Monthly Archives: August 2010

Penultimate supper ~ Cava and Rioja

One of my favorite Monty Python skits involves a conversation between Michelangelo and the Pope concerning his painting “The Last Supper”.  The Pope expresses his concern over the various inaccuracies of the painting, including Jello, the kangaroo, and the 28 disciples. Michelangelo offers a suggestion that perhaps this painting could be the “Penultimate Supper”. If there was a Last Supper there had to be a Penultimate Supper.

Tonight was my Penultimate Supper in Spain ~ promising to be more interesting than my Last Supper since that one will be a sandwich in a hotel room in Madrid.

The Penultimate Supper, of mostly tapas, was served with Cava and Rioja ~ it seemed a proper way to bid adieu to Spain (if you don’t mind me mixing metaphors).

The cava was Juve Y Camps Cinta Purpura (purple ribbon) ~ the Rioja a LAN Edición Limitada 2001.

I dislike writing about wines that I am drinking that we can’t get at the LCBO but there are several good choices available in Ontario.  Bodegas LAN Reserva or Crianza is often available through Vintages (I keep a couple in my cellar  but you can’t have those) and SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA CAVA LCBO 158493 $ 14.55 is a great choice for cava.

Also, I love using the word Penultimate ~ a word that is often used here in Spain but only really used in Monty Python skits in the english language.

Champagne Science & 10,000 hits

10,000 hits on pullthecork makes it the most read blog on my computer and the most talked about blog wherever I go.  Time to celebrate with some Champagne writing.

This was posted in the online Mercury last week.  I think it deserves a repost since many of you, like me,  didn’t renew your subscription to the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.  It’s these kinds of studies keep that keep chemistry relevant. Oh and thanks to the staff at the Guelph Mercury for putting my blog button beside the Guelph Roadwork Update and under the Local Singles button. Nothing soothes like a Wine Blog when you’re mad at the City and can’t get a date.

August 15, 2010

PARIS – French scientists say they have settled a question that has long divided champagne lovers: How best to pour the bubbly?

At an angle, not straight down.

The scientists at the University of Reims say pouring bubbly at a slant, as you would a beer, preserves more of the tiny gas bubbles that improve the drink’s flavour and aromas.

The study — On the Losses of Dissolved CO2 During Champagne Serving — appears this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a U.S. publication.

The researchers say they looked at two ways of pouring champagne: the “traditional” method, with the liquid poured vertically to hit the bottom of the champagne flute; and the “beer-like way,” executed by tilting the glass and gently sliding in the champagne.

They say the study matters not just to champagne drinkers but to glass-makers. They note that the industry is researching a “new generation” of champagne glasses specially designed to control the release of carbon dioxide, the gas that gives the drink its sparkle.

The researchers used bottles of 2008 vintage from Coopérative Nogent l’Abbesse to examine how the two methods of pouring affected the release of CO2.

They said they used two ways to measure the amount of CO2 in each pouring, and tested bottles chilled to varying degrees. The result: champagne poured like beer retained more gas than champagne poured to create a head of “mousse,” or foam.

And the colder the bottle, the less gas was lost, the study found.

It did not say whether professional tasters were called in to confirm their findings, and none of the six researchers could be reached for comment. But their expertise appears formidable: they’re French, their university is in the heart of Champagne country, and lead researcher Gérard Liger-Belair, a professor of chemical physics, is the author of Uncorked: The Science of Champagne, a book that appeared in the U.S. in 2004 to admiring reviews.

The study will be presented this month in Boston at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The verdict in favour of sideways pouring came as no surprise to Guillaume Ranvier, the head of food and beverage at the Hyatt Regency Paris-Madeleine, whose Café M & Champagne Bar offers around 30 different kinds of champagne from about $100 to $320 a bottle.

“But of course, when I pour a glass of champagne I pour it like that,” he said.

Ranvier said the establishment’s bartender always pours champagne into a tilted glass to keep the bubbles in. Informed that top French researchers had delivered scientific confirmation, Ranvier laughed and said: “Great. I’ll tell the barman when he gets back from vacation.”

