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The main issue when it comes to storing wine is that it needs to be maintained at a cool temperature of between...

How to Store Wine

How to Store WineHaving invested possibly hundreds of dollars in your latest bottle of vintage wine (ah well, we can but dream), the next important decision is where to store this prized possession?The main issue when it comes to storing wine is that it needs to be maintained at a cool temperature of between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius. Shoved under the bed won't do.Many modern wines do not need to be aged over a great period of time; therefore extensive cellars are often unnecessary. Having said this, if you have the time, space and resource to excavate a cellar, your wine will surely benefit. A purpose built cellar is not normally an option for most households and so suitable alternatives must be explored.Ideal areas for storage include a corner of a garage, garden shed, an unused fireplace or a cupboard that is against an outside wall.Wherever you choose to store your wine, a few basic criteria are worth keeping in mind. Choose an area that is less likely to be subjected to fluctuating temperatures caused by household heating systems. Wines benefit from being kept in dark conditions. Although this is not always practical, wine should certainly be stored in an area that is not exposed it to direct sunlight.As a final point, always store your wine bottles on their side. Corks are designed to be kept moist, so that they remain airtight and do not crumble when a corkscrew is inserted. Bear in mind that some wines do not benefit from being stored at all. If you have poor or no storage facilities available, consider purchasing wine that matures quickly such as most white wines or new technology reds or, possibly, a new Beaujolais.Move wine as little as possible once it has been placed in storage, unless of course it is being moved into a glass!If you have a particularly special wine collection, it may be worth engaging a specialist company to store your wine for you (Oops, I'm dreaming again). Good storage has been recognized as vital for many wines and as such, many companies now provide storage facilities. Of course, this does not come cheap and is best reserved for those very special bottles or for those experts who are considering selling their wine on, at a future date.

How To Play Cupid For Food And Wine

How To Play Cupid For Food And Wine

When it comes to food and wine, most people are brought up with the rule stating red goes with red, white goes with white, which means red wine goes with red meat while white wine goes with fish and poultry. Then came the postmodern maxim which says that if you like the taste, the match is perfect. Despite the presence of these simplistic guides, many people still don't know how to match food and wine well. The truth is, many really don't know what tastes good and what doesn't. Fortunately, the art of food and wine matching follows a simple logic that is quite easy to follow. The bottom-line with food and wine matching is that the food should have an equal fighting chance with the wine and vice versa. Simply put, one shouldn't dominate the other. When you bite into food, its tastes and pleasures should be enjoyed. When it is the wines turn to be sipped, it should evoke an equally pleasurable sensation. Now, when it is time to bite into the food again, it should be the star of that moment. And finally, when it's time for the wine to draw, it should rise up to prominence once more. Learn the art of Wine Tasting In short, the food should be able to replace the flavors of the wine with every bite, and conversely, the wine should be able to replace the taste of the food with every sip. When the combination isn't good, one will overpower the other. To achieve this, you have to take in consideration the dominant tastes found in both the food and wine. Sweet food, such as dessert, goes with sweet wine. Food with hints of bitterness, such as charbroiled meat, would go better with a bitter wine. Acidic foods or those foods that go great with a dash of lemon or vinegar, go with acidic wines. Here is a short overview of wine flavors: Acidic wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, White Bordeaux for whites and Pinot Noir, Red Burgundy, Sangiovese, and Gamay for reds. Acidic white wines usually go well with seafood because of their delicate flavor. Acidic red wines go well with tomato based dishes and grilled seafood. Wines with bitterness include Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Bordeaux, Red Zinfandel, and Merlot. These usually go well with steaks and roasts. Sweet wines include Vovray, Asti Spumante, Chenin Blanc, or most German wines for whites and Lambrusco, Port, Sherry and Vermouth for reds. These usually go well with dessert or by themselves. Matching wine with food is not that complicated with this simple guide. Happy matchmaking!

What's Thanksgiving Without Pumpkin Pie?

