Archive for December, 2008
A modest amount of wine could help to beat memory loss and delay the onset of dementia, claim researchers, who added that the same goes for a few squares of chocolate and cups of tea.
However, if anyone thinks that they have got the licence to over-indulge during the festive season, should beware. According to scientists, the benefits wear off dramatically if people take more than half a glass of wine, four squares of chocolate or five cups of tea.
To reach the conclusion, Oxford University researchers examined more than 2,000 elderly people to measure cognitive performance.
They found that chocolate, wine and tea boosted the brainpower of those aged 70 to 74, reports the Daily Express.
Wine was most effective, with better performances after just a tipple.
It has long been claimed that people who consume a lot of flavonoids – present in the food and drinks studied – show lower signs of dementia.
The holiday looms, and so does Christmas. All you want to do is chill out after what’s been a hard year. But that’s not always the easiest thing to do – you know the bit about life being “the thing that happens while you’re making other plans”.
For some, chilling out may mean booking a camping site 20 km from the nearest village a year in advance. Or going into a Trappist monastery until the festive season is over.
But most people will have a more sociable time – either at home, visiting relatives, or at the seaside somewhere. Who knows, you might need to get back to the office in January to get some rest. In order to get the most out of your break, try and avoid the following festive season stressors.
Guests galore. You have a big house, and over Christmas it fills up with aunties, grannies, nieces, uncles – you name it. Instead of looking after four people, you are now looking after twelve. This is no holiday for you, as you are the unofficial entertainment committee, the caterer, the conflict resolution specialist, and the local cleaner. If you live in a popular destination, you might have to put your foot down. Or at least put together a duty roster for the cooking and the cleaning. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t feel you have to be the unofficial tour guide. Take a day or two off and let the guests entertain themselves.
Feeding frenzy. Food, food, food. It’s all over during the Christmas season and it’s lying in wait for you everywhere, and we’re not talking about celery sticks either. It’s chips, cakes, cheese snacks, chocolates, to name but a few. And, after all, you’re on holiday. So why not? That’s fine, but just don’t get into a new habit. Most people end the festive season with quite a few kilos that were not there in November. Don’t become a festive season fatty.
Booze bonanza. From the office party to friends’ homes, to family barbecues – booze is no stranger to the festive season. And often, other people are paying for it. By all means have a beer or two, if you’re not driving, but don’t binge on booze. Drinking too much is something that carries its own punishment with it, a bit like eating that second helping of hot Indian curry. And do remember, that everyone likes you to have a drink or two, but nobody likes having a social embarrassment at their parties. Fall down drunk, or insult one of the other guests, and you can be sure you’ll be off the party list. Forever.
I’m so lonely. Some people wish everything could be a little quieter. Others wish for a break from the peace and quiet and they dream of the phone ringing or a horde of guests arriving. The secret is to arrange a few things in advance. Invite people for supper, get a friend to go with you to a movie, or organise a day or two away in a different place. Don’t wait until the festive season is upon you before doing something about your social calendar. It’s not going to happen by itself.
Exercise inertia. Most people give their exercise regimes a break during the festive season. It is, after all, the end of the year. Problem is, many people overindulge completely on the food front at the same time, and coupled with a fortnight of couch-potato-ism, your waistline might be expanding at the rate of knots. Go for a walk with the family, run along the beach, play volleyball. Do anything to burn up those extra calories. And get back into it early in the new year.
Credit card crisis. The last of the Big Spenders. If that describes you in the shopping centre with your Christmas bonus and your credit card, you’re obviously a sucker for all those Christmas ads. And you’re going to be stony broke in January, and depressed in February when the credit card statements start arriving. Point is that you can probably buy just as nice a present for R100 as you can for R200, or R400. You just need to plan it well. It’s the thought that counts, not the size of the present.
Sunburn stress. The sun in the southern hemisphere is vicious , and skin cancer is a real danger. And remember that the damage is cumulative. Burning yourself to a crisp or having a whimpering and sunburnt child on your hands, is no way to spend Christmas. Speak to your pharmacist and get a high-factor sunblock before you head for the beach. And speaking of the beach – watch out for bluebottles or pieces of broken glass in the sand.
