Archive for February, 2009
Playing a certain type of music can enhance the way wine tastes, research by psychologists suggests.
The Heriot Watt University study found people rated the change in taste by up to 60% depending on the melody heard.
The researchers said cabernet sauvignon was most affected by “powerful and heavy” music, and chardonnay by “zingy and refreshing” sounds.
Professor Adrian North said the study could lead retailers to put music recommendations on their wine bottles.
The research involved 250 students at the university who were offered a free glass of wine in exchange for their views.
Four types of music were played – Carmina Burana by Orff (”powerful and heavy”), Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (”subtle and refined”), Just Can’t Get Enough by Nouvelle Vague (”zingy and refreshing”) and Slow Breakdown by Michael Brook (”mellow and soft”)
The white wine was rated 40% more zingy and refreshing when that music was played, but only 26% more mellow and soft when music in that category was heard.
The red was altered 25% by mellow and fresh music, yet 60% by powerful and heavy music.
The results were put down to “cognitive priming theory”, where the music sets up the brain to respond to the wine in a certain way.
“Wine manufacturers could recommend that while drinking a certain wine, you should listen to a certain sort of music,” Prof North said.
Here are some music and wine pairings suggestions
Cabernet Sauvignon: All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix), Honky Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones), Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney and Wings), Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who)
Chardonnay: Atomic (Blondie), Rock DJ (Robbie Williams), What’s Love Got To Do With It (Tina Turner), Spinning Around (Kylie Minogue)
Syrah: Nessun Dorma (Puccini), Orinoco Flow (Enya), Chariots Of Fire (Vangelis), Canon (Johann Pachelbel)
Merlot: Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding), Easy (Lionel Ritchie), Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy), Heartbeats (Jose Gonzalez)
Several years ago, a group of researchers from around the world set out to find which among a select group of known heart-healthy foods was actually the healthiest. The answer: red wine.
They found that drinking 150 ml of red wine in and of itself has the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease by 32 percent. The other foods and their contribution to saving heart health:
- Garlic: 1-to-2 cloves a day – 25%
- Chocolate: 100g a day – 21%
- Fruits and vegetables: 400g a day – 21%
- Fish: 110g a day – 14%
- Almonds: 70g ounces a day – 12.5%
Curtis Ellison one of America’s leading heart researchers and the person who coined the phrase “The French Paradox.” observed that red wine was the reason the French have a low rate of heart disease even though they eat a diet rich in butter, cream and cheese.
He said that moderate drinking – and this holds true for alcohol in all its consumable forms – has been found to promote a healthy heart in a variety of ways, but its most dramatic effect is its influence on the levels of cholesterol in the blood. It helps lower bad LDL cholesterol, but more importantly it markedly increases the levels of heart-protecting HDL cholesterol.
Studies have found that moderate drinkers are much less likely to form arterial clots that lead to a heart attack or stroke than heavy drinkers or people who don’t drink at all. And, if clots form, they are more likely to dissolve rapidly in moderate drinkers. Though these findings hold true for all alcohol, the most significant benefits come from drinking wine.
The Fruit of the Vine
What wine contains and hard liquor lacks are polyphenols, special nutrients found in plant foods. Wine contains more than 500 active substances, but two polyphenols in particular have been the focus of scientific study: resveratrol and saponins.
Scientists believe that these substances (and possibly others) work in synergy to alter blood chemistry in ways that help lower cholesterol and prevent other processes that lead to hardening of the arteries.
The plant of note is the grape vine and the wine of choice is red, because it is abundantly richer in polyphenols than white. Heart-protecting polyphenols are concentrated in the skin and seeds, which are used in making red wine but are removed to make white wine
Not only does red wine contain more polyphenols, but scientists believe that the fermenting process that turns the grapes into red wine concentrates and expands the action of the nutrients. As a result, the polyphenol content of red wine has been found to be as much as 10 times greater than it is in white. You can, however, get benefits from white wine, but just not as many.
One Glass a Day
The operative word for all alcohol consumption is moderation. For women that means one five-ounce glass of wine every day or at least five days a week. For men, moderation is considered two glasses.
