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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hangover Cures

Okay – just about everyone who has a fondness for alcohol has at some stage, if not quite often, over-indulged and then felt the repercussions the following day.

Hangovers are very personal and vary from drinker to drinker.  A colleague who I talked to yesterday, regularly imbibes 750 ml of wine a night with no ill effect, but suffers slight headaches if she has another few glasses.  Certainly the volume consumed is directly proportional to the physical and mental damage.

Personally, if it gets to the point where I’m unsure of how many glasses I had - but it’s about 1.00 a.m. and I’m on Facebook dispensing swathes of wisdom and hilarity, then there is a very good chance that I will be unwell the next morning   For me, it pans out as nausea, mental confusion, dehydration and a pounding headache.  As the day proceeds with a leaden gloom, foul mood, general feeling of loss of will to live, and an inability to form complete sentences.  This doesn’t disappear for about 24 hours if I’m lucky.

So – is there a cure for hangovers?
Yes.  Duh? Don’t drink too much.  . 

Nah, but yeah truly - is there a cure for hangovers?, I hear you ask.
Not really, but there are some measures of damage control which appear to have some scientific backing.

  •   Drink as much water as you can during the evening and before you go to bed to alleviate symptoms caused by dehydration.  Continue drinking fluids the next morning.  Sports drinks, such as Gatorade,  relieve dehydration, and replace electrolytes.  The downside is (hopefully remembering) to get up in the night frequently to relieve the bladder.
  • Painkillers – Aspirin, and ibuprofen help to reduce headaches and muscle pain.  But don’t use them if you have any gastric pain or nausea, because these painkillers are also gastric irritants and can add to stomach lining irritation. Paracetomol is a more gentle option.
  • Eggs are thought to help with breaking down toxins associated with alcohol breakdown
  • Ginger – either tea or in pill form can help to relieve nausea
  • Bananas help to replace potassium and other electrolytes
  • Fruits and fruit juices replace vitamins and nutrients, particularly vitamin C
  • Berocca and vegemite  (not mixed together, silly).  Both good sources of vitamin B.

Then there are Ye Olde hangover cures – which you may wish to try: pair of pickled sheeps’ eyes in tomato juice, tea brewed from rabbit droppings, or the more familiar Prairie Oyster.  I.e.  a whole raw egg and Worcestershire sauce, seasoned with salt and pepper. The aim is to swallow it in one gulp without breaking the yolk.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiheke Island Wine Tours

Just over a year ago I made a serious effort to get to know the Waiheke Island wine region.  See here.   And after that initial foray, I took the plunge and set up a Waiheke Island wine tour option on my website.

The uptake has been modest, but the good news is that I have been able to share Waiheke's magic with many people over the last 12 months.   Waiheke can be over hyped and its wines vary from year to year, but there is something magical about the Island.  As soon as you step off the ferry, there is a feeling of having left all the rest of the world far behind - deep breath - exhale slowly.  Relax. 
That's part of the charm of Waiheke Island: nothing is done in a hurry, just be laid back and enjoy the day as it unfolds. 

Waiheke does boast one of NZ's most famous red wine producers, the organic Stonyridge vineyards.  Their 'Larose' Bordeaux style blend is legendary and tends to sell out even before it's released.  Other overachievers are Te Whau and Te Motu along with Kennedy Point and Jurassic Ridge.

Along with some of NZ's best restaurants, stunning scenery and views of the Gulf, Waiheke does deliver.

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland New Zealand

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wyndham 333 Pinot Noir- drinkable, and at ten bucks

I'm always on the lookout for a bargain Pinot Noir - being a Pinotphile from way back.

In NZ it is hard to find any Pinots under $25 that aren't wimpy raspberry-lite BBQ quaffers.

Admittedly, the Marlborough Pinots seem to be getting better each vintage with older vines and improved vineyard management. But they are still clocking in at about $24 for anything reasonable.   Or 'drinkable' as some wine tossers are prone to opine. (It's a funny thing how saying a wine is drinkable is a good thing.  Whereas if you described a dish as edible it would be pejorative.)

Anyway, at the risk of losing my citizenship, I do find the Aussie Wyndham 333 Pinot Noir often available at $NZ9.99 a bottle very good value.  It's a medium style with fruity cherry and red fruits flavours plus a fine grained tannin.
The wine seems to be a blend of South Eastern Australian wine, with no particular region quoted on the label.  I have bought bottles over the last few years and the Pinot tastes like it is blended to a particular consistent style (not unlike their 555 Shiraz). In former times as a Shiraz fan, I often drank their 555 Shiraz.  And nothing wrong with blending for consistency - French Champagne makers have been doing that for yonks.

Even Wine Spectator give it 86/100. Very imbibable, says I.  (I'd swear on the Bibable)

Phil runs not for profit Wine and Food Tours in Auckland New Zealand, God bless 'im.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Robert Parker and Google - what they have in common

Okay oenophiles - if you're aware of famous USA wine critic Robert Parker (no relation) then this will possibly make sense to you.

Robert Parker is a wine critic with an extraordinary 'photographic memory' for wine - that enables him to recall the taste and aromas of any wine he has sampled in his life, at the mere mention of its name.  He is likewise able to pretty well nail the grape variety, country of origin and even the vintage year of a wine given to him 'blind' to sample.  These are formidable skills that have made him probably the world's most influential and powerful wine critic.  A bad word from Robert and your wine may as well be worthless.   Conversely, a rating of over 90 on his 100 point scale and your wine is going to sell like hot cakes.

The movie Mondovino exposes the incredible influence that Parker's ratings have on the wine making world.  In essence - the leading wine producers on the globe are so desperate to gain accolades from Parker that they craft their wines according to his palate.  Never mind, is this a good wine?  No.  Is this a wine that Robert Parker will give a high score to because it favours his unique palate?  Parker's alleged obsession with micro-oxygenation has forced many winemakers to follow this tannin softening process, in order to please his palate.

Now, to Google.  In the immense virtual world of the Internet, if we are looking for something - we need search engines.  Ten years ago most folk had their fave search engine - Alta Vista, MSN Search, Big Pond, or even that other one -  Google.  Now, Google has emerged as the world's most powerful search engine.  Yes, there are a few others, but if you're not on page one of Google with your web site, you may as well consign your site to the dust bin.  Consequently, everyone is tailoring their website key words and content in order to get a good ranking from Google.  This again gives Google enormous power.  Google says put Google +1 on your web site, we all say Yes!  Google says you need to link your website with FaceBook - we all say Yes!  Meanwhile Google is accumulating shiteloads of data on you and your friends and connections,  and able to use that to their own (allegedly benevolent) ends.

I think that's all a bit creepy.

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland New Zealand

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kaiken - Argentinian Malbec 2010

  Last night we had friends over for dinner, and being wine lovers, they bought some wine with them plus a damn fine mushroom quiche.  Among the (many) bottles the four of us consumed over the evening was a Malbec from Kaiken.  When the bottle was brought out I assumed it was a Japanese winemaker's label, but no - the Kaiken is a native Argentinian bird.

Anyway, the wine is made from Mendoza fruit - 93% Malbec with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon.  Great wine - intensely ripe and seamless, with soft tannins and black berry fruit and savoury flavours.

Glengarry have it in stock for $NZ17.90 a bottle - a total bargain.

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland