We need more oil……

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Since the coining of the term “French Paradox” in 1992, researchers have been examining various aspects of the so-called “Mediterranean diet” to discover why the people of southern Europe live longer, with fewer cases of heart disease, than most of us Irish and others . A new study from Yale University School of Medicine has identified oleuropein, a component in olive oil, as a possible factor.

Heres the sciencey bit,

During the study, Yale researchers tested the effects of oleuropein, a polyphenol (these are in wine too) in olive oil, on smooth muscle cells (SMC), which make up the muscles in blood vessels that regulate blood pressure. The scientists harvested SMC from cows and allowed the cells to grow in the lab, regulating their development and adding doses of oleuropein.Normally, vascular SMC controls blood flow by increasing blood pressure as the muscle contracts and decreasing it as the muscle relaxes. When SMC is damaged by high LDL cholesterols (the “bad” kind of cholesterol) the body sends a team of white blood cells to fight off the inflammation. But white blood cells end up causing even more damage by mixing with oxidized LDL and forming “foam cells.” SMC proliferates to try to heal itself. The new SMC cells combine with the foam cells to form plaques on artery walls. Over time, that process leads to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and heart disease. The scientists found that the more oleuropein they added, the less SMC developed.  The team concluded that oleuropein in olive oil restricts SMC from proliferating and therefore could be protective against heart failure.

Research on the benefits of olive oil is gathering steam. Earlier studies also found that extra-virgin olive oil limited LDL oxidization in rabbits, decreasing plaque formation.Rhe oleuropein study was not on human cells, and one would need to drink an extraordinary amount of extra-virgin oil to reach the high levels used in the study—oil containing 2 kilograms of oleuropein as opposed to the standard .50 milligrams currently ingested daily by most Mediterraneans.

Despite the study’s limitations, the Yale scientists hypothesize that olive oil consumption could have cumulative effects throughout one’s lifetime.  Could this eventually mean olive oil polyphenols in a pill? Perhaps, but for now, just consider replacing that butter dish with a dipping bowl for your bread.

Do you live in a Cave?

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Unless you live in a cave and have never been to Spain, you’ll be familiar with Cava, spain’s famous sparkling wine. The name actually comes from the latin for cave, Cava, which in the early days were used for aging the wine. It is more precisely a Catalan sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen (DO) status. The main grapes traditionally used are macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo although Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are becoming more popular in cava production. Only wines produced in the traditional method (méthode champenoise) may be labelled cavas. About 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia. And we are delighted to have two great cavas arrived in store today:- Rimarts Cava Brut Reserva and Rimarts Cava Gran Reserva.

Rimarts is a family business – that conserves an artisan methodology in the production of its cava. What this means in layman’s terms is producing wines in the most traditional manner by disregarding modern methodology, and thus means using the traditional methods; it also signifies having meticulous care when selecting the first must, or the run-off, in each single press. By carefully selecting the most valuable must from each particular varietal press, cava becomes exquisite.

During the tirage, or the second fermentation that takes places within each bottle, each bottle is aged patiently by hand, as in Champagne, in order to achieve Rimarts’ desired fresh fruitiness. And again as in Champagne the rémuage and the dégorgemont are done totally by hand with dedication and care. In order to extract the sediments that result from each bottle’s second fermentation, each bottle is riddled (turned while on racks) by hand for 21 days – passing from a horizontal position to a vertical position in which the lees end up at the neck of the bottle. At Rimarts, traditional riddling racks are used for this process.

Riddling serves to rid each bottle of sediment lees and therefore clarifies the cava in each bottle. To remove the sediment, Rimarts uses the traditional dégorgemont  wisdom and expels the lees by hand. Unlike most cava producers , Rimarts does not use an ice plug to remove the lees. So there you have it folks a wine treated like champagne but a half the price time to flee the cave and discover Cava!

The All Whites-New Zealand

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With the Rugby World Cup around the corner and Joyce Austins Tasting in store tomorrow, I’m going to devout this post to the All White Nation. It is ironic that the nation known as the All Blacks should make their name in the wine world, with white wine, namely Sauvignon Blanc. I know the do very well with Pinot Noir, and other reds but it is Sauvignon Blanc where the Kiwi’s excel. And far from being a one trick pony, the have also produce some top Rieslings and Chardonnays, and even some gorgeous Pinot Blancs.

