Okay, so maybe I was looking for another way to champion HdV Wines.

What is so wrong with that? I help make the wines and am quite proud of them. Yes yes, it is not the purpose of this blog, but hey, part of the purpose of this blog is to allow me to sort out viticulture and enology topics and HDV is the primary source for this diary. Anyway, to the title. I was reading Eric Asimov’s blog today because he was praising our 2004 Chardonnay from Hyde Vineyards (thank you, Eric). One thing that struck me though is that I completely resonated with his comments about white wine. Briefly, Asimov stated that he and many in his wine group were discussing that fact that at home, outside of old vintages and the world of collectors, they predominately drink white wine. Now, I don’t have many old vintages and certainly nary a collectible, but I do find myself imbibing predominantly on white wine even now that the weather has turned cool.

There are several reasons of course.

First, I have more of it in my cellar, and my cellar needs to be depleted, not added on to (though I do always accept donations).

Second, the Reds I do have in my cellar are getting better and better which has led me to the conclusion that more and more I like to drink red wine that has seen some increase in complexity due to bottle age. Therefore I am sitting on a bunch of my reds.

Third, I often start with a glass of wine while cooking, and follow with one accompanying dinner. Often I enjoy a white wine better without food, relative to a red wine without food. Finally, like Eric Asimov, I think that really good white wines are easier to find at lower prices than really good red wines. It’s not that value reds aren’t available, but it seems harder to miss with whites than reds.

The American Journal of Enology and Viticulture recently released September’s issue laden with current information regarding phenolics in wine. Andrew Waterhouse, distinguished wine chemist at UC Davis, describes the oxidation of phenolics and a new hypotheses adding to the understanding of wine ageability. The aim was to stimulate more study and debate on the mechanisms in wine oxidation chemistry.

I believe there is little argument that oxidation plays a critical role (sometimes positive sometimes negative) in winemaking. Oxidation is essential to the sensory qualities of Madeiras and Sherries and can improve wines by reducing astringency and stabilizing color. However, all is not so rosey. Oxidation is also the chief component of wines that have past their prime or as Waterhouse technically states oxidation has been associated with sensory and/or microbiological degradation.

This technical paper reviews details of wine oxidation – essentially the oxidation of phenolics – that I will not get into. What I want to do here is focus on a few implications from this new, comprehensive scheme of wine oxidation. What the authors are NOT doing is trying to rewrite how wines age. What they ARE trying to do is add another element to how we think about the aging process that could lead to insightful research on the topic. First, an important point to remember is that oxygen has poor direct reactivity with organic molecules (of which wine is loaded) and therefore the oxidizing potential of oxygen must be achieved through the generation of reactive oxygen species. This is where Waterhouse has been able to contribute new information. Iron in wine may be a major component in creating reactive oxygen species that go on to create oxidized products that lead to browning or change other sensory properties of wine. In particular iron can react with hydrogen peroxide to generate a radical that will indiscriminately react with molecules, striking the first thing it hits. The reactive oxygen species does not react selectively with antioxidants such as phenolics, but instead reacts with all substances present in solution, nearly in proportion to their concentration This reaction mechanism leads to the supposition that many other products are also formed, in particular products of abundant components of wine such as glycerol, acids, and sugars. How the oxidation products of these compounds impacts the sensory attributes of wine is yet to be understood because until recently there was no assurance that – take glycerol for example – was even oxidized.

So what, right? Well, what I think is interesting is this: let’s say some of the major components known to impact aging – e.g. pH and phenolic levels – are exactly the same for two different wines. But what if wine A has twice as much iron (or some other heavy metal), does this mean that it will likely have less potential for long term aging? This study implies that the answer is yes, wine A will experience oxidation at a higher rate. Could differences in iron levels largely be attributed differences in the soil? Most likely. Additionally, Waterhouse comments that sulfites, and hydrogen sulfide (that stinky rotten egg smell) in particular, may serve to regenerate phenolics from their oxidized form and that this reaction is what is responsible for the disappearance of the reduced smell of ferments that are aerated. What does this mean for using Copper Sulfate to rid your wine of the stinky smell? Is this perhaps why wine such as those from Syrah and Mouvedre (Rhone and Bandol) are better after aging? These wines are infamous for being a little stinky initially but with time – i.e. with the reaction of sulfides and the oxidized phenols – their aromas come alive. Thus implying that the sulfide is acting as a preservative forestalling the formation of – or decreasing the pool of – oxidized products.

Yes its an understatement to say this is an over simplistic view of aging, but it does open the door for further study into how metals and other minute components of wine may impact the development of wines through time. Waterhouse concludes: Ultimately, control of oxidation in winemaking must address several key questions: What exactly is the role of iron and other transition metals in the rate and outcome of wine oxidation? How do sulfites intervene? It is likely that the concentration of iron, oxygen, and sulfites and the concentration and nature of the phenolics present all affect the result, as does pH. Well it will be interesting to discover how elements such as iron and copper contribute to wine aging.

If you are a coffee lover who likes your coffee with a little more flavor to it and are not too fond of the strong-tasting espresso, then you might want to try a cappuccino or mocha. Curious? Well, read on to find out more on these two very tasty beverages. A nice, hot cup of cappuccino is a wonderful milky delight. To make a cappuccino, you first have to mix the milk and espresso and lastly, the freshly frothed milk.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, why not make a Milky Way cappuccino? To do this you will need to add an ounce of the chocolate bar to the normal 6 to 9 ounce beverage. Mix it well before the steamed and frothed milk is added.

