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Wine and Health (or "Here We Go Again")

Vinted on January 19, 2009 binned in commentary, wine health, wine news
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

Here we go again.

The topic of wine & health is no stranger to the (virtual) pages of 1WineDude.com. Basically, I like to keep on the topic, mostly because it provides such great fodder for ridicule.

Ok, that’s harsh. Let’s not call it ridicule. Let’s call it poking fun. That sounds better, doesn’t it? Ok, now that we have that cleared up…

According to ScienceDaily.com, a recent announcement by a joint team from Oxford and Norway – at least, I think it’s joint Oxford / Norway team; it’s listed in the article as “The team from Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Norway”, which I assume is a joint effort as it would be strange to have a Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Norway (nothing against Norway, of course; after all, they brought us the… uhm…. err… let me get back to you on that…) – dang… lost my train of thought there…

Oh, yeah, I remember now – The joint team (as in, the collaboration between Oxford and Norway, not a team researching ganja) announced study findings that showed that chocolate, tea, and, of course, wine enhance cognitive performance.

Now, before you go out and get amped up on Starbuck’s, blitzed on your favorite vino and buy stock in Ethel’s chocolate, you need to know a few things.

First, the study is based on data from about 2,000 participants in their 70s. You might not be in this demographic.

Secondly, while the team suspects that polyphenols (in the form of flavonoids) are the source of the enhanced cognitive ability for the mature audience in the study, the researchers caution that “more research would be needed to prove that it was flavonoids, rather than some other aspect of the foods studied, that made the difference.” In other words, the negative health impacts of imbibing too much caffiene, alcohol, and sugar/fat probably far outweigh the benefits of the flavonoids; moderate consumption, as always, is best.

Finally, Ethel’s is privately owned – so you won’t be buying any stock (sorry).

Cheers!
(images: creativelydifferentblinds.com)

Earth, Wine And Fire… and Wine Lists

Vinted on January 16, 2009 binned in learning wine, wine appreciation

Shall we explore the world of restaurant wine lists, while interpolating the badassness of Earth Wind & Fire in the process?

What the hell, why not?

First, we can establish the baddassness of EWF right away - that’s easy: They funked, singing harmonies in octaves that would require most people to otherwise suck helium to achieve, all the while dancing in reflective costumes with capes. If that’s not badass, then I don’t kow what badass is.

What brings EWF to mind (in other words, what the f–k does this have to do with wine)?

I recently did a restuarant wine pairing review of a new wine list concept at nearby Teikoku for West Chester PA foodie website WC Dish. According to the Teikoku website (bolded items highlighted by me):

For millennia, many eastern cultures have embraced the notion that five fundamental elements govern all aspects of life and environment. Though these elements appear in many forms, the most common are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Sky. At Teikoku we believe that wine can be represented by these elements as well. Keep in mind that our wines are not arranged according to conventional methods. We have selected a more transcendent form of organization. Perhaps our philosophy will offer you a unique perspective on your dining experience.

I found the wine choices to be quite well done, and in some cases even inspired, with very good by-the-glass selections reflecting quite a bit of the diversity in today’s wine market (Spanish Rose, Torrontes, Carmenere, etc.).

But it’s the Elemental wine concept that obviously stands out as unique. I’ve seen many, many styles of restaurant wine lists, from the stuffy and mundane “By Region” to wine flights inspired by a wine’s palate weight, proces or even just fun, semi-random themes. But this is a different take entirely.

Teikoku’s list certainly brings the Earth Wind & Fire funkiness. The trouble is, I’m not sure it actually helps anyone navigate the wine list any better than a more traditional method.

Some of us might feel a need to be more “grounded” on a particular day and gravitate towards the Earth (get it?) theme wines… but I can imagine many others looking at the Earth heading and wondering if the wine is going to taste like a mouthful of dirt.

