By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

One of those news stories that’s easily overlooked because it’s buried in more dramatic stuff caught my eye the other day. It originated in the London TELEGRAPH and reported that a French hospital in Clermont-Ferrand had opened a wine bar for terminally ill patients.

At first this didn’t strike me as real news because over the years when visiting French friends in hospitals, there has been wine available in their rooms. Even when I was in a Bordeaux hospital recovering from peritonitis, wine was brought into my room by visitors — though my nurses advised me not to drink any wine till I fully recovered.

When I went to see famed restaurateur Jean-Pierre Haeberlin in a Colmar hospital, he motioned me to his window sill where I could pour a glass of Moet & Chandon. Jean-Pierre had been badly injured in an auto action, had a leg in traction, an arm in a cast, and apologized for not being able to pour it himself.

The Clermont wine bar is newsworthy, though, because it functions as a real bar for patients — terminally ill patients. The occasions cited above had to do with visitors, guests, and friends bringing in wine. The Clermont program allows patients and their family access to a hospital bar stocked with wines donated by local residents, all in the cause of helping such patients “enjoy their last days.”

The medical staff is trained to deal with patients coming to the bar and to supervise wine tasting sessions.

Research may still be inconclusive about how alcohol really affects length of life and overall health, but the reports are that the patients in the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital think a hospital wine bar is a great thing.  So do the doctors, who hope the idea of a hospital wine bar will be taken up by other hospitals. Cheers!

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By Sue Shelden   |   Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Do you ever choose a wine just because the label calls out to you? I was recently shopping for a birthday gift for a friend, and came away with bottles of wine that I knew nothing about, but found the name and or label too compelling to resist.

For example, for my husband–a big fan of Moby-Dick–I bought a bottle of Matua Valley Wines Sauvignon Blanc because of the wonderful photo of a whale on the label. For my elephant loving daughter, I had to buy a bottle of Petite Petit Sirah blend from Michael David Winery because of a darling label with elephants. Both of these turned out to be good choices–so far, so good–the idiot savant method seems to work!

For my horse loving friend, I bought the Hot to Trot White Blend from the popular 14 Hands Winery. This well-priced collection of wines all have the same artwork with 2 horses.

Mad Housewife Cellars produces wines that always bring a smile to ladies of my vintage–the labels are clever and the prices reasonable. These wines are meant to appeal in every way to women consumers–some are award-winning, but these are not generally for the sophisticated oenophiles. Still, when it comes to wine consumption, I think there needs to be a place for fun in our selection of wines.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

If you ever doubted that wine has gone mainstream in the United States, you would have found proof in last Sunday’s WALL STREET JOURNAL,which devoted half a page to wine “facts” that” wine makers won’t tell you.” While I can’t entirely agree with the contention that winemakers won’t tell you some of the issues discussed, the article does offer basic enlightenment to those of us consumers who don’t really get into the production of wine. Anyway, few publications are as mainstream American as the JOURNAL, so I credit the paper for making wine a continuing and important subject.

Among the the ten issues the article addresses are climate change and investing in wine. It’s interesting to note that the WSJ, which has never championed belief in climate change, uses  reports from wine regions as evidence that temperatures over the next few decades may “rob areas in Australia, France, and California of their ability to grow quality grapes.”  More common to WSJ pages are investment practices, and this article wisely cautions about the risk involved in wine investments. Wine makers have long said that the only way to make a small fortune in wine production is to start with a large fortune. That can and does also apply to wine investors.

Catey Hill, who wrote the WSJ piece, points out what we have reported many times — that judging wine is also an inaccurate science, that judges in several studies have rated the same wine differently when served at three different times in a single flight.

Hill does not address the traditional “rules” for drinking wine but instead points out what sometimes goes into wine for flavor or coloring, how restaurants price wine, and why wine may not be the cure-all medicine it is often thought to be.

It’s a good read — in the Sunday, August 3 edition.



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