The Vineyard Newbury – food for thought and soulful art

Featured

Every so often we visit a very special hotel and spa – the Vineyard at Newbury is one of those places.  This is because the people who work there go that extra mile to make their guests feel totally at home – they take a genuine interest in every guest – and all of them know your name which is quite remarkable.

Vineyard-Exterior-HR-Tidy.jpg

The Vineyard by night – Fire and Water sculpture by William Pye
This hotel is a member of the Relais & Chateaux a unique collection of the most beautiful restaurants and hotels scattered around the world. So you expect you will be getting a five star and quality experience from the minute you arrive.
Every room is different, with the bigger suites – 49 of these –  named after a wine or wine area. The owner entrepreneur, Sir Peter Michael, who amongst other things started Classic FM Radiio, is a huge fan of New World wines, in particular those from California where he has his own vineyard.
The Vineyard, is focused on food and wines, as you would expect, and has one of the largest cellars in Europe with more than 2,500 bins on its list, including those from exotic places like the Lebanon and various Russian republics. The winelist is like reading a novel – there are 23,000 bottles in the cellar – and I am lucky enough to get a copy to take home with me and signed by the hotel’s award-winning sommelier, Frenchman Yohann Jousselin (UK Sommelier of the Year 2011).
I am staying, co-incidentally, staying in the Dom Perignon room in the Atrium – how did they know my favourite drink I wonder?
Everything in the room is immaculate, with attention to every detail – perfect white robes, a fruit bowl, and the white bed linen. There is also a lovely countryside view from the bedroom window.
I am shown to my room and within minutes a tea tray arrives – as you would expect the tea is piping hot and fresh.  I never eat biscuits but these are made in house so I cannot resist them.
Dom Perignon Room small.jpg
The Vineyard is also a living art gallery so a walk down a corridor can take a while if you are interested in art. There is also art in all the rooms – even the bathrooms! So I spend most of the afternoon in the corridors…I return to my room and get ready for dinner and my pre dinner cocktail arrives – a glass of chilled champagne..

Rita.jpgRita Hayworth in my bedroom

Dinner is a French-inspired gastronomic experience and you have several choices including the 7-course tasting menu which costs £185 including wine. By the way I should mention prices here – I note they are are good deal cheaper than those in London, especially in the City so the level of quality and service that I see here is really value for money.

I opt for the a-la-carte menu and choose 3 courses including foie gras and braised pork belly.  My only criticism is that almost everything is very rich, but that may have been the menu that evening and possibly my bad choice as I always predictably choose foie gras.

There are various events organised every week in the hotel around wine, including themed tastings and a wine school.
The Spa offers a full menus of treatments using the luxurious French Darphin aromatherapy range and ESPA product. As you would expect the spa itself is a place of tranquility where you can get away and relax by the pool, swim or sleep.
I choose the Darphin Meadowsweet and Cucumber Eye Refiner.  This is a blissful 40 minute treatment using anti-ageing products.  The delicate area around the eye is massaged and soothed with the gentlest of products.  Afterwards my eyes look much fresher and brighter and rested. This treatment costs £40.
I also buy a special package of Darphin anti-ageing treatments for dehydrated skin which are on a special offer.
The spa has everything from hot stone massage (£75) to scalp treatments (£95) and spa day packages (£250) to pamper evenings for two (£105).  There is also a pool, jacuzzi and gym.
Fact File:
The rooms range from large double to suites and grand suites – prices start from £139 pp (based on two people sharing).
The Vineyard
Stockcross
Berkshire RG20 8JU
T: + 44 (0)1635 528770
The Vineyard Spa
T: + 44 (0)1635 589415


Activities to do nearby:

Bicester Village Outlet Shopping
< a href=”http://www.bicestervillage.com”>www.bicestervillage.com
Hungerford Town
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Madeira – a pefect place for social butterflies to re-energise

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by Avril O’Connor

Butterflies in December, hillsides bursting with the brilliant red flowers of the poinsetta tree and sunshine so warm that you can sit outside and soak it up until early evening. That is Madeira in winter…the Portuguese island of wood…a tiny exotic paradise on the furthermost western edge of Europe…where there is something for everyone, from shopping, to fine dining or getting away from it all on a mountainside – on a short or long break.

Indian Red Admiral Butterfly

The Indian Red Admiral Butterfly

It’s my first visit and I see how green the island is, compared to its nearest neighbour, Gran Canaria, more than 200 miles to the south. This is because it is massaged by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, giving it a year-round Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature above 65 degrees. The island is very mountainous which makes for a high annual rainful and lots of micro-climates. But even in December there are an abundance of flowers, butterflies, bees and birds.

Poinsetta

Poinsetta trees grow on hillsides all over the island

In winter there are bursts of rain, then the mists evaporate and the sun comes out. At one point at lunchtime it was so hot that we had to move into the shade…

The island is the second wealthiest part of Portugal after Lisbon and that’s because of tourism, contributing to 20% of the island’s GDP. Most visitors come from the mainland, followed by Brits, Scandinavians and Germans.

The capital Funchal may be very built up but is still a rather elegant city with cobbled streets and cafes, and is the best choice for a first-time visitor since it has a range of hotels to suit every pocket. And its easy to get anywhere else on the island from there.

Madeira is a top destination for hikers and nature lovers, but its also a great for clubbers and fine dining and wining. In particular, you can find your very own refuge for some real peace and quite among the many inlets around the rocky coast.

Hotels to suit every taste and budget

Hotels go from the glamorous Reids Palace Hotel, set on a cliff overhanging the sea, to the boutique and quirky Hotel The Vine, to the five star Quintinha São João where the owners aim for “a home-from-home” experience.

Quintinha São João 5* Spa Hotel

Quintinha São João is an intimate family-run 40-room hotel, set amidst sub-tropical gardens in a residential area, just 15 minutes walking from Funchal city centre. It has everything you as an individual or a family might want for a relaxing holiday.

The lush green gardens are a perfect place sink back in a comfy lounger, read a book and listen to the birds, with a cocktail near to hand. And you are more than likely than not to be the only one there.

There is an excellent spa with a sauna, jacuzzi, hammam and a wet area with scottish, tropical and vichy showers. There is also a small gym and indoor (rooftop) and outdoor pools.

Quintinha de sao joa Hotel pool

Quintinha São João – outdoor swimming pool

The owner and manager Andre Barreto is enthusiastic about the personal service his hotel offers. His wife runs a nearby pharmacy which is very helpful for any small needs you might have healthwise – and staff will go for you at no extra cost. And the Portguese love of family means that his two lovely young children are in evidence occasionally.

The hotel has a regular clientele who return year-after-year because of the excellent facilities and friendly service.

Hotel The Vine 5* – World Leading Design Hotel

Hotel The Vine

The elegant UVA restaurant at boutique Hotel The Vine has a view of the port. Unique design features mean that it has been awarded the accolade of World Leading Design Hotel

Adjacent to the hotel lobby and reception, is the Terra Lounge, with its earthy brown tones and creative design which aims to place you in the heart of a Madeiran vineyard. An ideal place to relax at the end of a busy day, or for throwing a party to commemorate a special occasion. Terra Lounge is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as having an all day dining menu and dedicated children’s menu.

Terra Lounge

The Terra Lounge aims to give you a vine experience!

Madeira’s top Ayurveda centre

The Centro de Cura Ayurvedica is at the “Refugio dos Sonhos” meaning “refuge of dreams” in Portuguese. The refuge is part of the Hotel Alpina Atlantica. Here you can receive Ayurveda treatments in a 4-star resort facility situated directly on the seafront on top of a small cliff.

Ayurveda centre

The sea-facing rooms at the Refugio dos Sonhos

The centre was founded and is under the management of Birgit Moukom, a German ayurveda specialist .Treatments and therapies here are aimed at patients with general stress symptoms, burnout and diagnosed depression who are seeking healing.

The retreat has special regimes for pain release treatments, weight reduction and insomnia.

The hotel offers full board with Ayurvedic dishes using regional and fresh produce. Meals are served in the garden restaurant but can also be served in the room.

Daily hatha and ashtanga yoga classes are available alongside private sessions and for those wanting to learn the Chinese healing movements of Qigong. Meditation classes also take place.

Ayurveda is the focus here. But the Hotel Alpino Atlantico and the associated hotels Galomar and Galosol provide all the amenities and luxuries of a resort hotel including indoor and outdoor, sweet and salt water swimming pools, saunas, fitness centers and spa.

Rooms in the two-storey Hotel Alpino Atlantico, where most of the Ayurveda guests check in, are comfortable and well equipped with balconies, view of the Atlantic, TV, Phone, hairdryer, and water boiler.

We sample a yoga lesson and a very relaxing Abhyanga full body massage and stay for lunch on the terrace, where a wonderful ‘lasagne’ made with sliced mango was served.

Ayurveda meal

A tasty Ayurvedic lunch – including mango lasagne and sliced baked potatoes

The centre has its own Ayurvedic doctor, Ram Mani Bhandari, and a full consultation with him is very thorough and can take more than an hour. He makes various dietary and other lifestyle recommendations.

The Spa at the Melia Resort 5*

Melia Resport and Spa

The Malo Clinic Spa at the Melia is one of the best on the island – it also allows non-resident use of the spa and gym

The hotel is on the edge of the sea and there are truly lovely views from the outdoor pool,

The spa is unique on the island, partly because of its size and also because of the variety of treatments on offer.