If the Milky Way cappuccino is too sweet for your liking, then mocha is the way to go. You get a kick of chocolate without it being overly sweet. You won’t find this drink served in a cup but rather a tall glass and unlike a cappuccino, it is not topped with frothy milk. This beverage is finished off with cream just before being served for a smooth, sweet taste. If you’d like to try your hand at making one yourself, mix together in a pan milk, sugar, cocoa and coffee. However, it is important to get the right blend of cocoa and coffee for the perfect mocha taste.

The cappuccino and mocha drinks are very different from each other. While a cappuccino is made from first steaming the milk and adding frothed milk, mocha uses milk, sugar and cocoa and has a base of espresso.

Some people find the strong taste of espresso a bit harsh on their taste buds. Mochas and cappuccinos, on the other hand, are a nice when you want a lighter drink. They can be very expensive in coffee shops so it saves a lot of money making them at home instead. Just buy yourself an espresso-maker and sit back and enjoy a nice, hot, steaming cup of your favorite beverage.


Have tea in the house?

I can just smell it. Fall is right around the corner. I thought 91 degrees was a relief from the heat. But boy does the mid 80s feel like fall!


That cool breeze and low humidity…all I can say is YES YES YES!


I’m on my front porch covered in cat hair from my lovely little Ms. Mabel. As I sit here, I feel peace and relief. Something I have been searching for a long time.


About 9 days ago, I quit drinking sweet tea. You would think the 7 fillings I had this summer would have stopped me from drinking sweet tea, but no! For the past couple of months, I’ve had pounding headaches every single day. They were so bad that my husband would have to squeeze my head and rub the back of my neck every night. I was tired all of the time and could never fall asleep.


I decided last week to quit drinking all caffeine. Which meant I had to give up my precious tea. I would drive to get a sweet tea every afternoon. I would have it for every meal. I’m addicted to it. I gave it up cold turkey, something I have done once before. It was hard for three days. My body was in shock. I had headaches really bad for a couple of days and craved it, but I just chugged water all day long.


Since then, my headaches have pretty much disappeared. I am able to fall asleep faster and sleep longer. I feel better and have lost a little bit of weight. When I get tired, I workout instead of having sweet tea. I think I’m going to keep going with this plan of no tea. It’s sad, but I can’t handle the headaches…especially when I’m doing photo sessions.


So…hooray for no headaches!

Father’s day dinner does not have to involve hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill. You can still plan a cookout, though, and make it vegan! Father’s Day is June 19, so summer produce will be just beginning. Here are some ideas on how to plan your menu and dishes you can serve.

  1. Main Dish think of whole grains and vegetables, and hearty comfort foods. Does Dad typically like hot dogs? meatballs? hamburgers? You can do all of these in vegan form, or try something new. Here are some ideas.

-Vegan meatballs can be purchased or made by combining:

*1 cup ground walnuts (use a blender or food processor)

*1 1/3 cups crushed saltine-type crackers

*1 7-ounce package tofu, extra firm and drained

*1 cup rolled oats

*1 small onion, minced

*1/3 cup minced fresh parsley (or 3 tablespoons dried flakes)

*2 garlic cloves, minced

*1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well and form into 1-inch balls. Place balls in baking dish. Pour over them apricot sweet and sour sauce, made by combining the following in a saucepan and bring to a boil:

*1 cup apricot jam

*1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

*1/4 cup safflower or canola oil

*1/2 cup vegan ketchup

*2 tablespoons grated onion

*2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried)

*2 tablespoons Sucanat (natural sugar that can be consumed by vegans)

When the cause boils, pour it over the meatballs and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Other menu ideas include:

-Vegetable and bean chili

-Whole grain pasta, brown rice, or egg-free noodles can be served with any of the above.

-Vegan hot dogs grilled outside

-Vegan burgers on the grill

  1. Beverages

Think of something special for Dad.

-Consider vegan wine or beer if Dad appreciates those beverages.

-Make an interesting vegan cocktail with tomato juice, lemon juice, and chili sauce.

-Sparkling water or vegan champagne mixed with fruit puree or juice makes a fizzy, tangy drink.

  1. Dessert

-Vegan chocolate cake is a comforting dessert that Dad is sure to love. Its easy, too just sift together into an 8-inch square baking pan:

*1 1/2 cups vegan flour

*1/2 cup vegan cocoa powder

*1 teaspoon baking powder

*3/4 teaspoon salt

*1 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice

In a separate bowl with a spout, mix:

*1/2 cup safflower oil

*1 cup cold coffee

*1 tablespoon vegan vanilla extract

Pour the liquid over the sifted ingredients right in the pan. Whisk together, then stir in:

*2 tablespoons vinegar

Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. When cool, frost with your favorite vegan frosting.

  1. Side dishes and appetizers

-Grill vegetables such as zucchini, corn, and onions. While the vegetable cook, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste.

-Serve a fresh fruit plate, and get fancy with vegan chocolate fondue sauce if you like.

-Roasted pumpkin seeds are not only tasty, but they’re good for Dads health. (Pumpkin and squash seeds are implicated in promoting a healthy prostate gland.) Many health food stores carry tangy or spicy flavors of pumpkin seeds, or you can roast them yourself with your Dad’s favorite flavorings.