A Blue Zones Project recommendation sparks a run on an Italian red wine

CANANDAIGUA — Say someone recommends a particular wine that, along with several other other lifestyle improvements, may help you to live to 100.

You try it, right?

And that’s what happened when this area “discovered” Sella & Mosca’s Cannonau di Sardegna, an Italian red from Sardinia that Ryan’s Wine & Spirits has been carrying since 2013.

The wine was recommended by the people who may bring the Blue Zones Project to Ontario County. Blue Zones are places in the world where the secrets to longevity appear to have been discovered, as they have the highest concentrations of people living to 100 years or older.

And, well, let’s offer up a toast to the idea because a daily glass or two of red wine – Wine at 5, as they call it — is one of their habits.

Cannonau di Sardegna already was a good seller, perhaps because it pairs well with red meats and seasoned cheeses, as the label boasts. But with the prospect of a longer life for those who consume it on its resume, it’s no wonder what happened next, even though Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni tried to brace the store about it ahead of time.

JR Miller, owner of Ryan’s Wine & Spirits, said in that first month, people from all walks of life came in and bought this, as well as other reds recommended by the Blue Zones people.

Five cases worth were purchased, in fact, and it sold out for two weeks.

“Someone asked for a whole case,” said Stephanie Rudat, wine buyer at the Canandaigua liquor store.

Five cases is unusual, Miller said, especially in such a short time span and after it’s been available for some time.

“It’s a good thing,” Miller said. “It seems the area knows a little about it.”

Now, there is plenty in stock, as well as other “heart-healthy” wines, such as Sagrantino di Montefalco, also from Italy, and Tannat Reserve from Uruguay, which also are loaded up with grapes rich in the antioxidant flavonoids that pump up the health of the heart.

Of course, there are no shortcuts on the way to 100, and sipping wine every day won’t get it done without taking other steps.

Exercise — the Blue Zones website tells the story of how some of the older men in Sardinia walk 5 miles daily — and enjoying a lean, plant-based diet only accented with meat, also are key aspects of living a longer life.

“In general, it’s the whole red wine diet,” Rudat said.

And it’s best to enjoy your wine in the company of family and friends at the end of the day, because that’s what these 100-year-olds also have in common (besides a taste for reds).

Another name for Wine at 5 could be happy hour.

“It promotes camaraderie and people coming together,” said Polimeni, who is a big proponent of the Blue Zones Project.

The benefits of Wine at 5 don’t have to be derived from Italy or Uruguay, either. Many varieties around here — Rudat recommends pinot noirs — can do the job.

Polimeni said she checked with the Blue Zones folks, who agreed the region has wines that are just fine for this purpose.

“I’m a Finger Lakes person,” Polimeni said. “We have some Finger Lakes wines that can be substituted.”

Senior Farmers Market coupons

The Ontario County Office for the Aging will be distributing Senior Farmers Market coupon booklets provided by the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, beginning Monday.

Each booklet contains five $4 coupons for a total value of $20. These coupons provide low-income seniors the opportunity to improve their nutritional health by increasing their consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

The coupons are valid through Nov. 30 at participating farmers markets.

Coupon booklets are available to eligible seniors on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as supplies last. Coupon books may be picked up by an eligible power of attorney, and proof will be required.

Eligible Ontario County seniors need to be at least 60 years of age, and affirm they are low-income based on one or more of the following criteria:

A gross monthly income at or below: $1,872 a month for a one-person household; $2,538 a month for a two-person household; and $3,204 a month for a three-person household.

Coupon booklets will be available for pickup at the Office for the Aging of Ontario County, 3019 County Complex Drive, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Coupons will also be available at several distribution sites throughout the area.