Archive for the ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ Category

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Tasting Notes or Testing Notes? The Nose Knows by BoomerYearbook.com

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

With wine-the nose knows

With wine-the nose knows

By Boomeryearbook.com

Strawberries, cherries, leather, coffee, cinnamon, mushrooms…I thought wine was made from grapes. How do all these other aromas and flavors come into this? Such descriptions are known in the wine arena as tasting notes, and although they can be confusing they are designed to provide valuable information about a wine’s characteristics. To an amateur, those who use such terms appear to be speaking to a select group of initiated oenophiles or simply poking fun at you. Perhaps they are trying to impress you with their knowledge of the great complexities of wine or to give you a bit of vertigo.

Although it is daunting to try to perceive all the aromas/flavors depicted in some columnists tasting notes, take heart. Tasting notes really do provide a wealth of information (OK there are those who wax a bit too poetic and describe flavors such as quince, wisteria, and sawgrass …perfumes/flavors not all of us can relate to as easily as, for example, red berries). By and large, these descriptions are not all pompous displays of how many fruits, spices and flowers the reviewer knows. Most notes, whether well written, completely accurate or not, can help you understand how a wine will taste.

How? You say? First, as bizarre as it might seem, it is not just an illusion that many aromas and flavors are present in the wine. Yes, really present.

First let’s clarify the role of smell in tasting. It is indispensable. Humans perceive only four tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Humans perceive thousands of smells…detect, identify, differentiate them. Think of eating when you have a stuffed nose. The tastes are almost non-existent. Smells color those four flavors and give us nuances and a repertoire of flavors we easily recognize ( Mmm, I smell chocolate, bacon, roast turkey..).

No, it is not with smoke and mirrors that these aromas and flavors permeate the juice of fermented grapes. How is this possible? The answer is natural law. Wine is made from grapes…we all know that. But did you realize that wine is alive? Yes alive because it contains yeasts, which are living organisms. All living organisms change over time and conditions. The same is true for wine. As the grapes ferment and then age, many molecules develop. Here’s the great scientific fact: the same molecules that make strawberries smell and taste like strawberries can be present in some wines. So when you smell cherries, leather, coffee, nutmeg…in wine, yes, you really do smell those fruits flowers and spices. Tasting notes are supposed to help you identify and therefore appreciate the multiple and seemingly unrelated tastes and smells that rush at you when you taste wine.

With the help of tasting notes and lots of practice, you begin to sense the aromas and tastes together and recognize each flavor as it unfolds in layers. The aromas are manifestations of the characteristics of the specific grape(s) and the wine made with it. Each grape varietal exhibits specific aromas called Primary aromas. Many, or even most wines are a blend of several grape varietals, each with its own set of primary aromas. This is why lots of practice tasting is key. The aromas that result from the vinifying process are called secondary aromas and they indicate the wine’s origin and style. As a wine ages and oxidizes it gains tertiary aromas. Here’s where the fun really gets rolling. Tasting regularly becomes a mind puzzle as well as a sensual pleasure. Even in the early steps you recognize, but can’t name lots of aromas / flavors…just can’t put your finger on it. Memories come rushing from your mouth and nose to your brain faster than you can say Marcel Proust.

Most of what you will taste is revealed in repeated sniffing. As you start to sense more and more aromas, you will also notice that you taste these flavors in layers that develop in your mouth. After swallowing, exhale through the nose and observe the persistent aromas. This is called retro olfaction and it gives you the rounding out of the flavors.
Count the seconds the wine flavors last in your mouth. The longer the duration, the better the wine.

Mmmm. Enjoy the road.

Heard it Through the Grapevine: Tasting Notes or Testing Notesis part of Boomer Yearbook’s continuing series of baby boomers psychological coaching tips and how to alleviate elderly problems. We believe knowledge is power. We’d love to hear what you think.

Boomer Yearbook is a Social Network and Psychological Articles for Baby Boomers. Connect with old and new friends, or expand your mind and ward off senior moments and elderly problems with dream analysis and online optical illusions and brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join other Baby Boomers to stay informed, receive weekly Newsfeeds, and let your opinions be heard. Baby boomers changed the world. We’re not done yet!