It’s a tranquil place for those wanting peace and quiet. There is an Aqua area, with sauna, hamman, tanks contrast, Thalassotherapy, Jacuzzi and hydromassage, Vichy shower, Rain shower (Cromotherapy), and traditional Swiss shower.

There are nine rooms for aesthetics treatments, massage therapy and relaxation and a beauty and hairdressing salon The Spa also includes a Fitness Club with equipment and weights Cardiofitness free to all guests. There is also a lounge with a Juice Bar and a small library.

We try the MALO Sensations, the signature massage, which is performed with sensory pindas (linen containing heated in spices), that are placed over the body. The massage is aimed at relieving stress and rebalancing the body. During the treatment you are wrapped in a warm cocoon to have a snooze. It was a great treatment and very relaxing.

Touring Funchal

If you are not going to be there for long, you should try a guided tour by electric car. Tukxi Tours which run from 9am until 7pm has a range of options starting at 20 – we go for the 1hour and 15 minute tour that takes in the old town, the Socorro View Point, the Town Hall Square, Municipal Garden and the Santa Catarina Park. That also saves on the foot slogging as Funchal is very hilly. We go up and up and once at the top we can see a vista of the city below, including the large port where a huge ocean liner is docked. Our driver points out key landmarks.

One is the ochre yellow painted17th century Forte de Sao Tiago that was used to protect the Funchal from invasion.

forte restaurant funchal

The 17th century fort overlooks the ocean and has a fine dining restaurant

The fort, which is next to the old town has small watchtowers and sentinel boxes. The fort is open for the public and has some amazing views from its towers and courtyards. It is now a museum, that has undergone some renovation and now houses several museums including the Military Museum of Madeira and the Museum of Contemporary Art, a collection of work acquired and donated by the artists themselves.

It also has an excellent restaurant, one of the best in Madeira. We dine there later. And the fixed price menu is perfect with pate-filled mushrooms, followed by grilled sea bass and a passion fruit pie desert.

Also not to be missed is the cable car which you can take a return ride on (Costs €15 for a return and €10 for a single ride). But many tourists opt for the decent in a wicker sledge. These two-seater vehicles are made in wood and wicker and date back to 1850, when local merchants used them to get from Monte to Funchal. Today its a unique thrill, costing about €24, where two men, called carreiros, glide the sledge downhill, in between the car traffic, controlling it with their feet.

Toboggan

The wicker basket goes downhill from Monte, weaving inbetween the motor car traffic – but no-one seems to mind!

Hiking and walking

The many mountain trails and walks are along the levadas, water canals built to take water from the north of the island to the dryer south. Many are 600-years-old and in otherwise inaccessible places which you can get to by the parallel paths alongside them. There are more than 200 different routes of varying difficulty that you can walk along. There are jeep guides who will take you to these areas where you can get breathtaking views of the island’s natural beauty. Sit and relax with a picnic.

Madeira wine

Madeira is a fortified wine, produced in the Madeira Islands since the 15th century when it was a standard port of call for ships heading to the New World or East Indies. To prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape spirits were added. However, wine producers of Madeira discovered, when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip, that the flavour of the wine had been transformed by exposure to heat and movement.

Madeira wine

Madeira barrels at Blandy’s Wine Lodge in Funchal

Today, Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves heating the wine and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation.

It’s worth a visit to Blandy’s Wine Lodge – the guided tour which costs about €5.50 includes a tasting at the end. You can also get discount vouchers to buy your Madeira in the duty free at the airport on the way home.

Friday night is Poncha night

Poncha is a traditional alcoholic drink from the island of Madeira, made with Aguardente de cana, alcohol made from sugar cane juice, with honey, lemon rind and with different fruit juices, but traditionally lemon juice is used.

The best time to try this is on a Friday in the old town, in the Venda Velha area, when its party time for the local students.

PonchaLocals say that Poncha cures the common cold and people are encouraged to drink it if they have cold like symptoms.It’s also more than possible that if you drink enough you won’t actually remember whether you had a cold or not!

More Wining and Dining
Madeira has a wide variety of restaurants, all prices, international and local cuisine. Here are some we sampled:

Riso Restaurant
Riso
Riso is located at the vibrant “Old part of Town” and enjoys a superb situation beside the sea, close to the viewpoint known as the “Barreirinha”, where the pleasure of the food can be appreciated in a contemporary setting designed by the architects Giano Gonçalves and Leo Marote.

One of the best views on the island. And the food is modern with great flavours and presentation

Fact Box

TAP Airlines
www.flytap.com
Round trip to Funchal costs from £140

Quintinha São João 5* Spa Hotel
www.quintinhasaojoao
Prices start from Euros48 per person per night

Hotel The Vine 5*
Rua dos Aranhas, 27-A
9000-044 Funchal
T:+ 351 291 009 000
www.hotelthevine.com
E: reservations@hotelthevine.com
Uva Restaurant reservations: E:dining@hoelthevine.com
The Spa: E:spa@hotelthevine.com
Prices vary depending on season and there are special offers to please contact the hotel directly.

Melia Hotel
http://www.meliamadeira.com/en
Direct Spa Contact Tel: +351 291 724151

Alpino Atlantico Hotel
http://www.galoresort.com/Hotel-Alpino-Atlântico—EN/Home
T: + 351 291 930 930

Madiera Wine Lodges
+351 291 740 110

Restaurants

Villa do Peixe Restaurant
http://www.viladopeixe.com/index.php?lang=en
This is a popular local restaurant that offers a fixed price menu and also traditional entertainment with folk dancing.

Riso Restaurant
http://riso-fx.com/en/

Lunch: 12.30 pm until 2.30 pm
Dinner: 7.00 pm until 10.30 pm
Terrace Snack Bar: 10.00 am until 5.30 pm

FForte de São Tiago
http://restaurantedoforte.com.pt/welcome/

Il Basilico

This restaurant is next to the Melia Mare on a sea-front promenade.
www.portobay.com
Rua Leichlingen, 9
9004-566 Funchal
Madeira – Portugal
Open every day from 12.30 to 15.00 and 19.30 to 22.00
Tel: +351 291 708708

Mountain Expeditions
+351 969 677 679

Vinotherapy in the green heart of Italy

Featured

by Avril O’Connor

At Elixir we promote the anti-ageing properties of red wine – it is bursting with antioxidants, including resveratrol.  But we thought the only way to sample its  anti-ageing effects was to drink it! So you might perhaps understand my situation when I got to try vinotherapy for the first time.

Following one of the best massages ever I was relaxing in the vinotherapy bath tub, containing what I assumed to be grape extracts when my spa therapist uncorked a perfectly good bottle of red wine and poured its contents into my bath.

Seeing the look of pure horror on my face she relented and saved a glass, saying it wasn’t good to drink too much in the spa. So with glass in hand I not only tasted but relaxed and bathed in the revitalizing, antioxidant vapours of one of the finest wines of Torgiano – a pretty hilltop village in the heart of the famous DOC and DOCG wine region of Umbria.

23 vino terapia [320x200]

The Bellavue Winetherapy Spa is indeed a gem. It is peaceful and beautiful, with indoor and outdoor pools, Turkish baths, a gym and outdoor relaxation areas surrounded by olive groves and views of the surrounding Umbrian Hills.

The spa is in one of the region’s most exclusive five-star hotels, the Relais Hotel Le Tre Vasalle. The hotel was once a 17th century house, whose name refers to the ancient ceramic wine jugs, and is in a narrow street in what was once a fortified village in the Middle Ages, near Perugia (5 miles) and Assisi (10 miles).

Surrounded by antique furniture and paintings, each of the 60 bedrooms is uniquely furnished, giving it has the feel of a grand country home – perfect for a romantic getaway. The restaurant, Le Melograine, reworks traditional Umbrian specialities such as pasta with black truffles, as well as diet menus served with delicious local wines.

Le Tre Vaselle, outdoor pool [320x200]

Le Tre Vassale brings together wine, art and hospitality. This is because the hotel is the passion of one family – the Lungarottis, first and second generation winemakers who have made Torgiano their own.

The family has filled the town. As well as the hotel, there is a wine museum and olive oil, museum and the nearby Cantine Lunggarotti which produces the finest red wines grown on surrounding slopes (Sangiovese, Anaiolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), including Rubesco. The whites (Trebiano, Grechetto, Chardonnay, Pinot) are grown on cooler hillsides. And there is also an excellent sparkling Lungarotti Brut made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Giogrgio Lungarotti and his wife and Maria Grazia, an art historian run the winery business with daughters Chiara and Teresa and produce around three million bottles of wine annually.

A visit to the Wine Museum and the Cantine are a must. Housed in the 17th century Palazzo Graziani-Baglioni, it has one of the most comprehensive collections of viniculture artifacts anywhere in the world – from its earliest beginnings in the Mediteranean to the Middle Ages and beyond – covering five thousand years of winemaking history. The theme of the wine god Bacchus runs through the collections which are housed in 20 rooms, featuring working tools,  fine prints, drawings, antiquarian books and graphics by Picasso and a glass by Jean Cocteau (pictured below).

Wine Museum, Fondazione Lungarotti, Cocteau glass [320x200]

The hotel offers a range of activities including truffle hunting, cookery classes, as well as scooter hire.

