Focused as I am on eating and drinking, the war on adipose tissue is, for me, an ongoing one. After all, matter is neither created nor destroyed, and what comes off, after several weeks of high fibre or low fat, will surely return.
When it does, I need a good dietary gimmick to kickstart the regime, so I was excited to discover, in an old bookcase, a suitably slim work called The Diet Book For Diet Haters by Derek Manley. Published in 1967 – well before the current zero-carb vogue – its principle is simple: to lose weight, eat whatever you like, as long as you ingest fewer than 60g (about two ounces) of carbohydrate a day.
Mr Manley’s exhaustive list of various foods and their carb count makes for surprising reading. One small banana, a virtuous orange and a handful of innocent tomatoes represent the best part of a day’s allowance, leaving no room whatsoever for the bad guys like pasta, risotto and spuds. So, even half a century ago, it was clear that, whatever the angle – and there has been no shortage of those in the intervening years – the only really safe option is lettuce.
The drinks section is another matter. Beer is obviously best avoided, but my fellow members will be as delighted as I was to learn that a glass of Champagne contains only two grams of carbohydrate, prompting, albeit briefly, the delicious notion of a promising new diet based around 30 flutes a day of The Society’s Brut. Four ounces (about 120ml) of ‘dry red wine’ are calculated by Mr Manley to contain only trace amounts of carbohydrate, although clearly, that figure would have to be adjusted upward for today’s super-ripe 14 percenters.
Forty years on, Roger Corder, author of the attractively-named Wine Diet, had encouraging news about Madiran. This robust, tannat-based red from France’s rugby belt is not the most obvious crowd-pleaser, owing, perhaps, to its starless and bible-black appearance, fearsome tannins and tendency to inspire descriptors like ‘strapping’ and ‘blimey!’ Tannat has a higher pip, pigment and tannin count than any other variety and is traditionally tamed by lengthy maceration and fermentation. It seems from Professor Corder’s research that two glasses of classic Madiran contains more procyanadins – polyphenolic compounds increasingly linked to vascular health – than two bottles of a soft, fruit-driven ‘modern’ red.
So, should The Society brace itself for a run on Madiran? It does sound so much more enjoyable than a run in the park.
The Wine Diet, by Roger Corder, was published in 2007 by Sphere Books.
Janet Wynne Evans
Specialist wine manager