Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Antibacterial activity of red and white wine against oral streptococci
Italian researchers have tested red and white wines to assess how effective these beverages are in controlling the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay and sore throats.

Gabriella Gazzani of the faculty of pharmacy at the University of Pavia in Italy and colleagues, suggest that the components in wine that fight oral bacteria might one day be added to mouthwashes and toothpastes and that experiments are already being carried out in humans to test wine’s effects on cavities and upper respiratory tract infections.

It was already known wine contains a number of biologically active compounds that, once they reach the stomach and digestive tract, have health benefits, but this is the first study to show wine may have health benefits from the moment it wets lips and gum.

Gazzani’s team, whose work will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, tested the bacteria-fighting activity of commercial red and white wines against eight strains of oral streptococci. The bacteria can colonize tooth surfaces, triggering plaque formation. They can also cause pharyngitis - infection of the pharynx or tonsils.

Two wines - an Italian red, Valpolicella Classico DOC Superiore, and an Italian white, Pinot Nero DOC, both 2003 vintages - were purchased from a local supermarket.

The wines were de-alcoholized before testing to rule out any effect of ethanol.

In lab experiments, both wines were active against streptococci. The red had a stronger effect than the white, though the difference was not statistically significant.

Gazzani says the organic acids in wine, such as acetic, citric, lactic, succinic and tartaric acids “are responsible for the antibacterial activity against oral streptococci.” The acids are found naturally in grapes or are produced during fermentation.

The finding suggests that wine “enhances oral health,” the researchers conclude.

Source: Antibacterial Activity of Red and White Wine against Oral Streptococci Daglia, M.; Papetti, A.; Grisoli, P.; Aceti, C.; Dacarro, C.; Gazzani, G. J. Agric. Food Chem.; (Article); 2007; 55(13); 5038-5042. DOI: 10.1021/jf070352q

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