I have always wanted to go truffle hunting. And it was not a disappointment.No need to get up at the crack of dawn.After a lazy breakfast we are driven to a nearby forest to meet our guide Matteo and his English setter Asia (pictured below).

AliceandTruffles [320x200]

The black traffles, known locally as “black gold” can fetch up to 150 Euros a kilo and the rarer white 3,000 Euros so the cost of buying your truffle dog – 4,000 euros in the case of Asia can pay dividends.

Asia was a star. She  sniffed around for a few minutes, driven by a reward of a cheese slice each time she found a truffle. Sniffing the ground and as if by magic she would start digging with her paws, finding truffle after truffle. Standing on her back legs she put her front paws on Mateo’s hips to claim her reward.

As we walked in the woods we passed groups riding horses – this is also riding country – people smile and wave at us.  And back at the minibus we were greeted by table laden with a feast of antipasti and red wine – and it was only 10.30am! A bit early even for me but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do! After all it would be rude not to!

FACT FILE

Hotel Le Tre Vaselle, via Garibaldi, 48. Torgiana – Perugia. T:+ 39 075 9880447
www.3vaselle.it
Double rooms from £194 ($297, €220), also look out for special packages and promotions on the website.
Cantine Giogio Lungarotti T: + 39 075 988661 www.lungarotti.it
For information on wine tastings contact Sabrina@lungarotti.it
Wine and Olive and Oil MuseumsT: +39 075 9880200 museovno@lungarotti
Getting to Torgiano
Alitalia to Rome www.alitalia.com
Ryanair to Perugia
www.ryanair.com

Grape anti-ageing in Bordeaux – comic Dom Jolly reveals all

Famous for its fine red wine, packed with anti-ageing resveratrol, Bordeaux is one of the world’s best known wine travel destinations. But you may surprised to learn that the region has more than just wine tours on offer for the huge number of tourists it attracts annually.

While it’s true that Bordeaux is blessed with perfect grape growing conditions resulting in vineyards overflowing with not just red, but white and rose wines; this coastal city has become more than just a hub for wine connoisseurs and wine lovers alike. The miles of incredible coastline on the west coast provide plenty of opportunities for long strolls along sandy beaches, while the oldest streets of Bordeaux are rich in architecture and have excellent shopping for market lovers.

After experiencing this beautiful city first hand, comedian Dom Jolly for one would agree that Bordeaux has plenty to offer travellerslooking for a wonderful French experience with a difference.

Dom Joly (2).jpg

Log onto our l WebTV show, where Dom will reveal manyof the hidden gems he uncovered while discovering the French wine capital and you will be able to see for the first time footage from his trip.

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Don’t save your alcohol units until the weekend

wineA study comparing patterns of alcohol consumption in Northern Ireland and France found that the binge drinkers of Belfast were at a much greater risk of heart disease.  The choice of beer or wine may also be important.

The volume of alcohol consumed by middle aged men in Northern Ireland and France is almost identical. However, in Belfast, the alcohol is all consumed within one or two days at the weekend. Drinkers in France tend to consume the same amount over a whole week.

The researchers, led by Dr Jean-Bernard Ruidavets from Toulouse University, investigated whether drinking patterns in Northern Ireland and France were linked to the known disparity in heart disease between these two culturally diverse countries.

In the study, binge drinking was defined as drinking more than 4- 5 drinks over a short period, where a drink equates to a 125ml glass of wine or half pint of beer.

Over a ten year period, Ruidavets and colleagues assessed the alcohol consumption of 9,758 men from three centres in France (Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse) and Belfast. The participants were free from heart disease when the research started in 1991 and were between the ages of 50 to 59.

The participants were divided into never drinkers, former drinkers, regular drinkers and binge drinkers. The ‘drinkers’ were asked via interviews and questionnaires about the volume of alcohol they consumed on a weekly and daily basis and also about the type of beverage.

The results show that the men who “binge” drink had nearly twice the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease compared to regular drinkers over the 10 years of follow up.

The researchers write: “the prevalence of binge drinking, which doubled the risk of ischaemic heart disease compared with regular drinking, was almost 20 times higher in Belfast than in the French centres.”

The drink of choice in both countries may also play a role; beer and spirits are most commonly consumed in Northern Ireland, with wine being France’s preferred tipple. Established research has concluded that drinking a moderate about of wine can protect against heart disease.

Ruidavets and colleagues conclude that the research has important public health implications, especially given that binge drinking is on the rise amongst younger people in Mediterranean countries.

They say: “The alcohol industry takes every opportunity to imbue alcohol consumption with the positive image, emphasising its beneficial effects on ischaemic heart disease risk, but people also need to be informed about the health consequences of heavy drinking.”

Read the full paper below;
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.c6077

Vinotherapy in the green heart of Italy

At Elixir we promote the anti-ageing properties of red wine – it is full of antioxidants, including resveratrol.  And we thought the only way to sample the anti-ageing effects was to drink it!  So you might perhaps understand my shock when I sampled vinotherapy for the first time.

 

After one of the best massages I can ever remember I was relaxing in the vinotherapy bath tub, containing what I assumed to be grape extracts when my spa therapist uncorked a perfectly good bottle of red wine and poured its contents into my bath. Seeing the look of pure horror on my face she relented and saved a glass, saying it wasn’t good to drink too much in the spa.

23 vino terapia [320x200].jpg

So with glass in hand I not only tasted but relaxed and bathed in  the revitalizing and antioxidant vapours of one of the fine wines of Torgiano – a hilltop village in the heart of the famous DOC and DOCG wine region of Umbria.

The Bellauve Winetherapy Spa is indeed a gem. It is peaceful and beautiful, with indoor and outdoor pools, Turkish baths, gym and outdoor relaxation areas surrounded by olive groves and views of the Umbrian Hills.

25 massaggio 1 [320x200].jpg

The spa  is set in one of the region’s most exclusive five-star hotels, the Relais Hotel Le Tre Vasalle. The hotel, in a 17th century house and whose name refers to the ancient ceramic winejugs, is in a narrow street in what was once a fortified village in the Middle Ages, near  ancient towns of  Perugia (5 miles) and Assisi (10 miles).

Surrounded by antique furniture and paintings, each of the 60 bedrooms is furnished differently, giving it has the atmosphere of a grand country home – perfect for a romantic getaway. The restaurant, Le Melograine, reworks traditional Umbrian specialities such as pasta with black truffles, as well as diet menus served with famous local wines.

Le Tre Vassale brings together wine, art and hospitality. This is because the hotel is the passion of one family – the Lungarottis, first and second generation winemakers who have made Torgiano their own.

Le Tre Vaselle, outdoor pool [320x200].jpg

The family has filled the town. As well as the hotel, there is a wine museum and olive oil, museum and the nearby Cantine Lunggarotti which produces the finest red wines  grown on surrounding slopes (Sangiovese, Anaiolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), including Rubesco. The whites (Trebiano, Grechetto, Chardonnay, Pinot are grown on cooler hillsides. And there is also an excellent sparkling Lungarotti Brut made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Giogrgio Lungarotti and his wife and Maria Grazia, an art historian run the winery business with daughters Chiara and Teresa and produce around three million bottles of wine annually.

Cantine Lungarotti, Torgiano Rubesco RIserva [320x200].jpg

A visit to the Wine Museum and the Cantine are a must. Housed in the 17th century Palazzo Graziani-Baglioni, it has one of the most comprehensive collections of viticulture artifacts anywhere in the world – from its earliest stages in the Mediteranean to the Middle Ages and beyond – covering five thousand years of winemaking history. The theme of Bacchus runs through the collections which are housed in 20 rooms, featuring working tools, the ….of pleasure, fine prints, drawings, antiquarian books and graphics by Picasso and a glass by Jean Cocteau.

Wine Museum, Fondazione Lungarotti, Cocteau glass [320x200].jpg

The hotel offers a range of activities including truffle hunting, cookery classes, as well as scooter hire.

I have always wanted to go truffle hunting.  And it was not a disappointment.  No need to get up at the crack of dawn.  After a lazy breakfast we are driven to a nearby forest to meet our guide Matteo and his English setter Asia.

AliceandTruffles [320x200].JPG

The black traffles, known locally as “black gold” can fetch up to 150 Euros a kilo and the rarer white 3,000 Euros so the cost of buying your truffle dog – 4,000 euros in the case of Asia can pay dividends.

 

Asia was no disappointment.  She was driven by a reward of a cheese slice each time she found a truffle. Sniffing the ground and as if by magic she would start digging with her paws, finding truffle after truffle.  Standing on her back legs she put her front paws on Mateo’s hips to claim her reward.

 

As we walked in the woods we passed groups riding horses – this is also riding country. And back at the minibus we were greeted by table laden with a feast of antipasti and red wine – and it was only 10.30am! A bit early even for me but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do! It would be rude not to.

FACT BOX

Hotel Le Tre Vaselle, via Garibaldi, 48. Torgiana – Perugia. T: + 39 075 9880447
www.3vaselle.it Double rooms from  £194 ($297, €220), also look out for special packages and promotions on the website.

