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Why you can live to 100, by drinking wine

We called into Il Paradiso del Cibo the other day, that wonderful little Italian restaurant in Walmgate, in the centre of York, and a quick chat with owner Paolo gave us a secret to longevity in life: the little-known but magical wine that is Cannonau di Sardegna.

A bit has been written online about this otherwise obscure red - and most of it centres around claims it is a reason Sardinians live on average 10 years more than most other people.

Paolo - a born and bred Sardinian - is in no doubt about it. It is probably one reason he sells lots of the stuff - so that his regulars can keep coming back for an extra 10 years.

Plus he probably drinks it himself, so he can remain sprightly into his 90s and still dance the ballu tundu (a local round dance) as a centenarian.

Plus it is rather lovely.

So what is Cannonau and what makes it special?

Well the Cannonau grape is thought to be a local clone of the more well-known Grenache (in France) or Garnacha (in Spain) and, while it might not be famous outside of Sardinia it accounts for about a fifth of the wine made on the beautiful sun-kissed island.

For whatever reason, perhaps due to the special soil, it develops particularly thick skins here, which provide plenty of anthocyanins and polyphenols - compounds that have been linked to healthy hearts because of their antioxidant effects. (Obviously with the proviso you drink it in moderation rather than go bonkers on the stuff every day.)

Of course, talk that Cannonau alone - more than other Grenache or Garnacha wines - helps you live till your 100 might not necessarily be scientifically proven.

But such homely red wines, allied to a healthy Sardinian diet comprising lots of homegrown veg, beans and a little fresh meat, plus olive oil to keep the body lubricated, must surely play a part. Bursts of regular exercise in the hot rural paradise wouldn't do any harm either.

Indeed, I'm with Paolo on this. Plus it really is lovely.

Il Paradiso loves it so much it stocks 14 different bottles of it, such as the Salana and Vignaruja makes at £21.95 apiece. The one we tried was the Monserrato, at £18.95. (These are restaurant not store prices by the way.)

Deep ruby red with violet tints, it is a pretty full-bodied wine with aromas of ripe red and black fruits, a good structure and a very pleasant "mouthfeel", with a delightful touch of balsamic and spice, a smooth finish and a lovely linger.

The tannins are far from overpowering, especially when drank with good Italian food, with this one pairing particularly well with pork and roast lamb, meat stews or sheep and goats cheese.

A secret to longevity or not, we'd be pretty content having this cracking Cannonau however long we live.

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