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What Drinking Wine Every Day Does To Your Body

The answer to 'is wine good for you' depends on how much and how often you drink, but here’s what to expect from a daily dose of vino.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

A nightly glass of wine is a not-uncommon way to unwind. The pleasant effects of a glass of Merlot or Chardonnay can take the edge off a tough day, while the flavors of various wines can complement your dinner. But if you've ever wondered what your nightly wine habit is doing to your health, you're not alone. Though medical experts believed for years that a nightly glass—especially of red wine —had multiple health benefits, more recent research has revealed that the health effects of drinking wine every day might be more complicated.

Though research continues to tease apart the advantages and drawbacks of daily drinking, one important truth remains—dosage matters. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 state that drinking in moderation refers to two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls "heavy drinking" eight drinks or more per week for women and 15 drinks or more for men. Exceeding these limits is much more likely to cause more harm than benefits.

In essence, the effects of drinking wine might come down to how much you're drinking—but assuming you're keeping things moderate, here's what you can expect from a daily dose of vino. Read on, and if you like to indulge in more than just a glass of red or white, don't miss What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Alcohol Every Day.

You'll increase your alcohol tolerance.

pour glass of red wine with dinner

No matter what type of alcohol you choose, regular consumption leads to increased tolerance, meaning it will take more of the drink to achieve the same impact. This is because the receptors in your brain gradually adapt to alcohol's effects.

Increased alcohol tolerance might sound like a good thing—you might be picturing yourself less likely to say something embarrassing or end up half-dressed in the neighbor's pool at 3 a.m.—but numbing yourself to alcohol's effects can actually have some undesirable consequences. Physical damage to your cells is still occurring, whether you feel it or not, and you're still experiencing impairment to your judgment and reaction time. Plus, you're far more likely to drink to excess to get the same level of buzz you're used to.

RELATED: How to Choose the Best Wine at the Grocery Store, According to Sommeliers

You could increase your risk of certain cancers.

Alcohol joins a not-so-elite list of foods that could increase the risk of certain cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is strong scientific consensus that increased consumption raises the likelihood of cancers of the head, neck, esophagus, liver, breasts, and colon. Even people who have no more than one drink a day could be increasing their risk. If you're a nightly wine drinker, it's a sobering thought—literally.

You might be less stressed (or it might increase your stress).

Bringing down stress levels might be why you reach for wine in the first place. Turns out, you may be onto something! Red wine especially could help dial down mental and emotional stress. It contains a compound called resveratrol, which has been found to block enzymes in the brain that cause anxiety and depression-related behaviors. If you enjoy a nightly glass of wine over a meaningful conversation with your spouse or a friend, so much the better. Social interaction is a proven stress reducer.

Still, other research concluded that greater alcohol consumption increased the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It's important to remember that using alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress is a slippery slope. If you're consistently turning to wine to forget your troubles, it's probably time to find a healthier outlet.

You might gain weight.

close-up man stepping onto scale

Wine is far from calorie-free. The average 5-ounce glass of wine (red or white) contains about 120 to 125 calories. Add that to your calorie total every day and you could put on extra pounds before you know it.

What's more, your body prioritizes burning calories from alcohol over burning calories from macronutrients—meaning that calories from these nutrients can be more easily stored as fat. Want to lose weight without breaking up with wine? Check out our 7 ways to lose weight without giving up alcohol. 

Your heart health could improve.

The potential stress-busting effects of moderate wine drinking aren't just good for relaxing at the end of a long day. They could even lead to better heart health! A 2023 study revealed that moderate alcohol consumption reduced stress signaling in the amygdala, which was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. This study joins decades of other research indicating that moderate red wine consumption could be protective for the heart.

RELATED: This 5-Day Meal Plan Can Improve Your Heart Health

But your blood pressure could go up.

Remember what we said about moderation? Although a small amount of wine could have benefits for your heart, downing several drinks per day has the opposite effect. According to the American Heart Association, drinking to excess daily can lead to serious cardiovascular risks like increased blood pressure and stroke. If you choose to drink wine every day, say "cheers" to moderate amounts.

Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and dietetic technician, and a health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more about Sarah
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