Drinking Red Wine Probably Won’t Make You Live Longer

A new study suggests that dietary resveratrol doesn’t affect longevity.

(Photo: Rafael Elias/Getty Images)

May 13, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

The idea of growing old in Chianti, surrounded by vineyards of ancient Sangiovese vines, sounds like an ideal way to spend life’s later years. There’s the rich Tuscan food, the gentle roll of the Florentine hills, and plenty of Chianti Classico. However, one thing that you can’t bet on in this fantasy life of an Italian pensioner is longevity via the resveratrol flooding your largely unblocked veins (because, olive oil). The results of a study published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine suggest that the supposed antiaging compound didn’t help a group of Italian senior citizens bask any longer under the Tuscan sun.

The study, led by Dr. Richard Semba of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, tracked the resveratrol levels in the urine of 783 people above the age of 65 living in Chianti. Over the course of nine years, 34 percent of the participants died, which wasn’t surprising in itself—but those with higher levels of Sangiovese-derived resveratrol were no less likely to have high inflammation levels, develop cancer or cardiovascular disease, or die. As the researchers concluded, “Resveratrol levels achieved with a Western diet did not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk of the population in this study.”

The research may present something of a wrinkle in my lifelong goal to be an old Italian man when I grow up, but it doesn’t mean that resveratrol doesn’t have antiaging properties. Rather, it may need to be consumed in levels that, coming from wine, would tread deep into the realm of alcoholism (and far away from good health). As David Sinclair, who first established the link between the polyphenol and longevity in mice back in 2006, tells NPR, you’d need to consume between 100 and 1,000 times more resveratrol than our aged Italians were getting in the glass (or three) of wine they had with dinner.

So the jury is out on drinking wine (and eating chocolate and berries) as a means of prolonging life. If you’re spending your hard-earned money on good Chianti solely for the promise of lengthening your life, you’re doing it wrong.