This does not mean you can save it up and have all your drinks over one or two nights. The beneficial effects, according to Dr. Ellison, may last only 24 to 36 hours after the wine is consumed.
The second caveat is that wine is not considered a healthy benefit for people who cannot drink or should not drink for other health reasons
Cooking with the right wine has been the secret of many restaurant chefs. Nowadays adventurous home cooks are being tempted to dabble and experiment with it.
Cooking with wine
Foods cooked in wine or served with wine-enriched sauces can be lifted to another plane. For a long time though, it was believed that any old plonk could be poured into a beef stew to make a boeuf bourguignon. Wines that lay in half-drunk bottles or wines that were undrinkable often found their way into stewed fruit or sauces.
But sophisticated cooks say that using the right wine in your cooking is nearly as important as choosing the right wine to drink. Sure, you won’t be pouring your best vintage Bordeaux to deglaze a pan, but quality is important while cooking with wine.
What you can do with wine: Wine can be used at various stages of the cooking process. Steaks, for instance, can be marinated in red wine and seasoning for several hours before being grilled or tossed on the barbecue. The wine tenderises the meat. The remaining marinade also makes an excellent sauce for the meat. Most frequently, wine is used to deglaze a pan in which meats have been sauted and the resulting mixture forms the base of a sauce to be served with the meat.
Wines reduce quickly, and the reduction process intensifies the flavour rather than the alcohol content. In fact, the alcohol content is considerably reduced when wine is ‘cooked’ down.What reduction also does is to intensify the colour of the wine in the food, so you end up with a rich, brown rather than the purple or cherry red you might find in a wine glass.
What to cook with:
Find a couple of basic reds and whites you enjoy drinking and incorporate them into your cooking. As you get a hang of the flavour range you are looking for and the effect that wine has on various ingredients, you can experiment some more. If you are, for instance, making a seafood risotto and plan to drink it with a Chardonnay, consider using the same wine for the risotto.
All sorts of combinations are possible. You can use a Sauvignon Blanc, with its herbaceous qualities, in a dish that highlights herbs. Zinfandels have a berry or cherry character, which would be a nice background to a fruit sauce for duck or pork. A buttery Chardonnay is the perfect base for a beurre blanc. The more you learn about the characteristics of your favourite wine, the more creative you can get with your cooking.
There are also fortified wines which are used for cooking. These are fortified with alcohol which adds complexity and herbs and condiments which impart their fragrance and flavour to the wine. Sherry and port falls into this category and since they are sweet, it works well in fruit desserts. Sweet vermouth with its herbal flavour works the same way. Wines can also be used at the very end of the cooking process. Marsala can be used to finish a sauce and sherry can be added to a cream soup for extra flavour.
Source: Times of India
At what temperature must I drink my wine? I have heard this question a lot and the Wine Advocate had the answer to this question.
Ever been told that you can’t drink your red wine with ice or your white wine at room temperature? Here’s how you should answer those guys… “It’s my wine and I will drink it the way I like it!”
This is what wine is all about – ENJOYMENT, so drink it the way you enjoy it.
However, there are good reasons why wines “should” be drunk at certain temperatures, the main one being that the flavour of the wine will be at its optimum at those temperatures. White wine should be served and drunk at between eight and ten degrees celsius while red wine should be around 15 degrees.
If you want to be even more specific, you could say that temperatures should differ according to the grape varietal. With red wines, the fuller bodied the wine, the warmer it should be, and the lighter the wine, the cooler it should be. It is also better to rather serve a red wine too cold than too warm and a white wine too warm rather than too cold, as the flavours tend to be suppressed if served the other way around.
When you are out and about, there are some pretty nifty ways to cool a wine down if you don’t have a fridge handy. If you are at a beach or a river, dip your beach towel into the sea or other water, wrap it around the bottle and leave it in the sun to dry. When the towel is dry the bottle will be ice cold (don’t ask me how but it works!). Another method is to leave the bottle lying in a stream or river for a while. The constant flow of water over the bottle will chill it in no time.
The main thing to remember though (as mentioned before), is to drink it the way you enjoy it!
A wine I recently enjoyed was the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from Welmoed – one of the labels of the company of wine peopleTM. This is a wonderfully refreshing Sauvignon with flavours that include gooseberries, lemongrass and passion fruit. It sells for only R25.00 per bottle, making it great value. Their tasting venue in Stellenbosch is well worth a visit and they have many superb wines on offer.
