Wine is a popular alcoholic beverage that has been consumed for hundreds of years. Benefits from moderate alcohol consumption have been widely supported by the scientific literature and, in this line, red wine intake has been related to a lesser risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Experimental studies and meta-analyses have mainly attributed this outcome to the presence in red wine of a great variety of polyphenolic compounds such as resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and anthocyanin. Resveratrol is considered the most effective wine compound with respect to the prevention of CHD because of its antioxidant properties. The mechanisms responsible for its putative cardioprotective effects would include changes in lipid profiles, reduction of insulin resistance, and decrease in oxidative stress of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). The aim of this review is to summarize the accumulated evidence correlating moderate red wine consumption with prevention of CHD by focusing on the different mechanisms underlying this relationship. Furthermore, the chemistry of wine as well as chemical factors that influence the composition of the bioactive components of red wine are also discussed.
Keywords: alcohol; antioxidants; cardioprotective; polyphenols; red wine; resveratrol.