Archive for May 2011

Red wine may help control weight

May 31, 2011

Red wine may contain chemicals that help control weight gain, recent research suggests.

Experiments at the University of Porto show that animals given red wine gained significantly less weight over an eight week period than animals kept under the same conditions, but given no red wine.

The key may be a chemical that occurs naturally in red wine that increases levels of oestrogen in the body. Oestrogen plays a role in the metabolism of fat, and also fat distribution.

Resveratrol, a substance abundant in red grape skins, is a form of oestrogen, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The problem is that after a few glasses of red wine, my diet goes out the window and I start to nibble on snacks and ‘forbidden’. It is these sin snacks that are killing my diet.


Source: Marie Claire


Join Alto for a glass of red wine at the Gugulethu Wine Festival

May 25, 2011

The Gugulethu Wine Festival (27-28May) is an exciting new  event on the South African wine calendar.
Join Alto for a glass of red wine at this year’s festival.

For more info about the event visit –

Red wines- What is the difference?

May 24, 2011

Red wine lovers like different wine styles but what are the main differences between the major red wine varietals?

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz are probably the most popular red wine cultivars in the world. Although there is a lot of resemblance between these red wines the differences is evident.

Cabernet and Merlot originates from Bordeaux while Shiraz’s origins are from southeast France.

Cabernet wines are normally bold, tannic and with a strong taste.

Shiraz has a spicier nose and taste with a darker colour.

Merlot is more moderate and less acidic with a herbal characters.

Getting the right combinations to ensure that these characteristics of the grapes balance and complement each other,  are one of the many challenges winemakers face.

Cooking with wine – Chefs spill the secrets

May 20, 2011

Cooking with the right wine has been the secret of many restaurant chefs. Nowadays adventurous home cooks are being tempted to dabble and experiment with it.

Cooking with wine 

 Foods cooked in wine or served with wine-enriched sauces can be lifted to another plane. For a long time though, it was believed that any old plonk could be poured into a beef stew to make a boeuf bourguignon. Wines that lay in half-drunk bottles or wines that were undrinkable often found their way into stewed fruit or sauces.

But sophisticated cooks say that using the right wine in your cooking is nearly as important as choosing the right wine to drink. Sure, you won’t be pouring your best vintage Bordeaux to deglaze a pan, but quality is important while cooking with wine.

What you can do with wine: Wine can be used at various stages of the cooking process. Steaks, for instance, can be marinated in red wine and seasoning for several hours before being grilled or tossed on the barbecue. The wine tenderises the meat. The remaining marinade also makes an excellent sauce for the meat. Most frequently, wine is used to deglaze a pan in which meats have been sauted and the resulting mixture forms the base of a sauce to be served with the meat.

Wines reduce quickly, and the reduction process intensifies the flavour rather than the alcohol content. In fact, the alcohol content is considerably reduced when wine is ‘cooked’ down.What reduction also does is to intensify the colour of the wine in the food, so you end up with a rich, brown rather than the purple or cherry red you might find in a wine glass.

What to cook with:

Find a couple of basic reds and whites you enjoy drinking and incorporate them into your cooking. As you get a hang of the flavour range you are looking for and the effect that wine has on various ingredients, you can experiment some more. If you are, for instance, making a seafood risotto and plan to drink it with a Chardonnay, consider using the same wine for the risotto.

All sorts of combinations are possible. You can use a Sauvignon Blanc, with its herbaceous qualities, in a dish that highlights herbs. Zinfandels have a berry or cherry character, which would be a nice background to a fruit sauce for duck or pork. A buttery Chardonnay is the perfect base for a beurre blanc. The more you learn about the characteristics of your favourite wine, the more creative you can get with your cooking.

There are also fortified wines which are used for cooking. These are fortified with alcohol which adds complexity and herbs and condiments which impart their fragrance and flavour to the wine. Sherry and port falls into this category and since they are sweet, it works well in fruit desserts. Sweet vermouth with its herbal flavour works the same way. Wines can also be used at the very end of the cooking process. Marsala can be used to finish a sauce and sherry can be added to a cream soup for extra flavour.

Source: Times of India

Wine storing tips

May 10, 2011

If you’re serious about drinking wine, chances are you’re serious about cellaring it too.

And if you’re serious about storing it, you’ll know that under the stairs isn’t the best place for your precious collection.

Make sure you keep it somewhere where the temperature is stable from day to night and season to season. This can be a purpose-built facility or private cellar. That failing, avoid windows, external walls or anywhere near a kitchen. Between 12-18 degrees Celsius is optimum, and based on the average temperature of the great European cellars.

Keep humidity between 65 and 75 per cent. Inadequate humidity will cause cork shrinkage and oxidisation and too much humidity will damage labels and encourage mould growth.

Store wine away from vibrations. This includes subwoofers, speakers, air-conditioners and hot water units. Vibrations affect chemical reactions in the wine.

Keep wine in the dark and avoid sunlight at all costs.


Laughter and red wine: The key to longevity

May 9, 2011

According to recent studies laughter and moderate red wine is the key to longevity. So having a few laughs with friends and a glass of red wine can be great for your body and soul.

Two separate research groups have released findings that might confirm what you may know: Laughter and moderate red wine and a handful of walnuts or peanuts are the best longevity, disease-fighting and anti-aging secrets out there.

Reports from the Montefiore Einstein Cancerdefine Center at Montefiore Hospital are that they have been using ‘strength through laughter’ therapy to cure patients for the last five years.

During the laughter therapy session, the patients crack each other up and laugh to forget their own illness; they also use good film comedies, books and stand-up specials during the session.

The American Cancer Society and other medical experts say that laughter is the best therapy to reduce tension and relax the body. It lowers the blood pressure, reduces stress hormones define and increases muscle flexion.  Many medical experts laud laughter’s unique internal organ massage benefits.

To add to this, Harvard researchers have made claims they have a critical key to unlock the secret of aging. The Harvard studies showed that resveratrol also found in the crust of peanuts and walnuts, in grapes, peanut butter, pistachios and other foods seemed to ward off the effect of age on heart, bones, eyes and muscles.


Red wine makes you think

May 6, 2011

It’s the perfect excuse to have another glass of Red wine  – research has shown that  drinking red wine helps you think.

Men and women did better in mental arithmetic tests after being given resveratrol, the ‘wonder ingredient’ in red wine.

It is thought that the plant chemical – said to have abilities from burning off junk food to warding off heart disease – increases blood flow to the brain. 

Northumbria University researchers set 24 healthy adults a series of tests before giving them a resveratrol pill or a dummy tablet.

When they were tested again, those that had taken resveratrol performed better, the British Psychological Society’s annual conference will hear today.

Other tests confirmed that the drug, which is found in grape skins as well as raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and peanuts, widened blood vessels, boosting the brain’s blood supply.

Other studies have linked resveratrol with fighting old age, cancer, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

It is also claimed that just half a glass of red wine a day can greatly cut the odds of death from heart disease.