L’Art de vivre: How the French Live Longer and Have Fun Doing it

Health has been on my mind a lot lately. Just like a lot of people around the world, the recent health crisis has given me the chance to reflect on my lifestyle choices. I’ve reconsidered everything about how I eat, drink and exercise, and how these choices impact my health.

Predictably, this took me down the garden path of diets. Intermittent fasting, Plant-based, Low-carb, paleo diet, etc. The list goes on and each diet touts its benefits over the other. What’s worse is that even if I could make up my mind and pick one to follow, they all have strict rules which suck all the joy out of eating and drinking.

You see, the big problem I have with these diets is that I believe food and drink is one of the great pleasures of life. I don’t want to be restrained by rules.

As you can imagine, I was quite intrigued when I stumbled upon what is now a rather old idea: the French Diet.

What is the French Diet?

The French Diet has its origins in what has become to be known as the French Paradox. This term came into wide use back in the early nineties after CBS News and 60 Minutes picked up the findings of Serge Renaud, a scientist from Bordeaux University in France.

What Renaud’s had discovered was that French diets tended towards significantly higher levels of saturated fat consumption than American diets. Yet, miraculously, the French suffered lower levels of obesity, lower rates of cardiovascular disease, and they lived longer.

So what was going on? Isn’t saturated fat bad for the heart?

Eat less, eat better

The most immediate difference between French and American diets is the quality and quantity of the food consumed.

In general, the French enjoy better quality foods. This includes all the clichés like cheese and foie gras which are incredibly high in fat. But the key is, they eat less of them.

Oh, and they aren’t washing cheeseburgers down with a gallon of cola either. Nope. The French beverage of choice come mealtime is wine.

Why wine is important to French longevity

There is a ton of research that espouses the health benefits of wine. Red wine, in particular, is well known for its benefits for the heart when consumed in regular but moderate amounts.

It’s high in antioxidants and, according to Eric Rimm, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, can even convert bad cholesterols into good ones.

But there is more to the French drinking habits than mere wine drinking. For a lot of French people, buying wine from their local area is the normal thing to do.

Boutique producers make better wine

There are literally thousands of vineyards dotted all over France. Many of these are small producers selling directly to the locals. It’s quite a different system to what we’re used to in America, where we’re usually confronted with stores filled with wines owned by only a handful of mega-corporations.

Behind the fancy marketing gimmicks, many of these wines are, essentially, factory-farmed using the cheapest grapes possible. In order to milk whatever extra margin they can out of their vineyards, often mega-producer yields will be pushed to the maximum, diluting the amount of nutritious benefits that make it from the sun and soil into the grapes.

At the boutique end of the market, however, things are usually better. Without the mega marketing budgets that the big producers have, smaller producers are forced to focus on quality to sell their wines.

And good wine starts with good grapes. And remember, good grapes are better for you!

So how do I find boutique wines that I’ll actually like?

It can be difficult to find boutique wines that appeal to your tastes. It’s hard enough just navigating the homogenised world of big brands where things are often a bit same-same.

Fortunately, Palate Club, a new player in the wine market has introduced a service to help.

Palate club only sells the best of the best

Palate Club only sells from carefully selected boutique producers. The quality of their vineyards is important, and only 5% will make it past Palate Club’s selection process.

As part of their selection process, Palate Club will also carefully assess each wine. It will be tested and analysed in order to build up a detailed palate profile. This then allows them to recommend wines that you’ll love with incredible accuracy.

How do they match wines to drinkers? Well, it’s easy, even if the underlying tech isn’t.

Each time you drink a wine that Palate club sells, you can use their ​wine tasting app​ to rate that wine. Because Palate Club has built a detailed profile of each wine that it sells, they can then infer a detailed understanding of your tastes based on what you like.