Source: SA Wine Advocate
The Open Discussion Forum on “The Way Forward for Platter’s Wine Guide”, mooted at the end of last year, will take place at The Lord Charles Hotel & Conference Centre, Somerset West, on Thursday, 16 April 2009
Platter’s Guide is South Africa’s original and most successful wine annual, with well over a million copies sold since its inception in 1980.
The Forum was proposed by Platter’s publisher Andrew McDowall as a way of fine-tuning the book to ensure its relevance both today and in the future.
“Every year,” McDowall explains, “we look anew at all our procedures, including tastings, and, because the new edition is the 30th and therefore a significant milestone, we believe it is appropriate to invite all interested parties to provide comment and suggestions through the medium of an Open Forum. We have also commissioned independent market research into consumer attitudes and preferences relative to the guide, and look forward to sharing the findings with the delegates.”
“Because of the high number of wines to be tasted for the 2010 edition – more than 6,500 wines are expected – we had hoped to gain time in our planning by having the discussion early in the year. However, due to numerous requests, especially from winemakers, we’re opting for a date in April, after the main harvest activity has subsided and following the Easter holidays, to accommodate as many delegates as possible.”
Those interested in attending are welcome to send their name, phone number and email address to Philip van Zyl at firstname.lastname@example.org on or preferably before 31 March 2009.
For more info visit: wine.co.za
With Valentine’s Day come sweet indulgences, but a University of Michigan researcher says that extravagances like chocolate, wine and romance can turn out to be really good for your heart, if taken in moderation.
Dr. Steven F. Bolling, professor of cardiac surgery at the U-M medical school, says that tart cherries, grapes and wine have components that can lower blood pressure and protect heart muscle.
A glass of wine and massage can do wonders for lowering stress and anxiety, the researcher adds.
“There are many fruits associated with Valentine’s Day, most commonly cherries, of course. In cherries there are compounds called anthocyanins, which also can be very good for your heart. Perhaps we could even take the cherries and dip them in chocolate to make a very good, heart-healthy Valentine’s snack,” says Bolling.
However, not any chocolate, but dark chocolate is the kind that contains flavonoids, that can guarantee a healthy heart.
“People have asked the question which is better for you red wine or white wine? Probably wine in itself is good for you, just because it reduces stress and anxiety; let’s not over do it. But red wine has specific agents, perhaps in the dark skin of red wine grapes that are heart-healthy and heart friendly,” warned Bolling.
It is believed that the beneficial effect of the grapes is from their high level of phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – that grapes contain.
Also, similar advantages have been found to be associated with tart cherries. “A ‘tart, heart-smart diet’ has shown to be very beneficial in terms of heart health, heart function and also really reducing belly fat and changing your metabolic obesity syndrome, all very helpful,” said Bolling.
Cherries were found to alter factors that can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Other activities associated with Valentine’s Day that are heart-healthy include massage. Reducing stress and anxiety has long been linked with benefiting the heart.
“There is proven research that indicates that massage itself is beneficial in the post-operative state, in hospitalized patients to reduce stress and anxiety and even probably to reduce blood pressure,” said Bolling.
He added: “All of these indulgences really do not have to be limited to Valentine’s Day itself and certainly will lead to a much better heart-health status if we practice them everyday.”
People-pleaser, doormat, pushover… call it what you will, sometimes if you constantly put the needs of others ahead of your own, you may be sabotaging your own chances of success and happiness
We all have an inherent need to be liked. But when that need begins to control your life, you run the risk of becoming a people pleaser. According to life coach Lisa Steingold, “People-pleasers are those constantly seeking the approval of others through trying to please… usually to their own detriment.” We examine the fall-out of people-pleasing behaviour and suggest ways to break the habit.
“The quest for affirmation is a basic human need which stems from our desire to connect with each other and to be acknowledged as part of our ‘group’,” explains Steingold. “People suffering from low self-esteem often become people-pleasers. Instead of feeling confident enough in themselves they seek validation externally.” While a people-pleasing nature may be rooted in a childhood where praise was either withheld or ongoing, each case is different.
