine, but then the alcohol is removed. This is usually done with sophisticated low-temperature processes that preserve the flavor and health benefits of the wine. But before we discuss store-bought alcohol-free wine, let’s have a quick look at making our own alcohol-free wine.


I. Can I make my own alcohol-free wine?
IA. Effects of heat on wine’s health properties
IB. A cooked-wine system?
II. Health Effects of Alcohol-Free Wine
IIA. Alcohol-content, Taste and Calories of dealcoholized wine
IIB. Risks & Benefits of Alcohol Consumption
IIB1. Dangers of Alcohol Consumptions
IIB2. Well-Established Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption
IIB3. Loss of Benefits from Drinking Too Much or Having Certain Genes
IIB4. A Glass of Regular Wine; Then Switch to Alcohol-free Wine?
IIC. Health Benefits Remaining in Wine after the Alcohol’s removed
IIC1. Cardiovascular Health
IIC2. Healthy Gut & Weight
IIC3. Reduce Dementia Risk?
IIC4. Reduced Prostate Cancer Risk
IIC5. Breast Cancer
IIC6. What about Diabetes?
IIC7. What about Gallstones?
In Conclusion
Disclaimer / Contact

I. Can I make my own alcohol-free wine?

The only alcohol-removal method readily available to the average so and so is heating the wine. Alcohol boils at 172F (78C). Water boils at 212F (100C). Simmering is generally defined as around 185F. With a cooking thermometer and some fiddling, you could conceivably keep the wine at like 180F, and be confident that it is evaporating.

Higher heat and more surface area increase the rate at which the alcohol evaporates. But cooking resources give the following guidelines: cook wine for thirty minutes to reduce the alcohol content to 35%, and then you remove 10% more every thirty minutes. So you get to 25% after an hour, and 5% after two hours. [Source: Food Network]

You could add enough water to make up for the lost volume. But the cooking process will change the taste and feel, and at least some of the chemistry, of the wine.

IA. Effects of heat on wine’s health properties

The good news is that many of wine’s health properties remain even after cooking.

A study of red wine cooked for 45 minutes at either 167F/75C or 257F/125C found that the concentration of polyphenols and antioxidant capacity increased with cooked wine (because the wine itself was more concentrated; but at least this shows that polyphenols and antioxidant capacity were clearly not destroyed), although some of polyphenols degraded (resveratrol levels were most reduced in the wine cooked at the highest temperature).

Also encouraging: the vasodilatory effects [opens the veins to improve blood flow] of the wine was—at least in pig aortas—retained in all cases, leading to the conclusion that at least some of wine’s cardiovascular benefits survive cooking.

Also from this study: cooking the wine for 45 minutes at 257F/125C brought the alcohol content down to similar levels as alcohol-free wine (so less than a half a percentage of alcohol per serving).

[Source: Academic Wino]

Another study found that adding cloves (18 grams [like 1.5 tablespoons]) to red wine (600 milliliters [like 80% of a typical wine bottle) increased the amount of polyphenols in the wine (from 2375 to 4166 gallic acid mg/L [not sure what gallic acid is, but 2375 to 4166 is an almost a 60% increase]).

[Source: Makarova]

IB. A Cooked Wine System?

I can envision the following red wine treatment:

Simmer a decent dry red wine with orange, cloves, nutmeg, and spices, until you had a concoction with 25% the alcohol and most of the health benefits. From the rule of the thumb above, that should take about 45 minutes. But, again, I think you’d need a hydrometer to get it right.

25% of the alcohol in wine with 12% alcohol content would be 3% alcohol by volume. And, of course, drinking four glasses of such a wine would be equivalent to drinking one glass of regular wine.

But why do that?

If you have a tendency to drink too much, boiling off 75% of the alcohol could be a way to help head off trouble.

On the other hand, is that method superior to simply watering your wine down with a three-to-one water-to-wine ratio?

You could also simmer for two hours and get about 5% of the original alcohol content (or about .05 * .12 = .006, or .6% alcohol). Which is—at least for non-alcoholics—a pretty benign amount of alcohol.

But the flavor and feel of the wine are altered, and the health benefits, though not destroyed, are at least changed in some way. And the resveratrol is mostly lost—especially at the highest temperature (which would remove the alcohol the quickest).

I think the only reliable way to pinpoint how much alcohol you cook out of your wine would be experimenting with a hydrometer. They’re not much (less than $10).

