There's a lot in the health marketplace calling itself "holistic" which isn't; you and I may not mean the same thing when we use the term, which, etymologically, indicates respect to/for the Whole. In a health context, it usually means that a patient's/client's entire Life picture - biochemical, behavioral, social, spiritual - is, again, respected at the very least, and incorporated into treatment modalities, ideally. But there's a particular angle that's got me miffed, because it usurps the "holistic" adjective and some of its positive rhetoric while advocating/promulgating practices that are anything BUT.
I work with urban, upper middle class postpartum women, their newborns and mates, older children and extended families. It's a particularly vulnerable demographic, insofar as the postnatal transition of a family (especially the transition of an erstwhile buttoned-up, professional 30-40-something woman, at the top of her game, to "beginner Mom") is somewhat of a crisis. I have lectured publicly about this crisis to future doctors and nurses ("The Matrescence Crisis: Modern Transitions to Motherhood" - UCSF) because the education of tomorrow's pediatrician, obstetrician, psychiatrist, and nurse is of great importance to all of us. But I've also spoken to more "alternative" and "natural" modality audiences about "Phony Holisticness". What do I mean?
In my field, there are all sorts of questionable practitioners vying for the ignorant and easy dollars of the expectant and new parent. The deal is: You take a couple at the peak of their dual-career attainments, with plenty of discretionary income and natural fear, and you convince them they need to spend it on your product or service. Then, if you're particularly unscrupulous, you throw in some scare tactics to reel 'em in to a more insidious proposition: Fomenting the Revolution, Sister, one obstetric/pediatric patient at a time.
There are extremists out there who believe that this life-transition is the crucial time for converting a woman from reliance on Standard Western Medicine to "the alternative" and, more subversively, from her own previous life-orientation to "the Cause".
Second- and Third-trimester pregnant women of established wealth and lifestyle, innocently taking Yoga or Pilates classes in order to "tone" for their labors/deliveries, are sidelined by instructors who smilingly suggest they investigate a different birth model and "attend an informative tea / evening". Sometimes its a childbirth class instructor who uses a particular "Western model"-bashing book or ideologically-skewed handout. In many late-term cases, it is a covert attempt to derail the pregnant couple's set plans for their imminent labor/delivery (and, often, postpartum and early parenting practice), away from the norms of their own established sociocultural group, i.e., from the pre-existent setting into which the child shall be born and integrated, indeed: From their truly holistic reality.
Follow me closely here, lest you entirely misconstrue my point. If I thought Standard Medical/Hospital practices were always the Absolute be-all and end-all, and that no alternatives or auxiliary approaches are ever to be considered, I wouldn't have the column-location I do. So here's my point:
It's a gross distortion of "Holism" to, at this major and vulnerable Life juncture, separate the mid-term-or -later pregnant woman from – and propagandize her against – the person she is probably then trusting as much as her own husband or mother: Her obstetrician. For the urban 38-year-old corporate attorney in her 3rd trimester, and residing 3000 miles from her mother, and who doesn't have a strong clan- or church-based community of helpful friends nearby, to be hijacked, at that critical time, from the OB with whom she's comfortable (not to mention from the social construct in which she's used to living), verges, to my mind, on the criminal. We make a mockery of the word "holistic" if it means we ever berate/vilify/malign, or even subtly cast doubt upon, another human being's very support system. Yet this is repeatedly done by "alternative" practitioners in the birth/postpartum/newborn field, as it is in others, too, in the name of the "natural" and "holistic" approach.
I have been present when circles of "energy healers" and yoga teachers (in rent-free spaces granted them by the liberal San Francisco medical establishment!) have "lovingly" addressed upscale 3rd trimester couples who'd been very happy with their reputable and excellent OBs, "lovingly" imploring them to take on a more militant and adversarial tone with their doctors and their hospitals ("Demand her 'interventions-record'". "If 'change' is going to happen, it'll have to start with YOUR letting your doctor know you insist on her changing her [fill in the blank] policy, or you'll change OBs, even though you're due in 4 weeks! THEN she'll get the message!")
