It's the Resveratrol, not the alcohol. Red wine contains a complex mixture of bioactive compounds, including flavonols, monomeric and polymeric flavan-3-ols, highly colored anthocyanins, as well as phenolic acids and the stilbene polyphenol, resveratrol. It is reported in a new study that some of these compounds, particularly resveratrol, appear to have health benefits.
ScienceDaily has the article, Red Wine Compound Resveratrol Demonstrates Significant Health Benefits
The article points out the specific known benefits of Resveratrol:
• Resveratrol exhibits therapeutic potential for cancer chemoprevention as well as cardioprotection.
• Resveratrol may aid in the prevention of age-related disorders, such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
• Low doses of resveratrol improve cell survival as a mechanism of cardio- and neuro-protection, while high doses increase cell death.
In summary, current scientific research is starting to explain reports from the last 200 years that drinking red wine improves health. "It is a cliché that 'nature is a treasure trove of compounds,' but studies with resveratrol show that this is correct! We need to understand better the vast array of compounds that exist in nature, and determine their potential benefits to health."