Archive for December, 2009

A toast to Bubbly

You knew it would be here in the blink of an eye – another year has almost gone by. And there is no better way to usher in 2010 than with the ubiquitous bubbly. Sparking wine has always been a glamorous drink.

From the very beginning, it has been linked with illustrious figures like kings and queens, and statesmen like Winston Churchill who once said, “A bottle of Champagne is too much for one and too little for two.” It is also associated with celebrations and grand occasions — new ships are often christened by breaking a bottle of bubbly on them.

But the real deal was born in the mythical region of Champagne, France, an 84,000-acre area about an hour’s drive east of Paris. While we use the term “champagne” loosely in North America and other parts of the world, this is the only place on earth that produces Champagne with a capital “C.”

This is a fact that is bound by law and according to France’s stringent and protective regulations. The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée outlines 35 of the rules that protect the quality of Champagne wines. In short, if it isn’t produced in Champagne, France, then the label must read “sparking wine.”

Before the 17th century, the wines of Champagne, France, were light and crisp and had none of the bubbles that we associate with the drink today. They acquired their characteristic sparkle after the 17th century, but wine connoisseurs are still debating about exactly who is responsible for this grand invention. What has been agreed upon is that it wasn’t Dom Pérignon as popular thought would have it. Crediting him with the creation of bubbly has been a brilliant marketing strategy since the world knows him better by the sparking wine that bears his name.

The first vintage of Dom Pérignon hit the international scene in 1936 and has been a revered brand ever since. It is a true vintage wine, which means that all the grapes in it are harvested in the same year.

In 1688, Pierre Pérignon was a Benedictine monk who was the treasurer at the Abby of Hautvillers in the city of Épernay, which is the centre of the Champagne region in France. Part of his duties included wine making and managing the wine cellars.

Pérignon wanted to make good quality wine not sparkling wine. But as has happened with some great inventions in the past, the inventor didn’t fully realize the happy consequences of his invention. So Pérignon, who is often regarded as the granddaddy of bubbly, actually spent his whole life trying to get those darn bubbles OUT of his wine.

So just how do you get the sparkle IN sparkling wine? Yeast from grape skins convert the sugar in the pressed grape juice into alcohol — a process known as fermentation. Sparkling wine is created after a second fermentation in the wine bottles. This creates carbon dioxide, which when it becomes trapped in the wine bottles, creates the sparkle.

To get the most enjoyment of your bubbly this Christmas and New Year’s, and on any other occasion that you fancy, place it in an ice bucket with one half ice and one half water for about 40 minutes before serving. If you don’t have an ice bucket, place it in the refrigerator (not the freezer) for up to four hours. Long stemmed flutes are the best choice for serving sparkling wine.

The glass shape really brings out the flow of bubbles to the top and enhances the aromas of the drink.

Source: corrieretandem.com


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Popping the bubbly is part of the party and the here is a few tips to open a bottle of Bubbly

1.    Make sure your bottle is chilled – none of that luke-warm nonsense. Your bottle of bubbly should be very cold to the touch; this insures maximum bubbly potential and less foam when the bottle is popped. Make sure it is not bordering on frozen as its taste and gorgeous bubbles can be lost.

2.    Once your bottle of bubbly has reached the appropriate popping potential dry off the bottle; you don’t want it to slip out of your hands while impressing the guests. Then take off the foil top and loosen the wire cage. You can either loosen the entire cage surrounding the cork and take it off or leave it on; just in case too much pressure has built up inside – this will prevent the cork from shooting into the unsuspecting audience.

3.    Drape a kitchen towel over the champagne bottle which will catch the cork if it decides to fly away from you and will prevent spillage (very important).

4.    With your one hand hold the cork (covered by the towel) with a little bit of downward pressure, then with the other hand slowly start twisting the bottom of the bottle (don’t yank on the cork).

5.    Twist the bottle and the cork in opposite directions until a gentle piff is heard; this is the Co2 escaping – if it’s a loud pop you have let our too much Co2 and you will probably need a mop to clean up the spillage.

6.    If no loud bang has occurred it means you have saved the bubbles and impressed your guests with your champagne popping finesse.

7.    Pour at an angle into a champagne flute to avoid too much foam in the glass which will again lose more precious bubbles.

