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A light hearted review of a frothy subject... Foaming whirls as white as Cleopatra’s melted pearls by Harvey E. Finkel, M.D.
A light hearted review of a frothy subject... Foaming whirls as white as Cleopatra’s melted pearls by Harvey E. Finkel, M.D.

The Healing Power of Champagne, by Tran Ky and François Drouard; translated from the French by Reginald Duquesnoy (Bristol, UK: Savoir-Boire Limited, 2006, 156 pp, £25 large format).

The combination of healing and Champagne is irresistible to me, and I did enjoy this book by a pair of French doctors. It is written in a pleasantly propulsive style, perhaps to the credit of the translator, and is generously adorned with amusing historical illustrations. Much of its frequently cited medical “science,” however, seems to me humbug.

The delicious juice of the Champagne hills thus has a dual advantage. It is both incontestably the most agreeable of all wines and also the best adapted to the wise laws the Creator has laid down for the conservation of health and life.

‘The wines of Champagne can dilute thickened humours, clear obstructions, provoke urine, stimulate expectoration, fight anemia, ward off gout and destroy stones, and protect against epidemic diseases’ - Jean Claude Navier, Doctor-Regent, Faculty of Medicine, Reims, 1778

Conclusions are not adequately explained in detail, and are seldom referenced to specific up-to-date research. This book is reminiscent of authoritarian tomes of yore that expounded the authors’ views of what ought to be. Alcohol (page 43) and red wine (page 44) are incorrectly indicted as predisposing to atherosclerosis.

Champagne all through the book is lauded as distinctly and specifically healthful.

Despite the humbug, the book contains much truth, and it does strongly advocate moderation. It dispels some of the mythology surrounding crise de foie, that peculiarly French affliction. And perhaps its aim is true as it quotes the “astute observer”: Half a bottle of champagne is worth half of Harley Street.

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