Red Wine and Diabetes Health: Getting Skin in the Game

  1. R. Paul Robertson
  1. Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute and the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Nutrition, Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  1. Corresponding author: R. Paul Robertson, rpr{at}

It was an unexpected pleasure to be invited to write a Perspectives in Diabetes article considering the proposition that moderate consumption of red wine provides health benefits for people with diabetes. At the outset, I want to make clear that since Perspectives in Diabetes are not review articles in the conventional sense, this one does not exhaustively analyze the effects of beer, hard liquor, or alcohol per se on health. This one is all about wine, especially red wine. This is an important point because of the intrinsic psychic influences of wine. Beer is associated with boisterous behavior at sporting events. Hard liquor is associated with serious drinking and dark moods. Wine, on the other hand, is associated with relaxation, reflection, celebration, conviviality, toasting, and a certain amount of dry humor. So, in this spirit, I will lace this article with a modicum of these wine-related characteristics.

Archeologists tell us that humans made and drank wine in the Middle East (Fig. 1) beginning in ~7000 BCE—well before recorded time. During its 9,000-year history, wine has been used for many purposes, including religious (Fig. 2) and medical ones. The scientific literature over the past half century does not explicitly warn against drinking wine in moderate amounts, except during pregnancy. Yet, in the U.S. there continues to be a lurking hesitancy in some social circles about its use for relaxation or recreational purposes. Some religious faiths specifically proscribe wine, which also makes it interesting that some other religious faiths include wine in their services. Beyond use of moderate amounts, it is clear that drinking wine excessively leads to inebriation and likely endangerment of self and others, just as with any alcohol-containing beverage. In view of this spectrum of opinion and in keeping with the fashion of the day, it seems appropriate at …

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