8.    Toast and sip with festive delight!

Source: food24

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Dermatologists have discovered that women develop more and deeper wrinkles around their mouths as they age than men do.

The disadvantage had long been suspected, but a new study provides “irrefutable scientific evidence,” said Dr Foad Nahai, a plastic surgeon practicing in Atlanta and editor-in-chief of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

The authors of the paper believe they even know why women suffer more in this department.

“The gender differences were most probably due to the amount of appendages [hair follicles, sebaceous glands] and the connections between the skin and muscle of the lips,” explained senior study author Dr Moshe Kon, head of the department of plastic, reconstructive and hand surgery at University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Fewer sweat glands

“We had always had the impression that male skin doesn’t age as rapidly as female skin,” said Nahai. “What we didn’t know, and this study points out, is that one of the reasons that lines are deeper in women is because they have fewer sweat or sebaceous glands, the glands that make the oil that keeps our skin feeling soft … So women are producing less oil, which is protective and keeps the skin smoother.”

Previous studies had not focused in on differences between men and women in the perioral area of the face, meaning the region around the mouth.

Women undergo more procedures

Women tend to go for procedures to remedy such wrinkles more often than men, although it hadn’t been clear if women were just worried about how they looked or if their wrinkles were actually worse.

The authors studied the skin around the upper lip in both male and female cadavers, as well as reconstructions of those areas.

Hormones and aging also seem to play a role in women’s dermatologic aging process.

Read more…

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If you need an excuse to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly this festive season, here it is: It’s good for your heart.

British academics have found that champagne is packed with polyphenols – plant chemicals thought to widen the blood vessels, easing the strain on your heart and brain.

And researchers believe the health benefits aren’t limited to the expensive stuff but are also found in cheaper alternatives such as cava and prosecco.

The Reading University study builds on earlier findings that two glasses of red wine a day help keep heart and circulatory problems at bay.

Polyphenols are believed to boost the levels of the gas nitric oxide in the blood, which then widens the blood vessels.

They are found in relatively high levels in red wine but not in white.

Champagne, however, is most commonly made from a blend of red grape varieties pinot meunier or pinot noir and white chardonnay.

Researcher Dr Jeremy Spencer said: ‘The question was would champagne have the same impact as red wine or would it have the limited impact of white wine?’

He showed that champagne had a far bigger impact on nitric oxide levels than a polyphenol-free ‘dummy drink’ of alcohol mixed with carbonated water.

Polyphenols are also found in tea, olive oil, onions, leeks, broccoli and blueberries.

Dr Spencer added: ‘The benefit is the same but it doesn’t seem as much fun somehow.’

Source: dailymail

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This is a dilemma amongst many of us. There are times we want to drink wine but couldn’t finish a bottle alone. Or when we are with a date who is not much of a wine drinker, we will end up with leftover wine, which of course we do not want to just throw away.

Wine is really tough to preserve after opening. But there are gadgets to do this preservation for us.

Remember, re-corking your opened wine does not help much, except prolong the wine for a few more hours. As you know, the cork is porous, and aeration will continue to happen, risking the optimum quality of your wine.

Putting your leftover wine into a refrigerator also help very little, and may actually make the wine worst. Not only will the change in temperature of wine be drastic, but also refrigerators vibrate, and vibration further agitate the wine. The odor of food in the fridge may also creep into the wine.

The only way to preserve is to seal the wine completely. You can buy expensive sealing machines or you can just buy screw-cap wines , which are actually a better closure.

Seeing how expensive (especially the machines) and complicated preserving wine can be, I suggest that you only save wines that are worth saving— those expensive and fuller-bodied Reds. Also, the fuller or heavier bodied your wine is, the better it preserves on its own for hours without any preservation method.

When I am asked how long a wine should be kept when opened, I always give the six-hour rule—meaning, sip and drink gradually, and your wine should still be good for six hours (at comfortable room temperature). But the lighter the body, the lesser the alcohol, the faster the wine loses its elements. For these wines, even the wine preservation gadgets can not salvage them. Best solution, however, remains very simple …. just finish the wine.

Source: manilastandardtoday.com

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The new SMS (text) language looks like modern hieroglyphics but it is easy  to understand. For those who still don’t get the SMS-language , here is a few tips.

