Prof. Serge Renaud was a French scientist who pioneered research into the prevention of cardiovascular disease, among other health issues. He participated in broadening research into the role of wine, alcohol, fatty acids and other components in preserving health and preventing disease.
His medical career took him notably to Montréal, Canada, Boston, Massachusetts, and Lyon, France.
Professor Renaud died at the end of October of 2012, not too far away from Bordeaux, leaving behind so many contributions to science, that he was decorated in 2005 with the “Légion d’Honneur”, the highest French distinction.
Professor Renaud appeared on the TV program 60 Minutes, in 1991, explaining what people still refer to as the “French Paradox”. He challenged people to see the benefits of wine rather than its potential risks.
The United States of America, where 60 years before then alcohol consumption was illegal due to prohibition, saw red wine sales go up 40 per cent within days, like a revolution.
Over several decades Professor Renaud studied the effects of how food and diet relate to health and how some nutrients can promote health: Mediterranean diet, anyone?
He said one day: “If I hadn’t lived with my grandparents and great-grandparents on a vineyard near Bordeaux, perhaps this idea wouldn’t have occurred to me. When you see people reach the age of 80 or 90 years, who have been drinking small amounts of wine every day, you don’t believe wine in low doses is harmful.”
Nearly a century earlier, Louis Pasteur said “Wine is the most healthy and most hygienic of beverages”.
Even though some of the wine components’ effects, like Resveratrol, a natural phenol, are still being studied, it is now pretty widely accepted that a glass of wine can be good company to a balanced meal. Alcohol is not the devil it used to be anymore, as long as consumed in moderation.
Professor Renaud’s legacy is without doubt a whole new broader vision of the effects of diet on general health.
My take on this, and I do not expect it will get me the Légion d’Honneur, is that your meal will be even better when started with a glass of English sparkling wine.
Jonathan Médard – Winemaker at Rathfinny