Wine Kills Germs That Cause Sore Throats And Dental Plaque Says Study

Wine is used for a lot of things: To unwind from a busy day, to celebrate special occasions with friends and family, and maybe you’ve even used white wine to remove a red wine stain. Did you know, however, that wine kills germs? According to research, wine kills germs that cause sore throats and dental plaque, giving us yet another reason to enjoy a glass or two.

Wine Kills Germs That Cause Sore Throat And Dental Plaque

This may be on the older side, since it’s wine, we thought it still deserves a mention. A study published in the American Chemical Society in 2007 found that wine kills germs that cause sore throats and plaque that builds up on your teeth. More specifically, they discovered that certain biologically active compounds in both red and white wine are effective against oral streptococci and S.pyogenes bacteria. These are the bacteria responsible for sore throats and dental plaque, respectively. The compounds identified include (1):

  • Succinic acid
  • Malic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Tartaric acid
  • Citric acid
  • Acetic acid

The researchers tested these compounds at concentrations found in wine against the bacteria but not in the beverage against the same amounts within the wine. They found that while both were effective, the isolated compounds were more effective than while in the wine. This suggests that some agents in the wine inhibit the antibacterial effects of the specific compounds. (1)


How Effective Are They?

After isolating the compounds and neutralizing them so that they were no longer acidic, the researchers put them to the test against the bacteria. The compounds effectively killed 99.9% of the dental and sore throat bacteria, even if they used concentrations lower than what exists in a glass of wine. (1)


“Several studies suggest that moderate wine consumption has beneficial effects on human health. The antioxidant and antiradical properties, particularly of red wine, attributed mainly to high polyphenol content, appear to protect against the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings seem to indicate that wine can act as an effective antimicrobial agent against the tested pathogenic oral streptococci and might be active in caries and upper respiratory tract pathologies prevention.” (1)

The researchers found that while red wine was slightly more effective than white, both beverages worked very well. (1)

Glass of red wine

Not The Only Study

The researchers from the 2007 study decided to look at the properties of wine as an antibacterial agent after studies done in 1988 and 1998. In the 1988 study, the researchers looked at several drinks, including (2):

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Beer
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Wine

The researchers put infectious gut bacteria such as salmonella, shigella, and E. coli bacteria into each beverage. Two days later, they checked to see how the bacteria stood up in each drink. While each beverage had an effect, the wine worked the best out of them all. (2)


Why Was The Wine So Effective?

In 1998, researchers set out to determine why the wine was so effective against bacteria. They tested red wine on salmonella and compared it to a solution that had the same pH and alcohol concentration as red wine. Though both the wine and the solution did well, the red wine was the best. This meant that while acidity and alcohol are partly to blame for the antibacterial effects, there is something else in red wine that makes it even more effective. (3)


Should You Use Wine To Treat A Sore Throat And Dental Plaque? The Short Answer, No.

While the studies are interesting, and yes, the beverage has some beneficial effects, I don’t suggest replacing your mouth wash with wine. Though it can have antibacterial effects, it is also quite acidic. This can do damage to your tooth enamel and stain your teeth. Wine also still contains alcohol, which is recommended only to be consumed in moderation. Alcohol can have immunosuppressive effects, so it probably isn’t your best option if you feel under the weather. All in all? This is just an interesting story, and that’s about it. Enjoy wine, just in moderation. Don’t replace your mouth wash. Or not— we’re not your parents.


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  1. Antibacterial Activity of Red and White Wine against Oral Streptococci.” Pubs. ACS. Maria Daglia, et al. June 5, 2007.
  2. Survival of enteric pathogens in common beverages: an in vitro study.” Pub Med. N K Sheth, et al. June 1988.
  3. Antibacterial activity of wine against Salmonella enteritidis: pH or alcohol?.” Pub Med. J M Marimón, et al. September 1998.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.