In the absence of outsiders/prospective clients, these "healers" would giggle together, mocking the "probably Republican" voting tendencies and "hopelessly straight" lifestyles of their clients: "I'm scared of these couples!" they'd gasp, commiserating about the life choices made by the professional women who sign $1000+ contracts with them.
Can we step back here, folks?
Can it possibly be loving and "holistic" for a labor-doula to meet, for the first time, a 37-year-old in her 8th month of pregnancy with her first baby, and under the care of the city's top obstetrician, and try to persuade her that the latter is "backward" for not permitting the labor-doula at the birth, and that the woman should therefore ("It's NEVER too late!") switch OBs and hospitals? At that late date? I heard that one last summer.
Is it loving and "holistic" to tell an anxious 40-year-old sleep-deprived mother (whom you've just met) of a 2-week-old, with trusted private lactation consultants and pediatrician, whose baby is struggling with latching onto the breast and thus failing to optimally thrive (an anguishing state of affairs), that her lactation consultant, postpartum coach, and pediatrician and her nurses are ALL "definitely ignorant" and "part of the problem", "on a mission to make [her] milk dry up", and then take her by the hand to an "Infant Chiropractor"? And when that "doesn't work either" (surprise, surprise) leave her high and dry, mistrusting everyone she knows? I witnessed that case just over a year ago.
Often the "alternative practitioners" who "know better" than the OBs entrusted with these higher-risk cases (Yes, the over-35 primipara - first-time childbearer - is at higher risk for such real complications as placenta previa, preeclampsia and eclampsia, gestational diabetes, obstructive leiomyomas [fibroids], premature labor/delivery, etc., than a woman in her 20s, much as some radicals refuse to acknowledge it) are simply lately-certified masseuses or instructors of swaddling-burping or of meditation! And the 3rd-trimester woman had never heard of a "labor-doula" until this evening's meeting!
And yet the activist rhetoric is militant and often supplemented with articles, monographs, references and websites versus everything these vulnerable women (my precious "mommies") trust and depend upon.
NOTE: A minority of urban women have prepared for the more natural birthing modalities, well in advance of their FIRST birth. Other urban women, another perfectly worthy minority, choose on their own to investigate different "birthing" styles and practices AFTER their first birth, when the've chosen to do it differently the second time. I'm all for either scenario for the healthy mother-to-be; the educated consumer, choosing without being pressured or diverted, investigating alternatives under her own steam and in a timely manner: Ideal.
NOTE: The employment of statistical horror-tactics, and the (ab)use of real, ignorant, and frightened human beings (as first-time imminent parents are) as a crowbar for a forced Revolution in Obstetric and Pediatric Medicine is not my idea of "holistic".
Do we say we stand for Holistic Medicine, i.e., treating the whole person within her (not our) whole situation? Then we certainly do not advocate the de-stabilization of the holistic setting, the comprehensive pre-existing support team/community, of a fellow human being in her hour of crisis. Nay, we honor those boundaries, we bow to those structures and endeavor to tread lightly, even invisibly, on the sacred ground of her (not our) story. A Revolution based on trashing the landmarks and lifebuoys of those seeking healthcare - of any kind - is not only not holistic, it isn't even humane.
I know I speak for many in medicine and, especially, its auxiliary and "alternative" orbit, when I decry this thorn in our side. It's painful to see unethical behavior such as this, and downright malpractice on the part of our ostensible/self-proclaimed "colleagues"; it also makes those of us with higher principles
-- come under unfairly pessimistic scrutiny and
-- exert heroic energies to distinguish our noble practices from those of the Ideologue-pack.
Who pays your fees, fellow practitioners? If you can't respect and embrace the Totality of your clients'/patients/ rooted setting(s) and orientations(s), then Guess What: There's nothing Holistic about your work.
