Bad news, winos: Turns out, the University of Connecticut researcher who discovered that red wine has anti-aging qualities actually fabricated a shitload of data. Which means that your purple mouthed cry-juice might not be good for your heart after all.
Dipak K. Das worked as the director at the University's Cardiovascular Research Center, and until 2008 led research on resveratrol, a substance found in the pulp and skins of grapes, as well as in grape byproducts like red wine. According to Das's research, resveratrol can slow or even reverse signs of aging and improve heart health. There was big money behind looking into the benefits of grapes, too; Das worked closely in conjunction with a drug maker that boasted that resveratrol was "the next asprin," and in 2007 pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline bought a company expressly to research a drug that mimicked resveratrol. Das also held a patent on another compound found in grape skins.
Someone smelled a fermented oak aged rat in 2008, and the University opened up an investigation into the legitimacy of Dr. Das's claims. Now, a newly-released 60,000-page report on the investigation's findings shows that Das fabricated more than 100 bits of data, and as a result, the University's had to turn down a $890,000 research grant.
Not only is this a bummer for optimistic wine drinkers everywhere, Dr. Das's fabrication has widespread pain in the ass implications for the scientific community. The University has said that it plans to inform Das's peers of the falsity of much of his research, and that his papers have been cited hundreds of times in other research. It's a complicated, twisted world, wine research.
Das maintains his innocence, claiming that the UConn's out to frame him, and that his research has been replicated by scientists around the world.
For his sake and the sake of my innards, I hope Das is right and that red wine actually does something useful besides make me want to hug my coworkers for too long or fall asleep in the back of a cab. Plus, it's just not as fun to drown heart health anxiety in almonds and green leafy vegetables.