Archive for the ‘Random Tidbits’ Category

By Claire Yeading, Grand Crew Contributor

Are you confused about the health benefits of wine? It’s not surprising! Check out any story in the media and you’ll find literally hundreds of contrasting views. Whereas one story will claim French wines can help keep you looking youthful, maintain a sharp mind, and even reduce the risk of heart disease, other stories tell of the many dangers of alcohol consumption. It’s hard to know what to believe and what to take with a pinch of salt, isn’t it? We all know the risks associated with heavy drinking, but then there is something to be said for the French Paradox – the fact that there are significantly lower cases of heart attack, obesity, and cancer in France — where wine consumption is rife — than in other parts of the world.

It appears that it’s not the wine itself that’s renowned for its health benefits, but rather the type of wine, and the type of grape. For example, white wines are believed to have very limited benefits, whereas certain reds are proven to have many positive effects on human health. The big question is – which wines will give you the greatest benefits?


The Girò grape is thought to have originated in Eastern Spain. Today Girò is commonly found throughout Sardinia, most notably in the Cagliari and Oristano area,s which are two of Sardinia’s biggest and most important wine growing regions. Whilst growing, the grapes produce large quantities of sugar, and they are often left on the vine well after harvesting season, allowing them to shrivel slightly and concentrate the sugars. The result is a very sweet, thick wine similar to a dessert or fortified wine. So what makes Girò so good health-wise? Apart from high quantities of sugar, Girò also contains a large number of Procyanidins – a natural compound frequently found in apples, peanut skin, and cocoa beans. Procyanidins have been found to encourage follicle growth in much the same way as some common alopecia drugs on the market. However, the results are believed to be much more restrained than when using medicines specifically designed for combating male pattern baldness. As a natural solution, however, it’s thought to be very effective.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely recognized and widely drunk wines in the world. In fact, go to any bar and order a ‘red wine’ and chances are you’ll end up with a glass filled with a rich and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon. The reason for this is simple – the grape is grown all around the world. In fact, practically all major wine-producing regions will grow and harvest their own Cabernet Sauvignon. The differences in flavor largely come from how long the berries are left on the vine, and the weather conditions. Cooler conditions tend to produce a blackcurrant taste, whereas late harvests tend to create a somewhat sharp and bitter flavor that’s sought after by many. Other than being tasty, how can Cabernet Sauvignon help you? Compounds in the grape’s skin have been found to be a necessary part of wound healing. Research shows that Cabernet Sauvignon can work better at healing wounds than regular applications of lubricants such as petroleum jelly, encouraging faster tissue regrowth over the site of the wound.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is yet another very common grape variety, and one that is grown, harvested, and served throughout the world. However, some connoisseurs argue that Burgundy produces the best Pinot Noir, full of fruit flavours such as strawberries and raspberries, whereas varieties from the US and Australia, for example, have somewhat of a more earthy taste. Regardless of taste, Pinot Noir has the potential to be very good for our health. Why? Because the grape has been found to contain very high levels of quercetin – a flavonoid often found in fruits. Quercetin is one of the most important antioxidants in existence, and boasts a variety of health benefits. Research suggests that the risk of certain cancers, bone conditions, and diseases related to the heart can all be lessened with increased consumption of quercetin. So don’t feel guilty for pouring yourself a glass!

Despite the complex argument over whether wine really is good for you or not, there is significant evidence to suggest that some wines, particularly those made from red grapes, can do more good than harm. If you’re looking for a way to boost your health whilst not giving up all your favorite treats, then indulging in a glass of wine or two every so often is perhaps one of the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.


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By Sarah James

So, you’ve been thinking about those beautiful apartments in Paris, thinking about whether or not the time has come for a hop over the North Sea. The kids have all flown the nest, you don’t enjoy your job anymore and it just feels like there’s nothing holding you back from going all European for the next twenty years of your life.

Wait a minute.

Are you doing your deliberating without a glass of vintage red in one hand? If so, you’ve got a lot to learn before you can qualify for a life in Paris and it starts with knowing your Beaujolais from your Pinot Meunier and your Riesling from your Colombard. Here’s a guide to five French wines that you absolutely MUST try before you die. These wines are the clearest sign we have that life is ever strange and wonderful but that alcohol is better.

Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1996 

Le Château Lafite Rothschild is a wine estate in France that dates back to the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, the word ‘lafite’ means small hill and this castle on the hill is one of the France’s most prized. The château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac consistently tops lists designed to find and identify the best wines in the world.

Unfortunately, it also tops lists of the most expensive too. However, you get what you pay for with this red – it is simply superb. Flavourful and silky, with a slightly dark, smoky aroma – this vintage red leaves a taste that lingers for a long time.

