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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
‘Life is too short to just rush through it. We must enjoy life. Take time, relax and be present.”
These were the word spoke to us by Guy Lhéraud as we entered Cognac Lhéraud in Cognac, France.
He ought to know, as he is one of the producers the eau-du-vie known as the “water of life.” We left our city mentalities at the door and heeded his words, following him into his world.
In the U.S., Cognac is best known because of four large companies. But, there are smaller family-run businesses in the area, such as Cognac Lhéraud.
The Lhéraud famly has been growing grapes for 10 generations. The first six generations sold their grapes to the larger companies. Guy Lhéraud, a jovial, old-school Frenchman who constantly has a lit cigarette in his hand, decided in 1970 to stop selling their grapes to bigger producers. They began their own label and today he runs Cognac Lhéraud with his wife, children and grandchildren. The 10th generation member is his great-grandson who is 1 year old.
I am an omnivore. I like food. I do not restrict myself and jump on trendy bandwagons of "no gluten", "no dairy" or "no meat". And as much as I love vegetables, I do not like the idea of meat replacements. In fact, when I went to the launch of a new product this week and they said it was about "using science for the creation of their product", I found those words concerning and unnatural. But, then they brought out the Impossible Burger, a meatless burger that is now available at nine Umami Burgers, as well as at 10 other restaurants across the country, I was wowed. It looked just like a hamburger but in fact, it is a vegetarian burger for meat lovers. And that is why it is the Please The Palate "pick of the week." Impossible Foods was founded in 2011 by Patrick O. Brown, M.D. Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in Stanford University's Biochemistry Department and a 40-year vegetarian. Brown wants to make the global food system more sustainable. He explained that cows are the "most destructive technology on earth." People love to eat beef but cows will do irreparable damage to the earth as they produce emissions. As a result, Brown is focused on producing meat and dairy products from plants, which have a lower environmental footprint. In fact, the Impossible Burger uses 1/8 of greenhouse gasses, 1/20 of the land and will reduce water consumption by one billion gallons per year.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Tasting wine uses all our senses. We use our eyes, our nose and our palates. But most of the time, we see the bottle first and conjure up pre-conceived notions of what we will find in the glass.
Too often, we make assumptions about a wine based on everything we have ever tasted, and before we even taste a wine, we jump to conclusions. If it is a sauvignon blanc, we might expect notes of green grass and citrus; if it is a pinot noir, we might expect cranberries, cherries, mushrooms and earth; if it is a cabernet sauvignon, we might expect aromas of dark black fruits, tobacco, chocolate and brown spices.
But what happens if we do not know what is in the glass? What if we just see a white wine or a red wine? Can we make an educated guess as to what is in the glass based on how it looks, smells and tastes?
At Pebble Beach Food and Wine last month, four Master Sommeliers stood in front of a room full of wine enthusiasts as we all tried to guess the eight wines we had in front of us. Master Sommelier Shayn Bjornholm explained that this was not a magic parlor trick, but rather a way to help us be better tasters.