Times change

The subject of the effects of food usually crops up when we are eating and drinking

ANDREW J. LINN

We are awash with advice about health and how to maintain a satisfactory balance between what is good for us and what is not.

It is impossible to avoid the diet pundits, with their banners like, "What will happen to your liver if you drink more than a glass of wine a day?"

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Or "What your left ventricular looks like after a festive meal."

Better to ignore them, rather as we would ignore an invitation to see what our feet would look like if we stopped cutting our toenails.

The subject of the effects of food usually crops up when we are eating and drinking.

"These fried peppers are delicious, but, oh dear, how fattening," "I adore Sauternes but I am sure it puts on kilos."

There was a time when eating a seven-course meal with different wines was thought of as normal, indeed even beneficial.

In the 60s a private dinner at Michael Berens' house in London had the simplest menu imaginable: sole fillets, roast partridge and cherries.

However, the wines were Pol Roger champagne 1948, Hochheimer Geiersberg 1953, Grands Echézeaux 1952 (magnum), Schloss Reinhartshausener Kabinett Auslese 1949, Nuits St George 1919, and liqueurs.

Wine merchant Ronald Avery's lunch for five colleagues at the Hanstown Club started with a magnum of champagne, two French whites, four reds, finishing with a champagne liqueur.

All wine served in those days was French, except for a few German whites, always served after the champagne with the first course.

At a business lunch these days people give you funny looks if you order a second glass.