Wine lovers, and all others who like a good quote will get a kick out of these :)!
As I started to gather information about champagne for this blog, I started getting pretty confused. Wikipedia and some other sources almost categorically suggested that champagne has been made special only because of media hype and publicity by vested interests for profit, and that its prices are overblown. Loving champagne as I do, I was disappointed to read all this ;)!
As I kept looking I found this wonderful website whose author has described the whole process of how other sparkling wines are different from champagne. Instead of re-quoting from there I’m sharing the link here so not only can you read all the details but also discover a very interesting wine related website:
* “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” ~Dom Perignon
* “Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” ~Winston Churchill
* “In victory, you deserve Champagne, in defeat, you need it.” ~Napoleon Bonaparte
* “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry, and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” ~Lily Bollinger
* “Three be the things I shall never attain: envy, content, and sufficient Champagne.” ~Dorothy Parker
* My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne.” ~John Maynard Keynes
* “Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?” ~Noel Coward
* “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne.” ~Bette Davis
* “Gentlemen, in the little moment that remains to us between the crisis and the catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of Champagne.” ~Paul Claudel
* “In a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening.” ~Willie Gluckstern
* “Champagne is the one thing that gives me zest when I feel tired.” ~Brigitte Bardot
* “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” ~Mark Twain
So, which quote did you like the best? Which one describes how YOU feel about Champagne? 🙂
Last evening, got home, nice and exhausted, after five days away during the Easter weekend. Since it was already 7:00 p.m., wine time in this neck of the woods, what was I going to do as I checked my emails etc. but open a bottle of wine first and then settle down to the business of getting life back to normal!
The bottle I opened was MASI, Passo Doble, but not produced in Italy — this one is a product of Argentina…apparently the company has wine interests there too. I hadn’t opened it yet because I wasn’t absolutely sure of the recommendation I’d received, but yesterday changed all that. It turned out to be one of the most delicious wines I’ve had, and I’m definitely stocking up on more :)! This is what I found online about it:
Red wine with unusual aromatic richness, striking for its fruity intensity and light spiciness.
This is a modern wine made in an unconventional style from grapes produced on the Masi Tupungato La Arboleda estate at Mendoza in Argentina. It gets its generous, strong and exuberant nature from the local Malbec grape, while Corvina Veronese, given a short Appassimento, gives it the typical attractiveness, elegance and friendliness of wine from the Veneto. Grape Varieties are Malbec, Corvina
My recommendation: Run, don’t walk — get a bottle to try today!
…Charles Shaw! Yep it’s the wine most sold in the world, selling at the extremely popular grocery store chain called Trader Joe’s in the US. It is popularly known as “Two Buck Chuck”… sold in California for $1.99 for the longest time, and in the rest of the US for about $2.79 to $3.79! ‘Chuck’, of course, is the nickname for the name Charles. Since January 2013, though, the price in California too has gone up, to $2.49. Trader Joe’s have defended their decision about this hike by saying that the wine just costs more to make now…and why not?
So, what exactly is Two Buck Chuck? It is a line of California chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, made from surplus wine, bought up in bulk, bottled under the Charles Shaw label and sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s stores. People at Trader Joe’s have described it as a functional wine, and say that this would be the best description for the wine. They recommend to keep expectations reasonable before opening a bottle, and then we’re sure to like it! Critics have rated it from ‘bad’ to ‘very drinkable’. It is its price of course, that helps Trader Joe’s sell millions of bottles annually!
Wine and health is an issue of considerable discussion and research. Wine has a long history of use as an early form of medication, being recommended variously as a safe alternative to drinking water, and antiseptic, for treating wounds, a digestive aid, and as a cure for a wide range of ailments including lethargy, diarrhea, and pain from child birth.
Ancient Egyptian Papyri and Sumerian tablets dating back to 2200 BC detail the medicinal role of wine, making it the world’s oldest documented man-made medicine. Wine continued to play a major role in medicine until the late 19th and early 20th century, when changing opinions and medical research on alcohol and alcoholism cast doubt on the role of wine as part of a healthy lifestyle and diet.
In the late 20th and early 21st century, fueled in part by public interest in reports by the United States news broadcast 60 minutes on the so-called “French Paradox”, the medical establishment began to re-evaluate the role of moderate wine consumption in health.