What

Pumpkin pie is standard fare at most Thanksgiving feasts. Many of us look forward to eating it for dessert once a year. However, if you are tired of that thick, sweet piece of pie at the end of this already-filling meal, consider these interesting alternatives.Pumpkin is a very nutritious fruit -- not a vegetable as most of us believe. Its scientific name is "cucurbita maxima," which reflects the possibility of its "maximum" size. In fact, The World Pumpkin Federation reports the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed more than 1,000 pounds! There are about 26 varieties of pumpkin, ranging in color from bright orange to pale yellow and green.You can find pumpkin mixed into soups, salads, main dishes, desserts (other than pies) and even drinks. Here are a few different ideas to get your culinary juices flowing: pumpkin soup, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin-chicken chili, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins, scones, cookies, bars and breads, pumpkin butter, pumpkin-pecan cheesecake, pumpkin beer, pumpkin fudge,and pumpkin creme brulee. Recipes for these and many other pumpkin dishes are plentiful and readily available at your favorite online recipe site when you put "pumpkin" in the search box provided by the site.And, if you want to start a new pumpkin tradition, roasted pumpkin seeds are easy-to--make and not as time-consuming as baking a pumpkin pie. It is a fun multi-generational activity which can be enjoyed by children all the way up to senior citizens as your Thanksgiving Day unfolds. Here are step-by-step directions: Rinse the seeds in cold water and remove the pulp and fibers, then drain and blot dry. Coat pumpkin seeds with melted butter or vegetable oil and sprinkle lightly with salt or your favorite seasoning. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. One four pound pumpkin will yield approximately two cups of seeds.If you roast some of the seeds and plant others, next year you will have your very own pumpkin patch. Then you can select from pumpkins you have grown for use in recipes, thereby starting another tradition for you and your family!

Gourmet Foods

Gourmet Foods

Many people claim that they do not like gourmet foods; but this may be the case only because they have not tasted enough varieties. The types of gourmet foods are endless. Not only are there meats, drinks, cheeses, fruits, and deserts, but there are hundreds of kinds of all of these. Gourmet foods are a delicacy and they taste absolutely heavenly.Whenever anyone thinks of gourmet foods, the first thing that often comes to mind is cheese. If you are in the market for cheese, remember that gourmet cheese is not like American or Cheddar cheese. For example, Agour Ossau-Iraty is a cheese made in Poland from sheep's milk. 34 Degrees Australian marinated feta is produced in Israel and is made from the milk of sheep and goats, with spices added. It is difficult to pick out one cheese with this many types available to try. If it is possible for you to do so, smell the cheese before you buy it. Especially if you are in France, buy what smells good to you.One of the best tasting and most popular categories of gourmet foods is deserts and sweets. Favorites include cakes, candies, cookies, and chocolate. Varieties of cakes are sponge cakes, cheesecakes, and chocolate, lemon, and raspberry cakes. Gourmet cookies can be plain or decorated, and come in a variety of flavors. Toppings, such as syrup, honey, creams, jellies, jams, and spreads, are another gourmet favorite. While any of these can be made at home or bought at the grocery store, the delightful texture and taste of the gourmet desert versions are to die for.Another well known gourmet food is exotic tasting coffee and tea. Whether you want loose tea or tea bags, ground coffee or whole beans, hot chocolate or a chilly frappuccino, there is a gourmet drink out there for you. These drinks can give you the extra energy you need to stay awake, warm you up on a winter's day, or be just the right complement to an excellent meal. What better for going with coffee than biscotti? These are good by themselves, or dipped in coffee, tea, cappuccino, milk, or wine. Biscotti come in all sorts of flavors, like hazelnut, chocolate, gingerbread, and many others.If you like gourmet food and are one of those people who can't live without your meat, there are still lots of options out there. That's right -- there is such a thing as gourmet meat. You can get Angus beef strip steaks, caviar, escargot, hot salami, free-range turkey, pheasant, Danish brown sugar slab bacon, and many more.Gourmet food is great no matter what the occasion. The holiday season is an excellent time to try new gourmet foods, or even give them as a gift. They can be purchased in a gourmet food store, through a catalogue, or even online. Once you have tried gourmet food, the taste will have you hooked.

White Grapes Are As Different As Apples And Oranges

With all the bottles of wine on the market, its no wonder people often have no idea what they like and what they dont like. On many an occasion in the past I have found myself loving a bottle of wine only to have no idea what sort of white wine it was. With so many grapes being used in wine it is easy to confuse. Hopefully this will help put some confusion at bay when it comes to knowing the difference between various white grape varieties.SemillonDefinitely a medium to full bodied grape, Semillon is a native to the Bordeaux region in France even though today the region that holds the title for having the most success with this grape is none other than the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales in Australia. While it can be often be said (and rightly so) that wines that are dominated by Semillon lack youthful aroma, they always tend to have a fairly full body and be low in acidity. It is for this reason that Semillon makes a wonderful second grape in blending of wines producing some wonderful flavours. Semillon even works well when blended with the well-known loner, Chardonnay, giving richness and weight without sacrificing the aromatic delicacy. That is not to say that a Semillon alone wont make for good wine. Semillons on general are a variety that is best drunk after a few years.Chenin BlancOrigins in the Loire Valley of France, Chenin Blanc grapes have a natural high acidity as well as an uncanny ability to get along with the botrytis mold that likes to suck the water out of grapes. It is because of both of these features that Chenin Blanc grapes are so versatile and used in all sorts of wines ranging from fizzy, sweet and dry. Flavors are similar to that of a Sauvignon Blanc; herbs, green apples and gooseberry. A little known fact to some people who believe that white wines must be consumed within the first couple years of vintage would be surprised to know that Chenin Blanc tastes best around ten to fifteen years.Sauvignon BlancSauvignon Blanc tends to be one of those grapes that you either love or hate. A crisp and mineral tasting wine that has its origins in France; the aromas of this grape have conjured a variety of adjectives. Such descriptions range from passion fruit, mint and basil to asparagus and even freshly cut grass. Being that these wines are crisp and very refreshing and somewhat uncomplicated its ability to be paired with foods is incredible. Foods ranging from shellfish to goats cheese are all great matches with Sauvignon Blanc.ChardonnayChardonnay comes in all different sizes and shapes and is grown all over the world. While some complain that this variety of grape is rather boring, there is a reason it is the most widely consumed grape variety in the world. Because this grape very readily will sink its roots in almost any soil, the flavours and aromas vary greatly. In the southern hemisphere, the aromas range from peaches and pears to mango, pineapple or even banana. Northern hemisphere grapes however, are much different ranging from delicate citrus to full flavoured citrus, sweet spices and nuts.MuscatMuscat is a sweet grape that comes in many forms from all over from Italy to Spain to Australia. Because of this broad variety it is hard to pin down on specific flavour or aroma for Muscat. Sometimes apple, pear or flowers can be detected in some of the lighter wines while in the more robust Muscat wines you might find chocolate or coffee.GewurztraminerI dont think there is any better way to sum up the Gewurztraminer (ger-vertz-tramina) grape than by quoting Matt Skinner, author of Thirsty Work where the inspiration for this article comes from. Matt states, Like and oversized drag queen with too much make-up, way too much perfume, mega high heels, and very little shame, this variety is the flamboyantly camp member of the "white grape" family! But, sadly, it also doubles as one of the uncoolest grape varieties in the world. In fact, its fair to say that if Gewurztraminer were an outfit itd be socks, sandals, and a camel brown safari suit. Try pronouncing it apart from being much harder to say than Chardonnay, it even sounds a bit naff. And thats the problem.This can be a very correct way to describe this Alsace favourite because the aromas of this grape are some of the most bold and bizarre but that doesnt mean that this is a bad grape by any means. In fact it really isnt all that bad! These grapes tend to have flavours and aromas reminiscent of ginger, rose, lychee and cinnamon to name a few and because of low acidity are rich and carry much weight in your mouth giving a long lasting flavour. Perhaps this is why this grape makes a great match with mild spicy, sweet and tangy foods such as Chinese or Thai.RieslingAnother under appreciated grape historically from Germany. Oftentimes people complain that this grape is too sweet and try to avoid it all costs. It wasnt until recent years that this grape is making a comeback as a match to seafood and dishes with Asian infused flavours. The best Rieslings have aromas of citrus, flowers and spice while the flavours can be more of lemons and minerals. Super dry Rieslings are very popular nowadays while the best examples of more expensive Rieslings are actually the very sweet late harvested dessert and ice wines. It is also worth noting that Rieslings are another white grape that ages very well so dont worry about drinking a 20 year old bottle!Pinot Grigio/Pinot GrisTechnically, Pinto Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same. Pinot Grigio planting has been concentrated in northeast Italy while Pinot Gris makes its home in Alsace in France. Pinot Gris, is a French expression for light delicate and fresh and has flavours that are slightly fat and rich often from the time is spends in wooded barrels. On the other hand, Pinot Grigrio (meaning the same as Pinot Gris) is usually stored in steel tanks and drunk while its young and light and vibrant. Again, Matt Skinner best explains these two grapes as being like identical twins separated at birth and raised in different countries.While these are just some of the many varieties of white grapes out there, they are without question the most popular of the bunch. Each grape is unique in its flavour and aromas and should thus be treated as just that, an individual. Not all white wines are created equal and not all white wines are meant to be drunk old but all whites are meant to be enjoyed.