Château Prieuré-Lichine 1982

This bold, peppery red is from the Margaux region of Bordeaux and was actually made under the supervision of the infamous Russian wine writer and entrepreneur Alexis Lichine. As a former student at the University of Pennsylvania, Lichine knew first hand just how ignorant Americans were about fine wine and he took it upon himself to change that. According to Yahoo Voices journalist Anne Wright, Lichine is praised with helping to make Americans aware of French wine. This 1982 red is a classic and is recommended for its extremely silky texture and subtle balance of flavours. It’s expensive but it won’t cost you your mortgage like several of the other entries on this list.

Château Latour 1949

Latour is a name that’s synonymous with quality in France. Grapes have been cultivated on this wine estate since the 14th century and Latour wines are especially renowned. They’re very rare and extremely expensive, so if you ever run into a glass – make sure you enjoy it. Critics have called the 1949 red an opulent, voluptuous wine that flirts with perfection at times. A six litre bottle of Château Latour sold for a whopping £135,000 at auction in 2011.

Château Le Pin Pomerol 1999

Château Le Pin is the name of a wine estate located right on the banks of the Gironde estuary. Wines from this estate are highly prized by dedicated collectors who are usually willing to pay thousands of dollars for just one bottle, says Ask Men journalist Matthew Simpson. This is mainly due to the fact that the wines produced by Château Le Pin are considered to be ‘garage wines’ – they come from a mid 90’s desire to change the taste of French red wine. Though widely criticised by purists, this movement was actually very successful and the wines it still creates are highly sought after. This 1999 Pomerol is famed for its hints of mocha, currant and black cherry.

Château Margaux 1995

This bold red is almost jet black in colour, making it a curious and dramatic wine to indulge in. It has quite a racy flavour, punctuated by notes of cherry and blackberry. This 1995 is powerful stuff and you’d do well to enjoy it slowly. It’s definitely one for sipping with dark meats or rich chocolate desserts. Why not combine all three in a romantic meal on the balcony of that apartment in Paris you’ve been thinking about? Book a holiday now and you could be there in a few weeks time.

Author Bio: Sarah is a wine critic and expat living in France. She recommends Chez Nous for a great range of accommodation and holiday apartments in Paris. Sarah can be found blogging about a variety of holidays around Europe.

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The power of high quality wine has gone further than expected, especially in La Rioja, Spain. Not only has it delighted and surprised fellow wine fanatics, but it has attracted the attention and respect of the international wine community to Spain, and has even inspired Gran Reserva (Vintage) one of Spain’s most successful telenovelas. La Rioja wine has broken through geographical and often tense political boundaries between La Rioja and the Basque Country where the wine is jointly produced. To our delight, it has given a common identity to this Spanish region as they share the success of their wine. And now, La Rioja Alta winery has produced one of the finest and highest rated wines, with a profound and complex character that cannot be missed!

La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 2001 is a delectable wine produced from Tempranillo grapes (90%) from 40 year-old vines located in Briñas, Villalba and Labastida that are perfectly complemented by a 10% touch of Graciano vines from Melchorón and Rodezno Briones vineyards, all of which belong to the DOC of La Rioja.

In February 2002, the wine was transferred to the self-made, 4 year-old American oak barrels being racked through the traditional barrel-to-barrel method for 4 years, every 6 months. The wine was bottled in June 2006 and has been maturing in the company’s cellars for over six years. In order to preserve maximum organoleptic components, the wine was subject to a gentle filtration, which can produce few sediments with age.

Now is a perfect time to acquire this fiercely anticipated red wine from La Rioja. It is worth the effort of purchasing it simply for its exclusive quality and extraordinary taste, but it will also be a great acquisition for any wine cellar as it will continue to evolve for 5 to 6 more years, and has great drinkability until 2040.

SIGHT: Ruby red, with a slight garnet rim. Very bright, has thin and elegant tears.

SMELL: Fresh, vibrant, with fine notes of candied fruit, spicy black fruit, excellent ripeness with a hint of coffee and chocolate mint.

TASTE: Solid structure, round and sweet elegantly polished tannins. Silky, soft and durable aftertaste.

ALCOHOL: 12.5% °

Serve at 17 ° C, decanting recommended

PAIRING: Red meats, Añejo or other semi-soft cheeses, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota

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Segway: I first discovered this wine at the Brookside Golf & Country Club Open House Wine and Spirits Tasting, with my dad. It was all the rave and I remember thinking it was pretty good but not paying too much attention to it, since I was more focused on the socializing than I was the wine. I forget the details but the generalities behind the story of this wine are that William Kavney apparently bought the best wines that were left over from the production of some top Napa producers. He then blends them together to make his small production creation with a Bulldog logo on the clearly hand-crafted label.

