Friday, August 29, 2008

Not So Petite

At just over 5'3", some would consider me petite. But, I have always said that although small of stature, I can sometimes be feisty.

At our housewarming party last week, one of the wines we opened was the 2005 Petite Sirah. First produced in 1978 by the Bogle family, it is considered Bogle's heritage varietal. Extremely aromatic with luscious boysenberry, touches of black pepper and herbs. Trademark inky and jammy tones fill your mouth with ripe fruit and berries. The voluptuous finish lingers with toasty oak and lush ripe fruit. The firm tannins make this a wine that can bottle age for years to come. Try this unique wine with rich meat dishes of lamb, pork or game and hearty sauces.

Don't underestimate the power of the petite. Remember, good things come in small packages!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Housewarming Toast

Friday, our wine group moved one of our members into her first house. Just like in the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" the significance of having a pizza and wine afterwards was very appropriate.

Mary Bailey (Donna Reed) brings three things to Bailey Park, where four-room frame houses have been constructed for immigrant families. Mary and George offer a brief speech at a doorstep, symbolically holding up a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a box of salt:

Bread - that this house may never know hunger.
(Pizza crust)

Salt - that life may always have flavor. (Salty toppings)

Wine - that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

To Sherry, with our hope that you make many wonderful memories in your new home!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brain Food

Wine Spectator recently published an article which ties wine and healthy living. Research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that polyphenols derived from grape seeds during red winemaking (a family of compounds such as tannins, lignins and flavonoids) may be useful in fighting and preventing the degenerative disease, Alzheimers, which attacks the brain. In studying the cognitive functionality of the animals following treatment, the researchers found that the polyphenolic extract from grape seeds helped prevent the formation of a beta-amyloid, which can cause a blockage in the brain, or plaques that have been implicated in memory loss and Alzheimer's.

Now, where did I put my glass?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What A Treat!

New research is proving once again that there are even more health benefits in choosing dark chocolate. According to a recent study conducted by the Yale-Griffin Research Center, and partially funded by Hershey's, the flavonoid antioxidants found in dark chocolate helped lower the blood pressure and improve the vascular function of 45 individuals, two hours after consuming the cocoa treat. Dark chocolate has also been linked to preventing cardiovascular diseases and improving cognitive function in other recent studies. Plus, cocoa is not high in cholesterol or recognized as a source of trans fat. Still not convinced to go dark? Dark chocolate is also a great pairing with red wine!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Growing Older

Here are some highlights about cellaring and aging from a recent Robin Garr newsletter.

• Most wines don't age. This point is simple but often overlooked. Probably 99 percent of all the wines made in the world, including virtually all inexpensive wines, are never better than when they are first bottled. Only a tiny fraction are made to age, and an even smaller number require aging. Look to the most "noble" red grapes - Cabernet Sauvignon and the Bordeaux blends, Syrah and Shiraz, top Italian red grapes and, of course, the finer Pinot Noirs, for your cellar candidates. Age worthy white wines are even more rare, although Riesling and Chenin Blanc and a few exceptional Chardonnays will gain from aging. Sweet and fortified wines, particularly Port and late-harvest whites like Sauternes, will also age into a golden maturity.
• Aging wines need care.. Even the most cellar worthy wines won't thrive if you keep them under poor conditions. The kitchen cabinet or other warm place is worst. A wine rack at room temperature (or a wine-shop rack in the open store environment) is slightly better, assuming horizontal storage position and air-conditioning. But for long-term cellaring, as we're discussing here, keeping find young wines for 10, 20 years or more, you must have a temperature-controlled cellar that holds the wines horizontally at a constant temperature close to 55F (13C), the approximate temperature of natural caves.
• What happens when wine ages? Again assuming an age worthy wine kept under excellent conditions, the primary reaction that takes place over time involves changes (technically, polymerization, primarily) in the organic compounds called tannins that occur naturally in the red grape skins and seeds as well as the oak barrels in which the wine may be fermented and stored. As time goes by, the wine's color may change a bit, taking on more brownish or golden colors or, among reds, sometimes becoming lighter. The youthful fruit aromas and flavors (sometimes called "primary") and the aroma characteristics associated with wine making - yeast and oak, for example - (called "secondary") will begin to fade somewhat, ideally remaining present but taking a back seat to the intriguing, complex earthy flavors ("tertiary"), which may evoke a wide range of attractive aromas and flavors from toast or leather to woodsy or spicy scents. At the same time, the changes in tannins reduce or remove the rough astringency associated with young tannins, replacing this with a more smooth and mellow texture. And all this assumes that the young wine offered a good balance of fruit, acidity and tannins in the first place. A youthful wine that's out of whack and imbalanced isn't likely to achieve greater grace and elegance with age.

Age your noble wines gracefully!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Drink Responsibly

Responsible wine drinking is not without benefits. Small amounts of alcohol lower the risk of the more common causes of death among women, such as heart disease, stroke, hip fracture and dementia.

Resveratrol in red wine, suppresses the metabolism of estrogen, thereby protecting cells from becoming cancerous. It is believed that this could stop the progression that leads to breast cancer.

It does one other thing, it turns on a system in your body that prevents your cells from aging. Of course, moderation is the key when drinking to your health. Most people should drink about one glass of red wine a day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Two Fisted

Alexandria is home to the Resorter's Golf Tournament every August. This usually coincides with a visit from Glenn's Texas based cousin. Last Saturday's gathering had us contributing two different wines from Spain.

This first was a 2005 Number One Berberana Tempranillo. This dry, flavorful red had a deep berry flavor with hints of chocolate. Originating from Rioja, located in north central Spain, much of this wine's character depends on long ageing in American oak.

The second was a 2005 Tres Ojos, 100 percent Garnacha, which comes from 50-year-old vines from the Calatayud region, in northeast Spain. The soil and the long growing season, with hot days and cool nights, produce high sugar content and intense flavors in the grapes that carry over to rich, dry wines. It was lively in the mouth with zesty raspberry with a touch of spice on the finish.

Good food and wine stirred up with some good company is always a recipe for memories!