Should wine labels make health claims?

Winemakers have been in a debate for some years now with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol, Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly the ATF, for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms–yeah, that made a lot of sense) about ingredient listing for wines, particularly since the healthful properties of wine polyphenols such as resveratrol have been widely publicised. A couple of years back, an Oregon pinot noir producer gained approval for a fairly benign claim: “Pinot noir develops a natural defense against botrytis (mold) in our moist, cool climate – the antioxidant resveratrol.” Since resveratrol is indeed produced in the skins of grapes subjected to certain environmental stresses such as mold, and Oregon’s climate is certifiably moist, it seems a fairly harmless claim. However, the feds simultaneously disallowed placing the same wording on another vintage from the same producer, citing concern about making therapeutic claims on labels or creating “misleading” associations between the consumption of alcohol and health.
With more than 2500 scientific publications on the healthful effects of resveratrol, it may seem that the ATTB has some catching up to do. Wine is demostrably a health food when consumed in the right amounts and in the right pattern. But the problem that I have with expanded labeling is that it gives too much credit to the individual ingredients and not enough emphasis on healthy drinking and associated lifestyle choices. For all of resveratrol’s impressive properties, clinical data about its effects in people is still lacking. We know that it does wonderful things in a petri dish or a lab rat, but frankly not much else.
So rather than making claims about how magical the components of wine are, the debate really should be about whether or not wine itself is good for you. How about this on the label: “When consumed in moderation, with meals, wine can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ju says:

    Have you had a chance to watch 60 Minutes or Barbra Walters segments last weekend about it?It show promise in mice. For mice, has shown major health improvements including blood sugar control. Keep in mind that 6 out of 10 major drug successes in mice – fail in humans. But the limited human trials showed promise and there are some patients that claim it helps. However, this could be the ‘placebo effect,’ and only empirical data under controlled experiments can tell for sure. It will take a few years for these clinical trials to conclude. You can get supplements of the extract right now. While it is safe, it is not guaranteed to work. Before making a decision, you should watch all the videos. Here’s the a recap from all the trustworthy shows: did some research and learned the following: You can only get 1-2mgs of it in a single bottle of wine. So, white, it’s a good excuse to drink wine, but you really won’t get much benefit. There are resveratrol supplements on the market – but many do not have the required strength and they don’t work for everyone. The only way to know for sure is to try the supplements. Hope you find this interesting… its a future hope for the fountain of youth and treatments (not cures) for countless diseases.-Linda, the Good Nurse.


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