Tag: wine

August Challenge (2)

As you know I am t-total for the month of August.

Today is hump day, half way through the challenge. I have tried to find some answers online to support my assumptions and experience, but all I find is advice on how to give up drinking all together, and for recovering alcoholics. I am definitely not fitting into that category!

After I gave up chain smoking from 60 cigarettes a day to none from one day to another, I gained a lot of weight by substituting cigarettes with chocolates and sweets. But I can do it, I have a very strong mind and great will power. The trick is to work around your habits and routines, changing them one by one. Steppingstones as a coach would call it.

It is the same with alcohol, if you come home from work fancying a glass of wine, just have a different drink. Or treat yourself to a lovely fruit juice. I think that after two weeks I have mastered it easily, not thinking about the drink I used to have coming home, or the glass of wine when having a pizza.

A big change I have noticed is my sleep. I am more tired. Whilst part of me thinks that it is a detox that makes me more tired, I also believe I sleep a lot deeper. I don’t have sleeping problems anyway, but with alcohol I can easily wake up, feed Rohan at night, go back to sleep, get up easily in the morning. Without alcohol I could sleep all day, don’t want to get out of bed, and often wake up for the night feed not being able to open my eyes properly. The sleep I am getting is much deeper than I experienced it for a long time, if not ever. I am curious to see if this changes over the next two weeks.

I guess the detox has taken place now, and my liver is on its way to recovery. I like the thought that my organs enjoy the absenteeism, recover and feel like I should never drink again.

So with that note, I will enjoy another 2 weeks before indulging myself with a lovely bottle of Shiraz 🙂

Have a good one,

French Wine – Lirac

This blog post has been a draft since October 2010. As you can see I have to prioritise and do other more important things.

My passion for red wine should be well know. For my birthday my wife got me a nice Australian Syrah we enjoyed last weekend. With French wines I either love or hate them. Tannat is my most favourite grape in France.

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On the other hand I discovered another region, Lirac, which is just opposite the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region on the Western hills of the Rhone River.

Red wine in Lirac is described as made from
– Grenache Noir (minimum 40%)
– Syrah and Mourvèdre (minimum of 25% together)
– Cnsault, and Carignan (maximum 10%).

Wikipedia gives greater details: “The style of red Lirac often resembles a soft Côtes du Rhône-Villages, but the more ambitious wines are often similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Rosé Lirac is usually similar to Tavel.”

Funny enough I have been trying a lot of du Papes and never really had one which I found overly stunning. Lirac on the other hand really appeals to me for some reason. Maybe this is because Lirac has a high percentage of Grenache (see also this excellent red wine). It is a grape that is spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content. Too much of it however is in the du Pape. Not sure, what the best mix for me would be, however I remember drinking an excellent Grenache in a French restaurant in London a few years ago.

Anyway, for someone like me that is not too keen on French and not too keen on Rhone wines, Lirac is an excellent exception showing that it depends on the region and on the actual blend whether you like a wine or not, independent from country or grapes really (latter to a certain extend).

In the meantime, please try Lirac from either Waitrose or one of the other many retailers 😉

Tempranillo Bonarda

At our recent visit to the London Borough Market, we bought a nice wine: Tempranillo Bonarda fromMendoza Argentina. Made by Villavieja, 2007, bottled by La Agricola, it is described as ruby/garnet in colour and exuberant blueberry and cassis aromas packed with black fruit flavours.

I have to say that my wife and I absolutely loved that wine. I think we paid around £10 for it, however I googled it and found it for £5.90. That is London Borough market for you 🙁 The website says it is part of the Zuccardi Family.

Another website suggest is being around £6.

I guess not much more to find out about this wine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture. Left to say that it is a very enjoyable wine.

Sunday Column (35)

Another week, another Sunday. And it is a sunny Sunday 🙂

This week, after a few days off, passed quickly but different to many other weeks. I believe every time you have some time off and go back to work, you start thinking about things and re-calibre your work. Hence it seems as if you get less done but you actually work more productively.

Anyways, Tuesday was our 2nd anniversary. I cannot believe how quickly those two years passed. And, we are still very happy together and have enjoyed the time together. With the house, boy and all, we are very settled and happy how and where we live. We enjoy what we have, and this is one of those unbeatable feelings to have. Happiness.

