Posted on January 13, 2009 @ 08:00:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Lately I've been wanting to avoid the news. The ill-conceived stimulus packages, the bailouts, and media hysteria are all conspiring to make me want to tune out for awhile. If you are feeling the same way, and you are interested in wine, I would recommend this interesting episode of Wine Library TV where the host Gary Vaynerchuck talks to the German Master Sommelier Hendrik Thoma. The video gets more interesting once they finish the introductions and get into wine tasting. Enjoy.
Posted on November 20, 2008 @ 12:22:00 PM by Paul Meagher
Antioxidants are important to our diet, especially as we get beyond reproductive age and our bodies repair systems start to fail. Ideally, we would get our dose of antioxidants from a buffet of fresh vegetables and fruit. My dose of fresh vegetables for supper will be some loose lettuce that I will serve with Highliner haddock sticks and McCain Premium Fries. Fortunately for me, I have another food high in antioxidants that I often have with my meal, a glass of red wine.
Dr. Harvey Finkel goes into some of the science behind the beneficial effects of red wine consumed in moderate amounts.
Most intriguing are the poly-phenolic flavonoids, which can be referred to as antioxidants, according to their most attractive function. Found in grapes, chiefly the skins, their concentrations tend to be higher in red wines (when skins are included in fermentation) than white (when skins are culled). Their functions in the vine are only partially known, antifungal for one.
These antioxidants are less available in other alcoholic beverages. Among the best known, and most biologically active, are resveratrol, quercetin and the catechins.
The antioxidants with which we are concerned are a class of phytochemicals, compounds of vegetable origin. They are not exclusive to grapes, although grapes are richly endowed with them. They are also found in allium vegetables (onions, leeks, garlic, shallots), broccoli, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, tea and chocolate.
Some of mankind's most insidious diseases are suspected of being able to be relieved to some degree by antioxidants, among them heart attack, stroke, other complications of blood-vessel disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and degenerative disorders, immune dysfunction, cataract and macular degeneration. Aging itself may be retarded by antioxidants. Precise formulas for the relief of these conditions are not yet known. There is reason to believe that antioxidants may not always be entirely benign.
Posted on October 29, 2008 @ 08:36:00 AM by Paul Meagher
As an amateur wine maker, you will be occasionally subjected to my revelations about wine. My latest revelation came about last night when I attended a local wine tasting event in which we were given 5 comparable commercial wine samples (New Zealand Merlot, New Zeland Gewurtraminer, South African Cabernet Sauvignon, Alsatian Riesling, Atalian Docettto) and five small morsels of food (chocolate, egg role & plum sauce, chocolate, cheddar, smoked salmon & lemon) to pair them with. Confession: I generally don't mix my food and wine as I often prefer to "wash my food down" with skim milk.
The revelation part came when I became uncertain as to how exactly I was supposed to properly judge that a morsel of food and wine pairs well. Was I supposed to observe whether the wine accentuated the taste of the food, whether the food accentuated the taste of the wine, or whether the combination somehow brought about the best in both? The term "wine pairing" is agnostic with respect to which of these possibilities we should be looking for.
I asked one of the other wine tasters at my table (we had some experienced wine makers and tasters at the table) what possibility I should be looking for. He said that what he was looking for was whether the food affected the quality of wine, so, for him, pairing was more about how the food impacted upon the taste of the wine. This would explain why cheddar "pairs with" high-tannin reds (old black tea also has high tannins) because it smooths out the astringent finish associated with high-tannin wine. The quality of a well-paired wine should change before and after you eat a food as a result of the interaction of the residual flavors on the food and the wine. It could, for example, smooth out the mouth-feel or finish and not affect the initial taste of the wine. I'm not claiming that this is the only interpretation of the term "wine pairing", but it is one interpretation of "wine pairing" that one would expect wine afficianado's to use.
One other observation I made is that if you do a little ritual where you take a small sip of wine, consume a morsal of food making sure to coat your mouth and tongue with the flavor, and take another small sip of wine then it will take you quite awhile to finish your food. It may be a way to achieve "slow food" if you would like to spend more time enjoying your food and company at the dinner table.
Posted on September 3, 2008 @ 08:00:00 AM by Paul Meagher
While on summer vacation, I wanted to brew some wine from scratch rather than from a kit. I asked my brother to build a cider press based on a design in ReadyMade magazine which is reproduced below:
Before you can press apples, you need to shred them up first so that it is easier and more efficient to extract the juice from the apples. We tried using some manual and electric food choppers but they were too slow. In the end we attached a paint mixing head to a drill and plunged it into a 25 liter bucket of apples .
Using this paint mixing head, we were able to shred the apples and form them into "cheeses". At the end of the day, we pressed about 12 liters of apple cider from the equivalent of a 60 liter bucket of apples.
We added 11 liters of water to the cider, 2 five pound bags of sugar, and some yeast. It is now bubbling away. I will hopefully have some decent apple wine in about 4 weeks.
The apples used for this batch were taken from two trees with apples that passed our taste test, which were becoming ripe, and looked healthy. None of the apples were sprayed or treated so the wine will be "organic" as far as I am concerned.
I'm not sure I will have much time to press any more fruit this year. Perhaps the results of my apple wine experiment in the coming weeks will provide the needed motivation (i.e., if the fermentation and clearing stages are successful).
Having a fruit press makes you think more about the native and local fruits that you might take advantage of. It also makes you think about growing fruit in a more purposeful manner. In Strange Fruit George Monbiot wrote an interesting passage about the pleasures of growing fruit:
When you start growing fruit, you enter a world of recondite knowledge, accumulated over centuries of amateur experiments. You must choose the right rootstocks and pollinators and learn about bees, birds and caterpillars. But above all you must learn patience. Growing fruit forces you to think ahead, to imagine a sweeter future and then to wait. Perhaps it is this, as much as the forgotten flavours, that I have been missing.
Posted on July 11, 2008 @ 11:35:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Gary Vaynerchuk is approaching the 500 episode mark for his daily video blog focused on "changing the wine world". I enjoy Gary's energy level and verbal dexterity when describing wine aromas and tastes. In his 499th episode, Gary Vaynerchuk sits down with the world Famous Jim Cramer and talks about investing in wine and how wine can be a great investment! These 2 high energy guys also have some fun!