Hippo Manchester
August 11, 2005


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Drinking for your health

From wine to water and back again

By Tim Protzman 

So many people suffer for their art ó Van Gogh cut off his ear, Pollack lived in a third-floor walkup without heat.

An actress friend of mine put it best when she said in her typical drama queen fashion, ďI act because I have to. Not because I want to.Ē

This week, I, too, suffered for my craft. My son believes Iím Americaís second greatest hypochondriac. (Woody Allen would be the greatest, just because he had the foresight to contract Dutch Elm Disease in his last movie. What genius.) But I donít think my hypochondria is pathological, because itís so amusing and Iím not debilitated by it. In the past Iíve suffered from some real maladies and I donít want to make light of anyone elseís condition. But, itís true and funny that Iíve self-diagnosed a strained calf muscle as polio, a pimple as melanoma and a cough as tuberculosis. Usually itís the result of a fleeting thought at the moment of discovery: a simple fever becomes malaria, swollen lymph nodes become bubonic plague (yes, itís still around!). I chalk it up to my overactive sense of doom and my sex. Yes, ladies, here it is in print, men are the weaker sex when it comes to their health. And this week I didnít feel good.

Youíd think with all the antioxidants red wine has, Iíd be a pillar of health. But add in a decent but overly plentiful diet, the summer heat and my penchant for hiking in tick-infested woods (Lyme disease!) and youíll see how close to the edge I really live.

Being sick in the summer is no fun. Every healthy person is out in the sun and air but you just want to stay home. But whatever had me down was subtle, like a St. Emilion, with a lack of energy as distinct as the first crisp mouthful of a California chardonnay. 

What made me feel better was a new strange beverage: water. Not just any water but special ph-balanced water.

eVamor and Essentia are two specially formulated natural waters that have a high alkaline content. This is supposed to remove toxins and provide your body with the proper nutrients and balanced ph to fight infections, viruses and malignancy. All I know is that after two bottles of each I had the energy to write this column and my liver sent me a thank-you note. And the water has almost no flavor so itís the perfect palate cleanser for a wine tasting. The thing I noticed is the water comes from deep artesian wells bored through limestone. Most good wine comes from soil with high limestone content. Grapes donít grow well on igneous or metamorphic rock; sedimentary is where itís at. Limestone, brownstone and shale soils rule, and now itís supposed to be good for you.

This weekís wines are specially ph-balanced for optimum health. Drink responsibly and above all, choose a designated liver.

2002 Genofranco Syrah, $11.49 ó This Sicilian wine didnít quite cut it. Syrah isnít a temperamental grape but I think Sicilyís a little too hot for Shiraz to thrive, or maybe itís just a bad year. Lesson learned, stick to Nero díAvola. Imported by Sidney Frank, who made a fortune off Grey Goose Vodka.

2003 Graceland Vineyards Elvis Blue Suede Chardonnay, $8.99 ó Once you get through the laboratory-esque tastes, this wine presented a few Burgundian flavor notes including vanilla and honeydew. Better than I thought, but not like the Sauvignon Blanc.

2000 Chateau Teynac St. Julien, $19.99 ó Juicy but restrained with cassis, currant and elderberry fruit with an easygoing structure that lends itself to plain food like hamburgers, sausage pizza and roast chicken with rosemary or barbecue sauce. 60 percent/40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend.

2001 Domaine de la Tourade Vacqueyras, $15.99 ó Spicy wine from the south Rhone region, cinnamon, green olive and raisin flavors wrapped up in a dry red structure scented with eucalyptus and tobacco.

2000 Le Baron de Brane Margaux $14.99, ó Second wine of Chateau Brane-Cantenac. Mostly Cabernet and Merlot. Nice and cheap with a dry finish and blackberry, persimmon and raspberry jam flavor notes,

1993 Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil Busardieres, $17.49 óThis underrated wine from the Loire region should remain underrated. 100 percent Cabernet Franc, the heartbreak grape, proves this hearty but as-yet-untamed grape is best as a blender not a solo act. Harsh with a tannic edge that 12 years should have tamed.

2002 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot, $13.99 ó From Australiaís Margaret River region; one of the only wines  I revisit regularly. Yummy.