The study did not say exactly how many bottles of champagne were uncorked in the interests of science, but the researchers did thank the Pommery champagne house “for regularly supplying us with various champagne samples.”

The Associated Press

My wine said what?

I drank a great wine from Italy this week – Pio Cesare Barbera D’Alba 2008.  I looked it up on the internet with the intent of learning more about the wine and maybe find a description of it.  This is what the internet came up with …

This wine announces its modern intentions with polished opening notes of vanilla, caramel and coffee from aging in small French oak barrels… ” 90 Points Wine Enthusiast.

This wine announces its modern intentions? What does it mean and why didn’t I think of it? I love it. I desperately want to use that in casual conversation and I still have no idea what it means! Modern intentions indeed. I guess that if I was in the mood for a wine with post-modern intentions I would have been disappointed.

Congratulations Wine Enthusiast on taking the level of wine descriptions to a new level.

The google search "Wine with modern intentions" produced this from Tim Burton from the Museum of Modern Art

Italy ~ Let’s get ready to argue

I think I found the national past-time of Italians. Italians love to argue!  Whether it’s over espresso (Lavazza or Illy), soccer (InterMilan or AC Milan), or the best foccaceria (the one here or the one two doors down from here), Italians love to have heated “discussions”.  I don’t think it’s just my interpretation of watching them talk with their hands flying about – they love to argue.  They really are kind, generous people so who am I to argue over their love of arguing. Our train stopped due to technical difficulties the other day.  One older lady let the conductor know about it loud enough to entertain the rest of the riders. I’m not sure how to argue over a train’s technical difficulties but then again I am not Italian.

I’ve discovered I enjoy wines that are like Italians.  I want my wine to be delicious but to fight back a little.  I like that about the Bardolino that I am drinking.  Bardolino is from the lake district (Lago di Garda) east of Milan near Verona.  It has some nice berry flavours, is simple, but comes at you with a little edginess and tartness. I am coming home to try some of the LCBO’s bottles of Bardolino and see which ones I like fighting with ~ I will report on them early in September but if you want to try a couple and report to me I am ready to listen ~ and maybe argue with you.

Bardolino ~ you can't argue that this looks like a nice place to visit

Summer in Italy

This is something I got from my wife’s favorite food person ~ Nigella Lawson, the Food Network’s answer to a hungry Sophia Loren ~  and it is a great summer drink. I made it for our hosts here in Italy last night and now Donna and I are friends for life.

Juice 6 limes into a pitcher and then add a bottle of chilled sweet Prosecco (Italian “champagne”) ~ you can even use SPUMANTE BAMBINO LCBO $ 7.25 because it works just fine and it’s kinda fun for a wine blog to recommend Spumante Bambino. If you like your aperitif dry then use the VINO DEI POETI PROSECCO LCBO 897702 $ 11.45 ~ that’s the one I like using.

Don't forget to chill it first and don't forget the LIMES!

5 minute radius

Rosé is always on display in Provence

Okay, I am officially enamoured with France – again.

There are three bakeries and a charcuterie within 100 metres of the house that we are renting in France, the baguettes are 90 Eurocents ~ and yes that does seem crazy to me too.

What is really incredible, from a wine lover’s perspective, is that there are 8 wine stores within a 5 minute radius of my house ~ walking radius.  That doesn’t even include the cheese shops and specialty food stores that also sell a small selection of wine.  The displays inside these stores is spectacular ~ see the evidence of this store that also specialized in Foie Gras.

Any bottle of Champagne over 3 feet tall gets my attention

3 L of Rosé ~ French eye candy

Perspective from Provence

These photos are a quick reminder of a couple of things.

1. Enjoy chilled wine in the summer

2. Wine is not very serious when you drink it with potato chips

3. Wine isn’t supposed to be serious

4. Nobody in Provence cares what Robert Parker Jr. thinks