I grew up in a home which was very influenced by the Italian side of our heritage, (my Dad). Wine was as ubiquitous in our home as sliced bread would have been in others, and drinking it with dinner was routine.

Who knew that years later we would all find out just how good that glass of red wine was for us? Or is it? According to Consumer Reports over the last 50 years, numerous well-designed and documented studies have shown results which indicate that moderate consumption of alcohol lowers the risk of heart attacks.

But these statistics include all alcohol, not just red wine. And when scientists use the term "moderate alcohol", they mean one drink for a woman and two drinks for a man, once per day. The amount of wine considered to equal one drink is only 5 ounces. I found this surprising and disheartening, considering the number of times I have split a bottle of wine with a friend and polished it off!

Kenneth Mukamal, a Harvard Medical School professor explained the alcohol-lowered coronary-events correlation by saying that alcohol acts as a mild blood thinner and also raises "good cholesterol".

But, (do you hear the other shoe dropping?) in recent studies, moderate alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase the incidence of cancer, (particularly breast cancer). And when alcohol consumption increases over the "moderate" level any cardiovascular benefit is negated.

You're wondering, "but what about that wonder anti-oxidant, resveratrol?". Most studies done have involved animals and extremely high doses of the compound. To ingest those levels, you'd have to drink liters of red wine daily. And, high levels of alcohol raise your chances for "heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, as well as the development of various types of cancer".

In summary, no, red wine is not the miracle elixir we were hoping it was, but enjoying it in moderation, (like everything else diet-wise) won't do us any harm. I don't know about you, but it's that "moderation" definition I struggle with.

You can read the entire report at ConsumerReports.org.