In earlier columns I've demonstrated, with respect to food, my concern with both the distinction and interface between:
Physical Life: What we eat, how we exercise, where we go, our state of health, how we support ourselves, gestation-birth-maturity, unto death: That which in Greek would be signified by the word βιος (Bios), hence our word "biology": The study of physical life, and
Spiritual Life: That which infuses the heart, mind, and spirit of the human, rather than the animal, and which is granted through means other than physical, signified by the Greek word Ζωη (Zoé), whence our English word "zoology", actually erroneously signifying specifically animal, as opposed to more general life forms.
Let me state at the outset that the Blood Type Diet cannot bring you any closer to spiritual life (Zoé) than can any other diet, whether "kosher" or "halal" or vegan or raw or whatever else. Nor can fasting entirely, i.e., deliberately countering Bios, serve as one's "ticket to heaven". So if anyone following Dr. D'Adamo's teaching fancies him/herself a more "evolved" spiritual being than those outside this particular fold, s/he is in dire need of an understanding of this very distinction: What, for the sake of the English reader, I'm here calling Zoé vs. Bios.
In our Western tradition, we are familiar with some key Bible stories treating of diet:
1. The almost unrestricted diet permitted Adam
2. The fateful disobedient act of eating that brought about the Fall of humankind
3. The vegetarian diet prescribed Noah
4. The dietary guidelines delivered to the Hebrews via Moses on Mount Sinai and recorded in the Pentateuch
5. The miraculous bread (מנה "Manna": Hebrew for "What is it?") supplied from heaven to those Hebrews for their 40 years of desert sojourning (of which their later Levitical pre- and pro-scriptions said nothing)
6. Food offerings in the Jerusalem Temple, restricted to all but the priests (except for David and his men, as Type of the Messiah and His followers)
7. The food miracles of Jesus (5 loaves and 2 fishes feeding 5000 men plus women and children, and other events like it), as recorded in the Gospels, and
8. The True Bread from heaven, as Jesus called Himself in John 6 and as He explained more fully at the "Last Supper" and as the Apostle expounded later, etc.: The spiritual food to remove the curse that had fallen upon all descendants of Adam (partaker of the Forbidden Food) and to bestow Zoé, the life of the Spirit.
Jesus said, "Labour not for the food which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto Life (Zoé) of the Age, which the Son of Man shall give unto you." And, "The Bread of God is the One descended out of heaven and giving Life (Zoé) unto the world."
He explains, "I am the Bread of Life (Zoé): The one coming to Me will not hunger, and the one believing in Me will never thirst."
BOTTOM LINE: To the religious leaders, He said, "Your fathers ate Manna in the wilderness and died", and, "I am the Bread of Life (Zoé) giving Himself for the Life (Zoé) of the world."
The religious leaders couldn't understand: "How can this one give us [His] flesh to eat?" Such an earthy density of understanding was that also of a specific religious teacher named Nicodemus, who earlier had visited Jesus privately and who could not understand how someone could be "born a second time of his mother's womb". Christ had explained to him, "That born of the flesh is flesh, and that born of the Spirit is spirit...everyone believing in [the Son of Man] shall not perish but have Life (Zoé) of the Age." He spoke of a heavenly food - affording Zoé, Life of ANOTHER (non-Bios) ORDER entirely. The Bios-focussed could not, and cannot, taste of it!
* * * * *
Ah, diets come and diets go.
Are we "majoring on minors" when it comes to reaching out to others and to judging ourselves? If others ask us questions specifically about diet or physical health, sure, we can share of what we believe and practice. If others mock our ways of eating, we need not retaliate or even respond. Why?
Because Diet pertains to the oh-so-fleeting Bios, the animal life and lifespan of that which returneth to the dust: Not a one of us will perfect a physical body that shall live more than, approximately and at best, one lousy century.
