It’s not the alcohol in red wine that’s good for the heart, it’s the polyphenolic compounds. These compounds are not found in all alcoholic drinks, and there are fewer of them in white wine.
Red wine polyphenols explain the French paradox (the French have a high-fat diet, but one of the lowest rates of heart disease). They protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, they inhibit the proliferation of smooth muscle cells, and they enhance endothelial nitric-oxide synthase activity, which improves the health of the heart and blood vessels.
This activity has been confirmed in a recent study – but, as it’s nothing to do with alcohol, you could get all the benefits from a supplement. Dr Whisky would be turning in his grave.
(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004; 79: 123-30).