Are the health benefits of red wine still available if the wine is reduced by half through cooking and then consumed with the food?

The short answer is probably yes: You can drink your wine and cook it too.

Red wine essentially has two properties that make it good for health when consumed in moderation. One is its alcohol content, which is known to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and reduce levels of fibrinogen, a precursor of blood clots. The other is its abundance of polyphenols, natural compounds like resveratrol that, according to some studies, can protect blood vessels and help reduce inflammation.

Although it is widely assumed that alcohol in food burns off completely during cooking, that is not always the case. According to research by the Agriculture Department, the amount of alcohol that remains varies widely, depending on the cooking method. A sauce that is made with wine and simmered and stirred for 30 minutes, for example, can retain as much as a third of its alcohol content.

A red wine reduction requires a fairly lengthy cooking period, so it is likely that much of the alcohol evaporates along with water during the cooking process. But red wine without alcohol still appears to have some health benefits.

In a small randomized clinical trial published in the journal Circulation Research last year, Spanish researchers found that men who were assigned to drink 10 ounces of nonalcoholic red wine daily experienced a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after four weeks. “There is growing evidence,” an accompanying editorial pointed out, “that chemical constituents present in red wine confer health benefits beyond alcohol and independent of potential confounding factors.”

In another study published in 2011 in The Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, scientists found that red wine heated to conditions “applicable to the preparation of a mulled wine and for cooking” retained its ability to dilate blood vessels, as measured in tissue isolated from animals. The researchers found that this ability to relax blood vessels persisted even when the red wine was heated to temperatures reaching 257 degrees Fahrenheit.

Article Courtesy of Anahad O’Connor with New York Times