According to a new study those couple of glasses red wine each day may be enjoyable but might also help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
It seems that when mice with an Alzheimer's-like disease were given the equivalent of a couple of glasses of red wine a day, it slowed down their memory loss and brain cell death.
Compared to mice that received ethanol or water, the mice that were given Cabernet Sauvignon experienced significantly reduced Alzheimer's disease-type brain deterioration of memory function.
The researchers, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, found Cabernet Sauvignon's benefits were due to its ability to prevent the generation of proteins that cause plaque build-up in the brain, which is the main cause of Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers calculated the animals' wine intake to match the US Department of Agriculture's definition of moderate wine consumption, a single 5-ounce glass daily for women and two glasses for men.
Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti says moderate consumption is the key as excessive drinking carries a number of health risks, including alcohol dependence and liver damage.
The findings back up epidemiological research linking moderate alcohol consumption to a lower dementia risk, say the researchers.
For the research the team gave the mice, on a random basis, Cabernet Sauvignon or ethanol in their drinking water for seven months while another group of mice drank plain water.
All of the animals had a genetic defect that caused them to develop the type of damage that occurs in humans with Alzheimer's disease.
The animals' memories were then tested by putting them through a series of mazes, after the animals had been alcohol-free for three days.
The researchers found that the wine-drinking mice learned how to escape from the maze significantly faster than those drinking alcohol-spiked water or water only.
Pasinetti says that based on their findings and given that moderate wine consumption may protect the heart, older people in good health who don't have the metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, liver problems, issues with alcohol dependence or other reasons to avoid alcohol, can choose to drink red wine moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The research will be presented on Oct 14-18 at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, in Atlanta and published in the FASEB Journal, November 2006.