Regularly drinking alcohol of any type lowers the risk of serious heart disease by almost a third - at least in men, indicates Spanish research of more than 41,000 adults published ahead of print in the journal Heart.
Spain is the world's third largest producer of beer and wine and its per capita consumption of alcohol places it sixth in the world. But it also has one of the lowest death rates from coronary heart disease in the world.
The research team assessed the alcohol intake of more than 15,500 men and almost 26,000 women aged between 29 and 69, from their responses to food frequency questionnaires.
For men, those drinking moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol all had a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Women also benefited from alcohol intake, but the effects were not statistically significant, possibly due to lower numbers of coronary events they experienced than men, say the authors.
Women process alcohol differently, and female hormones protect against heart disease in younger age groups, they point out.
Overall, the type of alcohol drunk did not affect the level of protection afforded, but protection was greater for those drinking moderate to high levels of alcohol, which included beverages other than just wine.