Crowd control. Think of Christmas, and what many people see are teeming masses of people in a shopping centre, all of them with a mission, and accompanied by at least two unwilling and exhausted kids. It can be avoided – do your gift shopping in November and do a bulk grocery shop before 15 December. Milling crowds can be exhausting, and elicit everything but the Christmas spirit in you. In fact, it can bring on a bout of trolley rage.
Gift of the grab. Frantic last-minute gift-buying is a killer – not only don’t you get what you are looking for, you also spend a fortune on it. Rather than give unwanted and expensive presents, go for gift vouchers – at least people will appreciate them, even if they are not the most personal of offerings.
Family fest. Family. You get them, you don’t choose them. And never is it more obvious than at Christmas time when Uncle Freddy is holding forth on all his achievements, or Aunt Doris is slurring after her third beer. Or your cousin’s kids are running around screaming, chasing your poor cats. Then there are the endless questions about when you are going to tie the knot, have babies etc. Family get-togethers seldom do much for your self-esteem. Just repeat the mantra, “It will soon be over for another year.”
Moderate consumption of red wine on a regular basis may help to prevent coronary disease and some forms of cancer. The chemical components thought to be responsible are catechins, also known as flavanoids and related to tannins . Catechins are believed to function as anti-oxidants, preventing molecules known as “free-radicals” from doing cellular damage. One particular form of flavinoid, called oligomeric procyanidin, recently proved to prevent hardening of the arteries.
There are also compounds in grapes and wine (especially red wine,grape juice, dark beers and tea, but absent in white wine, light beers and spirits) called resveratrol and quercetin. Clinical and statistical evidence and laboratory studies have shown these may boost the immune system, block cancer formation, and possibly protect against heart disease and even prolong life.
One recent study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, indicates that resveratrol also inhibits formation of a protein that produces a condition called cardio fibrosis, which reduces the heart’s pumping efficiency when it is needed most, at times of stress. More evidence suggests that wine dilates the small blood vessels and helps to prevent angina and clotting. The alcohol in wine additionally helps balance cholesterol towards the good type.
When pairing wine and cheese, you want a wine that’s going to complement the flavours of the cheese and not overpower it – and vice versa. You wouldn’t drink a really light wine with a strong-tasting cheese, or a mild cheese with a full-bodied, robust wine.
There’s a general rule of thumb to follow: the stronger the cheese is, move up the spectrum of the body of wine.”
Mild, hard cheeses such as cheddar are best paired with Gamet Noir, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, unwooded Chardonnays or Cabernet Francs. While stronger hard cheeses such as aged Gouda or Asiago go best with a full-bodied Shiraz, Zinfandel or Bordeaux blends.
Aromatic wines such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer are great with soft cheeses like brie and Camembert; while a Sauvignon Blanc and Rose are classic pairings for goat cheese.
When it comes to blue cheeses, you want to pick an ice wine, late harvest wine or port. Going for higher sugar content will smooth out the edges of a strong blue cheese
The festive season is famous for bringing family and friends together. This will undoubtedly result in more social eating and of course drinking. Here are some principles to apply this season:
Know your limits:
Safe and healthy alcohol intake levels are 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women (women generally have less of the enzyme that helps break down alcohol in the body).
This means that one unit of alcohol a day is considered safe and healthy for an adult female and two units for a male. One unit = 340ml beer, tot (25ml) spirits, 50ml port, sherry or muscadel or 120ml wine.
Moderation is key:
Spread your weekly alcohol allowance as evenly as possible over seven days. Infrequent bingeing on alcohol can bring on attacks of gout or pancreatitis, and may cause abnormalities in heart rhythms and increases your risk of cancer.
Stretch your intake:
Use plenty of ice, water or soda water in spirit drinks or white wine (to make a spritzer); this dilutes the alcohol while increasing the volume so you drink less. Ensure your first drink is some other liquid e.g. a mineral water or a cooldrink – your alcoholic beverage should not be used as a thirst quencher.
