Q: Does grappa have the same health benefits as wine?—Ray, Duluth, Minn.
A: Grappa is an Italian grape brandy made by distilling the pomace (grape skins, seeds and pulp) left over from the winemaking process. Traditionally served as a digestif, the spirit has also undergone a renaissance in recent years, led by producers in Veneto, Piedmont and Friuli.
Moderate wine consumption has been linked with a range of health benefits, most attributable to its combination of alcohol and polyphenols, most notably resveratrol. Grappa, however, doesn’t contain these polyphenols because they’re removed during the distillation process.
Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, director of the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science at UC Davis, says that while moderate grappa consumption offers some health benefits, they aren’t as robust as those of wine. “Grappa has the health benefits of alcohol, which is to say that with moderate consumption, there is a reduction in heart disease, but grappa lacks the polyphenols of wine,” Waterhouse told Wine Spectator. He says that moderate wine consumption has been linked with stronger health benefits than that of other alcoholic beverages, so the short answer to your question is no.
Note as well that grappa is a distilled spirit that ranges from 35 to 60 percent alcohol, which means that a serving of grappa is just 1.5 ounces. Whichever libation you prefer, talk to your doctor about incorporating alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle.—Kenny Martin