Q: Does non-alcoholic wine provide the same health benefits as regular wine?—Phil, Eugene, Ore.
A: Non-alcoholic wine is fermented wine that has then had the alcohol removed through either reverse osmosis or vacuum distillation. Many of wine's health benefits are attributed to its polyphenols, resveratrol being the most heavily researched. These polyphenols and their beneficial antioxidant properties remain in the wine after the alcohol has been removed.
"After the process of removing alcohol, polyphenols are still abundant in non-alcoholic wine and can raise the blood levels of these polyphenols," Dr. Matthew Taylor, professor of dietetics and nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center told Wine Spectator. There have only been a few studies comparing the effects of non-alcoholic red wine versus regular red wine on markers of health. Dr. Taylor says the research showed that moderate consumption of both non-alcoholic red wine and regular red wine provided health benefits, but that non-alcoholic wine actually outperformed regular wine at reducing blood pressure and total cholesterol.
Dr. Taylor suggests taking the scant findings with a grain of salt, however, as researchers still have much to uncover about alcohol's role in wine's health benefits.
But all those beneficial polyphenols in wine come from the grapes themselves, so there's also lots of evidence that eating grapes and drinking grape juice are good for you. According to Mayo Clinic dietician Katherine Zeratsky, "some research studies suggest that red and purple grape juices may provide some of the same heart benefits of red wine, including reducing the risk of blood clots, reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or 'bad') cholesterol, preventing damage to blood vessels in your heart and helping maintain a healthy blood pressure."