The Beverage Report or from the Graves to the cradle
In the general election of 1945, the Labour Party ousted Winston Churchill’s Conservative Party. The new prime minister, Clement Attlee, announced he would introduce the welfare state outlined in Sir William Beveridge’s 1942 Report. This included the establishment of a National Health Service in 1948 with free medical treatment for all. A national system of benefits was also introduced to provide “social security” so that the population would be protected from the “cradle to the grave”.
The idea that there might be some correlation between wine and health benefits goes back to 1974, when a homeopathic doctor and acupuncturist called E. A. Maury published a book called Soignez-vous par le Vin (Heal Yourself with Wine). Maury believed that the mineral content of certain wines, taking on the character of the soil in which the grapes were grown, was of great use medicinally. The book starts off with an introduction to the wine regions of France, stating what he feels about wines which are particularly suited to overcome certain maladies. The rest of the book is devoted to a lexicon of various ailments, with appropriate suggestions for their treatment using wine. So with “x” disease you should be drinking St. Emilion and with “y”, perhaps a Nuits St. Georges. Champagne was a “must”, good for fever, liver sluggishness and coronary heart disease. That’s because dry or brut Champagne contains, among other things, two important elements for a feverish person: phosphorus, which is very stimulating, and sulphur in its sulphate of potassium form, whose detoxifying action on the body has been established. Of course, this counsel was confined to the wines of France, as at the time, nobody in France could ever believe that decent wines (let alone health-giving wines) could be produced anywhere else. This conception was rudely demolished at a famous (or as the French would have it, infamous) tasting in Paris in 1976.
Research done since this book was published has found that it is the polyphenols in wine, particularly red wine, that are the agents that are keeping arteries clear. Scientists and doctors have long claimed it is good for the heart – and now a hospital is prescribing wine on its wards. Nurses are giving heart patients at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon two glasses a day! Heart surgeon Dr William McCrea, who instigated the scheme, said the idea came from looking at the health statistics of the French, whose rate of deaths from heart attacks is half of those in the UK. They tend to drink more regularly and don’t binge. Seems to be working well and additionally it has been found that cheaper reds are healthier, because fine wines lose the antioxidants in the barrel.
So undo the screwcap from your Chateau Plonque and get it nicely administered from a lovely nurse, knowing full well that you will be looked after from the Graves to the cradle!