Texting in today’s world has become one of the most popular ways of communication as SMS, Twitter and Mxit are becoming more popular. With the maximum number of characters in a message being 140-160, people have learned ways of shortening words so that they can say more in one message.

Taking Out the Vowels

A simple method of shortening words is to take out all the vowels (the letters A, E, I, O and U). Although this works for some words, it is not the most effective method. For example, sending the word ‘THS’ could be interpreted as ‘THIS’ or ‘THESE’. For this reason, taking out all the vowels is not a commonly used method. However, people who are not familiar with text messaging usually think this is how people shorten words. This is due to such words as ‘TEXT’ being shortened to ‘TXT’.

Taking Out Apostrophes and Dashes

For some words, this is a very simple way of removing an un-needed character from a word. The word ‘E-MAIL’ does not need a dash in it for people to understand what it means. Just putting ‘EMAIL’ is enough for people to understand the word. Words like ‘I’M’ can be shortened to ‘IM’, and words like ‘DON’T’ can be shortened to ‘DONT’. For the word ‘DON’T’, people often remove the vowel as well to make ‘DNT’. In this case, you have removed two un-needed characters from the word.

Replacing Words With Symbols and Numbers

When text messaging, you do not want to write out words which can be replaced with symbols or numbers. For example, instead of writing the word ‘FOR’ you would write ‘4’. Also, whenever the letters ‘FOR’ appear as part of another word like in the word ‘FORGIVE’, you would substitute the number for the word and write ‘4GIVE’. In this case, you may even remove the ‘E’ from the end of the word and just write ‘4GIV’. This removing of the ‘E’ is a process which will be explained in more detail later in this entry.

Below are some common cases where words are replaced with symbols and numbers:

Word Symbol/Number
AT @

Removing The End ‘E’ and Changing ‘O’ to ‘U’

Another method of shortening words is to remove the ‘E’ from the end of the word. Using this method the word ‘GIVE’ would be written as ‘GIV’. You can also remove the ‘E’ from words like ‘SOME’ and ‘LOVE’. However, to make the words sound right, you change the ‘O’ to a ‘U’ to make ‘SUM’ and ‘LUV’.

Replacing ‘I’ with ‘Y’

For many words, it is possible to replace an ‘I’ with a ‘Y’. and remove some characters from the word. With the word ‘TIME’, you would replace the ‘I’ with a ‘Y’ and remove the ‘E’ to make ‘TYM’. With the word ‘RIGHT’, you would replace the ‘I’ with a ‘Y’ and remove the ‘G’ and ‘H’ to make ‘RYT’.


When shortening words, remember that you are trying to communicate a message. A good method of doing this is by using sounds to represent words. For example, instead of writing ‘YOU’, you would replace it with a letter which creates the same sound, ‘U’. For the word ‘WHY’, you would replace it with ‘Y’. For a word like ‘ANY’, you would replace it with ‘NE’. By making words from sounds, words are usually shorter.

There is sites with comprehensive SMS dictionaries which you can be use to look-up abbreviations but it is easier to master the basic “rules” and start communicating in the SMS-language

Source: bbc

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The secrets are out on the new Sex and the City film, set to release mid next year. Miley Cyrus, Liza Minnelli, Tim Gunn and Penelope Cruz all make a cameo, many of the scenes were shot in Morocco.

And, in a recent interview, Kirstin Davis (aka Charlotte York) lets us in on a few more secrets. Check them out!

1. The second film is “bigger” than the first

2. The runtime on the sequel will not be as epic as the first one

“This one is not going to be that long. It’s like condensed soup.”

3. For some unknown reason, the cast has been working well into the night

“We were shooting last week – and pretty much for the two weeks before that – nights. All night,” she recalled. “Now, we were not doing a night exterior, but that’s how many hours we needed to get these certain things done that when it comes out, you’re going to know what I’m talking about. I can’t tell you right now: except to say that they are HUGE scenes with like hundreds of people in them!”

4. Costume designer Pat Field worked hard … but not as hard as she did the first time around

Sarah Jessica Parker may have had 81 costume changes alone in the first film, but the rotating door on her closet (and on the rest of the girls’) has since slowed down. “There were more costume changes in the first one, than there are in the second one,” Kristin dished.

Source: flossielifecasting.com

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