On average it will take the liver about an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. So even after a night’s sleep, if you have had six cans of beer or two bottles of wine, you could still be over the legal limit the next day. Remember that, when driving.
Being fitter makes no difference to the rate of absorption. But, the absence or presence of food and the type of fluid that accompanies the alcohol does. Alcohol consumed on an empty stomach is more rapidly absorbed. Water and fruit juices mixed with alcohol slow the absorption process, whereas carbonated drinks (because of the carbon dioxide) will speed it up. Warm alcohol is absorbed quicker than cold alcohol.
The calorie content of alcoholic beverages (which depends on the percentage of alcohol, the type of beverage and the type of mixture) plus the behaviour associated with drinking all have their part to play in the effect it will have on your weight.
When drinking alcohol, you tend to snack more, especially on the high fat foods, often available in social drinking environments. Eating high in fat take-away food (e.g. pies or burgers) late at night is another typical problem which arises after drinking, especially in students and young adults.
If you are watching your waistline, consider that one unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a slice of bread. It is then prudent to occasionally substitute a carbohydrate during the day to compensate for a drink or two that night.
Apply the 24 hour rule for training:
Avoid alcohol in the 24 hours prior to exercise. After exercise, once you have rehydrated and refuelled with carbohydrates, enjoy alcohol (and here I must include the ‘in moderation’). However, if you have any soft tissue injuries or bruising, abstain from alcohol for another 24 hours.
My personal favourite – a Rock Shandy (soda water, angostura bitters, ice and a slice of lemon) gives the impression of being an alcoholic drink, but hardly contains alcohol and calories – a sneaky option when friends continuously want to buy you a drink when they spot you standing empty handed.
Did you know?
Using thinner, taller glasses (especially wine glasses) can help you reduce your consumption. Research shows that people consume more alcohol when drinking out of shorter, wider glasses.
By Karlien Smit RD (SA), Dietician for the SSISA Healthy Weight Programme, Shelly Meltzer & Associates, Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).
For a gift with a real feel-good factor for both the giver and the recipient, Long Distance wines are the perfect present. It’s a win-win situation: the lucky recipient has the opportunity to enjoy a unique limited-edition blend of good Riesling, and you’ll be contributing towards a worthy charitable cause as the entire proceeds will be donated to the South African mentally handicapped national soccer team.
Created by winemaker Christoph Hammel, who produced 1 500 litres of Riesling in Germany, and South African winemaker Morné van Rooyen who produced 1 500 litres of Riesling locally, the end result is a quality wine which is as good on the palate as it is on the conscience. The entire winemaking process occurred while the two winemakers were on opposite sides of the world and relied mostly on technology to perfect their blend.
This pale-straw colour wine with an intense floral nose, bright acidity and a hint of sweetness on the palate is ideal for enjoying chilled during the silly season.
Long Distance is available at Welmoed cellar door at a mere R50 per bottle. Call 021 881 8062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
This time of year is not called “silly season” for nothing! December arrives and with it comes extended traffic jams, queues and congestion.
This is a time for sharing. Involve your family and friends in all festive preparations. Here are some ideas to help lighten your load.
• As a family set a theme or colour scheme for this Christmas. Involve everyone in choosing decorations and they’ll want to stay involved with setting things up.
• If you are planning on having lots of visitors throughout the day – set the table once – use a long lasting centre piece such as ‘peace in the home’ in terracotta pots, add candles, lanterns and torches for the night time. Set up a separate table for buffet tea/coffee – this takes off a lot of pressure and gives you more time to mingle and relax.
• Decide on a simple menu that can be prepared well in advance to reduce last minute stress. You want to be out celebrating with your guests and not cooped up in the kitchen.
• Delegate simple tasks to the kids – setting the table (you can do a sample setting for them to copy), gift wrapping, card making. The key is to keep things fun – that way they’ll stay motivated. Tip: set out some coloured card, stars and glitter glue so the children can make their own cards while you focus on more challenging things.
• This is a great time of year to go through the old toys to make space for the new. Involve the children with this task and let them put broken or seldom-used toys aside for giving away. Before Christmas go with your children to a charity of their choice to experience the joy of giving.