For my part, I would sooner, on a diet of DOG CHOW, uplift the spirits of others and help to turn one soul from cruelty or despair to the Light of Truth and Zoé, than live (Bios) to be 150 on a micro-compliant, Tier THREE, B-hypersecretor Diet at the top of my Ivory Tower. As I wrote last month in another column ("Vers Une Santé Totale: Les Maladies, Amies de l'Esprit", 2 January 2006)[Reprise on 23 November 2010]:
(English translation): "The knowledge of BTD science serves a purpose. And the health of all the world's population, were it possible, would serve this same purpose."
Think about that purpose! If everyone on earth "ate according to their type", we'd perhaps have a biologically healthier species: Better (and, dangerously, more prideful) Bios.-----------------------SO WHAT?
If we need to be healthy, WHY is that? To use our good health unto the goal of...a more just world? Well? Do it NOW! Be there NOW! or never. Perfectly healthy people perfectly proving their perfect health would not necessarily constitute that perfect, just and peaceful society: Do you see it? In fact, legal self-righteousness in hyper-refined Bio-dietary obedience ran absolutely counter to, and blinded many against, Zoé two millennia ago (Its very Temple was ground to dust!) BTD notwithstanding, it still does today.
"For the mind of the flesh is Death; but the mind of the Spirit is Life (Zoé) and Peace." (Romans 8:6)
"If there had been a law given which could have given Life (Zoé), verily righteousness should have been of the Law." (Gal. 3:21)
Remember the Manna: It temporarily ministered unto the needs of Bios, the physical organism, about which Christ had this to say: "Your fathers ate Manna in the wilderness and died." (John 6:49)
Is the BTD, or any Diet whatsoever, more evolved, more spiritual than the Manna sent from God? Will it bring you at all closer to Zoé, True Life?
"I'm no baby; I'm an Infantile-American!" This has been one among the many funny sayings and songs I've invented on the job over the decades, working with infants. There's also a little comment, when the supine baby's arm is resting over her/his head, hand in a fist (a very common position, especially when that arm has fought its way out of a swaddle): "Babies Rule". (One of my moms improved on this about 2 years ago: "Infant Power, man". ) Of all my baby-sayings, these two resonate most on the political level.
I have a pet peeve about the "(fill in the blank)-American" description attributing not only ethnicity but also American nationality to unknown individuals, on the basis of appearance alone. Are all black people "African-Americans"? "A male African-American, about 5'9": Really? Did you ask him his nationality? Did you get a good look at his features? What if he was neither African nor American? What if he was SriLankan-British? or Indian-Trinidadian? Or a black Frenchman?
And what about the racially mixed? Could a "European-Asian-American" be actually a Pacific Islander and more or less Caucasian? And what of the so-called "Hispanics"? Aren't they somewhat descended of Europeans? Native Americans?
It seems to me that this politically correct manner of adjectivizing people has created much more outrageous racism than we ever had with the words "white" and "Caucasian", "black" and "Negro". I'd think that calling a man "European-American" who is but a visitor to our shores from his home in Russia amongst his Persian-born family may be more deservedly ill-received than calling him "white" or, yet more accurately, Caucasian.
Then you have the variously "disabled" and "-challenged": Is it really cruel to refer to a blind person as "blind"? A friend recently referred to my "Infantile Americans" as "Developmentally-Challenged", with the sardonic implication that even my tongue-in-cheek terminology is becoming passé.
Here in San Francisco, there may soon come a day when it'll be considered "sexist" to identify someone as male or female! First comes the offense-taking, by one or two extreme activists, and then the legislation. The first phase is already a longstanding fact here: A simple "Excuse me, sir" can equally enrage a cross-dresser of either persuasion!
Of every possible background, I love working with babies and the moms who've just borne them. They know exactly what they are and don't care what you call 'em: "Babies Rule!"