But… you’ve got to give props to Teikoku for what they’re trying to do. Unless you think they’re trending towards the gimmicky side.
What do you think? Are they bringing the funk with this kind of wine list? Or are they just wearing the silver jumpsuits and capes?

Which got me thinking, Are other restaurants doing this? Will we see a more progressive trend towards different wine list presentations? And if we do, will these help the consumer? Or just confuse them even more?
Let me know YOUR thoughts!
Let’s Groove, baby!
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Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com, associatedentertainment.com)

Wine for… Breakfast! (Wine Blogging Wednesday #53)

Vinted on January 14, 2009 binned in Tales of the Purple Monkey, wine blogging wednesday


Before Plumboo (the purple monkey) I get started on our contribution to Wine Blogging Wednesday #53, this month hosted over at Twisted Oak’s El Bloggo Torcido, I should note that we don’t necessarily condone the consumption of alcoholic beverages before 10 AM.

But the theme this month is “Wine For Breakfast” (they don’t called it Twisted Oak for nuthin’!), and we certainly don’t discourage early AM alcohol consumption – we just don’t find ourselves doing it unless we haven’t yet gotten to bed from the nightbefore, if you catch my drift.

The real twist on this WBW is that the only eligible contributions are dry white or red wines. This eliminates pretty much all of the “standard” brunch picks (rose, bubbly, mixed wine concoctions).

Plumboo and I are totally undaunted, however. That’s because we know a secret about a fruity, expressive, food-friendly, and (importantly) inexpensive wine. Sounds like near-perfect late morning fare, eh? Did I just say “eh”? I’m not even Canadian…

Anyway, our little secret is the other dry red wine of Burgundy: Cru Beaujolais.

Note that we are not talking about the popular but much-maligned Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released in the Fall and is meant to be quaffed up while very, very young. We are talking instead about the cream of the Beaujolais crop, which can produce suprisingly age-worthy and downright elegant wines.

Some background: Romans probably first planted grapes in the Beaujolais region, just outside of Burgundy, but “modern” Beaujolais wine probably began in the late 14th Century when Phillipe the Bold, obviously a big Pinot Noir fan, outlawed the Gamay grape from being planted in Burgundy proper; Beaujolais, as far as a place to cultivate wine from Gamay, was thus born (though the Appleations weren’t official until the 1930s).

Beaujolais itself dwarfs any single Burgundy district in size, with more than 50,000 acres of vines. The best sites sit atop granite, schist, and limestone soils on hillsides, and these constitute the Cru Beaujolais, of which there are ten areas, most with their own distinctive wine characteristics. Who knew Beaujolais could get so complicated, eh? (damn, I did it again…).

My favorite Cru Beaujolais wines come from the neighboring areas of Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent:

  • Fleurie produces wines with an almost candied fruit character, but they are also so floral you’d think you had a flower shop in your glass. What makes them a winner for me is that their texture is so smooth, it’s like wearing some kind of tasty satin underoos for your tongue.

  • Moulin-à-Vent is the serious wine of Beaujolais. They still have the candied fruit character that is unique to Gamay, but many of these wines see oak aging that gives them a more refined character. The soil in Moulin-a-Vent is also a bit poisonous to the vines, as it contains manganese. It’s not enough to kill the vine, but some cite the soil as one reason why the Gamay vines there struggle and as a result produce lower yields of more concentrated grapes, resulting in more complex wines. So, Cru Beaujolais is both complex, ageworthy, and comes from diabolical soil. Who’d a thunk it?

So there you have it – dry wine to brunch by from an area outside of Burgun-dy. Just try to avoid bathing in it, as some of the Chinese appear to enjoy based on the pic below. Who’d a thunk that, eh?


For more on Cru Beaujolais, check out the books Wine, The Wine Bible, Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, and the World Atlas of Wine.

