In the research laboratory of Dr. Meir Shlisel, an expert in wine chemistry from Tel-Hai College, studies are taking place to develop a wine with especially strong health qualities, including a high level of the potent antioxidant called resveratrol, considered the “golden molecule.” The central idea of this research is focused on the fact that resveratrol is an antioxidant that is highly effective against heart disease, slows the development of cancerous growths, prevents infection and more. Producing wine that includes high levels of resveratrol is a project with health and economic significance.

For hundreds of years, wine has been considered a drink with many medicinal properties. In the 1990s comprehensive research was conducted which compared the dietary habits and level of heart disease of French and American subjects, which when publicized earned the nickname the “French paradox.” It was found that the incidence of heart disease among the French, who drink wine daily, was 40% lower than the Americans, despite the fact that the French dietary habits include a diet rich in animal fats. Wine was recognized as a central factor in prevention of cardiac events and atherosclerosis. In other studies, it was found that the medicinal properties of wine are due to the high level of phenolic compounds it contains.

Among the many phenolic molecules found in wine, one compound was discovered that has the most effective antioxidant properties – resveratrol, which is a stilbenoid. This family of molecules has the most beneficial properties among the rich diversity of components in red wine. These substances are produced in grapevines and grapes and serve as protective mechanisms for the vine against a wide variety of pests, diseases and stressors that can happen in a vineyard at different stages of growth. The grapevine produces these substances in reaction to different stressors such as UV light, infection by pests and oxidation damage.