• Shop for gifts throughout the year – this way you won’t blow your entire bonus cheque on Christmas gifts. Have a list of names with a budget figure next to their name to keep you focused – once you have purchased a gift for that person write the gift next to the name and cross them off your list. Remember teachers and caregivers and have a couple of extra generic gifts packed away in case someone unexpected pops in. (This tip might be a little late… but as the saying goes ‘better late than never’ – now you know the info – get to the stores ASAP)
• Keep one running ‘to-do’ list. As a family decide who will take on which tasks. People are far more likely to carry out a task if they have chosen to do it other than being told that they have to do it.
• Do whatever preparations you can at least 2 weeks before. On your ‘to-do’ list allocate an estimated time frame for the task – mark in red the tasks that can be carried out before the time and allocate a time for these in your diary.
• Remember that this is supposed to be fun. If you feel yourself slipping into the wicked witch of the west… take a deep breath and laugh it off.
Articles supplied by Tracey Foulkes of the national professional organiser company Get Organised. Visit www.getorganised.co.za. to download your free organising info pack to help you take control of your clutter and create calm in your life. Contact email@example.com, 084 507 6891.
The Telegraph Travel Awards for 2008 were released today and New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were voted the readers’ “favourite destinations on earth”; while their favourite cities were voted as Cape Town, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver.
The Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town was named one of the favourite city hotels in the world to visit.
More than 25 000 readers were polled in Britain’s biggest survey of travel habits and an overwhelming 92 per cent of them maintain that the financial crisis will not affect their choice of holiday destinations. 96 per cent of the readers polled refuse to downgrade their holiday accommodation.
The readers’ favourite destinations (outside of Europe) can be identified as ones where the pound has strengthened against the respective foreign currencies in the past year (the Australian and New Zealand dollars, and the South African rand). The same can be said for the choices of cities, with the exception of San Francisco (where the pound has fallen against the dollar).
The Telegraph readers’ holiday budget remains high – more than half of the readers polled spent more than £1,000 (R15 220) on their last holiday: one in six spent between £2,500 (R38 000) and £5,000 (R76 000) and one in twenty spent more than £5,000.
“As Britain enters a new winter of discontent, taking a break may never feel more needed, but the value for money it provides will be scrutinised like never before,” said Charles Starmer-Smith.
“This is why, during belt-tightening times, readers return to destinations they know – namely, the English-speaking former colonies.”
This is a dilemma amongst many of us. There are times we want to drink wine but couldn’t finish a bottle alone.
Or when we are with a date who is not much of a wine drinker, we will end up with leftover wine, which of course we do not want to just throw away. Wine is really tough to preserve after opening. But there are gadgets to do this preservation for us.
Remember, re-corking your opened wine does not help much, except prolong the wine for a few more hours. As you know, the cork is porous, and aeration will continue to happen, risking the optimum quality of your wine. Putting your leftover wine into a refrigerator also help very little, and may actually make the wine worse. Not only will the change in temperature of the wine fluctuate drastically, but refrigerators also vibrate, and vibration further agitates the wine. The odour of food in the fridge may also affect the wine.
The only way to preserve wine is to seal it properly. You can buy expensive sealing machines or you can simply buy wine with screw cap closures (also called Stelvin closures).
Numerous wines in the award-winning Kumkani range are sealed with screwcap closures. Unlike former years when screwcaps were used mainly for sealing inferior quality or cheaper wine, these wines are certainly worth preserving for future consumption.
WINE magazine recommends two wine preserving options. One option is the SoWine-bar refrigerated storage unit. If you are not in the mood to finish a bottle of wine, simply place the opened bottle back into the compartment and plunge down the oxidation extraction cap. The oxygen extraction system will draw oxygen from the bottle, keeping it “fresh” and unoxidised until your next party. The SoWine-bar is distributed by Wine Essentials and retails for R4299. Visit www.wineessentials.co.za for more info.