My own experiment simmering a mulled wine for 45 minutes seemed to remove pretty much all the alcohol. I guess because my gas range isn’t sensitive to hold a simmer and the wine ended up boiling some. I didn’t measure the alcohol content, so I can’t be sure. It’s just that I drank what should’ve been way too much without any noticeable intoxication (there was a stomachache). You can buy your own hydrometer—which measures alcohol content—for like $20 to $40. That’s probably the only way—short of boiling the wine for hours—to know exactly how much alcohol content your mulled wine has.

[Standard mulled wine should be simmered but not boiled for at least fifteen minutes and then reduced to low heat to keep warm. Using this method, you still keep the bulk of the alcohol content (8% to 13% is typical for mulled wine)]


Recipe from GimmeSomeOven

Still: Could be just the thing in some situations!

But not all situations.

So we now turn to our other option: letting professionals remove the alcohol.

II. Health Effects of Alcohol-Free Wine

In this section we look at the health effects of alcohol-free wine, focusing on wine that has had the alcohol removed through a minimally-invasive cold-process (ie: the kind you buy at the store), resulting in a wine that (at least in some cases) tastes and feels like regular wine. We operate under the assumption that the wine’s chemistry is less-altered and thus it’s health-benefits should be closer to standard wine. Although, as noted above, even cooking red wine for a long time does not seem to completely undermine its health benefits.

We begin by comparing alcohol-content, taste, and calories of regular and alcohol-free wines. Then we discuss the dangers of alcohol and a few of the most well-established benefits of standard wine. Finally, we discuss what benefits are likely to remain when the alcohol’s been removed, and what benefits may very well leave with the alcohol. Of course, avoiding excess alcohol is the main benefit of alcohol-free wine; so our general conclusion is that maybe it’s wisest to have a glass or half a glass of regular wine most days (to get at least some of the benefits that alcohol confers) and then fill in with alcohol-free varieties.

IIA. Alcohol-content, Taste and Calories of dealcoholized wine

Professional alcohol-removers use low-temperature methods for removing the alcohol from wine. This helps them hold onto both the wine’s flavor and its chemical content while getting the alcohol down to less than 0.5%.

I’ve only tried two alcohol-free wines thus far. Fre adds a little juice to their alcohol-free wine, which makes it a little sweet for me. Ariel I love. They add no juice and their red wine tastes to me like a good red wine.  Ariel also has less calories than Fre, although both have considerably less calories than standard wine.

If you poured 5 ounces of each:
Ariel cabernet sauvignon 32.5 calories
Fre cabernet sauvignon 43.75 calories
regular wine 123 calories.

[Sources: I looked on the bottles and multiplied by 5/8 (since the serving-sizes are listed as 8 ounces.]

Drinking three glasses of alcohol-free wine only sets you back about a hundred calories (unless they add juice back in; three glasses of Fre would be like 130 calories – still not too bad). That’s good news!

But are there other health benefits gained by removing the alcohol from wine?

And are there health benefits lost by removing the alcohol?

IIB. Risks & Benefits of Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol-consumption is famously unhealthy. We list some of the risks here. It seems safe to assume that these risks go away when the alcohol is removed from the wine.

Alcohol has also some health-benefits. It seems reasonable to assume that those benefits will be lost when the alcohol-content is brought down to .05%. Unless, of course, there are some benefits of alcohol-consumption that can be attained with only the tiniest amount of alcohol.

In this section we look at both the risks of alcohol consumption and the well-established health benefits of alcohol. In later sections, we discuss which of those benefits are likely to be found–at least to some degree–in alcohol-free wine, and which are not.

IIB1. Dangers of Alcohol Consumption

The main problem with regular wine is that people often drink more than they should.

The current daily guidelines are no more than one drink for “average” women and two for “average” men – with a “drink” of wine being 5 ounces (or 1/5 of a standard 750 milliliter wine bottle).

Exceeding these recommendations is linked to an increased risk for many serious health issues:

“ … such as liver disease (hepatitis and cirrhosis), irregular heart rhythms and heart failure, stomach ulcers, brain damage, stroke, cancer (especially of the breast, colon, liver, esophagus, or throat), sleep difficulty, osteoporosis, malnutrition, depression, high blood pressure, dementia, difficulty concentrating, depression, weight gain, and anxiety. In pregnant women who drink alcohol, there is also a danger that the baby will develop physical and psychological problems.”

[Source: Harvard Health]

And some experts maintain that the healthiest amount of alcohol is none.