Cantine Giogio Lungarotti T: + 39 075 988661 

www.lungarotti.it information on wine tastings Sabrina@lungarotti.it

Wine and Olive and Oil MuseumsT: +39 075 9880200 
museovno@lungarotti.it

 

Getting to Torgiano

Alitalia to Rome www.alitalia.com

Ryanair to Perugia www.ryanair.com

 

Resveratrol can protect against diseases of ageing

image
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The plant-derived polyphenol resveratrol probably accounts for many of the beneficial effects of the “French Paradox”, in which high-fat diets fail to product devasting effects when red wine is consumed.

Most of resveratrol’s benefits have traditionally been ascribed to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Emerging research now shows that resveratrol also stimulates cells to behave as if they had been exposed to calorie restriction, the most powerful life-extending approach shown.

Through its action on potent cellular-regulating proteins called sirtuins, resveratrol mimics calorie restriction, stimulating healthy cells to survive and diseased cells to die in an organised fashion.

Resveratrol-mediated sirtuin activation is now understood to be responsible for many of the health benefits associaited with resveratrol supplementation, including protection from age-associated disorders like cardio-vascular disease, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.

Drug companies are rushing to exploit the new findings about resveratrol by turning it into a drug – but highly active supplements are already available, and the existing findings on the anti-ageing properties of this substance are all based on the use of this natural product.

Find more more at www.vitalityshopuk.com

Red wine retards ageing, concludes new research

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Red wine which contains an antioxidant called resveratrol can remove fat from the diet, new research into its affect on ageing has revealed.

This confirms the speculation over why the French can eat a fatty diet but still remain healthy.

Earlier studies have already shown that resveratrol, also found in grapes, pomegranates and other foods.

In the journal PLoS ONE, the new research explains that even low doses of the substance in the diet of older mice may protect the heart. It is thought that resveratrol behaves in the same way as caloric restriction, a diet containing a full range of nutrients but with half the calories of a typical diet, which extends lifespan and cuts the risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer.

The study was carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison compared the gene use of animals on a restricted diet with those fed small doses of resveratrol. The authors concluded that a glass of red wine or supplements containing even small amounts of the substance could cease the rate of heart ageing.

Win a case of Kendermanns summer wine and a Sony music player

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London: A delicious summer wine cellar and a Sony NWZ-A818 MP3 player up for grabs in our new competition.

Summer is fantastic for entertaining, whether you’re having a romantic alfresco dinner or a full on bbq party there’s nothing quite like enjoying the summer evenings with those nearest and dearest to you. Of course an essential ingredient of any enjoyable and relaxing evening is a fine wine that all your guests can enjoy.

Elixir has teamed up with award winning winemaker Kendermanns to offer you the chance to win a delicious summer wine cellar, which includes six bottles of each of their full flavoured Pinot Grigio, refreshing Dry Riesling and smooth red Dornfelder. And, as for the wine, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. You can save over a pound by picking up a bottle for Kendermanns Pinot Grigio at UK store Sainsburys for less than £4.00 until 20 May. A consistent international competition medal winner- this is a superb opportunity to stock up for summer with this easy drinking and versatile wine at an unbeatable price.

Kendermanns wants you have a summer you’ll never forget, so they are offering you a state of the art Sony NWZ-A818 MP3 player, Windows media compatible 8GB Walkman as well as a fantastic case of wine. That way you can test out your summer party play lists on the move.

This prize is a case of Kendermann’s summer wine containing six bottles of each of Pinot Grigio, Kendermanns Dry Riesling and Kendermanns Dornfelder and one state of the art Sony NWZ-A818 MP3 player, which is a Windows media compatible 8GB Walkman, which can easily drag and drop most popular music formats, video downloads and photos, and worth more than £130.00 each.

If you would like to take part please email us at readeroffer@elixirnews.com putting wine offer in the email header, plus your name and address. Please alaos answer the following question: Has Kendermanns Pinot Grigio won international awards?

Your name will be put into a draw for the prize. Please note that this competition closes on May 31, 2008. No cash eqivalent is being offered and the Editor’s decision is final.

For more information on Kendermann’s wines visit www.reh-kendermann.de

Recipes to watch the Baftas – from Rosemount

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Oversized socks, comfy tracksuit bottoms and something good on the box – all that’s needed now for the ultimate night in is a quick, easy and delicious recipe which will transform TV dinners once and for all and a glass of wine to finish off in style.

As the official wine of this year’s star studded BAFTA TV Awards, leading Australian wine Rosemount has teamed up with food writer and TV cook Jo Pratt to offer just this – three deliciously mouth watering recipes to tempt you back onto the couch for a much needed night in. So get ready to warm up with some cosy food, snuggle down and watch the awards from the comfort of your own home.

Acclaimed chef Jo Pratt admits that sometimes some of the best food can be the simplest: “There is a great pressure these days for people to produce fussier and more complex dishes but often it is the easiest and most straight forward recipes that are still winners! Of course it is always fun to put your chef’s hat on once in a while but when it comes to a relaxing night in the majority of us prefer fresh ingredients, minimum effort and maximum taste!”

And if you are looking for a top tipple to complete the ultimate TV dinner night in package then Rosemount’s James Craig-Wood is on board to ensure there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

‘OH SO SIMPLE’ CHICKEN, LEEK AND HAM PIES

This is for those times when you rush through the supermarket on your way home and get a whiff of roasting chickens from the rotisserie counter.
Perhaps you usually don’t get one because you can’t be bothered to do all the trimmings – roast potatoes, gravy and veggies – or because you feel like something more substantial than a hot chicken sandwich or salad. So why not make use of one to fill a puff pastry-topped pie that will take no time at all to put together.

Takes about 35 minutes to make

makes one large or four individual pies

• 25g butter

• 2 small–medium leeks, thinly sliced

• 1 teaspoon thyme leaves

• 100ml sherry or white wine

• 200ml double cream

• 1 large ready-roasted chicken

• 150–200g piece of ham, cut into bite-sized chunks

• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

• 100ml chicken stock

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, to glaze

• 375g ready-rolled puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/gas 6.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gently cook the leek and thyme leaves until the leek has softened. Increase the heat, pour in the sherry and cream and bubble for a couple of minutes to thicken a little.

Take the chicken meat off the bone and tear into chunks or strips. Add to the pan with the ham, mustard and chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Spoon into one large or four individual pie dishes. Brush the rim of each dish with the egg wash, cut the pastry into four (or leave whole if you are doing one large pie) and sit on top. Press the edges down well to seal and trim off any excess pastry. Cut a small slit in the top to let any steam escape and brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are golden and the sauce begins to ooze out of the dishes. Serve straight away.

PS…

If you can’t get a ready-roasted chicken, then you can cook chopped breast or leg meat in the pan before adding the leek.

Recommended wine: Diamond Label Chardonnay – The Chardonnay is a classic match for chicken dishes, the crisp acidity and ripe fruitiness will complement the creamy sauce.

CORNER SHOP CURRY

Just about everyone has a corner shop within walking distance. They’re great in an emergency because they stock all sorts of useful ingredients.
This curry is so lovely it’s hard to believe it’s made from such basic everyday ingredients. The vegetables I have suggested are just a guide, so if your corner shop doesn’t have some of them, just change the selection to suit whatever you can find.

takes about 50 minutes to make (most of which is cooking time)

serves four

• 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

• 1 onion, chopped

• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

• 2–3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

• 2 carrots, cut into chunks

• 1 green or red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

• 3 tablespoons mild, medium or hot curry powder

• 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

• 200ml vegetable stock

• juice of 1/2 lemon

• 400g tin of chickpeas, drained

• 4 tablespoons natural yoghurt or cream

• sea salt

Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until it has softened.
Add the garlic, potato, carrot, pepper and curry powder. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are just starting to soften and become golden.
Stir in the tomatoes, stock and lemon juice, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes for the chickpeas to heat through.

By now the vegetables should be tender and the sauce thick. Stir in the yoghurt or cream and season with salt. Serve with rice, naan bread or whatever you fancy.

PS…

If your corner shop sells it, coconut milk or coconut cream can be used instead of the natural yoghurt or cream, while a small tin of drained pineapple chunks adds a delicious fruity flavour.

The curry also benefits from a few fresh herbs, so if you have any coriander or parsley, stir it into the curry at the end.

Recommended wine: Diamond Label Shiraz – The spiciness and intense dark fruit flavours of the Diamond Label Shiraz are a great match for curries

OVEN-BAKED SALMON AND PEA RISOTTO

Are you in the mood for a risotto, but quite frankly can’t be bothered to stand and stir it for twenty minutes? Well, this is a sort of cheat’s risotto that could be perfect for you. It also doubles up as a storecupboard saviour because it uses mostly storecupboard ingredients, making it perfect for an easy-to-prepare, last-minute dinner emergency.

takes about 40 minutes to make

serves four

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 onion, chopped

• 300g risotto rice

• 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

• grated zest of 1 lemon

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 300g tin of mushy peas (yes, you did read that right!)

• 400g tin of pink or red salmon, drained and large bones removed

• 2 tablespoons chopped dill, mint, chives, basil or parsley (or a
mixture of a few)

• 50g butter

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/gas 6.

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof dish or casserole and gently fry the onion until softened. Stir in the rice, stock and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

By now the rice should be tender. The risotto might seem quite runny, but that’s fine at this stage. Stir in the mushy peas and salmon and return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Take the risotto out of the oven and mix in the herbs and butter. Stir for about 2 minutes to thicken the risotto before serving.

