Diabetes mellitus (honey-sweet flow, honey urine dysentery), commonly known as "diabetes", is one of the most common chronic diseases in the middle and higher age groups and increasingly also in younger age groups (disease of civilisation). Its main feature is an elevated blood sugar level (hyperglycaemia), which is associated with a risk of severe concomitant and secondary diseases. The cause is usually a relatively insufficient or even non-existent insulin secretion. Without this hormone of the pancreas, glucose (dextrose) cannot be absorbed into the cell and metabolized into energy. In contrast, insulin is not required in the first phases of fructose metabolism. On the other hand, fructose (fruit sugar) is two to three times sweeter in taste than glucose, but is considerably less likely to increase blood sugar levels.
This explains why fructose has long been used as a useful substitute for sucrose and glucose in the dietary treatment of diabetics. These medical reasons led in Germany in the 1990s to the definition of "diabetic wine" with the corresponding labelling on the bottle label. This was defined in §48 of the Wine Ordinance as follows: still wine is considered suitable for consumption by diabetics if the following maximum values were given in one litre of wine: a maximum of 20 grams of total sugar (calculated as invert sugar), of which a maximum of four grams is glucose (glucose), a maximum of 40 mg free sulphurous acid, a maximum of 150 milligrams of total sulphurous acid and a maximum of 12% vol alcohol content.
In the case of sparkling wine, these were: a maximum of four grams of glucose and no sucrose, a maximum of 40 grams of fructose, a maximum of 185 milligrams of sulphurous acid and a maximum of 12% vol alcohol content. In addition, further information on dietary values, such as nutritional value (calorific value), must be given on the label or on the back label. As part of the examination for the German Wine Seal, the DLG issued a certificate which certified the suitability for diabetics on a back label. In contrast to this, the designation "diabetic wine" has always not been common or prohibited in Austria.
Despite the above-mentioned "useful" effect of fructose, more and more current scientific studies show that too much fructose in the diet has unfavourable effects on the metabolism. Fructose increases the plasma concentration of blood lipids (triglycerides) and the harmful LDL cholesterol. Both favour the development of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels) and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. Too much fructose in the diet also promotes the development of obesity (overweight) and the development of the metabolic syndrome. The factors called the "deadly quartet" are obesity, diabetes, lipid metabolism disorders and high blood pressure.
These facts are particularly problematic for "type 2 diabetics", who usually only appear in adulthood. This also deprives wine producers of the (biological) basis for a wine called "diabetic wine", the definition of which refers only to the content of fructose and glucose. By the way, this definition was partly only valid for wines with a maximum residual sugar content of 2 g/l (see also sugar content). The correct approach is to recommend moderate wine enjoyment - preferably dry - with little residual sugar to this group as well. These sugar concentrations play a subordinate role for the well adjusted diabetic and are negligible in the daily diet.
Therefore, the steadily growing group of diabetics in old age should be informed about the health-promoting effect of moderate wine consumption. Because scientific studies clearly show that moderate wine consumption does not affect blood sugar control. Wine has a positive effect on the dreaded and frequent diabetic secondary diseases such as heart attack and stroke by increasing the favourable HDL cholesterol, by reducing blood coagulation and by reducing the harmful free radicals. The attitude towards alcoholic beverages has therefore changed among diabetologists. Regardless of the legal framework, the nutritional guidelines for diabetics and the assessment of fructose have also changed in recent years to the effect that the unlimited intake of this glucose substitute sugar is no longer recommended. Basically, moderate doses of dry wine do not represent a health problem for diabetics - indeed, they can even benefit from it.
The EU Regulation (No. 1924/2006) on nutrition and health claims made on foods (so-called Health Claims Regulation) came into force on 1.7.2007. According to this regulation, beverages with an alcohol content of more than 1.2% vol. are forbidden to make any health reference on the label and in the case of statements classified as advertising. The only exceptions are claims referring to a reduced alcohol content or nutritional value. This regulation also applies to "Diabetic wine/diabetic sparkling wine" or the description "suitable for diabetics - only after consulting a doctor", which is considered to be health-related and will be prohibited in future. The EU regulation has repealed the previously mentioned §48 of the wine law. This also removes the legal basis for the DLG seal. See on the topic "health-promoting effect of moderate wine consumption" under Health.
Source: With the kind permission of the DWA (German Wine Academy), the article "Wine for diabetics does not have to be a designated diabetic wine" was used in extracts for this article.