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Best Of | 1 Wine Dude - Page 26

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3 Things an Infant Can Teach You About Drinking Wine

(images: firstrung.co.uk, www.2112.net/powerwindows, freelanceswitch.com, ecx.images-amazon.com)

In a mere 2 1/2 weeks, my infant daughter has taught me a lot about life – how fragile, strong, miraculous, and “gritty” it can be, sometimes all at once.

What I didn’t expect is that she would also teach me something about wine appreciation.

Now, before you go running for the phone to report me for child abuse, I’m not feeding this kid any vino. The most she gets of that would come from the residual bits in Mrs. Dudette’s breast milk.

What I’m talking about is watching her eat (er, is it “drink” right now?). It’s actually made me reflect a bit on how we (as adults) normally eat and drink in our crazy, not-enough-minutes-in-the-day kind of world.

And I can sum it up in three little words…

SLOW DOWN, BABY.

Actually, you can even shorten it down to two words (SLOW DOWN), for those of you who are really, really busy.

My daughter (more or less) waits until she is pretty hungry, makes her “hungry face” (which consists of her sticking out her tongue and flailing her head around looking for a waiting nipple), then latches on and starts sucking and gulping like a crazed, wild animal. She does stop to breathe – but only when she has to. Or when we burp her (those burps would finish her in the top 5 in any beer-guzzling bar burping contests, by the way).

And you know what? Daddy isn’t much better.

I eat 4 to 5 meals a day, trying to load the calories up in the AM and gradually lighten my food intake so that dinner is usually a small-ish meal. When I eat lunch, I’m usually in the middle of something else. Instead of being “in the moment” and enjoying the food, I gulp i down as if it were the only meal I would receive that week and someone will come to snatch it away from me
if I’m not finished “eating” it in 5 minutes or less.

Watching my lil’ bundle of joy has made me realize that this is probably not the most mature way to ensure I’m getting the right amount of conscious enjoyment – not to mention nutritional value – out of my meals.

If I used the same approach to appreciating wine, I wouldn’t even taste it, let alone be able to evaluate its aromas, or enjoy any lingering finish that a great wine has to offer!

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty and summarize.
On the winding road of life, watching how an infant eats can show us what (not) to do to really appreciate our wine (and our food):

1) Slow Down (Baby)
Take your time. There is no reason to rush that glass down your throat. Look at the wine. Smell the wine. Check out the colors of the wine in your glass. Swirl it and smell it again. Get to know the wine a little bit – after all, you’re going to be putting it into your body, if nothing else you should make sure it’s something that you really want in there!

2) Be In The Moment
Think about the wine and its aromas and flavors. Don’t think about all the things you need to get done tomorrow, whether or not you think the restaurant’s veggies will be overly-buttered, if the baby-sitter is eying up your beer (OK, maybe you should worry about that last one), etc.

3) Don’t Forget To Pause – and Breathe
Once a glass of wine is poured, wine needs air to really show its stuff. And you need air, too. To clear your mind, help you focus, and remind you to pause and actually live and enjoy each moment of life. And each glass in your hand.

Cheers!

5 Reasons Why Smoking Kills Wine Appreciation

Vinted on April 7, 2008 under best of, wine appreciation, wine health, wine tips

(images: wiskirchengallery.com, farm3.static.flickr.com, smokingkills.com)

Guess what?

Smoking sucks donkey butt.

Hardly a news flash, right?

But what you might not know already is that, aside from the fact that smoking kills more people per year than alcohol & drug abuse, homicides, suicides, car accidents, fires, and AIDS-related deathscombined - it also kills something else near and dear to our hearts.

Smoking totally kills your ability to truly appreciate wine.
You want to learn to appreciate wine like a pro? Then you’d better quit smoking, pronto…


1) Smoking impairs your sense of smell.
This is a well-known effect of smoking. Considering that almost all of your ability to taste wine stems from your ability to smell, this makes smoking pretty much the death knell of your wine appreciation pursuits. And it will stay that way until you quit smoking.


2) Smoking impairs your sense of taste.
According to TheScoopOnSmoking.org, “If you smoke, you won’t be able to taste your food as well as nonsmokers do.” That’s because smoking damages your taste buds. So, what smoking doesn’t kill in terms of your ability to appreciate a wine’s aromas, it will kill in your ability to savor its flavors on your palate. You might as well be drinking water (or grain alcohol) instead.

3) Smoking creates off-odors that interfere with your (and others) ability to appreciate wine in the glass.
When you smoke, you stink. Your clothes, hair, and breath all suffer from off-odors when you’re a smoker. The kind of strong off-putting odors associated with smoking are absolute murder for the appreciation of wines with delicate aromas. What’s more, nothing will piss off other wine geeks more than your smelliness impairing their ability to appreciate the wine in their glasses!