Early medicine was intimately tied with religion and the supernatural, with early practitioners often being priests and magicians. Wine’s close association with ritual made it a logical tool for these early medical practices. Tablets from Sumerian culture and papyri from Ancient Egypt dating to 2200 BC include recipes for wine based medicines, making wine the oldest documented man made medicine.
The 1990s and early 21st century saw a renewed interest in the health benefits of wine, ushered in by increasing research suggesting that moderate wine drinkers have lower mortality rates than heavy drinkers or teetotalers*. In November 1991, the U.S. news program 60 Minutes aired a broadcast on the so-called “French Paradox”. Featuring the research work of Bordeaux scientist Serge Renaud, the broadcast dealt with the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the high fat/high dairy diets of French people and the low occurrence of cardiovascular disease among them. The broadcast drew parallels to the American and British diets which also contained high levels of fat and dairy but which featured high incidences of heart disease. One of the theories proposed by Renaud in the broadcast was that moderate consumption of red wine was a risk-reducing factor for the French and that wine could have more positive health benefits yet to be studied. Following the 60 Minutes broadcast, sales of red wine in the United States jumped 44% over previous years.
And so, based on all the above ;), I consider drinking a daily glass of wine my beauty régime, and believe me, it’s working ;)! Santé**!!! 🙂
Thank you, Wikipedia, for all this information!
*Teetolars are people who don’t drink alcohol
**Santé – French for Health!, in other words, ‘to (your) Health’!
It was in a certain inflight magazine, during a certain flight taken some years ago that I read a food article with interviews with a few chefs. One of them said that all restaurants have at least one dish with melted cheese on their menu, and this was the most popular dish of all. Being a huge melted cheese lover myself, I wasn’t surprised to see this information and yet it WAS new information, vis a vis restaurant menus 🙂
In trying to find out why, I stumbled upon the Popular Science website and this is what they say about this phenomenon, in an article titled: ‘Why does cheese taste better when melted?’ The writer says the reason is mainly how it feels in the mouth. Melted cheese has a creamy texture which most people find very appealing, and the warmth of the cheese adds to the taste.
All together, the sensations associated with melted cheese—smoothness, gooeyness, and warmth—speak of a fatty delight…and humans love fat :)! Ivan de Araújo, a researcher at Yale, has studied how the nervous system responds to fatty foods. He says, “Receptors in our mouths are keyed in to the texture of oily, calorie-dense foods.” This sort of food, evidently soothes the nervous system, and in today’s world, and our fast-paced life our nervous systems can use all the help they can get from us! Everyone, agree? 😉
I don’t know about you all but writing this post has got me craving a dish with melted cheese! There’s none at home, so I’ll just have to go and eat out 😉 — nice excuse, eh?
Do be sure to get white wine to drink with warm or hot melted cheese dishes. That’s my preference at least…so, until you experiment and find other wines to go with melted cheese dishes, just trust this choice ;)! You won’t be sorry…
So, Monday’s blogpost, imploring wine guzzlers* to slow down and enjoy the smells and taste of wine brought a swift response from past student, friend and blog reader P.W. who is a serious wine aficionado**! He told me he was enjoying reading the blogpost, agreeing with everything I’d written, and suddenly as he came to the end he remembered his experiences of wine appreciation and thought “no, no, no…she (me!) missed the very beginning…the early steps”! He was gallant enough to say he understood that my post was only about identifying the aromas…but maintained his position that the first few steps cannot go unmentioned, and all five senses must be incorporated into wine appreciation from the get go. And here are the steps he would have liked to see in the blogpost ;)…
Begin with ‘touch’ — take the bottle in one hand and open with the other (another French friend had mentioned to me some years ago, while traveling through France, to cradle and hold the bottle with the same tenderness you’d reserve for a woman :)! ) Corks, says P.W., are better than screw caps, since they allow the wine to breathe. To enable the cork to remain in the perfect, not-too-wet-not-too-dry state, store the bottles horizontally. He then advises us to pay attention to the sound of the bottle being uncorked, and spend a few moments to enjoy this sound…he calls it the sound of a ‘convivial event’ :)!
P.W. moved on to holding up the bottle and examining it, to observe if a vintage bottle has lost wine due to evaporation, and if the tannins have broken down, creating sedimentation. These changes mean that the wine is old, but may mean that the wine is very good, or perhaps has turned to vinegar ;0!
