Aphrodisiacs and Wine for Valentines

With Valentine’s Day coming up in February, I thought I’d get a head start on this blog about Aphrodisiacs and Wine to help you decide your Valentine’s meal.  There are many different foods that have been touted to have some aphrodisiac component to them.  A few foods:

  • cheese (In European culture, cheese is said by some to resemble the scent of a woman.)
  • arugula (Is also known as “rocket seed”, with mustard warming a person, making better blood flow.)
  • truffles (It is said that sows instinctively seek out truffles, it’s because they give off scents identical to certain substances found in the male boars sexual organs – namely a pheromone “androstenol” with a strong musky smell. Androstenol is also secreted by men’s armpit glands.)
  • chocolate (Chocolate contains both a sedative, which relaxes and lowers inhibitions, and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact.)
  • oysters (Oysters being the aphrodisiac, due to their shape similar to a woman’s genitals, but also as they contain zinc which which promotes well being.)
  • asparagus (The asparagus of course visually is a phallic symbol. also because according to traditional Indian medicine, it increases circulation in the genito-urinary system. Chinese traditionalists believe the roots increase compassion and love, so they save the best ones for their friends and family.)
  • chilies (Chilies get a person’s blood rushing, heart pumping, face flushing and pores sweating, providing great physical stimulation.)
  • strawberries (Strawberries gained their reputation as an aphrodisiac due to their large number of tiny seeds symbolizing fertility. In art and literature, the strawberry was usually portrayed as a symbol of sensuality and earthly desire and has been described as fruit nipples.)

Is wine an aphrodisiac?

Of course. Wine relaxes people’s thoughts. A moderate quantity of wine reduces a person’s anxiety and releases their inhibitions. In studies published from the 1994 British scientific journal, Nature, claimed that the intake of alcohol can increase the levels of libido in women. According to this research, alcohol raises the testosterone level of women, which can entice those who lack sexual interest and desire. Port wine is said to be one of the most aphrodisiac alcoholic beverages around. This drink, which originated in Portugal, is said to promote lovemaking especially when served with strawberries (from http://nepspeed82.blogspot.com/2007/05/wine-as-aphrodisiac.html).

Some suggested wine and aphrodisiac food pairings:

  • Wild Mushroom and Truffle Risotto paired with a Viognier or a New Zealand Pinot Noir.
  • Fresh Oysters with Red Wine Shallot Mignonette paired with a California or Chilean sparkling wine.
  • Arugula, Pine Nut & Chevre Pizza matched with a BC, New Zealand or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Asparagus wrapped with smoked salmon & fresh basil paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon based Rose or a Pinot Noir.

Here are some specific wines that you may want to find either in a government liquor store or a private wine shop:

  • Stags Hollow Viognier, BC, 2010. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.
  • Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V Champagne, France. This is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Pale lemon in colour.  Light lees and toast on the nose. Light body with apples and white fruit.  Small bubbles with lower acidity.  I really enjoyed this one in part due to the lower acidity which made this Champagne very easy to drink on its own.
  • Bastianich Flor Prosecco, Italy ($19.99).  A delightful sparkling wine with melon and lychee aromas. Off dry, light body, with cinnamon, citrus and peach flavours.  Small bubble.  This is such a fun wine.
  • Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand.  Pale lemon in the glass.  Lots of gooseberry on the nose with some herbal on the nose that continued to the palate.  Medium plus acidity with long length.  Really nice flavour.
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008, Chile. Santa Rita is a premium producer from Chile.  I really enjoy their wines, and spent time visiting them in Chile. Their Medalla Real Pinot Noir is coloured light purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis aromas. Round mouth feel, light boded with an abundance of cassis flavour.  Low tannins.
  • Bartier – Scholefield Rose, BC ($20) is 100% Gamay Noir from the Wise Brothers’ vineyard in Oliver. This wine was medium salmon colour in the glass.  Light, youthful aromas of strawberries, red cherries and other red fruits.  It is dry on the palate with medium plus acidity.  Medium body.  I get fresh summer fruits like raspberries, red currants, strawberries and red cherries, and a lingering watering mouthfeel on the finish.

If you want an extensive list of aphrodisiac foods, I’d suggest following the “Life of Reiley“.  Enjoy the pairings and I hope they bring great enjoyment for you and your significant other!

What does that wine taste like???