4) Smoking is boku expensive.
The money that you spend on smoking (current estimates put this around $200 per month, on average) is money that you can’t spend on good wine. I don’t know about you, but I consider $2000+ a year a good deal of money; after all, that’s almost 225 bottles of tasty Centine (or maybe 1.5 bottles of Chateau Petrus – in an off-vintage). Aside from the large personal expense of the smoking habit, it could also be argued that you have a civic and moral duty to quit smoking, to promote the public good. Why? Smoking increases general medical expenses, even for non-smokers. For example, treatment costs and rising insurance rates (even for non-smokers) are being driven up due to smoking-related health costs. Not really related to wine, I know, but since I had your attention I couldn’t resist mentioning it.

5) Smoking will kill you.
While there has been past publicity given to medical studies that claim wine drinking can counter some of the arterial damage caused by smoking, there is no evidence to suggest that drinking wine can help counter any of the dozens of other negative health impacts of smoking. The bottom line is that smoking will kill you.

And I’m fairly certain that death seriously imparis your ability to appreciate fine wine.

Duh…

Cheers!

How To Navigate Wine on the Web (3 ways to Keep Up With Wine Online & Still Stay Sane)

Vinted on March 19, 2008 under best of, wine 2.0, wine blogging, wine how to, wine tips

(images: epicurious.blogs.com, i.ivillage.com, chungkiddo.blogspot.com)

In a recent post on her blog, the venerable Dr. Debs wrote about a recent survey commissioned by Constellation Wine Brands (a big, big conglomerate that own dozens of wineries, including Mondavi). The study concluded that more and more wine consumers are overly confused when it comes to what wine they should buy – enough so that Constellation cited increasing consumption by “Overwhelmed” wine consumers as their (Constellation’s, that is!) biggest opportunity.

This finding isn’t surprising. There are over 7,000 wine brands available to consumers in the U.S. That’s a sh*t-load of wine choices, and even the most over-educated wine geeks among us can get overwhelmed (especially if we’re trying to understand German wine labels). In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that I got “seriously” into wine in the first place – I sat the WSET Intermediate Certificate exam so I’d be better able to buy wine at my local store!

Dr. Debs (quite rightly) points out that there’s already an easily-accessible vehicle to help the Overwhelmed wine consumers out there:

So is there a way to help the Overwhelmed, send them armed and ready into Wine Warehouse to face the Sauvignon Blanc aisle, and point them in the direction of wine enthusiasm rather than wine frustration? Yes. It’s called the Internet…

It’s likely that companies like Constellation have uber-smart Marketing-types, but it’s unlikely that those Marketing-types are going to help clear up anything for us Overwhelmed wine consumers unless it has the added benefit of further lining their pockets with more of the shiny gold stuff. Sure, you can use points to help make buying decisions, but who the heck talks in points about, well, anything (other than cholesterol numbers, I mean)?

(Imagine this conversation: “Hey – did you see Rothlisberger pass all over the Bengals last night? He totally deserves a 111.4 QB passer rating.” “No way, man – he’s not a tenth of a point over 99.7. Puh-leeeeeze!” Not gonna happen. Plus, people can’t speak in hyperlinks – though that would be cool….).

While it’s true that the Internet is an amazing resource for Overwhelmed wine consumers, it can itself be a bit, well, daunting. I don’t know about you, but I liken whittling through the vast array of info. on the Internet to find anything useful to trying to reach into a narrow rats’ nest to pick up a nugget of gold.

And sometimes the rats’ next is full of hungry, nasty rodents. With razor-sharp teeth. And surly dispositions.

It doesn’t help that by taking one or two days off from your on-line life, it feels more like an eternity when you return only to find that you’ve missed 375 twitter updates, 900 blog posts, 250 news stories, 30 “friend requests” and god-knows-how-many e-mail messages. And I’m an IT geek – I can only imagine how the “Internet? Is that the one with the e-mail?” crowd feels.

How can you make sense of it all
? My advice is to follow the same Zen-centric approach to handling wine info. on the Internet as you would handle any stream of information overload. Here are three tips that have served me (and my sanity) well in my on-line wine life…

1) Minimize & de-clutter your blog Inbox.
Humans are just not set up to suck in multiple streams of information and retain it all. We’re more built for trying to quickly decide whether or not something is gonna eat us and deciding when we should run like hell, etc. There are oodles of articles on-line that offer great advice on how to approach absorbing information (see this great post at Lifehack.org for an example). But the first trick is to limit the information coming at you.

To do this, you need to get a bit ruthless about the wine blogs and the wine websites that you follow. This won’t be easy – there are quite a bit of good ones out there. You need to find the ones that work best for you, and follow those. This doesn’t mean that you can’t read a great post on a blog that you don’t normally follow – it just means that you need to set a cap on the amount of websites that you do follow on a regular basis, and be very selective about the ones that make the cut to get a piece of your increasingly-precious time.

This of course can help you for any topics that you follow on-line (not just wine). For other tips on time and information management, I recommend getting the ZenHabits.net eBook.


2) Bring the Mountain to Mohammad.
Once you’ve got a firm cap on the number of wine blogs and websites that you follow, then you can stop following them!

