It's been a good week for … drinking red wine

It's been a good week for … drinking red wine

Some might suggest that there is never really a bad week to drink red wine. But cardiologist Dr William McCrea is more enthusiastic than most about a cheeky wee Merlot or a robust Rioja. The consultant from the Great Western Hospital in Swindon has been prescribing glasses of red to his patients for the past 10 years and is convinced the drink helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.

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Often found wheeling a trolley of wine on his cardiology ward rounds, Dr McCrea dishes out his elixir just like he would any other medicine, with precise measures to be taken at regular intervals.

The cardiologist has so far recommended two 125ml glasses a day to around 10,000 patients through the Wiltshire hospital. He says their good results support the theory that drinking a small amount of red wine every day can be beneficial. He believes the antioxidant properties reduce the risk of second heart attacks by half, and the risk of stroke by 20%. He insists that young wines in screw-top bottles - which are usually the cheapest - are the healthiest varieties. Fortunately his local supermarkets usually stock enough of his recommended medicine, a £7 Montes Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon. (Call that cheap?!)

Dr McCrea began his wine therapy after discovering that the French suffer from far fewer heart attacks, despite their fatty diets and higher smoking rates. The crucial difference, he believes, is that "they drink red wine like we drink tea".

Having just returned from France - where a litre of the best quality local red was a grand €1.70 (about £1.35) per litre - I can understand why the French are feeling a glow.

I can't claim to have stuck to just the two glasses a day - do you think having four can double the health benefits?

Anyway, I've never managed to find a decent cup of tea in France.

It's been a bad week for … drinking coffee

Astronauts on the International Space Station will soon wake up and smell the coffee. Italian companies Lavazza and Aerotec have teamed up to create a coffee machine capable of brewing espresso in zero gravity.

The downside? The machine utilises the astronauts' recycled urine and other waste water. Another good reason to stick to red wine.