Rating wine by health scores: who cares?

Vinopic, a new wine retailer in Britain has developed a way to rank wines based on their health-giving properties. Red wines are sold with an IQ score, or Intrinsic Quotient, devised by Roger Corder. The site says that the score rewards wines with “higher quality” and polyphenols while penalizing wines with higher alcohol, sugar, and sulfites.

While I am sure that the site will become a popular destination (particularly among Google searchers seeking the fountain of youth), my general reaction is: so what? Wine may play a part in a healthy diet. And I have met a lot of people (mostly over 50) who say they only drink red wine because of the resveratrol. But I would never buy a wine solely based on whether it’s healthier for me. I’d rather eat a high-fiber, low-cholesterol diet, go for a run, drown in a bowl of blueberries–something, anything–rather than drink a steady stream of Madiran, a wine high in polyphenols. Nothing against Madiran, its just that there are too many interesting Rieslings wines to be limited to reds. Buying wine for health reasons: It’s the kind of thing that makes me sick.

What do you think? Even though the US regulatory authorities prohibit selling a wine on health claims, would you buy one based on perceived health value?

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12 Responses to “Rating wine by health scores: who cares?”

  1. Remember when NY State Pinot Noir was all the rage because it was “high in resveratrol”? For a while I was deluged with customers asking for wines from wineries I’d never heard of. I always told them they would die of alcohol poisoning long before they drank enough to get any benefits from the presence of antioxidants in wine.

  2. only if it tastes good

  3. The health aspects of wine is one of many aspects of wine. One of the five or six wine e-mails I get from Wine Spectator is about the health aspects of wine. However, to rely on a website solely on wine health is shallow. Taking that information along with other websites adds multi-dimensionality to the aspects of wine. It is about time to have health aspects of wine available on a website to further augment information from other websites. I welcome this website as it adds further depth to the enjoyment of wine in this multi-dimensional world of wine!

  4. Nice try, though.

  5. Everybody tries to get their hands on a new business, I dont like the idea, but it doesn´t surprise me either.

    I just think that someone will end up doing a beverage with the anti-oxidant compounds that are found in wine and the advertisment would be: Healthy like wine but tastes like chocolate! or something like that.

    Summing up, I find the idea of buying wine because of their “health” characteristics ridiculous.

  6. I’m quite sure the overwhelming majority of health benefits from wine (defined as longer lifetime) come though the feel-good factor that people who are truly interested in wine get from drinking wines – whether it’s Madiran or rieslings.

  7. Thanks for the comment on Vinopic. As chief executive, I wish to clarify our position. Our focus is not on the health properties of wine, but on having an objective approach to quality. Our wine scientist, Roger Corder, analyses for key quality indicators that reveal the quality of the grapes, the skill of the winemaker and how well-made the wine is. Polyphenols (both skin and pip) are key to the sensory pleasures we enjoy from wine; namely its colour, flavour and character. As a whole, they have the single largest positive impact on our experience from wine. It is for this reason we measure their presence and strength. In addition to this, our Master of Wine, Rosemary George, tastes the wines to ensure they are well-structured, representative of their type and generally taste great. As an example, it is important to note that Bordeaux’s success over generations has been the ability to make polyphenol-rich wines that develop in character. I believe it is only a matter of time before wine drinkers realise the value of our analyses.

  8. When I teach biochemistry, I use resveratrol as an illustration when I discuss such concepts as antioxidants, gene regulation, and so forth. In my opinion any resveratrol health claims need to be taken with a substantial grain of salt. Resveratrol is modified in the human gut, and it’s not clear that free resveratrol is bio-available in the amounts necessary to do its biochemical wonders.

    On the other hand, moderate consumption of alcohol is well-correlated with longevity and health. As Rabelais put it “There are more old drunkards than old physicians.”

  9. Rosemary George? OK, you’ve got my attention now!

  10. Sounds like rationalization for a 2nd or 3rd glass to me, and then, really you’re missing the point and any health benefits that might exist. Just ask your liver. We’re better off sticking to the points that matter and recognizing all the health benefits that come with the shared bottle: stress reducing laughter, merriment, and joviality.

  11. Please note, we at Vinopic do not measure resveratrol as it is not an indicator of quality. It is a minor polyphenol in wine and anybody who thinks otherwise had been misled.

  12. […] Would you choose a wine because of a “health” score? […]


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