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No Bottles and Corks?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

No Bottles and Corks?

No Bottles and Corks?

By BoomerYearbook.com

It used to be that you could identify a lot of things about a wine by just seeing the bottle…not the label, just the bottle. The size, the length of the neck and shape of the shoulders told you, in many cases, the wine’s region of origin. This, in turn, let you know the probable grape varietals in the wine and perhaps a bit about the style of the wine. It is easy to pick out a Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Champagne bottle for example. Of course this is not a perfect science… in fact it only worked for about ten different regions, mostly in France, and even then, many regions around the world use similar, sometimes identical bottle types for very different wines. So, how valuable is this talent for bottle spotting? Not at all. So, I need not despair that bottle shapes are becoming even less indicators of the contents and that bottles themselves may be disappearing.

No bottles? Whoa! I exaggerate. Most wine will still be packaged in bottles for a long time to come. But significant changes are in the air.

It has not escaped my attention that for many years wine has been sold in juice cartons or the bag-in-box with a spigot. Although shocking to me at first, this is really just the economical extension of the jug. It all started with winemakers bottling their lesser wine (wine made on the estate from lesser quality grapes, not worthy of the estate label) in the cheaper large format jug. This opened the market for jug wine and the cooperatives, which buy grapes from many growers and make regional (worldwide) tablewines, stepped in and have had great selling success with large format bottles.

The cooperatives around the world have been at the forefront of lots of new packaging. It was primarily cooperatives that started brand naming and innovative labeling, among other marketing tools used to promote everyday drinking. The cartons of varying sizes (not just the standard 750ml which may be too much for a dinner for two) and the bag-in-box have been successful here and in many countries, including several in Europe. Wines that are not complex enough to age in the bottle, and are meant to be drunk young do not need to be stored in bottles. The box can be put in the fridge and you just press the spigot to pour a glass. It lasts for days without deteriorating. Very practical.

As a traditionalist, I was put off by this at first, but learned quickly, that for everyday wines this can be a good solution. I was ready to accept the boxes for large barbeques and picnics and the like. Recently, though, I have been reading about glass shortages in Europe. It seems that three major bottle-making factories (two in France and one in Spain) have closed this year. This shortage is encouraging the European winemakers to consider more of the carton type packaging. We can expect to see more of it in the next year. I don’t expect to see any appellation, denomination controlled wines in any other form than a bottle, but many of those vins de pays and brand name wines will pop up in carton.

Of course, I am sure you have noticed that many of the wines in bottles have departed from the pure classic in another way….corks. They are disappearing from a lot of wines. Once again, this does not apply to very fine and complex wines from any country. For a complex wine to achieve its peak, it requires time in the bottle. Some wines can age for many many years in the bottle (I have some 1982 Bordeaux that are still not quite ready), while others do well with one to five years. The keys are the bottle, which will not impart any flavors nor allow anything inside; and the cork, which is not totally airtight. Small amounts oNo Bottles and Corks?f oxygen seep in through the cork to promote the aging process.

The issue is that real corks are expensive. It is a limited world resource

(the cork tree) and along process to turn the bark into corks. But corks are essential and have been the single closure medium used for centuries. Here’s a fly in the ointment: not only are they expensive, but also they fail almost 10% of the time. Holy frijoles! This means that 10% of the wine bottles with corks are “corked”, a condition that smells moldy and tastes bad too. Any wineshop will refund your money if you get a corked bottle. This is quite an expense for winemakers. This is why the synthetic cork was invented (not to mention the famous screwtop also). For wines meant to be drunk young, the synthetic cork or screwtop work perfectly…no corked bottles, ever.

I am not generally known to rush toward new innovations in traditional products. I do associate wine drinking with pulling corks out of bottles…and I always will I suppose. That said I have enjoyed many bottles recently with synthetic corks and even a screw top or two. They come in handy when you want to serve different wines with each course but cannot finish each bottle.

I have even tried a nice little sauvignon blanc poured from a spigot in the bag-in-box at my friend’s house in Paris last month. I was hesitant at first, but realized that when in Paris I must do as the Parisians do. I survived.

