Can Wine Protect Against COVID-19?

person holding red wine bottles

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Key Takeaways

  • Experts are questioning a recent study that suggests drinking red wine, white wine, and champagne appears to reduce COVID risk, while drinking beer and hard cider increases the risk.
  • Researchers did not consider whether study participants practiced any COVID protective measures, like vaccination or mask wearing.

A study published last month suggests drinking wine may reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. Sound too good to be true? It is, experts tell Verywell.

The study, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, said people who drink more than twice the recommended amounts of alcohol like spirits, beer, and hard cider have a 7–28% greater risk of developing COVID-19 than people who don’t drink alcohol.

On the other hand, researchers linked up to five weekly glasses of red wine with a 10–17% reduced risk of COVID-19, and the same amount of white wine and champagne with a 7–8% reduced risk.

The researchers did not identify what guidelines they referred to for alcohol consumption.

The authors said that one possible explanation for their findings is that alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts of chemicals called polyphenols, which can reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and could potentially inhibit viral effects. Red wine has the highest concentration of polyphenols.

“I get extremely nervous whenever I read something about positive things about alcohol,” Aaron Glatt, MD, chairman and professor of the department of medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Hewlett, New York, told Verywell. Glatt was not associated with the study. “If we make any recommendations for people to specifically increase their alcohol intake, you better have airtight evidence that’s the benefit.”

Glatt, who is also a spokesperson for the Infectious Disease Society of America, explains that the study was not airtight. For instance, it didn’t account for whether any of the roughly 474,000 participants practiced social distancing, wore masks, or were vaccinated for COVID-19. The data was collected up until the end of July 2021, when vaccines were available.

“I think that you have to take these types of articles with a tremendous grain of salt,” Glatt said. While researchers controlled for factors such as age, sex, body mass index, education, overall health, and underlying medical conditions, they did not take other alcohol-related factors into consideration.

“Do [study participants] go to a bar to drink? Are they drinking home with their spouse? One poses zero risk from a COVID point of view, and one poses potentially great risk,” Glatt said. “I would dare say that your likelihood of getting COVID if you imbibe is greater than if you don’t imbibe because you’ll do things that you may not do if you’re inebriated.”

According to Glatt, the main takeaway is not that alcohol is good or bad. It’s that it has nothing to do with COVID-19 protection.

“The dangers of alcohol are much more of a concern than the benefits of alcohol,” he said. “I’m not a teetotaler and I’m not saying don’t drink. I’m saying that if you have a scientific study, I’d be very careful about making any recommendations about the benefits of alcohol and preventing COVID.”

What This Means For You

Despite the headlines suggesting otherwise, wine will probably not offer protection against COVID-19.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dai XJ, Tan L, Ren L, Shao Y, Tao W, Wang Y. Covid-19 risk appears to vary across different alcoholic beveragesFront Nutr. 2022;8:772700. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.772700

By Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette has over 30 years' experience writing about health and medicine. She is the former managing editor of Drug Topics magazine.