The other night at Whole Foods Market: This B was RAVENOUS. It was 8:30 and I hadn't eaten all day. I raced (Really. Imagine about 15 mph) my cart to the Prepared Foods section for a hot meal:
(1) All 8 soups contained, as major ingredients, either chicken, tomatoes, lentils, chick peas, or corn: PASS
(2) The Indian Food bar: All dishes contained either chicken, tomatoes, lentils, chick peas, or tofu: PASS
(3) The Chinese Food bar: All dishes contained either chicken, tofu, or tempeh, with plenty of soy sauce and sesame products: PASS
(4)(a) The full-service counter offered: Brisket or Lamb shanks in a tomato-based sauce; lasagna, enchilada, etc, and included 6 tomato-sauced pizzas: PASS
(4)(b) Cold foods: Chicken 6 or 7 different ways: PASS. Meat Loaf with Tomato Sauce: PASS. Cold roasted turkey breast: HIT.
(I'm getting pretty speedy at this, BTW. Then I bought an oven-fresh warm foccacia from the bakery, a small jar of Italian roasted red peppers, and a slab of Humboldt Fog (local goat cheese). Rushed home and made a sandwich, with red onion and romaine on it. Great.
But my frustration at the Hot Food Counter did not go unnoticed. Here's how the Pro's do it:
At the counter, I'd muttered, "Why does EVERYTHING have chicken or tomatoes?? AARRRGGHH!"
A man standing nearby said, "Tell me: Is there something wrong with chicken and tomatoes?"
Me: Well, for me. I'm avoiding them, because I eat according to my blood type. B's do best to avoid these. [Pause]
Him: REALLY! I've never heard of this! Fascinating!
Me: Do you know your blood type?
Me: Well, have you ever wondered why some people do well on, say, a vegan/macrobiotic diet of beans and rice and veggies and low key exercise, while others thrive on a lot of meat, more fat, maybe even Atkins, and a heavier workout? And they BOTH seem to be onto something?
Him: Well, I'm doing Atkins, actually, and it's fantastic for ME, but not everyone agrees.
Me: Great. Congratulations. [Pause]
Him: But yeah: Some people say Atkins is all wrong for them: Why IS that?
Me: Yadda, yadda yadda Type A vs. Type O blah blah Individuality. [Pause]
Him: This is really SOMETHING! Why have I never HEARD of this before?
Me: Go see David in "Whole Body". He buys the books here. Tell him to show you ER4YT by Peter D'Adamo.
Him: But I don't know my blood type.
Me: Tell Dave to show you the self blood-typing kit: It's 12 dollars and is a 5-minute test you do at home. Instant results: Tonight.
Him: WOW - I'm REALLY glad I ran into you! This is something I need: I have some health problems that I think are beyond the scope of Atkins.
Me: Good Luck!
A couple of nights later at Whole Foods Market:
(Conversation with WFM employee -- "Team Member")
Me: Hey Nance! How was the wine-pick I gave you last week?
N: Great! It went over really well – even though I prefer RED wine.
Me: Do you have Type A blood by any chance?
N: No. O positive. Why?
Me: Blah blah French Paradox, Type A beneficial, yadda yadda. [Pause]
N: REALLY?? What does it mean, then that I'm O?
Me: If you're in pretty good health, you might just think in terms of animal protein: Meats, poultry, fish, seafood, and curb your intake of dairy and wheat products.
N: Hmmm. Not bad. I don't eat cheese anyway...NO! (whines): Ohhh my cottage cheese! I make this fabulous breakfast with blah blah...
Me: Sounds great, Nance, if you make 2 substitutions: Ready? Farmer's cheese –
N: What's that?
Me: blah blah, and your rye bread should be 100% rye–
N: We HAVE it in the store. I've seen it.
Me: Or you can try manna bread.
N: Frozen? Several flavors?
Me: Right. [Pause]
N: Will I look and feel great if I make all those changes?
Me: Couple it with good, vigorous exercise, and you should notice changes for the better. Sometimes people say, "Y'know, I never realized I had (say) chronic postnasal drip before, but since I've been following the BTD, I realize I'm finally free of it". Things they maybe didn't even–
N: Like my sinuses?