Thirsting for more wine tips and tidbits? Come join your fellow wine lovers at boomeryearbook.com

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

Wine Tasting Tours

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Wine Tasting Tours

Wine Tasting Tours

There is one major advantage of being boomers. We have ensured that travel is an integral part of our lives. It is not an exaggeration to say that weekends are the most important part of our lives. Not just weekends, but our annual vacations and all trips too.

The word ‘Concept tours’ started with our generation and who knows, in the future, concept tours might even go up to a moon colony!

But for now, it is wine tasting tours that we will talk about. Over the last few articles, we have talked about various aspects of wine in our lives. In this set of articles, we would be doing gross injustice if we don’t mention wine tasting tours. One of the most happening tourist destinations in the country is Martha’s Vineyards, an island off the east coast. And ever since the Paris wine tasting festival of 1976, Napa Valley guided tours are the ultimate rages for foreigners visiting the country.

For a lot of people in our generation, we’ve had family favorite wines, and it is a dream for a lot of us to visit and see first hand the vineyard and the way the wine is actually made. Since most of the world famous vintners are located in and around France, a trip down the Alsace or the Burgundy region certainly counts among the best holidays one can have.

If you’ve read Floyd’s autobiography, or watched his show on Travel & Living, you will certainly aspire to have a wine holiday like that one. And the tours are not just restricted to France either. You can now go on a wine tasting tour anywhere from Turkey to Greece to Australia to New Zealand to South Africa.

But if you’ve not been on one, try out the daily Napa Valley wine tasting tour right here in California. You will certainly love it. And your friends at www.boomeryearbook.com would love to hear about it.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

Wine ‘n’ Weddings

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Wine ‘n’ Weddings

Wine ‘n’ Weddings

Wines are the ultimate beverage in our lives. And they play an integral part of every occasion we have in our lives – especially festive celebrations such as weddings.

The great American wedding is not complete without a whole range of super wines. Think back to a well done wedding well done and you will certainly remember what wines were served that day. A lot of conversations during the weddings are about the vintages of the wines that are served. So, our team at Boomer Yearbook spoke to wedding planners and couples across the country and this is what we came up with.

An evergreen favorite in weddings across the world is Chardonnay. Currently termed as the world’s favorite white wine, Chardonnay has some spectacular vintages and they are all equally good. Depending on the taste of the drinker, there will be a Chardonnay vintage that will fit the bill. Another very popular wedding white wine is Riesling. Crisper than Chardonnay, Riesling is another wine that specifically fits the ‘wedding’ scene.

And how can a wedding be termed complete without the beautiful reds being uncorked? According to a survey by an independent agency, the current favorites in the Reds category are Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Especially the latter, as it lends a beautiful aura with its delectable pink color.

Now, whatever boomers have done, they have done it in style. Now that it is the time for our kids to get married, there are various themed weddings happening across the country; and wine is playing a very important part in all of them. Depending on the mood and the place, the chosen wines also are changing. Would you be surprised if we told you that Napa Valley and Martha’s Vineyards are booked choc-a-bloc as wedding destinations for the whole of next year? Now think about what a whimsical wedding moment a couple could have, instead of flowers hanging over their heads, there would be grapes! Bettcha no one would complain?

If you are thirsting for more Wine and Wedding theme ideas. Come join your friends at boomeryearbook.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

Wine and Food – The ‘Can’t Fail’ guide

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Wine and Food – The ‘Can’t Fail’ guide

Wine and Food – The ‘Can’t Fail’ guide

One of the most terrifying things in life is to set a menu!

Though we’ve been gourmands for over 50 years now, we still dread the experience of setting a menu for a party or a dinner. Even more terrifying is a wedding! That is the reason why a lot of weddings go to wedding planners – to make sure that the food and beverage are a hit with the guests.

So, we traveled the length and breadth of the country to find out what are the ‘Can’t Fail’ combinations of food and wine vintages, so that you can go ahead and have a great party!

ü If you are serving white meat – Chicken, Seafood and the like, or Eggs, Salads and Vegetables, you need to have a white wine that goes along, and there can be none better than the Sauvignon Blanc. If a good vintage is not available or seems too costly, try the Pinot Gris. These juicy and flavorful wines go very well with the white dishes.