PS…

For an extra creamy finish, stir in a couple of spoonfuls of mascarpone or cream cheese with the butter

Recommended wine: Diamond Cellars Semillon Chardonnay – The citrus fruit characters which Semillon is known for go well with salmon and will bring out the lemon zest and the body and richness which the Chardonnay adds will balance the richness of the creamy risotto

So rustle up one of these delicious dishes, grab a glass of Rosemount wine and prepare to indulge yourself in front of the TV. Rosemount wine has not only seen the introduction of screw caps across the entire range but the brand has gone back to its distinctive style of fresh bright wines and superior wine quality with a focus on intense fruit flavours.

Rosemount wines are available at your local supermarket. The Diamond Cellars range start from £6.49 and the Diamond Label range £7.99. For more information on the range visit www.rosemountestate.co.uk or call 020 8843 8411.

“Recipes from IN THE MOOD FOR FOOD by Jo Pratt published by Michael Joseph at £14.99. Recipes and text copyright © Jo Pratt 2006. Photographs copyright © Gus Filgate 2006. www.penguin.co.uk

Live La Dolce Vita – visit the Viva Italia Festival London

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Ahh Italy, they really do have the best of everything. Fabulous fashion, top designers, fast cars, beautiful weather and of course delicious cuisine The La Dolce Vita with Viva Italia festival, coming to London’s Olympic exhibition centre from the 13th-16th of March is a celebration of all things Italian and will give you an insight into just how inspirational Italy is.

So if you fancy adding some Italian chic to your wardrobe, learning the secrets to the mouth watering Mediterranean diet & how to add a touch of Italian flair to your lifestyle then why not come along to experience the true taste of Italy?

Check out this video featuring Italy’s very own Aldo Zilli to see what’s in store La Dolce Vita

Red wine pill may be cure for diabetes

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San Francisco: Resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, may cure the symptoms of adult onset diabetes, according to the results of a new trial of a drug based on this ingredient.

The American company, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, says the trial demonstrates the drug is safe and cuts blood glucose levels, which are not controlled in diabetics, in results presented today at the 26th Annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The findings could lead to a new drug to control Type 2 Diabetes which now affects millions and the number continues to grow.

The 28-day study of pills to deliver a control, 2.5 gram or five grams of what it called SRT501 each to roughly 30 patients with Type 2 Diabetes in India.

The drug is also being tested on 130 patients in a Phase 2 study in combination with metformin, a drug therapy for Type 2 Diabetes, and results are expected later this year. Any anti-ageing effects have yet to be established.

The drug targets an enzyme called SIRT1, from the sirtuin family of enzymes which control the ageing process. The new drug, SRT501 acts by increasing the activity of the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of our cells, and lowering levels of glucose in the blood and improving insulin sensitivity.

Gastromonic nirvana at the Real Food Festival

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Learn about how Trappist monasteries produce beer, sample rare European cured meats, including prosciutto from the Lombardian Alps in the far north of Italy. Try speciality sausage from the province of Ragusa in Sicily. Explore honey-based beverages, such as traditional aged Polish mead made from honey and sweet Ethiopian honey beer and more at the Real Food Festival in London this April.

Challenge the senses with Scotland’s best cask aged whiskies under the guidance of whisky expert Peter Gibson and meet the Chedderman, Tom Calver of Westcombe Dairy in Somerset, to hear about how his farm is protecting its farming heritage and the traditional methods of cheese production. Come along to a delicious magazine Taste Workshop at the Real Food Festival at London’s Earls Court 24-27 April.

Real Food will showcase hundreds of the most passionate producers that have been handpicked by a careful Selection Committee and subsidised to be there. One of the major highlights of the festival will be delicious magazine Taste Workshops, created by eco-gastronomes Clodagh McKenna and Sebastiano Sardo from Foodiscovery, where you can meet producers personally and take part in tutored tastings which will leave your toes tingling! There will be over 85 different delicious magazine Taste Workshops at the festival which have been categorised into distinct groups including: Meet the Producer, Discover Europe, Undiscovered Food and Gastronomic Nirvana.

Meet the Producer:

Meet the Producer workshops will include British cheese makers speaking of the challenges of producing raw milk cheese in a pasteurized world, Italian winemakers speaking of the impact of the climate and geography of their territorio on their product’s flavours and British farmers presenting sustainably-produced meat from heritage breeds.

Highlights will include:

Patchwork PatésThe Incredible Success of Patchwork Patés featuring Margaret Carter: In 1982, Margaret Carter, divorced with three children to raise, began making paté in her kitchen. Her start up costs were £9.00. Today, Patchwork produces eight award winning patés and is one of the UK’s top paté producers. Despite the commercial success the patés are still hand made using Margaret’s original recipes with no additives or preservatives. Come and meet Margaret Carter and hear the story of how she made it happen.

The Cocoa Farm – Meet the Chocolate Lovers. The Cocoa Farm (the only one in Australia) is run by a group of people so passionate about truly great chocolate they grow their own cocoa beans and make it themselves. They are obsessed with sourcing only the finest ingredients and treat them gently, interfering in the process as little as possible.

Discover Europe:This gastronomic tour of farmers, growers and artisan producers will take us from the tip of Italy to the temperate South of Sweden, sampling and learning about the best of artisans’ regional produce. Discover Europe workshops include:

Portuguese Sheep-milk cheeses paired with aged Port: The Iberian peninsula is noted for producing some of the world’s greatest sheep’s milk cheeses and the Portuguese gourmet cheeses can certainly hold their own with their Spanish cousins. Come and try the salty, fruity Quieijo de Evora, matured for at least sixty days; the strong earthy Azeitao, or the semi hard Queijo de Nisa which uses thistle flower for coagulation. These Portuguese greats will be paired with aged Port wines from the Douro’s best vintners.

Undiscovered Foods: The aim of this workshop is to turn the spotlight on food, sourced from all over Europe which is rarely found outside the region it is produced in. Sampling and discussing products as diverse as Hebriddean cheeses, rare breed air dried beef, small independent wine producers, honey made from bees kept on London roof tops or smoked tuna from Connemara. Undiscovered Foods workshops will include:

California Charcuterie & Artisan Beers: The New World’s Mediterranean – the long Pacific coast stretching along California into Mexico – is home to a climate that favours fruit trees and vegetable crops originating in Southern Europe. Today, Northern California is also proving to be a favourable climate for some of the artisan foodways native to Europe.

Gastronomic NirvanaIn Gastronomic Nirvana workshops we’ll attempt to define how and why certain foods have earned the gourmand’s devotion and gold plated reputations: a teaspoon of the purest caviar followed by a mouthful of melting crème fraiche, aged Spanish Iberico ham made from acorn-fed pork, or a crumbling shard of 3-year old Grana Padano cheese with a chaser of 25 year aged Aceto Balsamico di Modena. Gastronomic Nirvana workshops include:

The Ultimate Cure: an opportunity to taste two of the finest cured meats in the world, Culatello and Iberico ham. You will hear the history of these two great cured meats and learn about the traditional methods of production. Iberico ham, from Northern Spain, has a nutty flavour from the acorns the black pigs are fed on and Culatello, from the Po valley in Italy, is a sweet, intense and clean tasting ham.

Oyster Haven: In this workshop we compare the flavours of the finest French oysters; flavourful Belon oysters from Brittany; Marennes from the Charentais coast and Fines De Claire so called for their incredible clarity. The oysters will be coupled with expertly chosen champagnes or chilled Muscadet. This will be a day of pure indulgence for any serious gastronome …or seducer.

To find out more information on the Real Food Festival or to purchase tickets please call our hotline 0870 912 0831 or visit www.realfoodfestival.co.uk

The Real Food Festival is unique because:

A Selection Committee chaired by Lyndon Gee, former director of Slow Food UK, will select producers to ensure a high degree of integrity and quality for the event.
Small producers are being subsidised to participate, offering them a real opportunity to grow and develop their business thanks to our generous sustainers which include Whole Foods Market, Tyrells, Grana Padano and Daylesford Organics.

The festival will showcase hundreds of producers that have never been seen before at any large scale food and drink event, offering an unprecedented variety of great quality produce that has made the grade in terms of taste, provenance and sustainability.
The Real Food Festival is both a trade and consumer event, giving stakeholders the chance to reach both audiences.
Many of the producers will have not been seen before making Real Food a festival of discovery celebrating provenance, sustainability, quality and integrity in food and food producers.

The visitor experience will include:

The Food Market – the biggest Farmers Market the UK’s ever seen. The Wine Fair – Over 100 small producers of quality wines will be selected to offer their wines for tasting and to buy. Delicious magazine Taste Workshops – created by Clodagh McKenna and Sebastiano Sardo from Food Discovery, you can meet the producer personally and have tutored tastings on the things you love or always wanted to try. Cookery School – Our sustainable food guru, Barny Haughton, from Bordeaux Quay, Bristol, will be running a Cookery School where you can learn to make the simplest things like a loaf of bread. Chefs’ Theatre – The Chefs’ Theatre will stimulate the taste buds with presentations from some of the UK’s top chefs using seasonal and fresh produce to prepare regional dishes. Restaurants – A small selection of the UK’s most exciting and forward-thinking restaurants will serve signature dishes. Gala Night – A high profile Gala launch night will be organised for Thursday evening, 24 April 2008. Dinner Dates – Why stop at the event? Head to one of London’s Dinner Date restaurants and eat from a menu specially prepared for the Real Food Festival.

