The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of red wine taken with meals on esophageal motility, esophageal exposure to acid, and gastric pH. Following a randomized design, 14 healthy male volunteers (mean age 25 years, range 18-35 years were given 360 ml of red wine or tap water during lunch or dinner. All subjects underwent ambulatory 24-hr esophageal motility and esophagogastric pH monitoring studies. Three different periods were analyzed: during meals (30 min), postprandial (3 hr), and 8-hr supine. Two volunteers complained of heartburn after wine ingestion. An increase in the number of high amplitude waves (> 125 mm Hg, 95th percentile of our motility unit controls) was observed during meals accompanied by wine: water 1.2 (0-10.2), wine 1.6 (0-32.6), P = 0.02 [median (range)]. No other esophageal motility changes occurred. Percent reflux time increased during the postprandial period after wine ingestion in comparison with water: 1.7 (0-14.9) vs 0.1 (0-0.8), P < 0.05. Gastric pH was unaffected by the type of drink. Ingestion of moderate amounts of red wine with meals increases postprandial esophageal exposure to gastric acid in healthy persons.