Now that most humans live in a world of safe drinking water, the ubiquitous- ness of wine as a daily beverage, even for children, has disappeared, replaced by the notion of wine as a distinguished drink for adults, to augment the
tastes of the food it accompanies. Who would think, then, that the French wine
industry, especially the world-famous Bordeaux wine—the epitome, in many eyes,
of a sophisticated, time-honored, and above-the-fray enterprise—would be draped
in the black crêpe of rank commercialism? According to prominent French journal-
ist Saporta, “Bordeaux has now become a huge business, a subject of large-scale
speculation, and a worldwide brand.”
And what are the features and effects of Bordeaux having been sullied as a com-
modity like the shares of a global—say, telecommunications—company? First off,
So, the most prominent aspect of Bordeaux as big business is the influx of inves-
tors from all over the world, the most recent being Chinese businessmen, who,
according to this author’s statistics, have bought about 50 vineyards in the past
four years. What happens when wealthy investors get involved? “Their wines be-
come brands sold at astronomical prices” because these wines aren’t purchased for
drinking “but as the external sign of wealth.” Saporta sees that winemaking will
become a speculative venture that is “all about image,” and with “big investors
controlling everything,” small farmers will not be able to afford to stay on their
own land and continue making their own very good—and affordable—wine.
The author also tackles the knotty problem of wine classification, which these
days allots points for the size of the vineyard’s parking lot and whether there’s a
seminar room in the facility.
This book provides a rude but, admittedly, fascinating awakening from which
we all will walk away a little bit jaded.
How did French wine become
a global commodity, the
object of frenzied speculation
among international investors?
A French journalist tells the
BY BRAD HOOPER
50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself
without Food: Mindfulness Strategies
to Cope with Stress and End Emotional
By Susan Albers.
Dec. 2015. 200p. New Harbinger, paper, $16.95
Why do we eat? To fill an empty stomach?
Or to fill an empty soul? Albers, a nutrition
expert, contends that food, in many cases,
has become a coping strategy rather than the
response to physical hunger. Reasons for “
comfort eating,” according to Albers, range from
accessibility and habit to boredom and impul-sivity but always result in guilt. The good news
is the author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself without Food (2009) has come up with 50 new and
improved ways to self-soothe without reaching
for the cookies. She begins with mindfulness,
meditation, mindful breathing, alternative
therapies, yoga, and mindful movement. For
readers more comfortable with Western philos-ophies, there are arts therapies (writing, music,
dance, art, origami) and sense therapies (
aro-matherapy, feng shui, teas, herbs, and sex).
The short chapters are filled with anecdotes
from her practice and specific, step-by-step instructions for soothing strategies. All of Albers’
low-cost suggestions can be practiced within
short blocks of time and require little equipment. The variety of the approaches and the
popularity of the topic will give this title wide
appeal. —Candace Smith
Don’t Eat This, If You’re Taking That:
The Hidden Risks of Mixing Food and
By Madelyn Hirsch Fernstrom and John
Oct. 2015. 240p. Skyhorse, $24.99 (9781632204523);
e-book (9781632209252). 615.704.
Written by husband-and-wife neuroscientists, this easy-to-understand guide gives
potentially lifesaving information about
foods that can interact with common prescription medicines given for hypertension,
acid reflux, high cholesterol, pain relief, diabetes, migraines, and depression. Two big
villains: grapefruit and alcohol. Grapefruit
blocks an enzyme that breaks down drugs.
Alcohol can exaggerate side effects such as
drowsiness and dizziness, and mixed with
high doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol), it
can also damage the liver. The authors also
tackle supplements. For example, fish oil
seems innocuous, but, like aspirin, it thins
the blood. So mixing the two can increase
the risk of bleeding. And even healthy foods
such as leafy greens and milk can interfere
with certain drugs. (Too much calcium can
be a problem with antihypertensive medication known as calcium channel blockers.)
The Fernstroms have organized the chapters
by category (blood thinners, antidepressants), and shaded boxes break out specific
foods to avoid with each. Understandably,
the authors couldn’t tackle every disease and
drug. Readers will undoubtedly keep their
fingers crossed for a sequel. —Karen Springen
Vino Business: The
Cloudy World of French
By Isabelle Saporta. Tr.
by Kate Deimling.
Nov. 2015. 240p. Grove, $26