Drink (in moderation) and be merry

Welcome to La Vie en Bleu a series where I share what Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, reveals as powerful and simple lessons that can help put anyone on the path to a healthier and happier life. We continue with the fourth of nine lessons from the Blue Zones, five unique communities that have common elements of diet, lifestyle and outlook on life that have led to not only an amazing number of years lived, but also a better quality of life.

Lesson Four: Grapes of Life
A daily drink or two of wine has been associated with lower rates of heart disease. However, alcohol use has also been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. The secrets of the Blue Zones suggest that moderation and consistency are key. In Sardinia, for example, it’s common to drink a glass of dark red wine with each meal and whenever friends get together. In Okinawa, sake is drunk daily with friends.

Having a glass of wine with a meal helps make it easier to relax and eat more slowly. It lends an atmosphere of seriousness, refinement and luxury, all of which can help counter the tendency to eat mindlessly. For instance, if you open a bottle of wine, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll enjoy it while eating in front of the television.

The French poet Baudelaire said that if wine were to disappear from human production, there would be a void in human health and intelligence, and that would be worse than all the excesses it’s guilty of. Hmmm, would you agree?

When consumed with food and in moderation, wine can enhance your health. Aside from containing fewer calories than most alcoholic rinks, fine wine is full of nutrients and recognized to thin the blood and lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Red wine offers additional benefits as it contains artery-scrubbing polyphenols that can possibly help fight arteriosclerosis. However, when daily consumption exceeds a glass or two, the risks and toxic effects of drinking alcohol outweigh any health benefits. Again, moderation is key.

Tips and strategies of introducing a glass of wine into a daily routine
Buy high-quality red wine
The Sardinians drink Cannonau in their Blue Zone, but any dark red wine should do.

Keep it simple
Wine can be a perfect accompaniment to a meal. It can be considered a gift to be enjoyed, not abused. Drink it with friends, family and always with food.

To reiterate, a glass or two of red wine per day is the most you need to take advantage of its health benefits. Overdoing it negates the health benefits. Drink in moderation.

Have you started to put the lessons from the Blue Zones to work in your life? If so, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. La Vie en Bleu will continue with lesson number five from the Blue Zones on how to live a healthier and happier life. Won’t you join me?


The Blue Zones include: 
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Ikaria, Greece
Sardinia, Italy
Okinawa, Japan
Loma Linda, California

Related sites:
Rioja Wine
The Island Where People Forget to Die
Blue Zones
Life in the Blue Zone

9 thoughts on “Grapes of Life

  1. Hi, Martine. I enjoyed reading about the health benefits of wine – and definitely the social aspects. Nice wine is made to be shared with family and friends, isn’t it? At the very least, as you say, who wants to watch TV when they have a nice meal and a glass of Rioja? 🙂 Thank you for sharing! Warmly, Shanna

    1. Hi Shanna, Here’s where the French clearly better understand how to drink wine in the company of friends–to awaken their senses as it is vitally important to the enjoyment of food! A perfect companion to a meal. And, there are health benefits too! 🙂 Yes, very hard to want to eat in front of the TV if you have a nice glass of wine at hand with a lovely meal prepared. Add the candles and the atmosphere is transformed to Luxe! 🙂

      1. Oh, Martine – You have hit the nail on the head. Candles, classical or opera and wine: my house, every night. Maybe I was French in another life; If only to be so lucky. A “luxe” atmosphere – what fabulous diction – you have hit the nail on the head. Be well, and thank you for your lovely response. Best wishes, Shanna

        1. I think inside, we all have an inner French person–a person who wishes to live passionately, embracing a joie de vivre outlook on life and one who claims the finer things in life (luxe) are indeed worth experiencing, regularly, if not everyday! 🙂 Not all people listen to that person. I’m glad you have already found your inner “French girl” and she has become YOU! 🙂 Here’s to living well! Cheers. Martine

        2. Martine, What a fantastic outlook. I look forward to embracing a “joie de vivre” and claiming all that is luxe. Of course! Haha! 🙂 Finding your “Inner French Girl” – how lovely – you should copyright that. Take good care – and live well. – Shanna

        3. Lol. I’m think I’m too late. I believe someone has already written a book about finding your Inner French Girl! 🙂 Ah well, fortunately its never too late to find and embrace her. Admittedly, I’ve always been one who likes luxe things, especially the ones I can afford. As I get older I find myself trying more and more to simplify my life. With a lot of things I do and purchase, I try to focus on quality rather than quantity. The same goes for time, I seem to have less and less of it so I try to make the moments I have worth the time spent. Luxe, in every sense of the word. 😉

        4. Hi, Martine,
          Yes, yes, yes! Quality over quantity is really our motto. I would rather have much less “stuff” – and focus on what is high-quality, lasts and is something to to be treasured, used and enjoyed. I had never thought of this concept translated to time – but you are right. Our time should also be focused on “quality” activities – what we enjoy and what enriches us. Luxe. I love this concept. Thank you for sharing your insights – and have great Saturday. Warmly, Shanna

  2. Hi Shanna, yesterday a friend told me that the health benefits experienced by women who regularly drink wine, decrease after just one glass. Research apparently suggests men can continue to receive the health benefits after a glass, but for women, not so. Thus, sip your glass s-l-o-w-l-y. 🙂

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