But its New Zealand Sauvignon, that gets people salivating. With Crisp Zingy acidity, wonderful flavours ranging from freshly cut grass, to gooseberry, tropical fruits and even that most desirous of aromas cats pee!! There are some cracking examples of New Zealand Sauvignons out there, so don’t get to wrapped up in one style try them all and imagine the wonderful summer that’s coming!!

New Zealand Tasting

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There are a band of innovative winemakers who lead the way in New Zealand by exploring different wine styles and varieties from vineyards that are meticulously chosen, immaculately nurtured and hand tended. For the past eight years, Joyce Austin, owner of New Zealand Boutique Wines, has been sourcing these wines from some of New Zealand’s most exciting boutique wine growers. Joyce is a native of Dublin, who moved to Auckland seventeen years ago from where she explores New Zealand’s more than 600 vineyards to bring together a collection of intriguing wines.

The collection represents smaller producers making exquisite wines in limited quantity. It features the estates of GREENHOUGH,  WINGSPAN, WAIPARA SPRINGS, and MUDDY WATER. This includes keenly priced offerings, together with more intriguing styles to keep the excitement in New Zealand growing with wines that surprise. Too much of the same thing and we all get bored!

The collection aims to keep the New Zealand experience constantly evolving. It includes our much lauded Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and offers the widest taste experience of New Zealand in Ireland through the varieties of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, GewÏ‹rtztraminer, Rosé, Pinotage and Syrah. Sauvignon Blanc put New Zealand firmly on the international wine map, and now, different styles of this grape – some longer cellaring, some bone dry and gently aromatic; along with the many other varieties now being produced in different regions, are catching the attention of wine writers around the world. This breadth of styles is celebrated in the New Zealand Boutique Wines collection, and this friday 17 June Joyce will be in our shop on Middle Street in Galway if you feel like calling in and trying some wines and picking her brain about anything and everything to do with New Zealand wine!  Joyce will be tasting wines from 5pm. until 8pm.

A glass of Wine a day keeps the doctor away.

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Now we all know that a glass of red wine is good for you but a new website Vinopic has begun to rate wines on how healthy they are for us. Vinopic analyses and scores wines using a scale that ranks factors such as their content of polyphenols, especially procyanidins – anti-oxidants that can protect against the danger of various illnesses – as well as negative factors such as high amounts of alcohol, sulphites, and sugar.

Recommended wines are then tasted and evaluated by Rosemary George, a  Master of Wine for drinkability and a ‘Vinopic score’ is created. White, which have little polyphenol content are offered, but rated on taste alone. Consumers can also have a say, by rating the wines they buy for quality and value. Their scores are then factored in.

Blind Tasting

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It’s a pretty well-known fact at this stage that when you are deprived of one sense the others compensate and become much more receptive so you get a picture of whats around you! Pretty basic stuff right and the Blind tasting works in a pretty similar fashion… except of being deprived of sight (despite what the name says) you are actually being deprived of any pre conceived notions about the wine.

You need nothing fancier than a brown paper bag - and Presto Blind Tasting

If I may  for a moment- the power of suggestion is a pretty powerful thing… as we all very well know, but when it comes to wine there are so many factors that can affect a persons impression of a wine- price, region, variety, winemaker etc. So the only way to safe guard against all of this is to remove them. Experiments back this up- Frédéric Brochet gave two samples of the same wine to a group of people only one bottle was labeled cheap table wine and the other with a grand cru thing! Guess what the results were- yes even though it was the same wine the claimed the more expensive was by far and a way much better! Now this isn’t all that conclusive… but what is really interesting is when he gave people a white wine he got the usual white wine description fresh, dry, honeyed, lively… but after dying it red he got a totally different description  intense, spicy, supple, deep… so you see the power of suggestion is a pretty powerful thing!

So you see why they’re important- in fact to qualify for Italy’s DOCG classification you have to pass a blind tasting! Which is pretty intense!

June Bank Holiday Weekend Offer

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To celebrate the return of the sunshine and the long weekend we are  giving away a 6 bottles of Moosehead Lager with every six or more Bottle purchase. Valid Friday 3 June and Saturday 4 June 2011.