Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wine Everyday Keeps the Doctor Away?

Several weeks ago I published an article about the massive increase in the purchase and consumption of red wine after a medical study revealed that an element in red wine may extend a person's life span. That study was truly remarkable and provided some weight for the argument to drink a glass of wine everyday to keep the doctor away.

To take that to the next level, an article on discusses another medical study which found that a pigmentation chemical that makes grape skins and wines red has been found to kill human leukemia and lymphoma. However, the compound, a type of anthocyanidin common in plants, left healthy blood cells alone. The study will be published on May 4 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. For the full Wine Spectator story, click here.

The medical team focused on one of the most common anthocyanidins, which are forms of anthocyanin, water-soluble flavonoids that provide color to flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables. In grapevines, anthocyanidin is believed to play a part in attracting honeybees to the vines' flowers, as well as serving as a natural sunscreen by protecting against high levels of ultraviolet radiation.

The team studied the effects and the mechanisms of cyanidin-3-rutinoside (C-3-R), to see how it behaves in the presence of cancer. The C-3-R was extracted and purified from black raspberries, though it also abounds in red wine. The C-3-R was tested on several lines of human leukemia and repeated using cell cultures of lymphoma, another immune system–based cancer. The scientists observed that, at low doses of C-3-R, half of the cancer cells in all of the lines died within 18 hours of treatment. At higher doses, the C-3-R killed all of the cells by the end of the 18-hour period. The experiment was repeated several times, on different types of leukemia cancer cells, with similar results.

Now I don't need another reason to drink a glass of wine everyday, but some of you might. The health benefits of wine have been professed for centuries, and often in the form of wives tales. However it seems that the medical world continues to conduct studies that illustrate some very promising health benefits. About 44,000 new leukemia cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2007, and there will be about 22,000 leukemia-related deaths according to the National Cancer Institute. I'm not saying red wine will cure cancer, but anything that can possibly prevent or ease the disease is OK in my book.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reader's Poll: Red or White?

So we've been doing this blog for a few months, and it dawned on me that I've never asked what you folks enjoy drinking the most. Are you a red or a white fan? Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio?

Perhaps there is a specific variety that you drink the most, and would most likely order first at a bar? Let us hear from you. You can give us a wine you pair with dinner, or the wine you'd prefer to enjoy simply as a cocktail.

As for me, I am a red wine guy. I really enjoy Malbecs and, at the moment, Cabernet/Shiraz mix.

Let's see what you fine people think...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Want to start your own winery? All you need is a laptop.

So I came across a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that had me absolutely fascinated...particularly because I have long wanted to make my own wine. It was about the combination of technology and oenology, thanks to a company called Crushpad ( Now I've heard of Crushpad, but didn't realize the extent of their capabilities. This company allows people to make their own wine. Yeah, I know, big deal...I can do that in my garage. However, it goes beyond making your own wine. We're not talking about making some home brewed shwag.

This place lets you decide what kind of wine you want to make, how much you want to make, and how involved you want to be in the process. That's right...I could sit here in Jersey while they make the wine. But it doesn't stop there. Winery staff keep their virtual vintners up to date with e-mails and Web postings. When the fruit comes in, Web cams show the crush, complete with live chat so viewers can question the workers, who respond to computers equipped with voice-recognition software. Basically, the grapes and crush process are real, but your experience can be as virtual as you want it to be. Further along in the process, members can participate in blending and bottling decisions and design their own labels.

Can you imagine creating your own wine label and winery for $5,000-10,000? Well now you can, and it's much cheaper than spending millions on real estate and equipment. And, you control your level of involvement. If you want to be their for crush and bottling, just take some time off of work and head west. It's your winery, you run it the way you want.

So, what do you think of this new process? Is it something you'd consider doing? Have you already made your own wine?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pop the Cork: A dinner's best friend

Here we go with another wine review.

The meal: Boneless chicken breast stuffed with a spicy Spanish sausage, spinach, onions and Romano cheese; served with a Spanish yellow rice with peppers.

The Wine: Barefoot Cellars Chardonnay

Country: USA

Region: California

Vintage: 2005

Price: $6.99

Tasting Notes:
The Color: Straw Yellow

The Nose: The moment you pull the cork, scents of peach and citrus jump out. The fruit on the nose is almost overwhelming, and a very slight oakyness.

The Taste: As the nose led me to believe, the fruit just jumps right from the start. Intense flavors of peach and apple dance around, with a very slight citrus tartness. The finish is very smooth and pretty creamy with notes of vanilla and oak. Overall, this is not a bad wine for the price. I wanted to pair something on the fruity side with our spicy meal, and I think it worked out pretty well. I will say though that this wine is a fruit bomb, so if you don't enjoy a lighter white with a lot of fruit notes, then this wine is not for you. Sauvignon Blanc drinkers should give it a try's not dry like a Sauv Blanc, but the fruit and buttery finish will likely please you.

The Verdict: 7 corks

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sommeliers: Do you ask or don't you?

So, when you have a problem with your computer at work, what do you do? Let me guess, you pick up the phone and call your IT folks to come fix the problem. And if you're feeling under the weather, you go to the doctor. If you're looking for flowers for your wife or girlfriend, you go to the florist and ask for their input, right?