On Thursday, at Tai-Chi, we started refining the form. Particularly with the speed and control. Wow, I felt very tired after the session and now start noticing how much good it does for me. Also, I found out that my old work is not doing too well and people seem to not get paid and made redundant. Hence I am feeling very sorry for them, looking back I am glad I got made redundant whilst they could still pay me. Also, I think that it is such a shame for so many people not knowing what the future holds. All I can do is to offer my help. Fingers crossed it works out for everyone.

At the weekend my cousin was here. Her boyfriend works for an airline so it is easy for them to get flights from Zurich to London. It was a lovely weekend. Too much wine on Friday, a mess on Saturday and a lovely walk on Sunday. Time, although we gained an hour with the change to the winter time, was too short and they had to leave just around 2 pm again on Sunday.

It is so nice to stay in touch with family, sharing values and time, and having Colin meeting my cousin and his godmother. Talking about the family, the grandparents, the parents and how things have changed since we were young is interesting, fascinating and scary at the same time. It is so enjoyable and I hope that Colin will appreciate a German godmother that will teach him “Ballueder Family Values” 🙂
With her being a trained acupuncturist, I got rid of some back pain and enjoyed some needles being stuck into myself 🙂

Another topic that came up this week was the boy: I enjoy it so much more to be around him. He gives me so much back when I come home from work or wake him in the morning. Just the smile at me and the touching, grabbing and love he shows me, makes me feel so good. Whilst at some point I wasn’t sure how much I enjoy having children, after 4 months I want to have the next one…or two 😉 We shall see.

Also, we bought instant coffee and, although difficult to admit, I actually don’t mind it too much. I will never be a big fan, but I do enjoy it now and then for a quick cup of coffee. Letting go of my standards is not what I had in mind, but maybe getting used to more average supply of coffee (and same is true for wine after my month break), is not a bad thing in the recession.

This brings the week to a close. I could go to sleep and curl up in my bed, watching the wind in the trees, chasing the leaves around the garden. I love autumn with its fascinating colours. I have some things to do this afternoon, but hope that tonight I put on a nice fire, maybe a nice take away and a nice movie. Just chilling. That’s Sunday, that is autumn.

Love and Happiness to you all,

autum colours

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2008

porcupine ridgeI am getting very much into the Syrah wines. Robert Mondavi’s being my house wine.

However, a wine I always ignored but finally had and enjoyed is the Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2008. A South African Wine. Waitrose sells it for £6.64 and Oddbins offers the Porcupine Syrah Grenache for £9.99 which I need to try.

An excellent red from the Franschhoek Valley made by a new-wave winemaker, says Waitrose’s website. It’s a truly handcrafted Syrah, fermented in small open-top tanks, and then aged in wooden barrels. The silky texture and full flavour make it a great wine on its own or enjoy with most red meat dishes.

Sunday Column (34)

I know you expect me to say that I had a busy week. But I didn’t 🙂 I had 3 days off, so had a short week and a good break from work!

Monday I started the week with a Mobile Networking event after work. Then caught up with a good friend of mine over beers. Having had the man-flu again, I didn’t stay too long and was home before 10 pm. That seems to be early these days.

My mother-in-law came to visit for the week, and Tuesday, after a successful meeting at work, I went straight home and saw her. We had a nice take away and a few glasses of wine to properly celebrate her coming to visit us, and for me to celebrate the start of my “holidays”.

Wednesday I had a couple of meetings, including another coaching session. Problem with holidays are that you seem to have time to do things you normally don’t have time for. Some of which are meeting people you haven’t seen for a while, working on your website or working on your personal development. Whatever the case, you don’t have more time for your family either. I wonder if I am just getting too busy?

Coaching went well, and I believe I am making progress. I don’t want to disclose too many information here, but generally speaking, I come a lot clearer with myself. That is very good and highly progressive. Now, the next 3 weeks I need to step up the game and re-visit some NLP and coaching notes myself to make the progress I am after. Hard work again.

However, back to my holidays. On Wednesday my wife and I went out. My mother-in-law babysat. Colin had a terrible cold and we didn’t really enjoy being away from him. But also, we realised that “going out” is not as exciting as it was. Yes, we had fantastic food and a good bottle of wine, but we are less keen on the going out bit. Maybe we are getting very settled and are pleased with what we have at home. Maybe a good thing.

Anyway, Thursday/Friday, with exception of the usual Tai Chi, was all about family. I realised how much I enjoy being around the boy, my wife and see him being fed, feed him, play with him and spending time with him. It reflects in my time management at the weekend, so I now try to spend as much time as possible with him. Sometimes I wonder how I can fit it all in, but I guess my “work” has to wait until after he went to bed.