The Global Burden of Disease Study analyzed worldwide alcohol consumption and health outcomes from 1990 to 2016. They concluded that alcohol does more harm than good, and the safest amount of alcohol consumption is zero.

The study did not outright deny the purported health benefits of alcohol, but they claimed these benefits are yet to be fully demonstrated:

” … Additionally, some research suggests that low levels of alcohol consumption can have a protective effect on ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, and several other outcomes. This finding remains an open question, and recent studies have challenged this view by use of mendelian randomization and meta-analyses.”

From the conclusion:

“Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for disease burden worldwide, accounting for nearly 10% of global deaths among populations aged 15–49 years, and poses dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today. … Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none. This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day. Alcohol use contributes to health loss from many causes and exacts its toll across the lifespan, particularly among men. Policies that focus on reducing population-level consumption will be most effective in reducing the health loss from alcohol use.”

[Source: TheLancet]

So that’s sobering.

But there remain many compelling reasons to believe that moderate alcohol consumption has some positive health effects, leaving the door open for individuals to reasonably weigh the health risks for themselves.

IIB2. Well-Established Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption

According to Harvard Health:

“More than 100 prospective studies show an inverse association between light to moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes. The effect is fairly consistent, corresponding to a 25-40% reduction in risk. However, increasing alcohol intake to more than 4 drinks a day can increase the risk of hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, stroke, heart attack, and death.

“They attribute alcohol’s reduction of risk for heart attack, stroke, and vascular disease to its ability to raise HDL (the ‘good’) cholesterol and beneficial changes ranging from better sensitivity to insulin to improvements in factors that influence blood clotting, such as tissue type plasminogen activator, fibrinogen, clotting factor VII, and von Willebrand factor.” These changes are likely to make clotting less likely.

The article also cites evidence that moderate alcohol consumption reduces one’s chances of gallstones and type two diabetes.

[Source: Harvard Health]

IIB3. Loss of Benefits from Drinking Too Much or Having Certain Genes

That same Harvard Health article warned that more than four drinks a day “increase the risk of hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, stroke, heart attack, and death.”

What about just sticking to one glass a day? Or one most days; none sometimes; and for men once in a while two?

That seems wise, but who can manage that?

Also: are you a lightweight? Then maybe you shouldn’t drink at all. If you have enzymes that break the alcohol down more slowly, you release it into your blood more gradually, and studies have found that:

“Moderate drinkers who have two copies of the gene for the slow-acting enzyme are at much lower risk for cardiovascular disease than moderate drinkers who have two genes for the fast-acting enzyme. Those with one gene for the slow-acting enzyme and one for the faster enzyme fall in between.”

[Same source as above: HarvardHealth]

IIB4. A Glass of Regular Wine; Then Switch to Alcohol-free Wine?

Despite our intentions, resolutions, and promises, many of us will find ourselves drinking more than we should. If we cannot keep ourselves to one or two glasses; if we often find ourselves slipping into three four five – we should probably just let the whole thing go.

But if we could have one glass of regular wine and then switch to water, hibiscus tea (no special reason: I just like hibiscus tea) or alcohol-free wine, then maybe we have a sustainable and healthy course of alcohol consumption.

But how healthy? And what if we only drink alcohol-free wine?

What health benefits of wine remain once the alcohol has been removed?

IIC. Health Benefits Remaining in Wine after the Alcohol’s removed

IIC1. Cardiovascular Health

Even without alcohol, red wine seems to lower your risk for stroke and heart attack.

Below we look at the evidence for dealcoholized wine’s impact on (a) vascodilation (dilation of blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure), (b) blood pressure, and (c) cholesterol and atherosclerosis.

a. Vascodilation

The health benefits of drinking de-alcholized wine is less studied than the health benefits of standard wine. However, as we mentioned above, many of red wine’s health properties seem to remain even when almost all the alcohol is cooked away.

Even cooking wine at 257F (well above the boiling point of water) for forty-five minutes did not diminish the ability of wine to dilate pigs’ aortas. At that temperature and cooking time, the alcohol content was reduced to less than 1%.