Yet ironically, many of us (myself included) don't apply that same logic when we're out to dinner. We go to dinner, review the wine list, and make what we think is a good decision on which bottle of wine to order. Amazingly, standing 10 feet away from us is a sommelier, or wine expert, that is more than willing to help us. Sommeliers spend years learning about viticulture, climactic conditions, grape varieties, wine production and tasting. They are truly a tremendous resource that can take a good meal to a whole new level by recommending the perfect wine to accompany it. Another thing to be aware of is that these experts are the major contributing factor to what is on that restaurants wine list, and they usually have tasted each wine on the menu.

So then why don't we ask them for help? Clearly they know more than we do...especially when you consider that they've probably tasted it all. I can think of a few reasons. First, for men, it's machismo nonsense. Think of it in the same line as a man asking for driving directions...we just don't want to do it, because asking would mean admitting that we're lost. The same applies to reviewing a wine list. We don't want to appear confused as our eyes wander through Italy, France, Spain and Chile, among others.

Second, I think we're all afraid the sommelier will select a bottle outside of our price range, and we don't want to appear cheap. However, what's important to realize is that the sommelier will work within the price range you indicate. Good wines come in all price points.

As I write this, I realize that these two reasons for refusing the help are for me personally. So, what are your reasons? Do you use the valuable sommelier resource, or do you tend to shy away? Have you had a great/bad experience with a sommelier that you'd like to share?

The mic is open...sound off.

Later in the week I'll post some tips on how to work with a sommelier, whether at a business lunch or at an anniversary dinner.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

So what's in your cellar?

I was looking over my wine collection yesterday, trying to take a visual inventory. Afterwards, two things came to mind. The first was that I have some very nice bottles I completely forgot about, which are at their peak right now and ready to drink. I guess because I've been so busy, and because of the world wine tour we conducted here on this blog (which we'll begin again shortly) many of these wines were neglected. But while I made a mental note of the bottles I'd be drinking in the coming weeks, I thought I would write about it as well so you folks would rummage through your collections and start drinking those bottles that are just screaming for your attention. For example, I have a 2001 Torbreck Shiraz that's been tucked away for a few years. No doubt it's ready to accompany my next fact tonight might be it's lucky night.

The second thought that came to mind was that my collection of white wines is, quite frankly, depleted and piss poor. With the exception of some vinho verde and some miscellaneous bottles of Chardonnay, my collection of whites is non-existent. But the reason I mention it is because I am a big fan of white wine, and I'm a little disappointed in myself for letting my white collection get this bare. I can assure you that several trips to Wine Library will cure that ailment.

Now, enough about me. What is it that you fine people have sitting in your cellars? Which aspects of your collections are you looking to build on? And, most importantly, is there a wine variety that you just have to have at this very moment?

The mic is open...sound off.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Wine Industry News: Got Wine? And Paris in Bordeaux?

So I was perusing through some recent wine industry news, and came across two items that thought might be of interest to you fine people. I do this from time to time on this site because I think it's important to stay up to date on what's happening in the world of wine. So let's get right to it. The first items is a real news item, the second is something that truly makes my stomach turn. Keep reading...

Forget Milk, Got Red Wine?

Anybody remember reading about two high profile medical studies published in November 2006 that highlighted several health benefits associated with red wine? Well I do too. Apparently, those two studies from the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging garnered significant positive attention for red wine. In case you don't recall the news, in early November, newspapers and media outlets nationwide covered medical studies finding that daily doses of resveratrol, a substance in red wine, may slow the aging process.

And, of course, who wouldn't want to stay young forever? Well, according to the tremendous amount of red wine purchased after the studies' results were published, no one. Sales growth of red wine outpaced sales growth of the total category by 40% in the 20 weeks ending March 10, according to figures just released by The Nielsen Company. The positive numbers, showing red wine dollar sales up 8.5% versus total wine sales up by 6.0%, reflect increased attention to the potential health benefits of red wine.

Paris in Bordeaux? You have to be kidding me.

Now any of you who know me well know that I am not one of those people who reads the celebrity rags, and stays up to date on what stupid things and ridiculous acts they are up to now. But when I saw this little dandy of a news item, I literally said out loud "are you f-ing kidding me?" I am absolutely fact, I'm angry about this...

The fine French wine-producing region of Bordeaux has apparently decided to make Paris Hilton the new face for the region. Yes, PARIS F-ING HILTON! You know, the woman who is famous for doing absolutely nothing? According to, this lady (if you can even call her that) will reportedly appear numerous print and broadcast ads throughout the summer and autumn in Europe and the US. The article goes on to say that the millionaire socialite herself would launch the campaign on the first day of Vinexpo, arriving at the fair – which is attended by more than 50,000 members of the international wine trade – in a hot air balloon.

I'm sorry, I just don't get it...well actually, I understand the publicity aspect of it. However, I don't understand why such a revered wine region would want to use the services of a person whose reputation is not consistent with that of the wine produced in the region. The wine of Bordeaux is complex, powerful, intricate, professional and well put together. How about their new spokesperson? Well, not so much.

I have to say, I am truly disappointed they went in this direction, and am curious to see what the consumer response will be. In fact, let's run a mini consumer survey right now. What do you think of Bordeaux's new celebrity spokeswoman? I really want to hear from you.

The mic is open...sound off!