Me: O's are, indeed, prone to allergies–
Me: OK, well, start with dropping blah blah: Tweak that breakfast dish, yadda yadda.
N: Y'know, we HAVE this book in the store: I can go look it up right now!
Me: You're on your own, kid.
Last Weekend at a Favorite Restaurant:
We're being seated, the couple next to us is paying their check.
Me (to the other couple): What'd you have? Any great specials?
Woman: Actually, I had the grilled salmon burger and HE had the blah blah pasta. Everything was great. But I'll tell you, we've seen the special "Beef Medallions" go by a couple of times, and it looks like "the winner".
Me: Great tip. Thanks.
Minutes later: We've ordered. My dinnermate and the woman's dinnermate are using the restroom.
Me: Thanks for the tip: I ordered the Beef.
Woman: The Fried Chicken also looked excellent.
Me: Oh, it's WONDERFUL! I used to order it here all the time, when I used to eat chicken. [Pause]
Woman: (after a LONG pause) Excuse me: You don't eat CHICKEN, but you ordered the BEEF? Are you - I don't know - worried about Avian Flu or something?
Me: Oh, no. I try to eat according to my blood type. I have type B, so I stay away from chicken. Beef is fine. [Pause]
Woman: (Long pause again): WOW! Y'know, I've never heard of this! Is it OK if I ask you: I think I'm A. What does THAT mean?
Me: Well, if you are really A, you probably blah blah semi-vegan yadda yadda low impact types of exercise. [Pause]
Woman (nodding): That is SO ME. (To her returning dinnermate): Listen to this woman. Have you ever heard of BTD and lifestyle?
Woman (leaving): Hey, thanks for that book title. I'm definitely calling my doctor this week for my blood type. Bye!
My returning friend (to me): At it again? You crack me up.
Me: Hey, it worked for YOU!
* * * * * * * *
Interesting notes from the above:
1. The man at the Prepared Foods counter is ALREADY dealing with his diet and has health concerns he'd like to address pronto.
2. Nancy, a vital young O, ALREADY avoids cheese, though she really likes animal protein: Meats, fish (she only really pouted when I said, "Pretty much anything but HAM/PORK products"). Her sinus problems might clear up when she drops the Avoids.
3. The woman in the restaurant thinks she's A and ALREADY avoids red meat, she'd told me, and likes taking walks and doing yoga.
See? Many people are halfway here. Whether they become "more compliant" or not, they sure do like being educated if THEY choose to break my characteristic "minding-my-own-business, finding-something-else-to-look-at/focus-on, la dee dah" PAUSES. I absolutely NEVER push anyone. I let others do ALL, not some, of the asking.
Note how I dismiss the bulk of the spiel, above, with "yadda yadda" and "blah blah"; we all know the Right Content. That's NOT what greases the rails, my friends. Most people appreciate being permitted to absorb what they've already heard AND to be left alone until they're ready to pursue further information, if ever. Ergo: The Pause.
Imagine this on you inner screen: "Wanna Know More? Click here." Absolutely REFUSE to push your own buttons: Let others decide, at brief and regular intervals, whether to "click on" your further spiel by asking a question, or end the discussion. And thus:
Become an Adept at The Art of the Pause.
Re: BTD. Re: Politics. Re: Religion. Re: Ideological/Philosophic hobby-horses. Re: Everything. People will appreciate rather than dread hearing you start talking.
Above all, be such a shining example of "The Disinterested Altruist" that people will crave your input, and of "The Balanced View" that they'll want what you have. This begins with YOUR DECIDING what you're really after: The Health and Well-Being of Others, If They Want It (or) Debtors.
If "Disinterest" and "Balance" aren't your style, try clamming up. It works, too.
Some people report problems with many red wines: Headaches and the like. Often this is a matter of tannins, in which case it's a good idea to experiment with the low-tannin, more quaffable reds. Hint: If Beaujolais Nouveau (harvested a mere 3-8 WEEKS before release) doesn't upset you, your problem could very well be a matter of tannins.