What I mean is, get yourself a good RSS reader, and make those updates come to you. I’m a total Netvibes convert. IT geekiness aside, Netvibes allows you to customize and gadgetize the hell out of your on-line life. I’m not sure if I could get by without it at this point (click on the inset pic for a screenshot example of my Netvibes home page). I log in, and can quickly check for interesting blog posts in my day job / music / wine “lives” – minimizing the time I have to spend looking for that information, because it comes to me.

If your tastes are a bit more Spartan, at the other end of the spectrum is the pared-down-to-basics Google Reader. Just be careful, as it’s also easy to go overboard with these RSS tools (for an example of this itself can get overwhelming, check out friendfeed.com). Stick to the program!


3) Trust yourself.

This piece of advice is the most wine-specific. Nothing that anyone writes on-line should influence your own personal preferences and tastes. Your experience trumps all. Trust it, and trust yourself.

If anything, we in the wine blogging community should be educating you, entertaining you, and (most importantly) opening your mind to wine possibilities that you may not have otherwise known about. We should not be trying to convince you that what you like isn’t “correct” or “proper.”

(Warning: Shameless plug): For more about learning how to determine what you do (and don’t) like in the wine that you drink, check out my eBook.

Cheers (and happy surfing)!

Wine Appreciation and Alcohol Abuse: How to Avoid Personal Disaster

Vinted on March 15, 2008 under best of, wine appreciation, wine health, wine how to, wine tips

(images: brainboomer.com, jamieq.blogspot.com)

I work in two professions – Wine Consulting and Playing Rock Music – that pretty much guarantee that I am in close proximity to alcohol (and its potential abuse) a good portion of the time.

I love to drink. Specifically, I love to savor excellent wine (and beer), and admire the nuances, flavors, aromas, and overall artistic craftsmanship that a good drink can deliver. Most of all, I love sharing that experience with others. Wine connects us to a particular place and time, and connects us with each other – not just the place, time, and people that made it, but also the place, time and people with whom we enjoy it when we pop the cork.

And once in a blue moon, I like to overdo it a bit. Because getting buzzed with friends is, well, it’s just plain fun.

Notice I wrote “once in a blue moon” and not “every weekend.” In the rock-&-roll context of my life, I’ve seen first-hand what alcohol abuse can do to individuals, families, and even total strangers that come into unfortunate (and sometimes, in the case of drunk driving, catastrophic and tragic) contact with an abuser.

Genetics and personality traits are very important in determining anyone’s individual predilection towards abuse of alcohol, but it doesn’t help that cultural, and peer pressures (at least in the U.S. and the U.K.) tend to ridicule the appreciation of wine as snobbish, while at the same time aggrandizing inebriation as the height of fun in a social context.

That approach is completely ass-backward. I don’t have any pithy humorous sayings on that topic. It’s just so sad, stupid, and heartbreaking that I can’t make it funny and still respect myself.

Alcohol-related liver diseases (which are notoriously difficult to diagnose until they are advanced) have been on the rise in countries like Britain for years. Whether you drink or not, the rising abuse of alcohol (in the U.S. or the U.K. for example) is expensive for taxpayers and health insurance recipients who all help to fund health care systems that are having trouble keeping up without breaking their banks.

I’m not the first person to touch on how these dangers impact those of us in the wine consulting biz (check out this great series in Men’s Vogue for an example). But I thought I’d add to the on-line discussion by listing the tips that have helped me (so far) to successfully navigate the waters of wine appreciation while minimizing the damage to my liver (and my relationships)…


Abuse Is NOT ‘One-Size-Fits-All. Safe levels of drinking can only ever be approximate. While you may read that having 2 drinks per day is the safe average level of consumption for someone of your weight and gender, these generalized figures don’t take into account your race, family history, or personality type. You can’t treat these as hard-and-fast rules – your safe levels may differ.

All Things In Moderation. If 2 drinks per day is a safe limit for you, that doesn’t mean that abstaining from drinking for one week means that you can safely consume 14 drinks over the weekend. If you are unsure if your current alcohol consumption levels are safe, consult alcoholism.about.com (or, better yet, talk to your doctor).

Treat Professional Settings Professionally. I’ve written before about the perils of industry tastings, so I won’t repeat all of that advice here. Bear in mind that just because free alcohol is available to you doesn’t mean that you are obligated to drink it. When you’re at industry tastings, don’t forget to spit, and don’t use it as an excuse to catch up on drinking that you think you’ve “missed out on” in the past.

Don’t Punish Yourself. If you’re not an abuser, drinking too much once in a long while shouldn’t upset you (unless it’s caused you to do something that you regret). Nobody’s perfect. Just make a mental note to improve the next time. If needed, ask your friends for support. (If you are an abuser, or concerned that you might be headed in that direction, then falling off the wagon is a big deal and might need the help of a professional).

Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstances Drink & Drive. This one should be obvious but amazingly I still know people who do this. This is never, ever safe under any circumstances. If you suspect that you’re going to have more than your normally safe level of alcohol, get someone else to drive – no excuses.

Cheers!

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