Archive for March, 2012
No matter what you tipple is; white, red, pink or sparkling, storing your wine correctly is essential. Simply putting your favourite bottle above the fridge and forgetting about it for a year could drastically alter the taste, then, when you come to enjoy it at that special occasion, it might not be as favourable as you hoped.
Despite wines being a perishable commodity, properly caring for and storing your wine can actually improve its’ aroma, flavour, texture and complexity over time.
Step 1: How long are you storing your wine for?
The first decision to make is how long you are planning to store your wine for. Generally short term storage means 3 to 6 months and should be your cheaper, less cherished wines, where as long term can mean decades and should be reserved for your quality, precious wines.
Step 2: Correct storage conditions
Whether it’s short or long term storage the same rules apply, firstly and most crucially the bottles should be laid horizontally instead of upright, this ensures the cork remains moist, to stop it drying out.
It is essential to keep the wines in a vibration free environment so they can not move about, therefore on top of electrical appliances or a place subject to external forces (i.e. from a subway) should be avoided.
Wine can be greatly affected by its surrounding temperature; the ideal temperature is roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12°C). Bottles should be kept out of drafts and any temperature change should be very gradual.
Additionally light can negatively impact on a wine, which is why some wine bottles are made of coloured glass. Wine must be kept out of direct sun light, since too much light can react with proteins in wine, forming a haze and bad aromas to pollute its’ flavour.
For long term storage, the correct atmospheric conditions are required. Humidity has to be very high, approximately 70% or more, in order to stop the cork drying out and to reduce the chance of wine evaporating. Also when storing long term, consider the wines surroundings, ensure there are no other foods or liquids that could be absorbed into the wine itself. Substances with strong aromas for example fuel or vinegar must be kept elsewhere!
Step 3: Enjoy…
When the time comes to pop the cork and savour all your hard work, drink responsibly but do try to finish bottles within a few days of opening, since as soon as the wine is exposed to air it starts mixing with oxygen. This is known as oxidation, which also alters the essence of the wine.
Correct wine storage is fundamental for any serious wine lover, enthusiast or even hobbyist. The most effective storage is in a wine cellar, since numerous bottles can be kept conveniently out of sight yet in the perfect conditions.
Almost everyone I have ever met loves chocolate. The best thing about chocolate is that it comes in many different shapes and sizes, including white chocolate, hot chocolate, fudge, and even chocolate chip cookies. Another great attribute of chocolate is that it tastes good with almost anything, so you can always work in a little chocolate with most meals. Most people I know believe that chocolate makes them feel good after they eat it. Chocolate is also one of the most popular gifts to give to your loved one on Valentine’s Day, because it makes people feel more sensual. Some people believe that this good feeling is just in your head and that it happens just because you think you are feeling better. However chocolate contains many different chemicals in it that help to cause chemical reactions that truly can make you feel better.
Chocolate contains many different stimulates that can help give some one a “pick me up”. Chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine that can get you going when you are feeling sluggish. However do not worry about getting too much caffeine from chocolate, because it contains the same amount of caffeine that you would get from drinking one ounce of coffee. Chocolate also causes the body to release serotonin, which is a chemical that has been associated with decreased levels of depression, tension, and fatigue. Probably the reason chocolate is given on Valentine’s Day is that it also contains phenylethylamine which is usually released by the body when you are spending quality time with a loved one. Chocolate will not make someone fall in love with you or be more attracted to you, but it can help set the mood between two people that love each other. All in all chocolate is one of the best things on earth. If you are feeling down, need a boost of energy, or need help setting the mood, then get some chocolate and all of your troubles will just melt away.
When it comes to decaffeinated coffee it is pretty much a black and white choice. Most people drink either regular or decaf, and would never consider switching between, but how much difference in taste is there really? Many coffee lovers report the inferior taste of decaf, but is that just because it is something they are not used to, or is there really something in its production that affects the flavor?
A type of coffee plant was recently discovered that produces beans naturally low in caffeine, but until this finds its way into commercial production we will have to rely on more traditional methods of decaf production.
The most common treatment to remove caffeine from coffee beans is to soak them in hot water, or steam them to open the pores, and then rinse them in methylene chloride which bonds with the caffeine, and is washed away. So it may be the difference in taste of decaf is more to do with the remaining chemical in the bean than the actual absence of the bitter caffeine.
There is another method which reduces the amount of the chemical that the beans come into contact with. The beans are soaked for a long period in hot water, which induces the caffeine as well as much of the flavor in the bean to leak out into the water. The beans are removed, and methylene chloride added to bond with the caffeine. This is then filtered off and the beans are replaced in the water to reabsorb some
These methods are relatively inexpensive and so are favored by manufacturers, despite ongoing questions about how the final taste of the coffee is affected. There is another method which is more costly, and seems to have less impact on the taste.
This is known as the Swiss method, and it involves no chemical addition to the beans. The beans are soaked in hot water for a long period of time, and then the whole mixture is filtered through activated charcoal. This is similar to pure carbon and its molecular make up attracts the caffeine particles to bond with it during the filtering process. This is a more expensive process and so is generally used for superior decaf coffees.
If you feel you need to cut down on your caffeine intake, whether for health reasons, or just to get a good night’s sleep, you don’t necessarily have to switch to decaf. Just changing the type of coffee you drink can have an impact. Many darker roasts, such as Italian roast often used in Espresso, naturally have less caffeine because much of it has been burnt off during the roasting process. You can reduce the effects of caffeine without economizing on taste.
Of course it is a matter of personal choice which type of coffee you use in your espresso maker, but if you need to cut down on your caffeine intake there are options, and you do not have to settle for an inferior flavor if you do find that standard decaf produces this.