Alcohol is noxious to the brain and peripheral nervous system. However, wine contains substances that may have positive biological and pharmacological effects. Resveratrol is the most studied and probably the most active of these substances. This naturally occurring compound, which is present in wine and grapes, reduces oxidative stress in neuronal-like cell cultures. We have shown that resveratrol induces phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase family members, extracellular regulated kinase 1 (ERK1) and ERK2, in the human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells in vitro at much lower concentrations than those found in the plasma of rats after oral wine administration. MAP kinases are involved in numerous different aspects of signal transduction in the cells. In particular, phosphorylation of ERK2 has been related to the synaptic changes at the basis of memory and learning processes. These findings, together with our own, on resveratrol-induced activation of MAP kinases in human neuronal-like cells, and previously published epidemiological studies which have demonstrated an inverse relationship between moderate wine intake and dementia, suggest that wine (not alcohol) may have a positive effect on nervous cells.