Red wine has a reputation as healthy. In fact, it is best known for its potential heart health benefits. But wine has a seductive history that dates back many centuries before the discovery of antioxidants. So we’re exploring the benefits of red wine sexually and what it is that makes wine aphrodisiac.
Red wine and sex in history
Wine was associated with love and lust since the time of the ancient Greeks, who linked this grape-based beverage as well as grapes with Dionysus, the god of fertility and procreation. The Romans were equally fond of grapes and wine and traditionally gave grapes to newlyweds to ensure fertility.
Wine and love (or lust) have always been popular topics to combine in Western literature. According to Temptations by Ellen and Michael Albertson, one of the quotes to best sum up this historical relationship comes from German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
When asked what three things he would bring to a deserted island, his response was, “Poetry, a beautiful woman and enough bottles of the world’s finest wines to survive this dry spell.”
What are the benefits of red wine sexually?
It isn’t just anecdotal history that makes red wine an aphrodisiac. As you’ve probably already heard, red wine is beneficial, to some degree, to heart health. Powerful antioxidants found in red wine appear to increase good cholesterol and promote heart health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the link between the antioxidants in wine and heart health is not completely understood. But it is suspected that these antioxidants, called polyphenols, protect the lining of the blood vessels in your heart and thereby promote greater heart health.
And what’s good for the heart is also good for your sex life.
Why is that?
The antioxidants in red wine that are good for vascular health are essentially helping promote blood flow. And you can’t get sexually aroused or reach sexual climax without healthy blood flow. This is largely why wine has a reputation as one of the drinks that increase libid0.
You may think this is just a benefit of red wine for men. But women can also benefit from the fact that red wine increases blood flow. In fact, studies show that drinking red wine may improve women’s sexual desire. And this wine sex link may not be just limited to red wine. There are indications that Champagne and other sparkling wines can benefit heart and sexual health for similar reasons.
There are more reasons to think that wine for women offers different benefits than for men. We’ve broken down the effects of wine on both sexes in separate articles. If you’re a woman be sure to check out the effects of red and white wine on female sexual health. And for men, don’t miss this article on red wine benefits, sex and men’s health.
The scent of wine may be arousing
Ok, so we know that wine is a social lubricant and we know that wine may have benefits to the heart and sexual health. But the benefits of red wine for sex may start before we even take the first sip.
According to the research of Dr. Max Lake, the mere scent of certain red wines can be arousing. In his book Scents and Sensuality, he wrote about his research in the field of scent and arousal. Lake discovered that compounds in wine (as well as several foods) replicated those of human pheromones.
Which red wine is an aphrodisiac?
All red wines are aphrodisiacs from a historical standpoint. But in the game of seduction, musky, masculine reds are best.
The kind of wines that Dr. Lake found worked best when the goal was seduction and or foreplay include earthy Pinot Noirs like those from Burgundy and Oregon. (Here’s more on Pinot Noir wine regions.) Some even have a truffle-like aroma similar to the scent that makes truffle pigs go wild.
Burly Cabernet Sauvignons can also work, particularly when they offer aromas of leather, tobacco and earth. When wine is used as an aphrodisiac the scent is key (although the alcohol in the wine always helps knock down emotional walls).
Is white wine an aphrodisiac?
From a historical standpoint, all wine is linked with lust and romance.
As for benefits to sex drive and sexual health, white wines also offer heart-healthy antioxidants. But most of the important antioxidants are found in the skin and seeds of the grapes. And white wines generally spend less time with skin contact than do reds, whites offer less of the heart-healthy benefits of reds.
But whatever wine you choose, know that it offers something good for your heart and for your sexual satisfaction.
How much is too much?
No matter how great of a libido drink wine might be, too much of any form of alcohol can hinder sexual performance. So how much aphrodisiac red wine should you drink on date night?
Moderate drinking – the kind that is believed to potentially improve heart health – is considered one 5-oz glass of wine per day for women and two for men. A glass or two of wine may not only lower inhibitions but it may give your skin a sexy glow.
Overindulgence in wine can result in dizziness, nausea and even depression. It can also impair a man’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
Sharing a bottle on a romantic evening should be fine. But the smart choice is to stick to a two-glass maximum any time you’re drinking alcohol before sex.
This article was first written in 2010 and most recently updated in May 2022.
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