Real Food Festival, London 24-27 April

London: We’ve hand-picked the very best produce and ingredients that we could find to bring you the biggest Farmers Market in the country and you, being as passionate about produce as we are, should come and meet some of the best producers, taste their delectable produce, learn from them and challenge your tastebuds.

Over 500 producers will gather at Earls Court 24-7 April 2008 to celebrate food that is good, clean and fair. With all the talk about the integrity, quality, provenance & sustainability of food in the UK and around the world, we thought it would be a great idea to show you the choices that are out there.

The big difference with the Real Food Festival is that the producers that are hand picked to attend are also heavily subsidised to exhibit. This means that you will get the opportunity to meet some of the best and smallest producers in the world and eat some of the most fabulous food that will leave your mouth watering and your toes tingling!

As well as the amazing producers, you will also be able to learn how to bake bread with food guru Barny Haughton of Bristol’s renowned Bordeaux Quay, taste wines with the maker, challenge yourself in a food debate, tantalise your tastebuds in a taste workshops, meet some pigs, follow a produce trail or just chill on a hay bale and listen to a farmers story. Real Food is passionate not preachy, the integrity of the festival will challenge the way most of us think about food on a day to day basis and will inspire a wide audience to change their eating habits in favour of a more sustainable way of eating and enjoying produce.

The Festival’s Taste workshops will teach you all sorts of things from the differences between cows and goats milk to wheat and malt beers. The workshops provide the ultimate test for your taste buds, created by eco-gastronomes Clodagh McKenna and Sebastiano Sardo of Foodiscovery.

The Real Food Festival is not just a London event. We have just returned from a gastronomic road trip around the country where we have been meeting local producers, from Jersey to Orkney. You will be able to meet the people who reared the pigs, planted the carrots, milked the cows and crushed the grapes: you can taste their produce, learn about it and take it home.

Eco Icons such as Zac Goldsmith, fully support our festival, ‘The way we eat, what we eat, where our food comes from, these are central issues. The Real Food Festival will change the way we think about food and give producers and consumers an opportunity to meet and share their passion for authentic quality produce’.

We promise to celebrate the diversity of modern artisan food, from producer to plate. Visitors will be able to meet and speak to 500 hand-picked producers from Britain and the world.

Visit our website The Real Food Festival to get updates of our journey. Tickets which can be bought online cost £15.

UK Government reviews health guidelines for alcohol

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London: ONE in four women in the UK is drinking more than is recommended following a Government revision of the alcohol unit system.

The new guidelines have been issued because many drinks and particularly wine are higher now in alcohol than at the time the unit rules were created.

According to the UK Government’s Office of National Statistics, a glass of wine which is officially classified as one unit should now be counted as two.

The Government has highlighted the problem with wine because it forms, on average, 40% of a women’s intake of alcohol. This compares to less than 20 percent for a man.

It is estimated that about 14 percent of women, aged between 14 and retirement age, are drinking too many units because they are calculating using the old method. Using the new method this dramatically increased to 25 per cent.

Manyof those drinking too much as high income earners and professionals. An average senior female manager in a large company is now drinking 15.2 units of alcohol a week.

Among men, a third over the age of 25 are now thought to be drinking more than Health Department recommended safe levels of 21 units a week.

The new rules replace those created in 1978 which have been outdated by bars serving ever larger glasses of wine with ever higher alcohol levels.

Pub wine glasses used to hold 125 millilitres, but now many serve 175 or 250 are common. In addition, thirty years ago many wines only had nine per cent alcohol. Today’s many wines are 14 per cent and even higher. Many beers and lagers have also increased in strength in recent years.

Win a case of summer rosé from Threshers

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Every year needs a sexy signature cocktail to clutch at all the best parties – for this year’s Indian summer it’s the Reverse Martini. The core ingredient of this delectable tongue tantaliser, is the limited edition Couture rosé wine, exclusive to Threshers. Set to be the drink-on-ice tipple of choice for 2007.

To make the Reverse just pour some Stormhoek Couture over some ice. Add some raspberry vodka. Add some fresh raspberries or strawberries and lemon. Maybe add a sprig of mint. Voila! You now have the Reverse Martini, the perfect drink for summer.

As it is made specifically to be drunk over ice (in order not to dilute – like regular wine would), this new wine offers many new ways to drink rosé. If you like the sound of mixing up a few cocktails with an amazing rosé as the base, then try serving the finished article in a martini glass with a pink sugar frosting – it looks delicious as well as tasting great! For the less adventurous, try the simple but thirst-quenchingly delightful tumbler with big blocks of ice and a slice of lemon! Whether it’s served with pureed fruit, or a hint of mint, make sure that you don’t forget that ice.

Wine purists may balk at the idea of Rosé being drunk in any way other than a normal wine glass and without ice. But for the real world that most of us have to live in, their opinion is increasingly irrelevant. Whatever. This “mash-up” way of enjoying wine has long been the norm in South Africa; we simply thought it would be a good idea to export the idea to the rest of the planet.

To celebrate the launch of the new rosé, we have teamed up with Stormhoek Couture to offer you the perfect pink party set. All you have to do to grab this swag, is answer this simple question. To celebrate the launch of the new rosé, we have teamed up with Stormhoek Couture to offer you the perfect pink party set. All you have to do to grab this swag is answer this simple question.

What colour is rosé wine?
a) red
b) pink
c) white

Prize: A case of 12 bottles of Stormhoek Couture rosé wine and 2 delux ice buckets

To enter the competition send your answer by email to readeroffer@elixirnews.com and put in the title Wine Offer. Competition closes 21 September 2007. It is only open to adults age 18 and over.

No cash equivalent is being offered and the Editor’s decision is final.

To find out more about wines at Thresher’swww.threshergroup.com

Wine drinkers live longest, says new research from Finland

Helsinki: Wine drinkers are healthier than drinkers of beer and spirits, according to new research conducted on men living in Finland. That’s not too much of a surprise considering the lifestyles associated with each of the beverage types, but the study also suggested that moderate consumption of wine may contribute to a better, longer life.

Over the course of the nearly three-decade study, wine drinkers had a lower mortality rate than drinkers of other alcoholic beverages. The study, published in the February 2007 issue of the Journals of Gerontology, sought to determine if one’s drinking habits affected longevity when measured over a long period of time.

The study was led by Timo Strandberg, a researcher at the University of Oulu, Finland. His subjects, all male residents of Finland, were all born between 1919 and 1934 and all had health checkups at the Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki during the 1960s and 1970s. The men had their alcohol intake recorded during these examinations and were asked how they felt about their health. All of the men also had “leading positions” in private companies, which the scientists concluded came with some of the highest incomes in Finland (although exact amounts were not made available).

“This setting,” the study authors wrote, “offers a clearer test for the effects of alcoholic beverages because the influence of social class on beverage preference is decreased.”

By tracking down the men in 1974 and repeating the exam of them in 1985 and again in 2000, the scientists hoped to determine if alcohol consumption is related to both the quality–as well as the length–of life.

At the first examination, in 1974, 2,468 men reported if they preferred wine, beer or spirits, or if they didn’t drink, or if they had no particular favorite alcoholic beverage. By the time of the second stage of the study, in 1985, only 1,369 men were available to be reassessed. Some dropped out of the study, some changed alcohol habits and 93 of the men had died. There was another examination in 2000, and by the time of the final calculations, in 2002, the scientists were left with a pool of 1,127 men who consumed an average of three drinks a day or less, and who also did not change their drinking preferences over the course of the study.

“Preference of wine was associated with decreased mortality when compared with preference for beer or spirits over a follow-up of 29 years,” the scientists reported. Wine drinkers had a 34 percent lower rate of mortality, when compared to spirits drinkers, and beer drinkers had a 9 percent lower rate compared to spirits drinkers.

Wine drinkers were also in better health at the end of the study and had performed better on mental health tests. However, wine drinkers also tended to exercise more and smoke less, which leaves the researchers still with the possibility that wine is simply one piece of the happy, long-life puzzle, as opposed to a deciding factor.

“Is it the drinker rather than drink characteristics, as healthier men preferred wine?” asked Strandberg of the results. “That is what is important. The same applies for differences between beer and spirit drinkers,” he added. “Spirit preferrers may lead a more dangerous life, with more risk factors, and all hidden aspects may not be culled in an epidemiologic study.”

Less educated women binge drink when they are older

London: Well-educated young women are more likely to binge drink, says a new study from the UK’s Institute of Child Health.

It also found that women who have children early and have fewer qualifications tend to take up drinking heavily in their 40s.

They concluded that the difference in drinking habits was down to having children. Older women without qualifications were twice as likely to binge drink – that it consume ten or more units of alcohol at any one time – than their better educated counterparts.

The habits of 11,500 British men and women born during one week in March 1958 were monitored on how much they drank. They were monitored and surveyed about how much and how often they drank at the ages of 23, 33 and 42.

Red wine may act to control diabetes

New York: The longevity ingredient, resveratrol, which is found in red wine and grapes can offset some of the symptoms of overeating.

According to researchers at the National Institute on Ageing at Harvard Medical School resveratrol lowers blood sugar (glucose) and assists both liver and heart function.

Previous studies have already shown that resveratrol slows down the ageing process in various non-mammals.

In this new study published in the journal Nature , the scientists wanted to see what the effects of resveratrol might be on mammals.

