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Published:  23 July, 2008

A hospital in Swindon has become the first in Europe to prescribe red wine to patients. Two glasses of red wine a day will be offered to heart patients in the town's Great Western Hospital. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's PM programme on 2 July, Hugh Johnson welcomed the move, saying: It's very positive news that they're taking this holistic view, rather than just drugging them, as it were.' Asked about the benefits, he said that first and foremost it would raise morale'. Johnson also praised wine as encouraging a positive view of life'. He went on to allude to wine's antioxidant effects, and to the efforts being made by some producers of white wines to increase the levels of polyphenols through extended maceration. Commenting on the BMA's call for a ban on alcohol advertising, announced the same day (see above story), Johnson agreed that the medical profession seemed to be giving out rather mixed messages'. * The wine prescribed to Great Western patients is Montes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, from Chile. The theory that the antioxidants in red wine (particularly Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon) help prevent blood clotting and cholesterol build-up has long been extolled. The hospital's communications manager, Chris Birdsall, said: Since the publicity, which has been international, we have had a steady stream of calls from people asking which wine they should be drinking.' Convalescing wine snobs can rest easy: Birdsall said that the wine is served in wine glasses and not plastic cups.