Pasta Salad Basics

If you can boil water you can make a quick and tasty pasta salad with very basic ingredients. All you need is pasta, vegetables, dressing and any other ingredients you may have handy.Whatever type of pasta you have in your cupboard, from spaghetti to rigatoni or even that old box of macaroni and cheese, you can create a great salad in the time it takes the pasta to cook and cool. The first thing to do before you start cooking any noodles is to look through your kitchen and decide which ingredients will be added to the salad. Here are a few ideas:1-Vegetables:You can put just about any vegetable in a "pasta salad" . Onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, raw spinach, etc. are good examples. If you prefer to have your vegetables cooked rather than raw you can throw them in the pot with your pasta. I would wait until the pasta is partially cooked about 3 minutes before adding to keep veggys from overcooking. The tomatoes and cucumber should be raw and added after the pasta is cooked and cooled.2-Meat and Seafood:Deli-styled meat makes a great addition to a pasta salad. Beef, chicken, ham and pepperoni are good examples. It doesn't matter if it's cubed or thinly sliced, it will blend into the salad nicely.Any cooked meat can be added be it cooked fresh, leftovers from a previous meal, or meat from a can. Chicken, beef and pork are the 3 main ones.Seafood is another popular ingredient, freshly cooked or canned. The easiest is to add a can of salmon or tuna to your salad. Some shellfish is availiable canned as well, the most common one being shrimp.Freshly cooked seafood is becoming quite popular when making salads these days, just make sure it has been properly cared for and cooked. Some examples are scallops, shrimp, prawns, crab, squid, mussels, oysters, clams, and any finfish such as salmon. Smoked salmon is full of flavour and my favorite seafood to add to a salad.Although meat and/or seafood can enhance your pasta salad, they are not required so if you would prefer to omit them you can still make a perfectly fine salad without them.3-Cheese:Many pasta salads have parmesan cheese added to them but any cheese will add flavour. You can use any cheese in any form such as grated, sliced or cubed. For those of you making your salad with pasta from a box of macaroni and cheese you could add the cheese sauce mix that comes in the package. Another option is to use a cheesy dressing such as 3 Cheese Ranch when dressing the salad.4-Garlic and Olives:For you garlic lovers out there a clove or two of garlic will add a bit of a bite to your salad. Any kind of sliced olive will blend well in this salad.5-Spices:Add spices sparingly, use any of your favorites. Some popular ones are: Oregano, basil, thyme, curry, salt & pepper.6-Dressing:For dressing you can go with creamy or an oil & vinegar mix. Any bottled dressing will work or you can make your own. For creamy dressing use about a cup of mayonnaise or yogurt with 1/4 cup of either vinegar, wine, lemon or lime juice. Add a little spice, salt & pepper to taste and you have a creamy dressing.For an oil/vinegar dressing just substitute the mayonnaise or yogurt for about 1/4 cup salad oil.Now that you have decided on your ingredients it's time to boil your pasta. Follow the directions on the package and cook until El Dente. In other words cook pasta until tender but firm(usually about 8-10 minutes).Drain pasta in a colander, rinse with cold water and set aside. Once pasta has cooled off add all other ingredients you have decided on except dressing and mix. Add dressing sparingly until salad is completely coated. You may have leftover dressing if you made your own.Cool salad for about 2 hours before serving.

Summary

The main issue when it comes to storing wine is that it needs to be maintained at a cool temperature of between...