They had lab rats which were fed 60% calories coming from fat. The rats were obese, had insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. The rats were split into two test groups. One group continued to eat 60% of calories from fat, while the other group had the same diet, but with resveratrol added to it.

The rats receiving resveratrol had lower glucose levels, their hearts became healthier, as did their liver tissue. The scientists also noticed that the rats that consumed resveratrol were more nimble on their feet, compared to the other group.

Even though the resveratrol-fed mice did not lose any weight, their health became as good as that of a mouse on a normal diet. Although the non-resveratrol fed mice continued to have a short lifespan, the resveratrol-fed mice lived as long as mice on a normal diet. It is thought that resveratrol activates SIRT1, a gene associated with longevity.

If this outcome was repeated in humans resveratrol could help prevent obese people from developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and some other illnesses, say the researchers.

Nurse can I see the wine list?

image

London: UK hospitals are used to being criticised for the food and drink they serve. However, at the renowned King Edward VII’s private hospital (pictured right) in London patients benefit from the introduction of a fine wine list on a par with the finest restaurants.

Berry Bros. & Rudd, the fine wine merchants in St. James’s Street, London has developed a list of fine wines and Champagnes to compliment the sophisticated menus on offer to patients at King Edward VII’s Hospital.

King Edward’s chief executive Clive Bath says:

“It made sense to us that the most exclusive private hospital in London should get together with London’s best wine merchant to provide our patients with a serious choice of wines. And of course good wine drunk in moderation has been shown to have health giving properties.”

Simon Berry, chairman of Berry Bros. & Rudd says:

“For over 300 years, Berrys’ has supplied fine wine to wine lovers, royal families, actors, celebrities and politicians. It seems entirely appropriate that patients recovering from illness or an operation should be able to benefit from the pleasure of fine wine too.”

This isn’t the first time Berrys’ has supplied wine to the King Edward VII’s Hospital. The hospital’s operating theatre entry for 11 May 1917 recorded that surgeon Mr Clayton Green and his anaesthetist Dr Powell used Berrys’ Champagne as an anaesthetic during an operation. The procedure investigated a haemorrhage, following amputation of the right arm of a young Second Lieutenant of the Essex Regiment wounded in France.

Patient care has indeed come a long way since 1917!

Red wine fights gum disease

Quebec: Chemicals in red wine may help reduce gum disease, scientists at the Universite de Laval have discovered.

The reason is that red wine contains polyphenols, chemicals which give red wine its colour, help reduce the periodontitis, the damaging disease which attacks the gums and bone surrounding teeth.

It is estimated that 65 per cent of adults aged over 50 and 15 of younger people have the disease which in its worst form leads to tooth loss.

It is caused by a combination of bacteria and free radicals – harmful oxygen molecules – in the mouth. When you drink red wine, the polyphenols interfere with this process and can reduce damage to the gums, scientists say. In laboratory tests, polyphenols were found to combine with the free radicals and render them harmless.

The research by scientists from Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada, is published in the latest edition of the U.S. Journal of Dental Research.

Lead researcher Dr Vanessa Houde presented the findings at the American Association for Dental Research in Orlando, Florida, yesterday.

Previous research has discovered that red wine has many health-giving properties.

Last October, researchers found drinking it may help to ward off lung cancer. UK doctors have even recommended red wine to heart-attack patients, after evidence emerged of its benefits for the cardiovascular system.

Scientists are also developing a pill which they hope will harness the healthy anti-oxidant properties of red wine without the alcohol.

Polyphenols are also found in green tea, fresh fruit and vegetables, which have all been found to lower the risks of cancer and heart disease.

The chemicals are thought to help get rid of free radicals which are believed to trigger the illnesses.

Polyphenols are also known to hamper the inflammatory process which leads the hardening of the arteries and other disorders.

The Wine Road to Longevity

London: The fermentation of wine is probably the oldest biotech process invented by man, carried out for the first time between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic age, says Dr Giovanni Scapagnini, who will speak on the properties of red wine at Anti-Ageing Conference London.

So, in one way, it has accompanied, and potentially influenced, human biological and social evolution throughout the last 10 millenniums. The benefits of moderate wine consumption on health have been undisputed since antiquity, when it was considered the elixir of the Gods, and a panacea for body and soul. Recently, this has been confirmed by numerous epidemiological studies particularly in relation to Mediterranean populations, where the incidence of coronary heart disease is lower than in other developed countries.

In vitro and in vivo experimental research now supports the biological plausibility of red wine in the prevention of arteriosclerosis and thrombosis. Red wine, is in fact, a rich source of polyphenols, the natural substances endowed with potent antioxidative and chemo preventive properties. Red wine may promote the maintenance of healthy veins and inhibit atherosclerotic plaque formation. These polyphenols such as anthocyanins protect the cardiovascular system from bad fats at the same time as offering protection from inflammation..

Resveratrol is probably the best known antioxidant contained in red wine and possesses a wide range of biological and pharmacological properties. Besides its potential role as a cardio protective agent, it has also shown to function as a cancer chemo preventive agent, modulating various proteins linked with cellular proliferation and carcinogenesis. Furthermore it has recently shown its ability to activate genomic machinery directly linked with lifespan improvement.

There is mounting evidence that polyphenols are associated with increased longevity and wellbeing. All these studies give scientific strength to the concept that dietary nutrients, such as those from red wine, can influence the balance between healthy and disease states and prevent degenerative age related pathologies, such as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Although further studies are required to really understand the impact of wine on human health and the claim that wine is a long life elixir, there are a large body of evidences to sustain that moderate wine consumption represent an attractive dietary anti-aging strategy.

Dr Scapagnini will speak at Anti Ageing Conference London on Saturday 16 September.
About Dr Giovanni Scapagnini, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Italian National Research Council, Catania, Italy
Assistant Professor, Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia University, Rockville (MD), USA
Visiting Professor, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore (MD), USA
Dr. Scapagnini attended the University of Catania School of Medicine and Surgery in Catania, Italy and graduated in 1992 with a medical degree. He continued his education by obtaining a Ph.D. in Neurobiology also from the University of Catania in 2000. Since completing his education, Dr. Scapagnini has conducted research with the Institute of Pharmacology School of Medicine associated with the University of Catania and has worked as a Visiting Scientist with Department of Surgical Research, Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research, Harrow, UK in 1999, and with Laboratory of Adaptive Systems, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD, USA in 2000. Dr. Scapagnini currently holds two academic positions as Assistant Professor with the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Italian National Research Council and with Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia University. He has recently obtained a visiting professorship with the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, where he is in charge of a research project on HIV dementia. He is also the scientific director of the “Research & Progress” foundation, founded by Dr Robert C. Gallo. He is author of 35 indexed scientific papers and several book chapters. His fields of research regard gene expression profiles of cellular stress response and biology and molecular mechanisms of brain aging and nerurodegenerative disorders. In particular he has studied the anti-aging activities of several nutraceuticals present in the Mediterranean diet.

The 3rd AACL, which is being held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London from the 15-17 September 2006 is the only forum in the UK where both professionals and lay persons can learn about the latest advances in medicine and science.
At AACL delegates will hear from scientists and physicians on the latest medical advances, including what some may consider controversial, to the proven and new treatments for the diseases of ageing, as well as cosmetic and dental health, optimum nutrition, skin health, hormones, mind/body health and the latest developments in stem cell treatments.
Among our international panel of speakers are Dr Jennifer Krup MD ABAAM, a hormone specialist who is HB Health’s medical advisor; Dentist Brian Halvorsen BDS. LDS. RCS. FRSH, renowned for his work on toxicity problems in dentistry and holistic dental care; nutritionist and author Patrick Holford, who has examined the role diet plays in ageing; and Dr Bill Cham PhD, whose research into the use of plant extracts in skin cancer remission has produced new treatments for this disease.
Other speakers who have driven the global debate on anti-ageing medicine include Dr Robert Goldman, Chairman, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and Dr Ronald Klatz, Founding President, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine; Professor Imre Zs-Nagy, Professor John Ionescu and Dr Michael Klentze.
Delegates receive the following:
• A high-quality bound conference manual including speaker presentations and biographical materials
• Buffet lunch on all three days
• Refreshments including cocktail reception
• The opportunity to see the latest anti-ageing products in the exhibition area
This prestigious scientific event will be introduced by Heather Bird-Tchenguiz MBA, Chairperson, AACL; Founder and President of HB Health; Director of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine; Board Member, European Society of Anti-Aging Medicine and Director, British Society of Anti-Ageing Medicine.