Cheers! (images: 1WineDude.com, thefiftybest.com, wills-burgundy.com, showchina.org)

A Year of Dr. Vino (A Book Review… Sort Of…)

Vinted on January 12, 2009 binned in book reviews, wine books

Despite having the word “Year” in its title, this article is not another cheesy 2008 recap post. Especially considering that I don’t need another one of those, since I’ve posted about 240 of them in the last several days. Or something like that, anyway.

I will not be recapping 2008 here, but I will be renaming 2008.

In terms of measuring wine blogging success, 2008 was The Year of Dr. Vino, a.k.a. Tyler Colman. Come to think of it, 2007 was nearly the Year of Dr. Vino as well, considering Tyler received a James Beard nod for his writing that year. So, basically Tyler is kicking all kinds of ass in the blogosphere, but what made 2008 the Year of Dr. Vino was Tyler’s superbad onslaught (both on and) offline with the release of two (very good) printed books.

You would probably expect a PhD holder in Poli-Sci to be a decent writer, so it’s no surprise that the books are well-written. What is surprising (to me, at least) was how accessible Tyler’s books are for the novice wine aficionado, and how well his blog writing style, which consists primarily of short articles that focus heavily on interactivity with his readership, translates to his longer format works. Capturing that accessibility is not a skill that most of the academics that I know posses.

While Tyler can be a quiet voice online (case in point, how is there justice in the universe when my twitter account has more followers than Dr. Vino’s??), he was all over traditional media in 2008: in addition to publishing two books, he could be found in the pages of major newspapers and wine mags, as well as on television. For example, Tyler is a semi-frequent guest on FOX Business, discussing the impact of the recent economic downturn on the purchase of luxury items like Champagne (see inset pic for how I might have handled this situation if I were Tyler).

This significance of this sort of credibility (not to mention shrewd brand building) should not be overlooked. Tyler is quietly – and successfully – positioning himself as an erudite opera-goer to Gary Vanyerchuk‘s Joe 6-pack. Both are important, and both are signaling the establishment of a new breed of experts active in the field of wine appreciation.

I won’t go into detail about Tyler’s first book release, Wine Politics, because with a 9-month old baby that will start screaming to be fed at any moment, I simply don’t have the time, except to say that it’s a compelling work that those fascinated by wine should check out, especially considering how dependent the world of wine is (and has always been) on the world of politics.

I will say a bit more about Tyler’s second book, however, A Year of Wine: Pairings, Great Buys, and What to Sip for Each Season, which Tyler sent to me several weeks ago, and which I’ve only recently gotten a chance to read (before you flame me for being lazy, remember: 9-month old!).

It’s not that A Year of Wine presents novel information that has otherwise eluded many of the other excellent books for budding wine geeks already on the market. In fact, it doesn’t really present anything totally new, even though it does have incredibly useful information (for example: how to successfully navigate the wine list when at an important business dinner for the first time).

The masterstroke is that A Year of Wine is a wine intro book penned by someone who has so garned so much credibility both on and offline. Put another way, Tyler speaks both Internet and brick-and-mortar.

While it can be enjoyed by just about anyone who is new to wine, A Year of Wine is probably best suited to those who already know what they like in their wine, but are looking to understand wine more fully and want a different approach then learning the basics and then exploring each region in order of importance / volume of production (which seems the typical layout for most wine reference material). A Year of Wine reflects Tyler’s post-grad writing style, but might also appeal to a much younger audience (see pic below – though this author had to remove A Year of Wine from that reader, as she’d found it compelling enough to begin eating the pages).


Anyway, if I have a criticism to level at Tyler (and of course I do, because I’m incorrigible), aside from a distinct lack of overall mentions to 1WineDude.com on his blog, it’s that Tyler needs to take his focus on interactivity with his blog readership and devote similar focus to his interaction within the community of online wine writers, retailers, and wineries. His voice is quiet within that space – it could benefit significantly from Tyler’s wisdom and experience, and his penchant for keeping things honest. Tyler, we need ya here, man!

Cheers!
(images: amazon.com, foxnews.com)

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