The health benefits attributed to red wine have been isolated and found to be the polyphenolic compound, reservetrol.
The "French Paradox" is the observation that death from coronary heart disease if relatively low in France even though the French enjoy high levels of saturated fat in their diets and have a high percentage of cigarette smokers. This "paradox" led to the speculation that regular consumption of red wine might provide some kind of protection from cardiovascular disease.
Red wine contains reservetrol, a polyphenolic compound and nonflavonoid antioxidant. The Mayo Clinic says, "Research in mice given resveratrol has indicated that the antioxidant might also help protect them from obesity and diabetes, both of which are strong risk factors for heart disease." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089
Some studies have shown that reservetrol decreases clot formation and atherosclerosis, both of which lead to heart disease. Also, reservetrol has been found to inhibit a variety of cancer cell lines including those from breast, prostate, stomach, colon, pancreatic and thyroid cancers. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/resveratrol/#cvd
Research is ongoing into the possibility that reservetrol counteracts the effects of high fat diets indicating a breakthrough in weight loss and cholesterol counseling.