Often people-pleasers help others at the expense of their own well-being. They avoid conflict and, as such, “they internalise their anger, pain and suffering” says Steingold. Aside from accumulating resentment, those who are preoccupied with ensuring other people’s happiness often lose sight of who they are. According to Steingold, “such people often pair with more overbearing individuals in personal or professional relationships, which exacerbates unhappiness. They may even become so overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy that they enter a depression.” People-pleasers will battle to forge healthy relationships, as they will struggle to gain the respect of others without developing a strong character.
Becoming less accommodating
To combat people-pleasing behaviour, you need to develop a less accommodating personality. While the process is challenging and ongoing, it can be done.
Steingold offers the following tips:
Develop awareness: Identify situations or people that draw you into a particular behaviour pattern. Once you’ve done this, start to identify the immediate thoughts that arise. For example, you may feel that every time your boss walks in you need to get him/her coffee or else you may not get a raise. Once you identify irrational thoughts you can develop new habits to counteract your conditioned responses.
Fake it until you make it: While putting your needs first may be difficult, you can start small. Say no to a friend that always asks for favours at the last minute, or don’t stay late at work for the fifth day in a row. The more you say no, the easier it will become.
Develop a sense of self-worth: “To be the best versions of ourselves sometimes involves putting ourselves first,” says Steingold. Women often struggle with this as society and their upbringing teaches them to serve and nurture others, and not themselves. Take pride in your accomplishments and surround yourself with people who value you. Having self-worth allows you to “realise that while others may not always be happy with your choices, you understand why you take certain actions and that’s what counts. Once you give yourself permission to validate yourself, you inevitably give others permission to validate you – on your terms!”
Establish boundaries: “Boundaries have to come from the inside out – you cannot expect others to respect your boundaries if you don’t have any,” says Steingold. Establish what you want and be assertive in ensuring you get it. The key is creating a balance between helping others and putting yourself first.
Source: Destiny Connect
Every year the editorial team of the traveling publishers , Frommer’s , puts its component heads together to determine what destinations travelers should be considering in the months ahead. Cape Town made this list and the editors raved about the beauty of the Mother City.
The 2009 list features 12 destinations, collectively described as ‘value picks that’ll wow you.’
The Frommer editors describe Cape Town as one of the most beautiful cities on earth, thanks to its impressive landscape.
“The massive sandstone bulk of Table Mountain, often draped in a flowing “tablecloth” of clouds, forms an imposing backdrop, while minutes away, pristine sandy beaches line the cliff-hugging coast where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet,” states the article.
Sights to see, as recommended by Frommer, include a visit to African Penguin colonies along False Bay as well as Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island.
Other destinations featured in the 2009 list include Cartegena (Columbia), Belfast (Northern Island), Saqqara (Egypt) and Waiheke Island (New Zealand).
To see the complete list visit frommers.com
The celebration of love will be here in just a few days! Candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of Saint Valentine.
According to legend the good Saint Valentine was a martyr for love, flaunting the marital ban of a militaristic emperor, to wed young soldiers and their maids secretly, and paying the ultimate price when he was found out.
One doesn’t have to die for love like Saint Valentine did, but paying attention to the details with your Valentine certainly does the day justice.
Besides candies and flowers, Valentine’s is about wining and dining – and by wine I mean bubble.
If you choose to dine out or dazzle your loved one with your culinary flair at home, be sure to plan ahead.
Here are a few things I think about when planning my Valentine’s dinner. If you haven’t already done so, pick up the phone now and reserve your table. Valentine’s is a very busy evening for restaurants because reservations are for two, so space is at a premium.
Champagne or sparkling wine is a must. Order it ahead of time and whether you dine in or out have it at the table on arrival – this is a nice touch and your Valentine will feel special.
Kick it up a notch – the food should be upscale and that doesn’t mean difficult to prepare if you choose to do it yourself.
Freshly shucked oysters, caviar, foie gras, pan seared scallops, salmon or tuna tartar, Dungeness crab or fresh Atlantic lobster are a few of my favorites. If seafood isn’t your thing, then a rack of lamb, venison or beef tenderloin are good options.
