Dr Philip Norrie’s The History of Wine as a Medicine has been awarded two prestigious prizes by Gourmand International, winning Australian Book of the Year and Best Australian Drink and Health Book for 2019. With contributions by Dr Joseph Maroon and Jeff Bost, the text is the first to describe mankind’s 5,000 year history of using wine for medicinal purposes.
The health benefits of wine have now been documented for some time. The notion of it being an outright medicine in itself, however, has in modern times been met with apprehension and hostility by much of the medical community, with the suspicion being that advocacy of increased alcohol usage of any form would do more harm to public health than good.
Yet the reality is that wine has been used by medical practitioners for well over 5,000 years, and recent studies have shown that its efficacy in preventing the onset of vascular and degenerative diseases may even be greater than most licensed drugs when consumed in moderation.
In modern times, wine is considered to be a luxury commodity indicative of status and sophistication, with its effects on health being, at worst, dismissed, and, at best, considered as a consolatory excuse to slip into excess. As Dr Philip Norrie shows, though, this has only recently been the case. The History of Wine as a Medicine: From its Beginnings in China to the Present Day is among the first books to openly advocate for the consumption of wine as part of a preventative approach to healthcare, and in doing so, Dr Norrie seeks to rectify the modern perception of wine as a simple luxury and re-ignite both academic and popular interest in its historical usage as a medicinal.
Norrie leaves no stone unturned as he concisely documents the history of wine as a medicine from its earliest usage almost 10,000 years ago in ancient China, its continued usage in Egyptian and Greco-Roman civilisations, right the way through to the discovery of its effectiveness in treating scurvy during the first voyages transporting convicts to Australia during the 18th century. He also documents how his research led to his invention of the first Resveratrol-infused wine to help prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
It should of course be pointed out that Dr Norrie throughout the book stresses the importance of moderation, so although it may be tempting to take his research as a license to pop the cork and devote the remainder of our days to Dionysian hedonism, that approach isn’t one that he – or we, for that matter – can altogether recommended.
The History of Wine as a Medicine: From its Beginnings in China to the Present Day is available on our website. Click here to purchase your copy, to read an extract, or to learn more about its authors.