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French hospital opens wine bar for patients

Published: 31 Jul 2014 15:08 GMT+02:00

The bar, which will be located at the palliative care centre at the CHU Clermont-Ferrand hospital in Puy-de-Dôme, will be open to patients, their friends and relatives.

Sipping wine may not be a traditional method of treatment for patients who are terminally ill but according to Dr Virginie Guastella, the head of the hospital unit who proposed the idea, it can help them and their loved ones to relax and converse.

“A situation can be palliative for several weeks or even several months and it’s because life is so precious and real until the end that we decided to cultivate all that is fine and good,” Dr Guastella told The Local.

“It’s a way of rethinking the care of others, taking into account their feelings and emotions that make them a human being.”

The wine bar project was launched, she said, "in an attempt to restore longing, taste, desire and even pleasure.”

According to the hospital, “medically supervised” wine tasting can serve to brighten up the otherwise difficult everyday lives of patients.

The wine bar will offer a variety of beverages including fine wines, champagne and whisky. Staff at the hospital unit will be specially trained in how to deal with the needs of the patients.

Dr Guastella points to a study by socio-anthropologist Catherine Legrand Sebille which proves that wine and food and can have a positive impact on someone’s last days.  

Legrand Sebille herself will be providing training on this subject for caregivers at the centre in September.  

Is wine really any good for the health?

Sipping a glass of Bordeaux or Burgundy wine has long been a part of French culture so the opening of a hospital wine bar may not be a surprise to many.

Indeed a glass a day had long been considered good for your health until recently, when research poured cold water on that notion.

In May The Local reported on a study that claimed resveratrol - one of the highly touted antioxidants in red wine - did not in fact help people live longer.

Nor did it help people avoid cancer or heart disease , according to the research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

And it appeared French attitudes towards wine were hardening when earlier in July, the government allowed companies to ban the tipple fom offices. Up until that point it was mainly just hard spirits that bosses could bar workers from bringing into work.

The labour ministry, which was behind the directive, said "alcohol is the biggest psycho-active substance consumed in France".

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Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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