I’m sure we all have tasted a wine and tried to place a flavour in the wine. Does it taste earthy, flinty, plummy, like cut grass, or licorice? Over time, when you taste lots of wines, and take lots of notes when you are tasting, you start to gain a library of aromas and flavours in your brain. But when you are starting tasting wine, the range of aromas and flavours can be daunting.

One useful thing that you may want to have with you when you taste a wine, is a wine flavour wheel. You can buy plasticized ones from wine stores. There are also flavour wheels that you can find online and print. I’ve found one at this web page: Wine Flavour Wheel

If you check the wheel from the above link, you will find that there are 64 flavours for you to start with. If you don’t find a flavour that matches to what you are tasting, try categorizing the flavour. Is it citrusy, floral, sweet, for example? That may be all you can do to describe it. If you can go a bit deeper, and you recognize that it is citrusy, does it taste like a single fruit like a lemon, or a lime, or maybe it is a combination? There is nothing wrong to say that you taste both lemon and lime.

You will also find that certain flavours are commonly found with particular grapes, such as citrusy or herbal for Sauvignon Blanc, and strawberries, raspberries or violets for Pinot Noir.

Have fun with wine tasting. You will see with practice that you will be able to identify many more flavours than you were able to do when you started. Enjoy!

Vinho Verde tasting at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

March 31, 2009 05:05:33
Posted By Wine With Karl

This was my last official tasting of the wine festival, and I would say it was a very interesting and tasty tasting! Our speaker was DJ Kerney a wine educator, caterer, chef, sommelier and more. DJ talked to us about Vinho Verde, “Green Wine” from the northwest corner of Portugal. These wines were all very refreshing, good acidity and fruit. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, but want something slightly different with a bit of bubble then try Vinho Verde.

The wines were tried on their own first, and then with some excellent appetizers, skillfully produced by Blair Rasmussen, the executive chef for the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Our wines were:
1. Vinho Verde Gatao N/V ($10.99 in BC)
2. Arca Nova Rose 2007
3. Arca Nova Loureiro 2007
4. Quinta de Simaens 2007
5. Quinta de Linhares Avesso 2007
6. Alvarinho Quinta do Regueiro 2007

Our appetizers were:
1. Sake Braised Japanese Eggplant Salad, with Crispy Garlic and Handmade Fresh Wasabi
2. Steamed Island Scallop with Portuguese Chorizo Piperade and Scallop Roe
3. Lemon Grass Chicken with Wild Prawn Sate and Thai Red Curry Sauce
4. Salt Cod “Bolinhos”, Roma Tomato and White Truffle Oil

The first wine was a non-vintage wine, but was quite refreshing and a great deal at $10.99. A great patio wine and one that went well with the eggplant, scallop and lemon grass chicken. The Vinho Verde Gatao had lemon, orange, yeast and some sweetness on the nose. Good acidity with more bright orange and lemon flavour.

The Arca Nova Rose is a “rose”. Most people think of white wine from this region but it also produces red and rose wines. This rose had citrus, strawberry and raspberry aromas. Good acid as well, with apple and citrus flavours.

Also from Arca was the Lureiro (Lureiro is a native grape variety. Portugal has LOTS of native grape varieties with hard to pronounce names). I enjoyed this one as it had a tangerine and lime aromas, which continued on the palate, and good acidity. No flabby wines anywhere in this lineup. This paired nicely with the lemon grass chicken and the eggplant.

The Quinta de Simaens was a blend of a few white grapes; arinto, avesso, and trajadura. Pale lemon green colour. Flowery, apple, and citrus aromas. Less acid than the others, but nicely smooth, with apple and citrus flavours. This wine paired best with the eggplant as the eggplant was very smooth and this wine was smooth. Similar with the Salt Cod Bolinhos.

The Quinta de Linhares Avesso had a light aroma, bright acidity with apple and flower flavours.

Our final wine was the Alvarinho Quinta do Regueiro. If you like sauvignon blanc, this one smells and tastes very similar. On the nose you get lots of gooseberry and lemon aroma. On the palate, good acid, some smoothness and oiliness. I thougt it went well with the scallop and the salt cod.

The nice thing about Vinho Verde not being too well known as you can buy them for all probably under $20 according to the people speaking at the event. Enjoy!

