You Know Wine Isn't Actually a Substitute for Exercise, Right?

Posted March 13, 2015

Steve Unwin

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A quick search for "wine" on any social media platform, and you'll be totally inundated by a very specific, very troubling study that's going viral. The study is just fine on its own, but the media's interpretation of it is totally insane. Credulous bloggers the world over are now breathlessly toting wine as a viable alternative to working out.

You read that right.

Someone out there actually typed words like Drinking A Glass Of Red Wine Is The Same As Getting An HOUR OF EXERCISE, and then looked at those words and said “yeah sure that’s not totally insane, let’s publish those words. And mom said my communications major would never amount to anything!”

If drinking wine were even .0001% as beneficial as going to the gym, everybody at Wine Library would literally look like Chris Hemsworth (and before you say anything about Gary, he has an awesome personal trainer in addition to his awesome wine collection). Honestly, the only way we could imagine drinking wine to be somehow analogous to working out would be if you slipped into your lululemons before popping that bottle of Kadarka you’d been saving for a “fat day”.

So what's the study actually about?

Let’s back up and explain what I’m so grumpy about. If these poorly-informed articles are to be believed, drinking red wine is supposedly as good for your health as going to the gym. The reason for this supposed miracle is an anti-oxidant compound called resveratrol, which is basically the Drake of wine-science since it keeps making headlines without actually doing anything that impressive. Nobody writing these hyperbolic headline-fests really knows what it is, or what it does, but goddamnit it sounds vaguely like "reverse" so it has to keep you young, right? It turns out that if you pump mice full of a military-strength solution of the stuff, they experience slightly improved bone and muscle growth. 

But the problem is...

The thing is, if you scaled those volumes up to human weight, you'd need to drink an olympic swimming pool of Merlot before you got any closer to offsetting that $17 bowl of lobster mac n' cheese. And considering the fact that your body prioritizes burning off booze over fat, following this workout regimen is much more likely to pack on pounds than lose them. So maybe just stick to bathing in the blood of virgins or whatever it is upstanding, upper-middle-class people do to avoid the gym.

So get real.

Look, we love wine. We love selling wine. And we know that contradicting these (frankly insane) claims might mean we sell a little less wine, but... honestly, guys...

Sure, there might be a chemical compound amongst wine's phenolic payload that is good for human physiology. That is nothing but good news, and we’re excited for the implications of that discovery. But for publications all around the world to gleefully vomit forth nonsense like Drinking Wine As Healthy As Working Out is beyond silly, it's irresponsible.

Drink wine because it's delicious. Drink a glass a day because alcohol can act as a beneficial blood thinner. But don't drink it as an alternative to exercise. That's really stupid. And you're not stupid. You're great.

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Steve Unwin (call him Stunwin) cut his teeth in the Washington Wine industry working in tastings rooms on the Red Mountain AVA. In NYC he became an early employee of the wine startup Lot18, where he would eventually earn his Advanced WSET cerification with distinction. Currently, he works with internet wine legend Gary Vaynerchuk creating awesome content all over the internets.

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