ü How can a party be a success without red meat – especially the big juicy steaks and the other hearty meats? For them, the best pick would be a Cabernet Sauvignon – which happens to be America’s most favorite red wine. You will get excellent Napa Valley Sauvignons at around 12-15$ per bottle.

ü Pork, Tuna, Salmon and Sirloin need a dry Rose, and you will get great Roses either from our own vineyards or from Provence, France.

ü If you are serving Hors d’oeuvres, you need a sparkly to go along. If Champagne is too costly, or is too run of the mill, consider Italian Prosecco or the sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Australia.

ü While serving a sparkling wine with wedding cake, don’t pick a Brut. Instead, pick a demi-sec, which comes with about 3-4% sugar. The sweetness will complement the cake.

Many of our families have ‘dynasty favorites’, which have been handed down from earlier generations. These are time tested and will always be great; but the next time you are looking to host a party, try the above combinations and do let your boomeryearbook.com friends know how they went.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

Why Whine, let’s make Wine!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Why Whine, let’s make Wine!

You have a party coming up, and don’t want it to be the same old run-of-the-mill stuff. You want to have something unique, but don’t know what!

Why whine? Let’s make wine! Boomer Yearbook will tell you the quickest and easiest recipe of making your own wine, right here right now. If you observe, all these ingredients are easily available at your store.

1. Extract the Flavor – Take the fruits / berries you’d like to make wine from, and chop and mince them finely. Add Sugar, Water and crushed Campden tablets. Set them in a jar, and leave for about 10 hours. Then add pectic enzyme and stir well. Refrigerate the mixture for about 48 hours. Let the mixture come to room temperature. Add acids – available in the market as crystalline Citric, Mallic and Tartaric packs. Choose the taste you want to give your wine and add the crystals according to that; and then introduce the yeast (as a starter solution). Leave the liquid covered for a week, preferably at a temperature of about 75 F.

2. Once the week is done, strain off the liquid from the pulp, and place it in a second jug. Then leave the pulp to ferment again (you will know that the fermentation is done when the bubbling ceases). This might take a few weeks, and is best done at around 60F.

3. Once the fermentation ceases, siphon off the liquid once more, and blend with the earlier liquid. Repeat the process once more, and let the pulp ferment for some more time.

4. Once the fermentation is complete, siphon the liquid into bottles, cork them and leave them standing for 3-4 days. Then put them on their side and let them age for the time you have in hand. Professional wine makers suggest atleast six months for white wine and over a year for red.

But then, we are not professional wine makers, right? All we are looking to do is make our party extra special, and what better way than making your own wine? Don’t worry about the nitty-gritty’s. Everything will be fine, and people will love your special touch. Have another recipe? Share it with your online friends at www.boomeryearbook.com.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

Wine – A Journey through the times – 1

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Wine has a history as old as civilization itself. Ever since people discovered the power of agriculture, some crude form of wine was available to them. In this two part series, Boomer Yearbook aspires to track the story of this wonderful beverage, which has become so important in our lives.

Early times - Like a lot of things, wine also was probably first used in China. There has been a lot of evidence that the ancient Chinese used their local grapes and fermented them along with rice to make a combination kind of a rice wine. This was around the year 7000 BC. But certainly the predecessor to our wine of today is the region of Iran and Georgia, which used our current grape – Vitis Vinefera – to make wine in the current form.

Trivia – In king Tut’s tomb in Egypt, there were 36 wine amphoras that were buried along with the young pharaoh. Five of them bore the name of the royal chief vintner!

Early times - However, the concept of crushed grapes came about several years later. Evidences of crude presses started appearing in archeological sites of the period. Prior to that, the only crushing that used to happen was with either people stomping on them, or even by cattle! That must sure have lent a special flavor to the wine J

Greece is the oldest known producer of wine as we know it, and around the year 4500 BC, people there started fine tuning the process of making wine. The Dionysian mysteries of around the year 3000 BC have recorded evidence of people partaking large quantities of wine to enter into a euphoric state, so they could perform religious practices of the time.