Does it mean that the vascular-dilating effects of alcohol (and thus at least some of its heart-healthiness) can be replicated with a miniscule amount of alcohol? And/Or that the other compounds in wine mimic at least some appreciable part of alcohol’s positive impact on vascular health?

b. Blood Pressure

There’s evidence that non-alcoholic wine is to actually be better at reducing blood pressure than normal wine is. A 2012 Spanish study compared the effects of drinking gin, regular wine, and alcohol-free wine on 67 men aged 55 to 75, all suffering from diabetes and cardiovascular issues. The results:

“When the men drank non-alcoholic red wine, their systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) decreased on average by 6 points. That’s enough to reduce heart disease risk by 14% and stroke risk by as much as 20%, according to the researchers. There was no change in blood pressure when the men drank gin, and only a small reduction in blood pressure when they drank regular red wine.

Researchers also found that the men’s plasma nitric oxide levels went up when they drank non-alcoholic red wine. That’s a good thing, because nitric oxide relaxes blood vessel walls, allowing better blood flow. The NO levels went up only slightly when the men drank regular red wine, and not at all when they drank gin.”

[Source: Harvard Health]

It would be interesting to cross-reference this study with the one finding that people who metabolized alcohol most slowly got the most heart-benefits from drinking, and those who metabolized the slowest got very little or none. If we removed all the fast-alcohol-metabolizers from this blood pressure study, would the remaining slow-alcohol-metabolizers do close to or as well with regular wine as they with alcohol-free wine? Worth looking into, perhaps. And then we’ll all want to find out what kind of alcohol-metabolizing enzymes we have. Or maybe we should all just switch to alcohol-free wine. Maybe that’s easiest.

c. Cholesterol & Atherosclerosis

According to this 2013 study, mice that drank the equivalent of two or three glasses of dealcoholized wine a day while consuming a high-cholesterol diet had–when compared to mice just given the high-cholesterol diet–lower levels of both total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. However, no difference was noted in the HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels between the wined & dined vertus the merely dined mice

This 2005 study on rabbits found:

“High cholesterol-fed animals showed a significant increase in plasma levels of total, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, but not triglycerides, compared to those fed a regular diet. Dietary cholesterol-elicited lipid changes were similarly observed in animals concurrently fed dealcoholized red wine, red wine or resveratrol. In contrast, whereas atherosclerotic lesions were clearly evident in specimens prepared from the thoracic aorta of high cholesterol-fed animals, the size, density, and mean area of atherosclerotic plaques, and thickness of the intima layer were significantly reduced in rabbits given dealcoholized red wine, red wine, or resveratrol. … Our study shows that animals given dealcoholized red wine exhibited cardio-active effects comparable to those of animals orally administered resveratrol, and suggests that wine polyphenolics, rather than alcohol present in red wine, suffice in exerting cardioprotective properties. The results also provide support for the notion that resveratrol and phytochemicals in red wine can suppress atherosclerosis without affecting plasma lipid levels.”

Both of those studies, which found no improvement in HDL (“good”) cholesterol from red wine consumption, studied rodents. A study that put people at risk for type 2 diabetes on a Mediterranean diet with either water, white wine, or red wine for two years found that the red wine drinkers (and not the other two groups) had a significant increase in their HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Since red, but not wine, improved HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, it seems likely that the HDL-boosting element in red wine remains even after the alcohol is removed.

Here’s a question: If the resveratrol had the same ability to prevent atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries” — the formation of lesions in the arteries caused by plaque build-up) as both regular red wine and dealcoholized red wine, does that mean that if we remove the alcohol through cooking, the red wine loses its ability to prevent atherosclerosis (since prolonged exposure to high heat destroys resveratrol [see the wine cooking section above])? Or are other polyphenols in red wine (which aren’t destroyed during the cooking process) also able to prevent cholesterol in the blood from turning into plaque on the arterial walls?

Though the exact mechanisms may not be clear to this researcher, there is much evidence that cold-processed dealcoholized wine reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol, and works to minimize atherosclerosis. In short, it seems clear that cold-processed dealcoholized wine is good for heart health. Heat-treated red wine, while less studied and less chemically similar to regular red wine than cold-processed dealcoholized red wine is, has at least been shown to widen the arteries and to contain many of the antioxidants in regular red wine

IIC2. Healthy Gut & Weight

A 2019 study found that drinking red wine at least once or twice a week was associated with more diverse (and thus healthier) gut flora, as well as lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and less obesity—health markers which are also linked to healthier microbial balance in the digestive tract.

[Source: Science Daily]

That study looked at normal red wine, but a 2018 study of de-alcoholized wine found that:

“Intake of polyphenols derived from grape and red wine can modulate gut microbiota and contribute to beneficial microbial ecology that can enhance human health benefits. Additionally, grape and red wine polyphenols were modulated by the gut microbiota and there is a potential for a two-way relationship between the gut microbiota and polyphenolic compounds. Nevertheless, additional research is required to fully understand the complex relationship between gut microbiota and dietary polyphenols before any health claims can be made in relation to human health.”

