The scientists say their findings "reinforce" the importance of drinking 'patterns', the number of days per week that alcohol is consumed and the amount consumed on drinking days.
"In this study, the participants who were at lowest risk for stroke were the men who consumed one or two drinks on three to four days of the week," said lead author Kenneth Mukamal, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
"The importance of drinking pattern for stroke risk parallels our previous findings among this same group of men regarding alcohol consumption and the risk of developing diabetes and coronary heart disease."
Among all three types of disease, the lowest risk seemed to occur when consumption is limited to one or, at most, two drinks, approximately every other day, with little benefit shown above three to four drinking days per week.
During the course of the 14-year study, the study authors followed 38,156 participants beginning in 1986 and continuing every four years until 2000. The male participants, who ranged in age from 40 to 75, responded to a detailed questionnaire regarding diet and medical history, including alcohol consumption.
This latest study will provide food formulators with more ammunition to tackle the growing market for heart health positioned food products.
With nearly one in three global deaths, about 16.7 million, resulting from various forms of cardiovascular disease, the food industry is rolling out a growing number of food products designed to tackle this market.
Set to grow 7.6 per cent in the UK market alone, according to Datamonitor, these foods are slated to achieve sales of £145 million in the UK by 2007. This is second only to gut health in terms of purpose categories.
Mounting evidence suggests that a key compound in red wine, the potent antioxidant resveratrol, could have a protective effect on heart health with studies suggesting that drinking red wine in moderation - one or two five-ounce glasses a day - may be beneficial to overall heart health.
The amount of resveratrol in a bottle of red wine can vary between types of grapes and growing seasons, according to the researchers. But nearly all dark red wines - merlot, cabernet, zinfandel, shiraz and pinot noir - contain resveratrol.
The health implications of red wine consumption appear to be filtering through to the consumer. A report from analysts Euromonitor last year predicted that still red wine will exhibit by far the fastest growth in both volume and value terms between 2002 and 2007.
Their study claims that red wine is forecast to record global value sales of US$82 billion (€61.5 bn) in 2007, a rise of some 31 per cent from 2002.
Global volume sales are expected to see an increase of 22 per cent to 13 billion litres over the same period.