Review the menu and wine list ahead of time if you’re going out, so that you’re familiar with the various selections available.
If you are cooking for your valentine then plan your menu and pick up your wine and bubble in advance to avoid the rush (remember – if you want to do wine pairings in a restaurant or at home, half bottles or wine by the glass are a good option).
Atmosphere is important for a memorable evening. Mountain, city or ocean views are always nice, but a restaurant with cozy ambiance including soft music and warm lighting is what you want.
There is no wine in the world that says ‘I love you’ more than bubble, so plan to sip and celebrate with that special someone on Valentine’s with a beautiful sparkler. Here are two that I recommend
Kumkani Infiniti – This wine has a creamy entrance with a rich complex palate of nuts, warm toast and medium spicy, fruity candy flavours with a complex, full persistent finish.
Arniston Bay Sparkling -This sparkling wine has elegant zesty tropical fruit flavours with fresh bubbles and a clean crisp finish
“In their former life, lamb shanks were non-glam comfort zone family fare. Happily, the world has rediscovered the joy of meat slow-cooked to the point where it literally falls off the bone,” said renowned foodie Lannice Snyman.
This meal is complemented by a medium-bodied red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Enjoy this meal with Kumkani Merlot/ Pinotage 2007. This wine has a sweet fruit on the nose with hints of banana and mint. It has a multi-layered palate with undertones of spice and vanilla.
6 lamb shanks (approximately 2kg)
1 litre red wine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large onion, cut into thin rings
2 to 3 carrots, cut into rings
8 black peppercorns
30ml olive oil
One 410g can chopped tomatoes
10ml brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preparation time: 60 min
Cooking time: 120 min
Arrange the shanks in a single layer in a glass or plastic dish. Pour 750ml of the red wine over the shanks and insert the rosemary sprigs into the meat. Sprinkle the garlic, onion, carrots and peppercorns over the shanks and cover the dish with clingfi lm. Leave in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.
Preheat the oven. Remove the shanks from the marinade and pat them dry with kitchen towel. Strain the marinade through a sieve and set the vegetables aside. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Brown the shanks, preferably three at a time, and remove them from the saucepan. Add the strained vegetables and stir-fry until soft. Add a little marinade and stir-fry to loosen all the brown bits. Add the canned tomatoes with their liquid, as well as the remaining marinade, and heat to boiling point. Remove the saucepan from the plate.
Remove the shanks from the dish. Heat the sauce and remove the rosemary sprigs. Stir in the remaining red wine, bring the sauce to the boil and allow to simmer until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and season with brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Return the shanks to the sauce and allow them to simmer until heated through. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or soft polenta.
Last year wine judges in South Africa came under scrutiny as wine writers (especially Neil Pendock) questioned the merit, objectivity and consistency of wine judging during competitions.
US wine judges are now also being subjected to scrutiny. A recent study found that only 10% the judges (in a respected and long-standing tasting competition) were able to consistently give the same rating, or something very close, to the same wine sampled multiple times in a large blind tasting
Judges at the California State Fair wine competition scored poorly at giving the same wine an identical rating when they tasted it multiple times in a blind tasting.
That was the conclusion of a four-year study of judging decisions at the California State Fair Wine Competition by retired Humboldt State professor Robert Hodgson.
“Consumers should have a healthy scepticism about the medals awarded to wines from the various competitions,” he said.
Hodgson’s findings have prompted state fair officials to consider making changes in the way they operate future wine competitions.
In a study published by the Journal of Wine Economics, Hodgson wrote that only 10% of the judges were able to consistently give the same rating, or something very close, to the identical wine sampled multiple times in a large blind tasting.
At the opposite end, another 10% of the judges gave the same wine far different ratings, ranging from worthy of a gold medal to deserving of no medal at all on successive tastings. The remaining 80% of the judges also varied in their ratings, but by a narrower range.
Finding ways to evaluate the skills and consistency of judges is an important issue for wine competitions, which often draw from the same small pool of industry members and aficionados for their rating panels. It’s not unusual for judges to work as many as six different competitions annually.
“Consumers need to gain more self-confidence in their own opinions and tastes rather than listen to what other people think wine should be like,” Hodgson said.
Source: LA Times