The next step is to read the label! If you know the wine you may remember the last time you drank it, ‘and the pleasure, or the headache, it gave you’ — I loved this line from him ;)! He continued: ‘Even if you don’t know the wine, the info from the label can give you an idea of its taste’.
Now, pour a bit into a glass, to examine its color. For red wines, if the color is dark, the tannins are strong, and the reverse is also true. As for the whites, the paler the color, the lighter tasting the wine…and again, the reverse is true!
NOW, you can begin to ‘sniff’ it, he said…and I almost rapped his knuckles :), because this is the point I’d started MY post at, which didn’t impress him much ;)! He does remind us, finally, to ensure that the reds are at room temperature, and the champagnes and other whites are not over-cold! Tchin tchin, guys…wine only creates friendships, no enmities ;)!!! P.W. is a valued friend, and will remain so!
*Guzzler means someone who drinks in big gulps (or someone who may drink heavily)
**An aficionado is someone who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime
Q.1 — What is the longest recorded flight of a champagne cork?
Q.2 — What is the name of the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle?
Q.3 — On which day and month is the Beaujolais Nouveau (New Burgundy Wine) officially released for sale each year?
Q.4 — Decanting wine is done for what two purposes?
Q.5 — During Prohibition, what one specific purpose were wines made for?
A. 1 — 177 feet 9 inches
A.2 — The punt
A.3 — The third Thursday in November
A.4 — Separating sediment and for aerating the wine, popularly known as letting the wine breathe
A.5 –Sacramental wine
I’ll leave you all with an interesting quote by novelist Robert Louis Stevenson: “Wine is bottled poetry!” Anyone disagree? 😉
Here’s a back-to-basics post on wine appreciation — how to learn to appreciate and enjoy it more!
It all begins with your nose. Yep — your nose, not your tongue and mouth. For longtime drinkers, who start gulping their wine as soon as it is poured into a glass, STOP!… You might as well be drinking any other alcoholic drink, if this is what you’re doing! Wine needs gentle handling and deserves love and appreciation by slowing down and following a few steps outlined here…
* FIRST SNIFF — pour a bit of wine, then put your nose into the glass and sniff. R-e-a-l-l-y sniff, and try and identify what aromas you can smell. Why this is important is because the full taste of anything includes its smells…this is true of everything we eat and drink.
* THEN SWIRL the glass, helping to release more aromas and smells. Now back to the nose in the glass, to identify still more smells. Look for fruit smells, woody smells, earthy smells or any other ‘unknowns’ — don’t worry if you find nothing… it may take some practice.
* NOW SIP — slowly partially filling your mouth and…
* SWILL the wine around in the mouth, gently, ladies may do so delicately ;)…this will bring the experience of the full taste of the wine, and help you decide if you like it or now!
Do be careful not to judge hastily because sometimes it takes a few sips to decide. Also, food that you’re eating will affect the taste. For pure tasting, it’s best to cut up a baguette and eat that as you taste wine. Take your time… and enjoy! Cheers! 🙂
I was in Boston this past weekend, spending quality time with family which always includes a gourmet meal or two, rural New England walks, and at least one visit to a bookstore! The bookstore visit this time was to The Concord Bookstore, on Main Street, in Concord, Massachusetts—a lovely and peaceful privately owned bookstore where we browsed for a while and then bought a few books. With this blog in mind, the book I bought is a fabulous ‘guide to becoming a wine expert’, or so claims the author, Richard Betts :)! Considered one amongst the top 200 Master Sommeliers in the world, he says his goal is to help people think of wine as a ‘grocery’, not as a ‘luxury’! This man sure speaks my language, and for sure deserved the $20 I paid for the book!
In his book, called ‘The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert’ he writes, “when my work is done, we’ll all have wine like civilized people do the world over — at lunch, at dinner, with food, family, and friends. Doesn’t matter what it is — heck, pour it out of a pitcher, pull it out of a box, drink it out of a tumbler — just as long as it makes you smile.” I completely agree 🙂 — this is the spirit we should approach wine with! You all can rest assured there’ll be sharings from this book in the next few weeks — the author makes it SO easy to understand and appreciate wine. Tucked away in the book, is a map (picture here), to help you understand the different features of different wines the world over, and evaluate for yourself which ones are right for your palate!
Thank you Richard Betts 🙂 — live long and prosper!