Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another glass, PLEASE!

Add to Google Reader or HomepageLast night, we were talking about wine and when it is necessary to decant it. (The “we” included Karlice who came to visit and to see Tish before she leaves for Cairo on Sunday – now, both of my belle soeurs are here!)

In general, most red wine is improved by opening the bottle 20-30 minutes before pouring. (I think that counting to a hundred by fives is ample time…though you might count faster than I do.) You have undoubtedly seen people swirl wine from a newly-opened bottle in their glasses. They are doing that to let more air interact with the wine. Wine changes – opens up – when the air starts to mix with the liquid.

Some red wines should be decanted. Older red wines should be decanted slowly to reduce/prevent the sediments from ending up in one’s glass. Red wines that have a lot of tannin should be decanted. (Tannins are the chemical compounds in wine that make your mouth pucker and make you feel like you should go brush your teeth.) When we were tasting wine at Domaine de Beaurenard wine museum (, Catherine, who manages the tasting room, told us to decant a young, tannic wine brutalement –  which is French for ‘turn the bottle upside down and let it splash into the decanter.’

Using the same picture of Catherine again... At least she is photogenic!
One vintner told us that he opens his red wine in the morning and then it is perfect when he serves it with dinner that evening. I don’t know whether I have that much foresight, so I will stick to counting to a hundred by fives…

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Reading

Add to Google Reader or HomepageIt has been over a month since my last post. House projects and television seem to have taken up way too much of my time. – I am the boob who watches the tube… although it has been fun watching the “Tour de France.” (Congratulations to Cadel Evans; the first Australian to win the Tour de France.)

I have also been reading The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough. My sister-in-law bought me the book for my birthday and it has been fun reading about the Americans who went to Paris in the early 1800’s to learn/improve their skills at the center of art and medicine. (I know I am being redundant but must say again that I admire the French expression for relative-by-law. I think belle soeur – beautiful sister – is so much more friendly than our legal term.) But I digress…

David McCullough is a great writer. He weaves together the stories of so many famous, adventurous Americans from their correspondence with families and friends in the states and historical events. He writes about artists, writers, architects and doctors including the artist Samuel Morse (also of Morse code fame.) I have been struck by the adventurous nature of these men and women and by the beautiful style of their writing.

I was also struck by his references to Democracy in America by Alexis deTocqueville which the author described “as clear-eyed and valuable a study of America as any yet published…” To me, the most striking observation that deTocqueville wrote was about education: “the originality of American civilization was most clearly apparent in the provisions for public education.”

Given what appear to be the prevalent attitudes and direction of our country, I am guessing that a 21st century deTocqueville would now say that America has lost its compass because it has cut its investment in education. We expect our teachers to do more while cutting their salaries, their benefits, their classroom resources. Then we blame the teachers for the failures of the schools. What is wrong with this picture?