| The Doctor Is In
By Tom Cottrell
If you’re like me, you occasionally receive gifts from a friend or relative as a souvenir of his or her latest trip. Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that most of these tokens are pretty lame? “It’s the thought that counts” seems to operate in a very big way here.
But the mold was broken the other day when I received a framed poster titled, “Ordonnance Ampelotherapique Et Instructive des Principales Maladies de la Sante Humane.” Using my broken French to translate: “Wine-Therapeutic and Informative Prescriptions for Principal Maladies of Human Health.” Cool, huh?
What more could a wine-lover ask for than a formal series of vinous prescriptions for every imaginable illness? Well, 59 of them anyway. One only has to hope the prescribed wine and dosage are agreeable.
For some reason, all the wines are French. Given their fondness for the concept of terroir—specific place—the French would urge you to accept no substitutes. However, feel free to try your favorite versions of the grape varietals listed below. The doctor is in.
According to the French chart, a cough is apparently cured by drinking four glasses of Bourgogne Aligote every day. Aligote is a light, crisp, dry white. Usually served cold, it is meant to cure that cough rather than soothe it.
I like this next one a lot: mal de gorge—pain in the esophagus—requires two glasses a day of Pessac-Leognon, as well as two glasses of red. This region of Bordeaux is the only one that produces both good reds and whites, giving the sick person a nice variety. The white is Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, and the red is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
The French love to complain about suffering from difficulties with their livers. When thus afflicted in their foie, the chart commands five—count them, five—glasses of Sauternes, the lush, sweet dessert wine. The obvious irony: the best accompaniment to seared foie gras—goose or duck liver—is Sauternes. However, they do draw the line at cirrhosis of the liver and suggest mineral water instead of wine, for once.
Ever find yourself with muscle pain after a bit of exercise? Boy, are you in luck. They require five glasses of Margaux, red Bordeaux made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, every day. Maybe you should exercise more.
Canon-Fronsac is a Bordeaux region not far from Pomerol and St. Émilion, so the grapes are mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Drink five glasses a day to relieve stress. Stress is apparently the same in French and English, and the cure needs no translation either.
For some reason an absence de libido (which again needs no translation) requires five daily glasses of St. Amour (now that makes sense) while an excess of libido is cured by merely three glasses of Vosne Romanée. By the way, St. Amour is a charming village in Beaujolais, so the grape is Gamay; Vosne Romanée is one of the great red Burgundies, so the grape is Pinot Noir. Oregon Pinot Noir may or may not have the same effects.
General fatigue would undoubtedly become a more popular state if folks knew the French cure: four glasses daily of Champagne. I think this one might really work—just one glass of Champagne is usually enough to relieve my fatigue. Imagine what four glasses would do.
Two notes: the chart doesn’t indicate the size of the doses. They might mean a little sherry glass, or a humongous Riedel 30-ounce number or (probably) something in between. As long as you’re self-medicating, the choice is yours.
And for the doubters among you, just remember how many doctors now recommend a glass or two of daily wine for good health. It’s just that the French, as in all things vinous and culinary, have taken the idea to a whole new level.
Vive la France!