Bourgogne: Tour De Terroir tasting at the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Fest

March 30, 2009 08:04:21
Posted By Wine With Karl

Friday evening was a “tour” across Burgundy. We tasted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gamay. Luckily only 9 wines this evening compared to 15 wines the previous evening.

First wine was Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurora Rose Brut, a cremant de Bourgogne. Cremant is a sparkling wine made in France outside of Champagne. 100% pinot noir. Light salmon colour, strawberry aroma and flavour. Cremant is usually less expensive than Champagne but uses the same methods so try some cremant.

Next was Domaine Christian Moreau Pere & Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Los 2005. This is chardonnay from the northern Chablis region. Chablis is known for being steely and mineral, but with age comes complexity. This one had lemon, spice and mineral aroma. Light oak, apple, citrus flavour, and had a soft mouthfeel.

Chateau de Cordon Andre Pouilly Fuisse Les Vielle Pierres 2004. Pouilly Fuisse is the region just on the northern border of Beaujolais. The grapes for this wine are also chardonnay. Being further south, the grapes get more sun and heat and have more flavour and creaminess. Unfortunately the wine I had came from a tainted bottle so I can’t tell you about it. Approximately 1 in 12 bottles suffer cork taint world-wide.

Our fourth wine was the Bouchard Pere & Fils Mersault 2006. More chardonnay, this time from the Cote d’Or, the main part of Burgundy. I marked this wine as a star. Fermented in barrel, this wine was full bodied, rich, with apple, spice, citrus and hazelnut flavours with a toasty finish. Pair with lobster.

The fifth wine was the George Dubeouf Beaujolais Villages 2007. A “village” wine is a step up from a simple Beaujolais. It typically has riper fruit and at least 0.5% more alcohol. Gamay is the red grape in Beaujolais. This wine had cherry and banana aromas. Cherry and juicy fruit gum, flavours. The banana aroma and juicy fruit gum flavours come from the carbonic maceration fermentation (i’ll blog on that separately).

Next, the sixth wine was the Domaine Piron Chenas Quartz 2007. Chenas is the smallest Cru within Beaujolais, and has produced an excellent quality wine. This was medium reddish purple. Cherry aroma. Big cherry fruit flavour, a good level of acidity and medium tannins. A star for this one.

Our seventh wine was the Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus 2006. Pinot noir here. The vineyard was once owned by nuns, thus the origin of the “Baby Jesus” name. The vineyard is in Beaune, which is the main city in Burgundy. This wine had beautiful cherry blossom aroma. Soft mouthfeel, cherries and strawberry flavours. Very well balanced. My OVERALL favorite of the tasting.

The eighth wine was the Olivier Leflaive Wines Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens 2005. Remember, Pommard produces masculine wines. This vineyard grows on iron rich soil, giving the wine more body and firm tannins. Garnet colour and big legs (high alcohol). Cherry and strawberry flavour. Full bodied, firm tannins, cherry flavour.

Our final wine was the Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin Bel Air 2006. I do love the wines from the Gevrey-Chambertin appelation. This wine had beautiful cherry and vanilla/oak aroma. Good acid, cherry flavour, medium body.Tour de terroir

Enjoy!

Thinking about Pinot Noir

The movie Sideways popularized the Pinot Noir varietal. It is the classic red grape of Burgundy, but is getting competition from around the world, particularly from Oregon and New Zealand. Other countries, such as Canada and Chile are producing some nice Pinots as well. This is a cross over grape, I’d say, for people that primarily drink white wine because they don’t like the tannins from red wines. Pinot Noir grapes have low tannins, and depending on how the wines are produced can be very light, with wonderful red fruit (e.g. strawberries and raspberries) and violet aromas and flavours. There can also be the more “Burgundian” versions of pinot noir that have more of the earthy, barnyard aromas and flavours that some people enjoy.

So if you have someone you want to introduce to red wines, may I suggest a New World pinot noir. It is hard to go wrong with one from New Zealand. Matua, Tohu (aboriginal run), Cloudy Bay, and Villa Maria are some producers you may want to check out. Chile also makes some nice Pinot Noir. Two that I can recommend are: Cremaschi Furlotti and Casa del Bosque. If you prefer to try Canadian Pinot Noir, Mission Hill, Cedar Creek (try the Platinum Series if you can) and Quails Gate produce good examples.

With a lighter style Pinot Noir, you can pair these wines with fish or chicken. Try a roast salmon with pinot noir.

Enjoy.