The story behind the Hausfrau Haven wine store is pretty cool too. Hausfrau Haven is where I purchased the William Kavney Cellars bottle. I was asking around at the open house, trying to pinpoint who in Ohio distributed and/or retailed Guigal wines. I was a winemaking apprentice, A.K.A. Cellar Rat, at Guigal during the 2009 vintage and so naturally I’m deadset on getting my hands on one of the 2009 LaLas. I’m pretty damn proud to be able to say that I helped make those wines and was part of the EPIC 2009 vintage. By the way I was also part of spilling a few thousand dollars worth of wine on the cellar floor, after failing to properly fasten one of the pumps. I considered it an offering to the French wine gods. LaLa, by the way, is the nickname for Guigal’s top single-vineyard Cote-Roties (La Turque, La Mouline and La Landonne) that demand between 3 and 5 bills a bottle! But more importantly, these are some AMAZING wines!

So how the hell does Guigal have anything to do with this William Kavney Cellars tasting, other than me selfishly plugging my 2009 vintage? Well nothing yet, except that after asking around at the Open House, I was told that the top wine buyer in Columbus was Faye, owner of Hausfrau Haven wine store and “the best palate in Ohio”. And additionally, I was told that she would be the best bet for finding a bottle of a Guigal LaLa. So I dropped in for a visit to Hausfrau and sure enough they carried Guigal, including the LaLas! Now my name’s on the list for the 2009 vintage, which is still in the barrel btw, and won’t be in the shop for another 6 to 12 months. Some of the LaLas are aged for up to 4 years in barrel. Now that’s what I call barrel ageing!

Sorry I understand that I STILL haven’t got to the point of today’s tasting. So much buildup I know! Well the closing chapter of this saga is that after speaking to one of the wine reps and asking for his favorite bottle under $20, he immediately grabbed the William Kavney Cellar 2007 Cab, the exact same wine that was all the rave at the Brookside Open House. The End!

William Kavney Cellars “Cabernet Sauvignon” Napa Valley 2007
Tasting Notes: 100% cabernet sauvignon, 13.8% vol. Dark ruby red in the glass. A decent amount of alcohol on the nose, accompanied by pleasant and subtle notes of black fruits, cinnamon and vanilla spice. Silky-smooth texture up front, followed by strong fruit, black cherry jam, good balance of acidity and finishing with dry tannins and notes of dark chocolate and oak. Certainly nothing magical and not all the rave, BUT definitely an overall enjoyable wine.
Rating: 15/20 (89/100)
Price: US$20 @ Hausfrau Haven in German Village, Columbus, Ohio

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Written By Yuliya, guest contributor, editor at WineClubGuide.com:

So many wine choices –  this may seem intimidating to an individual not yet versed in the different aspects that the world of wine has to offer. How does a person choose which wine they will love? Wine exploration and discovering should not be intimidating or scary but a great deal of fun. This drink that has been loved throughout the ages should be thought of as a pleasurable treat to indulge in. You can have a blast tasting wine and exploring different flavors and varieties. Learning how to taste wine properly is a simple practice that makes all aspects of wine tasting worth doing. Its also nice to know that in this day and age you can do some research online prior to wine tasting. Websites like the Wine Club Guide will help you understand wine better and make your life easier in choosing which wines you would like to try.

Like most things, it takes time to develop your wine tasting palate. Once you get going though, you will learn to distinguish good wines from poor ones and hopefully discover some great ones along the way. All you really need to do is learn the basics of wine tasting to get started. The wine’s appearance, how it smells and tastes are the fundamentals of any thorough wine tasting.

When pouring a glass of wine for tasting, you should fill the glass a 1/4 full. This gives you enough room to swirl and sniff the wine. After pouring, look at the color of the wine and note its clarity, color and depth. A dessert wine will usually be darker and thicker than a white wine. Once you’ve experienced more wines, you will understand each types viscosity, hue and other characteristics just by looking at it.

Swirl the wine some more and sniff the aroma. Note the scents coming from the fruits. There is no right or wrong when doing this. Each individual has their own way of describing what they smell. A wine can have a bouquet of earthy or woody scents and even smell like chocolate or rubber tires. How awesome is this! Do you enjoy what you’re smelling? Try to pick out any stronger smells that are primarily coming through. Does the aroma provoke your senses enough to want to sip the wine?

Take a small sip and swirl the wine around slowly while sucking in bits of air to create a stronger taste. Does the taste make your lips pucker or is there a subtle sweetness that lingers on your tongue? Each wine will taste completely different as will it’s feeling in the mouth. Some wines will give off a dry sensation while others will feel silky and smooth. Note these differences along with the tastes you discover.

Take notes on all the different types of wines you try, and soon you’ll become the wine tasting expert that everyone comes to when choosing a bottle of great wine.

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Downfall of a Cult Winery

A little LOL via Dr Vino

(May not be safe for work or little kiddies due to language)

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How Cool Is This?

Check out this wine cellar!

I want one.

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