[Source: PubMed]

Those findings, as well as the studies showing that alcohol in general is not particularly good for gut health (excessive alcohol consumption is linked to poor gut health) & (drinking gin was not shown to improve gut health [Source: PubMed]), together with the 2019 findings, make it seem plausible that it is the red wine itself, and not the alcohol in red wine, that makes for a happy gut.

IIC3. Reduce Dementia Risk?

A 2020 Iowa State University study found a very strong link between cheese consumption and a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline. A strong (though less so) link between cognitive decline was found for alcohol consumption—particularly red wine. A small link was also found between lamb and reduced risk of cognitive decline.

However, the researchers caution:

“While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

[Source: Science Daily]

A 2020 systematic review of alcohol and dementia concluded:

“High-level alcohol consumption (>14 drink units/week) is certainly linked to an increase in dementia risk, post-mortem reduction in brain volume and MRI signs of brain damage via possibly multiple pathways.”

There findings about possible neuroprotective effects of moderate alcohol consumption were more mixed. There was some suggestion that perhaps it could help, but they could not be certain.”

[Source: NCBI]

As the former study found a considerably stronger correlation between reduced dementia risk and red wine consumption versus the consumption of other alcohol, while the latter study found it difficult to prove that alcohol had any ability to ward of cognitive decline, it seems plausible that alcohol-free red wine could help protect against cognitive decline.

Of course, as both sets of researchers note in their findings: correlation is not causality; more study is needed; etc. What we can say with relative certainty is: if you have several glasses of alcohol a night over a number of years, you are very likely to accelerate your cognitive decline. Which, in and of itself, is a strong argument for our one-regular&then-alcohol-free system.

IIC4. Reduced Prostate Cancer Risk

A study cited in a 2007 Harvard Health article found that alcohol-consumption in general did not particularly effect a man’s prostate-cancer risk, but beer drinking was correlated to a higher risk and wine—particularly red wine—to a lower risk:

“… Even low amounts seemed to help, and for every additional glass of red wine per week, the relative risk declined by 6%. In all, men who averaged four to seven glasses of red wine per week were only 52% as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who did not drink red wine. In addition, red wine appeared particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers.”

A study in the June 2019 Journal of Clinical Oncology found that alcohol-consumption did not impact prostate cancer’s chances of becoming lethal, but red wine consumption reduced the risk.

Here again, it seems reasonable to conclude that alcohol-free wine should be able to confer at least some of the benefits of regular wine (since the lack of benefit from other alcoholic beverages makes it plausible that is not the alcohol in the wine that is helping prostate health).

A final on prostate health: dairy consumption, including cheese consumption, has been linked to increased risk of prostate cancer. So, if it turns out that both red wine and cheese do indeed slow cognitive decline, one could see the logic of pairing a bit of cheese and serving of red wine (with or without alcohol) most days—to maximize brain-protection and minimize prostate-risk. But, this is by the by and just one article writer’s speculation. Still, I cannot but note that to my inner sense of things (and I can’t be the only one!) cheese and red wine go together—perhaps that felt physiological response is a sign that the body itself agrees. If you’re going to have cheese and you’re a man, let’s also suggest lycopene from tomatoes stewed in olive oil (ie: have spaghetti sauce), as this has been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk.

Mayo Clinic

IIC5. Breast Cancer

Most everything I found said that even small amounts of alcohol increase one’s risk for developing breast cancer. But this 2009 study found no correlation between red and white wine consumption and breast cancer risk. Is there then perhaps some elements in wine that mitigate the alcohol’s tendency to increase breast cancer risks? I don’t know. I couldn’t find any more information; and this was just one study. Still, here again we see at least a suggestion that alcohol-free wine retains whatever positive effect wine may have on breast cancer risk. (Alcohol in general definitely raises one’s breast cancer rate, but this study raises the possibility that wine does not. If we remove the alcohol from wine, would we therefore create a beverage that reduces one’s risk for developing breast cancer?)

IIC6. What about Diabetes?

Moderate alcohol consumption reduces one’s chances of developing diabetes.

