Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Hostess

Tonight, it is our turn to host our wine club. We chose a blend whose grapes grow both in the Côte du Rhône and along the west coast of the U.S. The primary varietal is Grenache. [gruh-NAHSH]

One of the world's most widely cultivated red grapes, it does well in hot, dry and windy regions. It ripens with very high sugar levels and can produce wines with 15 to 16 percent alcohol. Grenache wines are sweet, fruity, and very low in tannins. They're usually lacking in color, except in growing areas where yields are low. The vine originated in Spain where it's called Garnacha and Garnacha Tinta (or Garnacho Tinto) and is the most widely cultivated red-wine grape in that country.

In southern France not far from the Spanish border, Grenache is cultivated in the areas around Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and the Southern Rhône. It's also extensively grown in Algeria, Australia, Corsica, Israel, Morocco, Sardinia (where it's called Cannonau), and California's central valley.

In Spain Grenache is blended with tempranillo, and in most of France it's blended with as many as twelve other varietals including clairette, mourvèdre, muscadine and syrah.

Grenache Blanc (or Garnacha Blanca) is the white variety of this grape. Although not as popular as the red, it's still widely planted in both Spain and France. The white wines produced are high alcohol and low acidity.

For more information on Rhône style wines, use the search blog box at the top of this page.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Xarel·lo is a white grape grown in Catalonia, Spain. Along with two other varietals, Macabeu and Parellada, a sparkling wine known as cava is produced. Made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise, cava has varying sugar levels: brut (extra dry), seco (dry), semiseco (medium) and dulce (sweet).

We tried a 2006 Castell Roig Xarel-lo from Wine Library recently. It was medium bodied with apricot aromas and grapefruit flavor. The very high acidity made it more pleasurable with food.

Skip the xarel-lo and stick to cava.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Of Grapes And Growth

Polyphenols, a family of antioxidative compounds found in grapes and red wine, may help stop the growth of cancerous tumors, according to a recent study by the University of Guelph in Ontario. The study focused mice with breast tumors who ingested Merlot grapes. The results showed almost no sign of growth.

Hormones can cause the buildup of cancer causing elements whereas certain enzymes are designed to eliminate their toxic effect. A diet high in polyphenols may help these enzymes function more efficiently.

Miles, the Pinot Noir drinking snob from the movie Sideways stated "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any #%*@* Merlot" Maybe he should reconsider!

Friday, November 7, 2008

First Females

Dr. Louann Brizendine is a neuropsychiatrist and author of The Female Brain. She states that for the first eight weeks in utero, every fetal brain is female.

In male fetuses, testes then form and a huge testosterone surge hits. This kills off cells in the communication center of the brain and grows more cells in the sex and aggression centers.

In females, estrogen spurs brain growth and enhances circuits for observation, communication, gut feelings and caring. Studies show that girls speak two to three times more words per day than boys and they also talk faster. Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a girl's brain, Dr. Brizendine says.

Estrogen-ruled girls arrive in the world better at reading faces, hearing emotional vocal tones and striving to preserve harmonious relationships. We walk a fine line between making sure we are engaged in our relationships without being too pushy.

Teaching a fitness class that is largely female, it has been interesting to observe these differing behaviors. Reading excerpts from this book has helped how I present ideas or approach concerns.

Males may have dominated politics, the workforce and other influential aspects of our society, but the climate is changing. For the first two months of life, girls rule! Someday, our historic milestones will be reached. The results of this election prove there are no longer any limitations for hope.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope Floats

The 2008 presidential campaign wasn't just a political movement, it was also emotional. President-elect Obama's victory is truly a step forward for our entire nation, proving that when one group advances in this country, we all advance.

The biggest challenge the coming Obama Administration will face is to strike a balance between America's clear hunger for change while not upsetting America's fundamental desire for stability.
In the 2004 election, Democrats won the female vote by only three points. In 2008, President-elect Obama won the female vote by 13 points. Our time will come... hope floats!