The second option is the Preserver Loyalty Can. This can retails for R65 and is an easy and effective way to preserve opened wine. All you do is to squirt the odourless, argon gas into the neck of the bottle to prevent contact with oxygen, then lightly re-insert the cork or screw the cap back on. The bottle can then be kept in a cool place for between one and two weeks. The Preserver is available at winesense. Call them on 021 702 0128 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Seeing how expensive (especially the storage units) and complicated preserving wine can be, I suggest that you only save wines that are worth saving— those expensive and fuller-bodied reds. Also, the fuller or heavier bodied your wine is, the better it preserves on its own for hours without any preservation method.
When I am asked how long a wine should be kept when opened, I always give the six-hour rule—meaning, sip and drink gradually, and your wine should still be good for six hours (at comfortable room temperature). But the lighter the body, the lower the alcohol, the faster the wine loses its elements. For these wines, even the wine preservation gadgets cannot salvage them.
The best (cheapest and most satisfying) solution, however, remains very simple… just finish the bottle.
Summer celebrations usually conjure up thoughts of sweet treats and some bubbly. Here’s an easy, delicious dessert which incorporates the best of both these elements. You’re bound to receive a barrage of compliments from your guests!
- 200g digestive biscuits
-90g butter, melted
- 15ml gelatine
- 60ml water
- 500g cream cheese
- 85ml castor sugar
- Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
- 125ml sparkling wine
(the Kumkani Infiniti Methode Cap Classique is ideal)
- 250ml cream, lightly whipped
- 1 punnet of cherries, washed, retaining stalks
- Icing sugar
- Crush the biscuits and combine with butter.
- Press into base of a 20cm, loose-bottomed cake pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle gelatine over water and set aside to form a thick cake.
- In a mixing bowl, beat cheese and castor sugar together. Add rind, juice and sparkling wine and beat again.
- Place gelatine in microwave on medium for 1 minute. Pouring from a height, add to cheese mixture and then stir through the cream.
- Pour into biscuit base, cover and refrigerate for three hours.
- Just before serving, stone a handful of cherries.
- Place in food processor with 60ml sugar, 100ml warm water and 15ml honey. Process till you have a chunky sauce.
- Use remaining cherries to decorate the top of the cheesecake.
- Drizzle over the cooled sauce and sift over some icing sugar and serve.
Source: The Times
Contrary to what you may expect, most wines today are made for consumption while they are still young (within a year or two of the vintage on the label) and will not improve much over time.
With red wines, you can generally bank on an older vintage having more complexity and smoothness than a younger vintage, especially for age-worthy grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends containing these grapes.
Because red wines contain age-friendly tannins originating from contact with grape skins and stems, and from aging in oak barrels, they continue to develop and mature inside the bottle and become more drinkable over time.
Fine red wines that are more expensive than average usually will improve with age, whereas lower-priced wines, usually under R40 , are made for more immediate consumption — within months of their release.
The issue of vintage can be complex. There are wine vintage charts (available as a reference resource in many wine stores) that list wine regions around the world and rate each vintage year according to its quality, which is primarily determined by that year’s weather.
Weather in a given year is more critical in France, for example, than in the United States because wine laws in France prohibit irrigation of vines. In other words, the quantity of water that a vine gets is not controlled.
What’s more, the climates in California wine regions are fairly consistent from year to year, making differences between vintages less meaningful.
Red wines age according to a curve that reaches a peak of improvement and then declines. It is just a guess by winemakers and wine critics as to when in the life of the wine that peak occurs
Because white wines are absent of tannins and their preservative characteristics, the older a white wine gets, the greater the chance that it may be beyond its peak and on the downside slope of its “drinkability” curve.
Source: Ventura Country Star
Buying for a math geek or a collector? Experts offer tips on how to judge a person’s preferences
Picking out the right wine for someone during the holidays could prove as challenging as buying a present for the in-laws who have everything.
Which varietal? How much to spend? Go bold – or delicate? Is a bottle of Sherry the ultimate insult?
These questions become particularly difficult when you don’t know the recipient’s wine taste. Steer clear of giving wine to anyone who you’re not certain drinks alcohol.It could become awkward if the person is a recovering alcoholic or for religious reasons doesn’t drink.
But if they do, the trick is in the pairing. Our experts have a lot of tips, everything from matching personalities to wine to finding clues in the foods and beverages they drink.