Want to learn? Continue your wine journey at www.boomeryearbook.com

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

Wine – A Journey through the times – 2

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The Medieval Times – Actually, it is from the medieval times that wine started playing a major role in our lives. Prior to that, it was just an intoxicant (thanks to the large percentage of alcohol which was present back then) and a beverage for entertainment. The history of wine is inexorably entwined with the history of Christianity. Since wine is an integral part of celebrating mass, it was considered to be holy. In countries like Germany, beer was considered to be the beverage of the uncultured, and consumption of wine was considered to be a symbol of conversion to Christianity.

In France, monks used to make wine, and they used to store them in underground caves. That was probably what set off the tradition of storing wine in underground cellars, as they tend to age better and age well. The concept of using wooden casks also started during the same period, according to studies.

Modern Times – In the 20th century, several changes happened in the manufacture and usage of wine. Firstly, chemists started identifying the alcohol percentages in beverages, and that led to wine becoming more subtle and a drink that anyone could partake. The biggest change that has happened in the recent times is the improvement of bottling and storage techniques, that have led wines from around the world to be shipped in mint condition to our doorsteps. Another is the rise of the retail wine industry, which is what makes sure that we are able to buy the best wines at our corner store.

The Future – There have been several so called ‘experts’ who have made studies to show that the shortage of water and the global warming of the future will impact wine making around the world. Boomer Yearbook says none of that is going to happen – as humans have always found ways around crises. But the only real challenge appears to be preservation of the identity of small winemakers, as large corporations are taking over and nosing out small winemakers.

As boomers, we have started the entrepreneurial streak over the world. Let’s help preserve it.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

As White As Wine!

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008


Though the popular one in the world of wines is the red wine; it is the white cousin that is actually the choice of the classes.

We’ve spoken about this in the earlier articles saying that due to shortage of white wine, vintners tried to make white wine with red grapes, and hence rose wines were born. Now, the actual glamour of wine lies in the white version; and all over the world, it is the white wines that command a premium, as the grape variant does not grow so easily all over the world.

For all kinds of meetings and various get-togethers, white wine is the beverage of choice, as it signifies class and subtlety. In America, the Napa Valley is the top wine producing region – as is a known fact. But did you know that the region actually became very popular only after the Paris wine tasting festival in 1976; where a Chardonnay white wine variety beat all the other popular French and Italian wines in a blind tasting competition?

It is this event that made the world sit up and notice Napa Valley as a premier wine producing region. Since then, American white wine also has been counted as one of the best vintages of wine in the world.

Trivia – The actual color of white wine is not white. It is either Yellow or a pale Golden. If the vintage comes out to a darker shade, the vintners combine a paler variant to bring the color back.

According to a study at the medical department of the University of Connecticut, White wine has also been found to be as good as Red for the heart. But then, only when taken in moderation. So, have your glass of white guilt free, and feel good that you are helping your heart too!

Thirsting for more wine tips? Come join our oenophiles and fellow wine lovers at www.boomeryearbook.com

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

American Wines

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

We have been talking about wines for several articles now, and onwww.boomeryearbook.com, we have been mentioning that boomers and wines are a combination that’s a big hit.

But then, for a country that is among the leading wine consumers of the world, wine production in the USA was seriously started only by the boomers of our generation. In other parts of the world, the history of wine making goes back to over 6000 years! But then, the history of wine making will be talked about in another article.

Wines have been in production in areas such as Napa Valley, California for over 150 years now, but thanks to various kinds of challenges – ranging from the unavailability of proper grape varieties to a repeated attack by disease; the world only noticed American wines in the late 1970s. That achievement was thanks to a local Chardonnay winning a blindtasting competition against several other popular French wines.

Now, America is among the top wine producing and exporting nations in the world (ranked 4th and 7th respectively). But the funny thing is that overseas, even today, if one is given a choice of an American wine and a French one, typically people prefer French ones, even if they are of a more recent vintage than the American ones. That is primarily due to the fact that most of the vintages here in the USA have been brought in from France and other regions in Europe, and possibly a little snobbery on the part of the Europeans.

But in the USA, except in elite restaurants that pride themselves on serving only French wines (god only knows why!), in most other places, American wines are considered to be equally good – if not better. And the price is lower too.

For the boomers who are used to a regular dose of wine, anything goes, as long as it’s red! Doesn’t it?

Thirsting for more wine tips? Come learn from our oneophiles and join fellow wine lovers at www.boomeryearbook.com

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.