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Veni, vidi, viti

Nunc est bibendum. When I emigrated to France, I had no idea that the foothills of Mont Pilat, where I live, were covered with some of the best vinyards in France I adapted quickly by paraphrasing Ceasar's statement, into "Veni, vidi, viti."

A glass or two of red wine, preferably from Merlot or Pinot Noir grape appears to have substantial health benefits.

Despite a high dietary intake of saturated fat, the incidence of coronary heart disease in France is low. This is the ‘French paradox’, first noted by the Irish physician Samuel Black in 1819 (Black, S. 1819. Clinical and Pathological Reports. Wilkinson, Newry, pp 1 – 47) .

The defining moment in modern times came with the publication in 1979 by a British team of researchers of a paper entitled ‘Factors associated with cardiac mortality in developed countries with particular reference to the consumption of wine’ (St Leger. A.S. et al. 1979. Lancet: 1, 1017 – 20).

This study, which examined the health histories of men and woman aged 55 to 64 years from 18 countries, found that regular alcohol consumption, most particularly wine, lowers the incidence of heart disease by 30 – 40 %. In addition, emerging population-based data also point to protective effects against dementia, some types of cancer and macular degeneration.

Wine has antimicrobial and antifungal activity and may play a role in the aetiology of migraine. Red wine may even protect against the common cold (Takkouche, B. et al. 2002). Wine contains polyphenols from both the flavonoid and stilbene families of chemicals, mostly as grape tannins (about 35%) and anthocyanin pigments (about 20%), with more, by and large, in red than white grapes.

In fact, merlot may have the highest concentrations of polyphenols, while the stilbene most targeted for its possible health benefits, resveratrol, is significantly more common in wines made from Pinot Noir. Polyphenols in wine affect many factors including blood lipids, platelet aggregation and atherogenic processes. For example, their protective effects on coronary heart disease may reflect anti-atherosclerotic and anti-thrombotic actions in addition to having direct effects upon glucose metabolism.

Any questions??