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Renowned scientist says we should drink as many types of red wine as possible

It’s the news you want to hear on hump day: red wine is good for you – as long as you drink as many different varieties as possible.

Leading British scientist, renowned epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector, said we should aim to drink ‘thousands’ of different types.

This all works to improve our health, he said, as trying a wide range of grape varieties can boost our immune system, fight diseases, and even improve mental health.

Drinking wine early as an aperitif rather than late on in a meal is also beneficial, he suggested.

However, don’t get it twisted – consuming more than half a bottle has a negative impact on health, the 64-year-old said, so this isn’t a go-ahead to binge drink.

The reason red wine can be good for you is that it benefits the microbiome, which is a population of microbes inside the body that regulate our health.

Red wine is high in the chemical polyphenol, which gut microbes use as an energy source. The drink has a third more polyphenols than white wine.

As there are thousands of polyphenols, Spector told the Wine Blast podcast, people should sample as many grape varieties as possible.

‘My advice for wine lovers is keep loving wine,’ he said.

‘Drink wine, primarily for the pleasure, but at the back of your mind think “could I be trying different bottles or varieties that might actually be healthier for me and that I might enjoy?”

‘Diversity if also important; if you take the analogy from food, having a range of different grape varieties in your diet means you are going to be helping different gut microbes inside you and you will increase your gut health and diversity.

‘Don’t just stick with the same wine, get out there and try hundreds or thousands of different grape varieties that we generally don’t enjoy.

‘Let’s get those rare ones back on the map again because of those could be helping you nourish really healthy gut microbes inside you and improve your health.’

Spector said his study showed moderation is key, as more than half a bottle is detrimental to the effect it has on our microbiome.

He said: ‘The people that like to drink half a bottle of wine or more, it has a negative impact.

‘The window only seemed to be between one or two glasses of red wine.

‘[It] makes sense because we don’t think it’s the alcohol per se that’s helpful, we know that’s toxic for the body and if you give alcohol to gut microbes they don’t like it, the only like the by-product.

‘You’re having a toxic effect on the gut microbes if you’re having too much alcohol.’

And if you’re thinking of having grape juice instead, that’s also not as good for the gut as it doesn’t have the same fermentation process.

Fermenting wine produces a ‘greater complexity’ of polyphenols, which is important for health.

Spector also believes we should drink earlier in the day.

‘There’s quite a lot of evidence now that drinking alcohol late at night gets you to sleep earlier but disturbs your sleep so you have less quality of sleep’, he said.

‘Really, we should be perhaps promoting wine early on as the aperitif and in the early stages of the meal, not maybe as much right at the end with the cheese as I do and over-do it.’

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