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Is Wine Good for Health and Athletic Performance?


Alcohol consumption and Olympic-level athleticism might not seem like they can co-exist and, well, in a lot of cases they can’t. Alcohol affects everyone a little differently depending on the amount consumed and their individual tolerance. Also, generally speaking, alcohol impairs muscle growth, dehydrates the body, depletes energy, and can slow your reaction time.

We know what you’re thinking: How could this possibly turn positive?! Red wine to the rescue. Consuming small amounts of red wine could have a protective effect on a person’s cardiovascular system and, when enjoyed in moderation, lead to improved performance.

The secret ingredient in red wine is polyphenols – quercetin, in particular – which accumulate as grapes spend time in the sun. Polyphenols have the ability to increase performance at a cellular level (in our energy powerhouse, mitochondria), improve blood flow, raise immunity, and reduce inflammation.

Other sources of polyphenols include:

  • Grapes (duh)

  • Blueberries

  • Spinach

  • Beans (soy beans, black beans, white beans)

  • Green tea

  • Cocoa powder and dark chocolate

Because red wine is fermented with the skin (and seeds) intact, the polyphenols remain. For our science nerds, you can read more here.

Is wine good for health?

Yes, but the key here is: wine in moderation. Even the smallest overindulgence can negate any hard work you put in by reducing your endurance, increasing mental fog, and even erasing the effects of a previous workout according to InsideTracker. Alcohol in general also inhibits nutrient absorption and can’t be used as fuel like the calories from food.

Now, you might be thinking: I’m not an athlete, I don’t need to worry about drinking too much wine. If you like to run a few times a week, hike on Sundays, or hop on your Peloton from time to time (join our #Coravin crew!), this applies to you. Tune into how you're feeling the day of, the day after, and even a few following alcohol consumption. Do you notice any difference is your energy, recovery time, or general muscle soreness? This is likely all due to alcohol consumption or poor eating habits in general.

They aren’t kidding when they say food is fuel.

Athletes and wine

While we might not see a lot of alcohol consumption going on at the Olympics, some athletes confess to loving a celebratory Champagne toast. Aside from that, athletes tend to stick to their nutritious, healthy meal plans. Same goes for athletes in the NBA, NFL, and beyond. Wine in moderation (or not at all) paired with healthy eating is the best way to be in peak fitness for competition.

In the spirit of wine-drinking athletes, here are some athlete-owned or blended wines we love:

  • Representing the NFL, we love Drew Bledso’s Doubleback Wines, Rick Mirer’s Mirror Wines, and Charles Woodson's Intercept. Watch our wine week event with those three.

  • For golf fans, try Cristie Keer’s Kerr Cellars or legendary Arnold Palmer Wines.

  • Over in the basketball world, there’s Yao Ming’s Yao Family Wines, Dwayne Wade’s D Wade Cellars, Channing Frye’s Chosen Family Wines, Isiah Thomas' Cheurlin, CJ McCollum’s Heritage 91, and Domaine Curry by Ayesha Curry and Sydel Curry.

  • We can’t leave our race car drivers out – Randy Lewis has Lewis Cellars and Jeff Gordon has Jeff Gordon Wines.

  • Rounding out our list is hockey star Wayne Gretzky with Wayne Gretzky Estates.

There are so many more to add to the list but we have a heart-healthy glass of red wine calling our name. Enjoy your polyphenols, everyone!