But, hey, maybe you do well with ANY red wine, but you're looking for something you can drink shortly after it's released, not having a cellar or collection, or not being a wine connoisseur...What you'd want, therefore, is a red wine that is low in tannins, which means it's easy to drink young. Red wines that are heavy on the tannins take years to "grow into" them; tannins are what provide "structure" to these cellarable and complex elixirs.
But if the simpler quaffs are the ones you want (and these are, in fact, more food-friendly than the Big Boys), look at the other Beaujolais, especially since "Nouveau" or "Primeur" is out of date within just a few months of release!
(1) The top: Cru Beaujolais, meaning the 10 villages accorded this status. Crus are the longest-lived, generally, of the Beau's, some more than others. A great Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent is sometimes compared with Burgundy, being the most highly structured (tannins!) of the Crus; therefore these can lie down for 3-8 years. Although: I had a fantastic Moulin-à-Vent a few months ago, a 2003 (a FABULOUS year for Beaujolais) that would have been just right for the tannin-avoider. Perfect, in fact. Even elegant, which many wine snobs would never say about a Beaujolais (Fine, all the more for me). The other 8 Crus are nice, too, at 1-3 years.
(2) The Beaujolais-Villages: One step down from Cru, and one up from straight Beauj. In a good year, these can be every bit as good as Cru.
(3) Beaujolais: This is what the People drink, and it's good enough for me, if it's good enough. But definitely drink it within 1 to 1-1/2 years of bottling.
Now take a look at some of your Cabernet Francs: I've enjoyed Saumur-Champigny, Chinon and Bourgueuil, all from the Loire region of France. These are, also, drinkable young. If you're inclined to try a Cab. Franc from another region, go ahead!
Crozes-Hermitage, some New World Merlot (New World=Southern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere)(this category includes thousands and thousands of wines), and some Bordeaux that are skewed toward Merlot/Cabernet Franc (rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, which is more tannin-heavy)(ask the knowledgeable seller, if the proportions are not listed on the back label, which labelling is becoming more prevalent as consumers become more savvy), St-Josèph, Vacqueyras, and Côtes du Rhône: All available young (under 3 years old).
From Spain, the Garnacha is generally easy and fruity, and often is harvested from old vines; and some Tempranillo is easy-drinking as well. Try the Garnacha, and if you prefer something somewhat more refined, look for it blended with Tempranillo (should be stated on the label, front or back), and it should be pretty easy on you, tannin-wise, as well as money-wise.
From Italy, try Bardolino and Valpolicella, drinkable ONLY young, really. There's always Chianti, as well as Nebbiolo d'Albi, and Barbera d'Alba (some).
Finally, don't ignore the Pinks! These are meant to be drunk as close to harvest-time as possible, talk about tannin-freeness. Don't laugh at the thought, as if Pinks are for...teenagers or "girls". There are exciting pinks being made today...some have a transparent red-pinkness to them, and I highly suggest you experiment with these if tannin is your problem. My all-time favorite in this category has long been Domaine Tempier (Bandol), but I'm royally miffed that they keep raising the price, to the point where a beloved quaff is now a "special treat" (Sorry, but I find $24 for a bottle of Pink a bit steep! But at least it shows you the "seriousness" of the category). I love an organic pink coming out of Argentina's famous Malbec crop: It's under the Familia Zuccardi label and is available in the US at Whole Foods Market for something like $8. (When I first tried it, it was on sale for $6: Talk about low-risk, and I high-tailed it back there and bought more, after having tasted it). This wine wordlessly answers the question "How can a wine be really, really fruity with LOW residual sugar?", a common one among the uninitiated.
Now: Don't be afraid of white wine. ALL of it is tannin-free. And there are some superb combinations with food, with which you'd never usually consider white the right accompaniment. If there is demand, I'll share white wine tips with you soon. Otherwise, I'll keep them a secret.