The speaker programme for Anti-Ageing London 2006 is as follows:
Friday, 15 September – Regenerative and Preventative Medicine

Heather Bird-Tchenguiz MBA: Welcome
Dr Marco Traub PhD: Introduction
Professor Shimon Slavin: Stem cells for the treatment of malignant and non-malignant diseases and for tissue repair
Prof Larry Benowitz: Prospectives on stem cell differentiation in neurosurgery
Prof Geoffrey Raisman: Clinical application of olfactory cells in spinal cord injury
Prof David Naor PhD: Involvement of CD 44 in stem cell differentiation
Prof Stefan Krauss PhD: Forbrain development and neural cell damage
Dr Antigoni Ekonomou: Lecture
Prof Dame Julia Polak: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
Prof Michal Schwartz: Autoimmunity, microglia, adult stem cells, neurogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases
Prof Tomas Ekstrom: Epigentics principles
Dr Miomir Knecevic: Commercialisation of Stem Cell Research
Dr Ralf Tönjes PhD: Stem Cell signatures as a tool for quality control of Innovative medicinal products
Andreas Junge MBA: Medical Knowledge on the internet – patient-related information – major mistakes and recent problems
Dr Marco Traub: Symposium Overview

Saturday, 16 September
Heather Bird-Tchenguiz MBA: Welcome
Professor Dr Imre Zs-Nazy: The Theories of Ageing
Dr Ben Pfeifer MD PhD: Phytonutrient Therapy and Immune System Support for Patients with Hormone-Refractory Prostate Cancer
Dr Mark Babizhayev: Human Cataracts – the role of Lipid Peroxidation and the efficacy of N-acetyl carnosine as a treatment
Dr Robert Goldman MD PhD FAASP DO FAOASM: Maximum Human Performance with Anti-Ageing Therapeutics
Dr Jennifer Krup MD ABAAM: HRT in Women – questions, answers and more questions
Dr Brian Halvorsen: Holistic Dentistry – Advances with an emphasis on chelation and preventative health care
Dr Alex Collie PhD: Measuring your Cognitive Age
Prof John Ionescu PhD: New strategies to slow down the photoageing of human skin
Sarah Noble LicAc, MBAcC, MIMgt, MInstD: The Art & Science of Spa Success – How to open a holistic spa: integrating services into your clinic for profitability
Patrick Holford BSc DipION FBant- 5 Proven Alzheimer;s prevention steps
Prof Giovanni Scapagnini MD PhD: Wine Road to Longevity: all the anti-ageing properties of red wine

Sunday, 17 September

Dr Julian Kenyon: Photodynamic and Sonodynamic Therapy – an important adjunct to anti-ageing strategies
Dr Deepak Chopra: The Soul of Healing – Ten Ways to Reverse Biological Aging
Dr Ron Klatz:New Horizons for the clinical specialty of Anti-Aging Medicine: the future with Biomedical Technologies.
Dr Paul Clayton: Alzheimer’s Disease: Pharmaco-nutritional strategies to maintain the ageing brain
Dr Michael Klentze MD PhD ABAAM: New approaches for safe male Male Hormone Replacement therapy
Dr Bill Cham PhD: Advances in the eradication of skin cancer
Dr Eric Braverman, MD: Sub clinical Hyperparathyroidism: A precursor of Osteoporosis and Dementia?

The programme may be subject to change
Full details of the speaker programme and speaker biographies can be viewed at www.antiageingconference.com
There are various categories of registration for this event:
Full registration £350;
Day 1 Only £200;
Day 2 only £200;
Day 3 £200.

Book on-line on the registration page at www.antiageingconference.com Membership of certain medical societies may qualify for a discount. Further information may also be requested from conference@antiageingconference.com
Telephone: +44 (0)20 75816962
The events sponsors and supporters include HB Health, the British Society of Anti-Ageing Medicine; the European Society of Anti-Aging Medicine; the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and The Trans European Stem Cell Therapy Consortium.

Anti Ageing Conference London
PO Box 50622
London SW6 2YP
United Kingdom
Tel : +44 (0) 20 7581 6962
Fax : +44 (0) 20 7589 1273

Cranberry has more antioxidants than red wine

London: Research just published in The British Journal of Nutrition reveals that drinking a glass of light cranberry juice every day boosts good cholesterol and shields the heart with its unique antioxidant power.

Scientists have found the refreshing fruit juice delivers a dual benefit to boost heart health and has similar benefits to red wine. A clinical study by researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, shows daily consumption of light cranberry juice increases the amount of “good” cholesterol in the body by 8% as well as providing strong antioxidant protection against bad cholesterol, a major cause of heart disease.

The findings add more benefits to long standing research already associated with cranberry juice including its ability to ward off urinary tract infections and potentially cut the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.

This latest study indicates that cranberry juice improves circulation by increasing the level of high density lipoproteins (HDL), or good cholesterol, which carries fatty particles in the blood stream away from the heart.

Critical to the study was the product used in the research: Ocean Spray Cranberry Classic Light, a low sugar, high concentration (25%) cranberry juice drink.

Dr Charles Couillard, lead researcher of the study and a member of the Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods at Laval University said: “We found that by consuming a daily glass of light cranberry juice, the good cholesterol found in blood increased.”

He added: “An increase in HDL cholesterol is a sign that the arteries are clearing up the accumulated cholesterol,which is positive for heart health.The best way to prevent chronic disease is to adopt an active lifestyle, as well as better nutritional habits. Now drinking a glass of cranberry juice on a daily basis is certainly a good nutritional habit to adopt, but to maximise the benefits of drinking cranberry juice, you will need to get more active and also eat less fat.”

Another recent laboratory study at the William Harvey ResearchInstitute at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London found that a serving of cranberry juice each day could be as good for the heart as red wine.

Scientists tested cranberry juice drink, light cranberry juice drink (both at 25% concentrations), a California merlot and an Argentine cabernet sauvignon and found an average serving of cranberry juice drink was equivalent to a glass of red wine in their relative potential to prevent atherosclerosis – a condition that leads to thickening of the arteries and can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Reference: Favourable impact of low-calorie cranberry juice consumption on plasmaHDL-chloesterol concentration in men, British Journal of Nutrition (2006), 96, 357-364 Notes to Editors: Laval University conducted a 12 week study, looked at 30 men aged 18-70 who were slightly overweight, had an elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) level, were not taking medication and were given Ocean Spray Light Cranberry Cocktail (UK equivalent is Cranberry Classic Light) Heart disease is Britain’s biggest killer with 125,000 deaths a year. According to the British Heart Foundation nearly half of all deaths from coronary heart disease in the UK are due to raised cholesterol, which is estimated to affect seven in ten adults. There are some 270,000 heart attacks in the UK each year while around 2.1 million people have experienced angina, the chest pain that is the main symptom of coronary heart disease.

Red wine fights gum disease

Quebec: Chemicals in red wine may help reduce gum disease, scientists at the Universite de Laval have discovered.

The reason is that red wine contains polyphenols, chemicals which give red wine its colour, help reduce the periodontitis, the damaging disease which attacks the gums and bone surrounding teeth.

It is estimated that 65 per cent of adults aged over 50 and 15 of younger people have the disease which in its worst form leads to tooth loss.

It is caused by a combination of bacteria and free radicals – harmful oxygen molecules – in the mouth. When you drink red wine, the polyphenols interfere with this process and can reduce damage to the gums, scientists say. In laboratory tests, polyphenols were found to combine with the free radicals and render them harmless.

The research by scientists from Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada, is published in the latest edition of the U.S. Journal of Dental Research.

Lead researcher Dr Vanessa Houde presented the findings at the American Association for Dental Research in Orlando, Florida, yesterday.

Previous research has discovered that red wine has many health-giving properties.

Last October, researchers found drinking it may help to ward off lung cancer. UK doctors have even recommended red wine to heart-attack patients, after evidence emerged of its benefits for the cardiovascular system.

Scientists are also developing a pill which they hope will harness the healthy anti-oxidant properties of red wine without the alcohol.

Polyphenols are also found in green tea, fresh fruit and vegetables, which have all been found to lower the risks of cancer and heart disease.

The chemicals are thought to help get rid of free radicals which are believed to trigger the illnesses.

Polyphenols are also known to hamper the inflammatory process which leads the hardening of the arteries and other disorders.

Health benefits of alcohol may be wrong

Auckland: Researchers in New Zealand say that a daily glass of wine, long recommended as beneficial for heart disease, may have the opposite effect.

They say previous research failed to allow for the fact that people who stop drinking because of heart problems may be included in studies and misclassified as never having consumed alcohol. This would result in the misleading impression that small amounts of alcohol consumed regularly protect against heart disease.

The latest analysis, reported in the medical magazine, The Lancet, contrasts with the prevalent opinion in France, where a daily glass of wine is seen as part of a healthy way of life.

One influential study recently suggested having up to three drinks a day, each containing about ten grams of alcohol, could reduce heart attack risk by a quarter.

But Dr Rod Jackson, who led the latest study, says any benefit from light to moderate drinking is probably small and unlikely to outweigh the harm caused by alcohol. He says the first studies showing the protective effect of alcohol were published in the 1970s and 1980s. These early observations were confirmed by a meta-analysis – a pooling together of findings from different studies, which indicated a 20 per cent to 25 per cent cut in heart disease risk linked to light drinking. But sDr Jackson of the University of Auckland claims these studies failed to avoid confounding errors that gave misleading results.

For instance, a study published this year involving 200,000 U.S. adults found 27 of 30 cardiovascular risk factors were significantly more common in non- drinkers than light to moderate drinkers.

Such risk factors, already present in study participants, could sway the results, it is suggested.

If anything, the evidence of heart protection is more convincing for heavy drinkers, say the Auckland experts.

Post-mortem studies show alcoholics have relatively ‘clean’ arteries, but the risks of alcohol abuse for these people greatly outweighed any benefit from drinking.

Alcohol abuse harms almost every organ in the body, causing problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, stomach bleeding, high blood pressure, stroke, nerve damage, osteoporosis and dementia.

Dr Jackson said: ‘Any coronary protection from light to moderate drinking will be very small and unlikely to outweigh the harms.’