It s a funny old world we live in. Whether it s upgrading your car, a household appliance or audio visual entertainment system, or walking around the wine merchants attempting to find a bottle of health benefits wine that won’t disappoint. How does one choose?

The Healthy Wine List PictureConfronted with the number of wines out there, how can the average consumer find medium ground and clarity in the wine market? It’s all too easy to get lost in the complexity of description terminology and comparisons the equivalent of Lamborghini vs Ford laser, or a no name cheapy vs Wurtheim, or solid state vs valve. Just as examples.

Defining choice can be defining the intention of what you want from a wine.

In putting together “the healthy wine list”, I had the intention to fulfil two categories.

Firstly to assess what might constitute a healthy wine, or perhaps more accurately a wine that has the least negative impact on health and the second being how I define a “good” wine.

Is the wine enjoyable? Is it something to match food and mood? Is it something that is sufficiently complex to ponder and stimulate conversation with another? Perhaps it’s a showpiece to present at the next dinner party. Here in we find the genesis of wine. Wine can be all things.

From a health perspective, the same is true. Wine is a source of anti oxidants and could be considered a medium for happy times and good mood, so too it can be the source of headaches, health problems and misery!

For me, a good wine is one that I can enjoy. Be it flavour, body, simplicity or complexity, whatever; to enjoy. I personally enjoy a wine when it sits well on the palate, when there are clean and simple notes, where the bouquet is sufficient to rouse the senses, not stifle or over power them. The priority though is to enjoy wine and enjoy life and health as much after a few drinks as you were before a few drinks.

One of the inspirations to set about putting a wine list together was the number of times I am asked “why can’t I tolerate wine any more?”

The reason may vary as much as wine itself. Whether it is an unhappy liver, gut problems, deficiencies, intolerances or any of a large possibility of other factors, the picture that emerged was one of the way in which wines are produced and treated. It is apparent that certain processes and additives in wine production are impacting the health of many.

 Observation has led me to a simple three step rule: 

  1. Is the wine fined using other industry bi-products? Study the label carefully. You may find information such as; “this product has been fined using nut, egg and milk product, traces may remain” These are best avoided.
  2. Does the label indicate any of the following?
    • “Contains Sulphites”
    • “Contains antioxidant”
    • Look out for additive code numbers, as they may vary considerably.
    • Wines containing any of these are also best avoided.
  3. Look for “minimal sulphur dioxide (220) added” or “preservative free” These can generally be regarded as the ones to go for!

And a word of caution; Organic does not necessarily mean preservative free! There are a number of “organic” wines that have as many hangover potential additives as any.

The 3 step rule has been applied to a list that I have loosely termed “the healthy wine list”.

The list can be viewed by visiting the Medical Sanctuary web site at

This list of wines is the product of around 2 years of trial of elimination through enjoying and surviving (or not) a very many varieties and labels of reds. There is no detail of critique, as what I sense as tobacco and ripe plum, another might sense as licorice and cherry. So by definition , the criteria of the list is that wines are generally under $20.00., are of sufficient character as to not disappoint and that the wine be least likely to result in a negative after experience. They can be experienced and subjected to your own opinion.

The list is of course a work in progress with new labels appearing and others becoming unavailable. Refer to our web site for updates.

Your experience may well be that you find a few from the list that you can confidently go back to. Please note that this list is in no way inclusive of all wines that would fit the criteria. With my simple 3 step rule in mind you are sure to discover many more!

This article has been produced in the hope that it may assist the many wine lovers who have found they are intolerant of many wines and for those health conscious wine lovers looking for a simple rule when purchasing. This article in no way implies that wines outside the detailed criteria are in any way inferior.

And remember; Enjoy wine in moderation, as after all it is an alcoholic beverage and in terms of health, too much alcohol is never good.

By John Burchell


The Healthy Wine List


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