This study published in theDiabetes Journal found that:

“For the moderate consumption ranges of 6–12, 12–24, and 24–48 grams/day, RRs of 0.70 (0.61–0.79), 0.69 (0.58–0.81), and 0.72 (0.62–0.84) were found, respectively. The risk of type 2 diabetes in heavy drinkers (≥48 grams/day) was equal to that in nonconsumers (1.04 [0.84–1.29]).” [12 grams is equal to standard drink. so 48 grams is four drinks.]

However, a study done with regular red wine, dealcoholized red wine, and gin found that while none of them changed fasting glucose levels, wine with or without alcohol slightly decreased fasting insulin levels [Source: Red Wine & Diabetes] (lower is better: “Less than 8 (or even better, around 4 or 5) — this means you’re not creating a high insulin demand, creating inflammation, or promoting fat storage. Your body is producing insulin at optimal levels.” [Source: Kew Health]. That “Red Wine & Diabetes” article discusses four different studies related to red wine and diabetes and commented “These four studies point toward the beneficial effects of red wine being provided not by its alcoholic content but by something else.” The author concludes that polyphenols in wine may be protect against diabetes.

So that gives reason to hope alcohol-free wine could help with insulin and thus diabetes prevention and management.

But then I found this study that found a glass of either red or white wine had the same positive effect on the blood sugar levels of people who already have type two diabetes. And the NPR article has physician Christopher Wilcox weigh in with “Since both red and white wine were beneficial in terms of blood sugar lowering — it does seem to rather neatly and very cleverly — tie the benefit in probably to alcohol rather than wine itself.”

So, hard to say.

One more finding worth noting. If you go to the study that that NPR article references, you find this:

“Only slow ethanol metabolizers (alcohol dehydrogenase alleles [ADH1B*1] carriers) significantly benefited from the effect of both wines on glycemic control (fasting plasma glucose, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, and hemoglobin A1c) compared with fast ethanol metabolizers (persons homozygous for ADH1B*2).” But the study found improvements in cholesterol for all the red wine drinkers (and not for water or white wine drinkers)–regardless of how quickly they metabolized alcohol.

As we noted in our section on the healthiness of alcohol, moderate drinkers that metabolized alcohol quickly did not get the nearly the same heart-healthy benefits that slow metabolizers enjoy, so this finding is surprising.

What about Gallstones?

This Meta-analysis of alcohol consumption and gallstone disease found that:

“A linear dose-response relationship was found between alcohol consumption and gallstone disease risk and the risk of gallstone disease decreased by 12% (RR=0.88, 95% CI: 0.84-0.92; Pnonlinearity=0.079) for each 10 g/day increment in alcohol consumption. This meta-analysis suggests that alcohol consumption is associated with significantly decreased risk of gallstone disease.”

I didn’t find any studies examining the effects of wine. I did find this 2009 study about how two “units” of alcohol reduce one’s chance of gallstones by 1/3 being used very misleadingly by the wine spectator so that it sounds like the study was specifically about wine (instead of two “units” of alcohol, they say “They found that drinking 175ml of wine per day (about 6 ounces) offered a 32 percent lower risk of gallstones.”)

This study of beer, wine, and liquor concluded that all types of alcohol improved outcomes, and the chart comparing the various types of drinks with relative gallstone risk did not make wine look better than beer or alcohol. It therefore seems that unlikely alcohol-free wine is protective against gallstones.

In Conclusion

Much suggests that we should keep our alcohol consumption moderate. For many of us, that is difficult. But for some of us at least, part of this difficulty has to do with notions of health and about what food goes with what and so on—notions that in many instances could be satisfied with alcohol-free red wine.

I will attempt to keep my regular wine down to a glass most days, two once in a while, and three or four on the very occasional gala. Alcohol-free wine (sometimes bought, and sometimes self-made [via cooking]) seems a good tool for helping to keep moderate while yet enjoying the culinary and at least a good portion of the (probably real and significant) health benefits of red wine.

Disclaimer & Contact

No medical professionals contributed to the writing of this article. I found and cited articles readily available on the web, but any conclusions drawn therefrom are my own. This writing is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. That said, while we make no claim of medical authority, we cannot help but note that doctors have failed countless patients over the ages and, though in many areas much improved, are still far from perfect. To some degree we all have to think for ourselves. The best diet is low in processed foods and sugar, and high in vegetables. This much we know for sure.

Any studies or ideas you think might improve this article would be appreciated at

Author: SAWB Health Editors
Some Oversight: Bartleby Willard & Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andrew M. Watson

[NYC Journal – Health / NYC Journal]