The weekend was quiet. We went to Bromley and did some shopping, had a lovely Kebab (I know, please don’t comment) and enjoyed some fantastic wine. I might continue writing about some of those shortly. We bought a couple of movies, a jeans and some stuff we needed, but really just enjoyed getting out.

Sunday seemed to be a sunny day. A lovely day to spend with the family. Quiet and relaxed, as always.

Have a great week ahead. It is our 2nd anniversary coming up. Sometimes hard to believe how quickly time flies. So far so good, I love my wife as much as on the first day….not only of our marriage but also when we met over 5 years ago.

Love and Kindness to you all,

Excellent Wine – Sticks & Stones

D’Arenberg, which was established 1912, produces this outstanding wine: The Sticks and Stones.

I paid about £14 for it, but it got “Great Gold” ad the Concours mondial de Bruxelles 2007 and “Blue Gold” at the Sydney International Wine Competition 2008. sticksandstones The Sticks and Stones is a mixture of Tempranillo, Grenache, and Shiraz from the d’Arenberg winery in the McLaren Vale in Australia.

With 14.5% alcohol volume it is a heavy, first taste sourish but later very smooth dark red wine!
The bottle and website describes the name as coming from:
The inspiration behind this name came from the age-old proverb ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.’ The unusual and quirky names that d’Arenberg’s range of wines has never done the winery any harm. We also do use sticks (vine cuttings) planted into stony soils to produce the grapes that result in this wine.

The winery uses concentrated bunches of Tempranillo, Grenache and Shriaz and crushes them gently, in a rubber-toothed crusher, and ferments them in small batches in traditional headed-down open fermenters. The maturation takes place in French and American oak barriques for 12 months.

The wine has a youthful floral aroma of red rose buds plus cut flower stems, spiced fruit, stalks, violets and dried herbs (Oddbins). I find it a rather heavy body wine, with fruit jams, cranberries, plums, boysenberries and blackberries, dried fruits and tannins. It is, and my wife loved that, very juicy wine.

Definitely a must buy and highly recommended.

Wine for under a tenner: Hardy’s Nottage Hill

Ok, this week’s wine is not the finest and whilst I am not 100% sure, but I think I paid £5.99 at the most. Hardy’s makes wine for the mass market and I was reluctant to pick it up but with a big discount and two of my favourite grapes, I got myself a few bottles of Hardy’s Nottage Hill Shiraz Tempranillo 2006. Hardys Nottage Hill

Hardy’s Nottage Hill just had their 40th birthday, however Hardy’s makes wine for over 150 years. It is a full bodied wine, not too heavy, with aromatic fruit flavours of black cherry, plum and blueberry with rich chocolate nuances. It is very well rounded, my wife absolutely loved it. With 14% alcohol vol it is on the heavy side but I don’t really remember a light wine for a good while.

I was positively surprised about the value for money and the quality of the wine, knowing Hardy’s only from their cheap “one wine fits all” approach.

At time of writing it was going for £6.88 per bottle but I am sure you can pick it up cheaper if you wait for an offer at one of the bigger super markets. Nothing special but just a nice wine.

Wine – Cabernet Sauvignon Majella Coonawarra

This week’s wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon. My favourite grape 🙂

I wrote about Coonawarra wine before and it is a lovely wine region. The Majella Cabernet Sauvignon I got from Oddbins. It is now advertised for £16, I bought it for £15. However, it is not worth the money.
Being a nice wine of course, but I wouldn’t say it is worth more than £10 at the most. There is nothing special about this wine from my point of view, just a decent, good but not extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra. Majella

The Lynn Family’s Majella winery on the Eastern edge of the farmed Coonawarra “red stripe”, so it says on the bottle, and Oddbins says it is famous for producing elegant wines that are a world away from the turbo-charged styles of the Barossa. And, the wines of Majella are amongst this region’s finest.

Method of Production (taken from Oddbins website): Carefully selected grapes were destemmed, crushed and placed in stainless steel tanks to start their fermentation. The wine was then transferred into French oak hogsheads to complete fermentation. After undergoing malolactic fermentation and maturing for 22 months oak barrels, 50% of which were new, the wine was filtered and bottled.

Oddbins even recommends to have “a pan-fried fillet steak topped with stilton.” Maybe that is where I went wrong having it with antipasti, ham and pizza 🙂

A nice wine overall, high percentage of alcohol though: 14.5%.