by Dr Tran Ky and Dr Francois Drouard, translated by Reginald Duquesnoy, review by Peter Duff
‘Take good care of the body, so that the soul may enjoy its abode.’ Saint Francois de Sales (1590)
‘Champagne has been celebrated by poets, writers, artists, writers and composers for over three hundred years. In the 20th century it has become a regular feature of the visual arts including film, opera and the stage. It has been elevated as the quintessence of all beverages, and the hallmark of celebration’, according to Doctors Ky and Drouard.
The medics have collaborated to write a book praising the healing powers of champagne. This new work first reviews the history of champagne through the centuries before tracing the medicinal benefits that has been established in recorded commentary and literature going back to ‘The Art of Healing’, published in 1674.
In the 1650s the doctors of Beaune became fierce detractors of champagnes’ health claims, the faculty of Medicine of Reims counter attacked and bravely defended its home product and presented evidence to support its beneficial claims.
The book is lavishly illustrated in colour throughout with contemporary drawings, illustrations and extracts from relevant sources. Some of the early cartoons are amusing and satirical reflecting class and conveying social messages.
Chapter 4 is a fascinating discourse on ‘Desire’. “The shortest distance between a man and woman is champagne” and that champagne promotes desire and amorous behaviour. Subsequent chapters cover a variety of subjects including obesity, appetite loss, migraine and depression.
Many medicinal claims have been made regarding the moderate consumption of alcohol particularly red wine. In this book the authors present a case for champagne, its unique holistic qualities that they say with its chemical complexity reflects on the senses and the soul. The work is very well researched and concludes with a complex technical section.