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Simple Pleasures

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Sopranos, Mar/Apr 2007

Two stories were published recently. You might never connect them. But we did.

Forbes published a cover showing a bottle of red wine being poured into a glass, with the headline: Drink Wine, Live Longer. The story described the efforts of a biotech company that is working full speed ahead to produce a pill that will deliver a substance found in red wine, resveratrol. Scientists believe the substance may benefit people in a number of astounding ways: reduced heart disease, a defense against aging and, yes, longer life.

A few days later, The New York Times Magazine also summed up something we believe, without the publication even knowing it. The statement came in a story about nutrition, and the advice was simple: eat real food. The article went on to say that the public has been bombarded with nutrition advice in the last few decades, be it the "hot" diet of the moment or the perfect diet supplement that will cure all your ills. The story also noted, however, that these concentrated supplements have sometimes had adverse effects, exactly the opposite of what they cause in their natural state. The author's advice was to strive to eat food that is as close as possible to its natural state.

We'd like to put these two ideas together. Why should people wait for a pill to deliver resveratrol? By its very nature, that little pill's ingredient will be altered by not being in the company of all that goes into red wine. People can get much of the same benefit by having a glass or two of wine a day, at least that's what the scientific evidence shows. On top of that, they get to enjoy the camaraderie and pleasure of sharing a bottle of wine with their spouse, close friends or business associates in a convivial setting that may contribute benefits that we can't quantify.

How do cigars fit into the picture? Well, we've always argued that a premium, hand-rolled cigar is a 100 percent natural product that is consumed in moderation. There are benefits to sharing a relaxed smoke with friends and colleagues that scientists simply can't measure. While the health nannies like to tarnish anything that has tobacco in it, much like they take joy in criticizing red meat consumption, the truth is much more complex and subtle. A cigar a day, or a few a week, smoked to promote a sense of relaxation is akin to a meditation in the crazy fast-paced world we live. Those moments have provided a tremendous sense of well being to millions of people over the years, especially Cigar Aficionado readers.

The bottom line is simple pleasures. Some of the simple pleasures that we've been told are bad for us, in fact, have benefits that make life more enjoyable. And, if life is more enjoyable, isn't that part of the reason we get up in the morning, go to work, take in the wonders of our everyday world, and then do it all over again? That's what makes simple pleasures, as close to their natural state as possible, so special.

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