Tim Hanni, a master of wine, has his own theories about people’s likes and dislikes based on how many taste buds they have on their tongue. While it might be a little presumptuous, and definitely strange, to ask your boss if you could get a look inside his or her mouth, Hanni says there are other hints to follow.
“How they drink their coffee could be a telltale sign,” says the wine master. “If they prefer their coffee black and strong, their wine preference will more than likely lean toward intense wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, old-vine Zinfandels and many Meritage wines (usually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes).”
Hanni says cream-and-sugar coffee drinkers are more likely to show a preference for moderately sweet wines, such as Muscat and Riesling. Sparkling wines are also an option. He says to look for labels that have 2 to 6 percent residual sugar levels.
People who salt their food heavily are also likely to go for the sweeter wines, according to Hanni. Same goes for folks who gravitate to sweet cocktails such as mojitos and pina coladas. He says Manhattan, martini and classic margarita drinkers would probably appreciate Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Merlot and Chardonnay. For the whisky, Cognac, Tequila and Scotch crowd, try big, bold reds and oaky, expensive Chardonnays.
Don’t have a clue about what kind of cocktails the person you’re buying for likes or how he or she takes coffee? Hanni suggests going with personality traits. A man with a strong personality who is good at math would probably prefer a wine that’s received a high rating from Robert Parker. If he’s more artistic and a little disorganised, go with Pinot Noir, dry Riesling and wines you would describe to your merchant as delicate and expressive.
For a strong woman, Hanni suggests Shiraz, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. For an artistic woman, go for something sweet, like a fruit wine, he says. “Of course these are all generalisations,” says Hanni. “But in my experience, they tend to work.”
If you don’t know someone well enough to judge their wine taste, get something festive that they can share with other people. Good choices are Champagne, sparkling wine, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc – it goes great with food.
The wines from the company of wine people’s stable have been chosen to be served on one of the world’s largest airlines, namely British Airways
The Thandi Chardonnay 2006 was chosen for the British Airways Comair Club Class while the immensely popular Arniston Bay Chenin Blanc Chardonnay 2008 was chosen for the Traveller Class.
Executive director of sales and marketing, Chris O’Shea, said: “We are very proud to be associated with a world-class airline and brand such as British Airways in having the opportunity for wine drinkers to enjoy two wines from our growing and internationally recognised brands. We see British Airways as both a relevant business partner as well as providing a great match for our successful Arniston Bay and Thandi wines.”
The Thandi Chardonnay is continuing its winning streak after winning a silver medal at the International Wine Challenge, silver at the renowned Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and silver at the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge this year. This string of accolades attests to the fact that Thandi – the first wine in the world to receive Fairtrade accreditation – prides itself on producing first-rate wines. This Chardonnay is concentrated and achieves a fine balance between fruit and oak, has citrus and orange blossom aromas on the nose and hints of vanilla on the palate.
The Arniston Bay Chenin Blanc Chardonnay – also available in an eco-friendly, innovative pouch – is consistently one of the company’s best-selling wines. This expertly blended wine has pineapple and ripe melon flavours on the nose, a full middle palate and ends with a crisp freshness. It’s best served with light meals, salads and seafood.
Arniston Bay is one of the best-selling international brands in the United Kingdom, the Far East and parts of Europe. The Arniston Bay range is available in a variety of packaging alternatives (such as a 187ml and 250ml pouch which is ideal for travel and event channels) and has a multitude of offerings ranging from easy-drinking entry level wines to more sophisticated wines for discerning palates.
the company of wine people is one of South Africa’s top wine exporters whose people are passionate about producing wine for those who love sharing good wine. Its core brands are the ‘king’ of South African wine Kumkani, Thandi – the first wine in the world to be Fairtrade accredited, traditional Welmoed, unconventional Versus and the lifestyle wine Arniston Bay. The winemaking team, under the guidance of chief winemaker Nicky Versfeld, ensures that the company of wine people boasts with a diverse variety of excellent wine suitable for every drinking occasion.
For more information, visit www.thecompanyofwinepeople.com