Plant phenolics present in fruit and vegetables, and that are particularly rich in red wine, have received considerable attention because of their potential antioxidant activity. Human consumption of antioxidants has many alleged health benefits, including protection against cardiovascular diseases, and, most recently, cancer. Red wines contain a variety of polyphenolic antioxidants. Five samples of commercial red wines from Spain and four phenolic compounds of red wine: gallic acid, trans-resveratrol, quercetin and rutin, have been studied. The total phenolics content and the total antioxidant activity (TAA) of wines was determined. The total phenolic content, determined according to the Folin-Ciocalteu method, varied from 1800 to 2300 mg/L, expressed as gallic acid equivalents (GAE). The antioxidative effects of wine phenolics were determined using a system based on the inhibition by antioxidants of the absorbance of the radical cation. The relationship between antioxidant activity of phenolic comounds, as hydrogen donating free radical scavengers, and their chemical structures was studied. Furthermore, the total antioxidant activity of the wines investigated was well correlated with phenol content. Thus, the results confirm that red wine polyphenols are, in vitro, significant antioxidants.