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5 Surprising Wine Etiquette Tips

5 Surprising Wine Etiquette Tips

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Wine specialist Aimee Cronin shares with us the surprising 'do's' of wine tasting

There is no wrong way to enjoy wine!

So many drinkers thoroughly enjoy the complex flavors of wine — from earthy to sweet, there is a bottle for every palate. But with the variety the world of wine has to offer, navigating it can be overwhelming. Event after event, there are always dozens of bottles to choose from, but every now and again you are poured the perfect glass. Between polite conversations you are smacking your lips reveling in the flavor. But before you know it, the night is over and you’re bereft that you never snagged the name of that wine bottle.

Click here for 5 Surprising Wine Etiquette Tips

One cool way to remember your wine selection is with the help of Drync, an app that allows you to snap pictures of wine bottles while you are out to save in your phone history or purchase right then and there through the app. This little tool is great for learning what flavors appeal to you and keeping track of what works for your palate.

But knowing really is only half the battle. You may now know what you like, but do you know how to serve it properly? Every good host worries about incorrectly chilling wine and looking silly while swirling a glass that doesn’t need to be aerated.

But wine tasting doesn’t have to be as uptight as we imagine it to be. Wine specialist and marketing director of Drync Aimee Cronin would know. With 15 years of experience in the wine industry, Cronin is constantly trying to bridge the gap between consumers and sellers. She aims to make wine accessible for everyone, and shared some surprising tips for serving and enjoying wine. Have a look through our slideshow and never fear the fermented grape again!

Although dining out has become more casual, it still isn't acceptable to talk with your mouth full of food, rock the table with your elbows, or interfere with other diners' experiences by displaying improper etiquette. It's important to follow certain manners guidelines in both formal settings and fast food restaurants.

Table manners are important in both professional and social situations, so it's a good idea to know some basics. There may be some slight variations, depending on your region and what is locally acceptable. So if you are at a dinner party, pay close attention to the host or hostess and take cues from them.

Whether no one ever taught you dining etiquette or you've forgotten what you learned, here are some tips to show that you know how to behave at the table. Using proper etiquette at the table will also help you socially and professionally in a restaurant or in someone's home.

5 Most Surprising Heart-Healthy Foods

1. Steak. Red meat tends to get a bad rap but the truth is that lean cuts of red meat like filet mignon (or the more budget-friendly flank steak) are both nutritious and heart-healthy. Red meat is a good source of protein, of course, as well as iron, B12, zinc, and other nutrients.

And although some of the fat is saturated, beef is also a good source of monounsaturated fat&mdashwhich is the same heart-healthy kind of fat that you get from olive oil. In fact, beef tenderloin contains more monounsaturated fat than saturated fat. If you&rsquore going to be grilling that steak, please be sure to check out my episode on grilled meats , in which I explain how to prevent the formation of carcinogenic compounds when cooking meat over open flames or coals.

2. Coffee. Contrary to popular lore, coffee is not bad for your heart! Coffee drinkers have no higher risk of heart disease than non-coffee drinkers&mdashand actually have a reduced risk of heart failure .

Regular coffee consumption has been shown to reduce inflammation and increase HDL (or &ldquogood&rdquo) cholesterol . And although caffeinated coffee can temporarily increase your heart rate a bit, it does not cause irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Coffee is rich in antioxidants that may actually protect your heart (along with the rest of your cells). As a matter of fact, coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the typical American diet. For more on the benefits of coffee and caffeine, see my episode: Is Caffeine Bad For You? Of course, it&rsquos always possible to overdo a good thing. I suggest keeping your coffee consumption to no more than 4 cups a day.

3. Lard. Yes, you read correctly: lard. The idea that a nutritionist might OK the occasional use of butter doesn&rsquot raise any eyebrows but somehow, the suggestion of lard stops people in their tracks! I&rsquom not sure how lard got its artery-clogging reputation, but it is entirely undeserved. Lard has 33% less saturated fat than butter, twice as much heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and three times as much omega-3. And, as you bakers know, lard is the secret to tender, flaky pie crust without harmful trans fats. Although I suggest using olive oil is as your primary oil, lard (and butter) are both perfectly acceptable secondary sources of fat.

4. Beer. When it comes to heart health, red wine hogs all the credit. But the truth is that a daily pint of beer is just as effective as a glass of merlot in reducing your risk of heart disease. Despite all the hoopla about the polyphenols (such as resveratrol) in wine, scientists believe that it&rsquos actually the alcohol in wine that&rsquos primarily responsible for the heart-protective benefits. Besides, beer has polyphenols, too! And although the amount of polyphenols in wine is quite a bit higher, studies have found that you absorb about the same amount from wine or beer. Of course, moderation is the key here. The health benefits of alcohol consumption disappear as soon as you exceed one or two drinks a day.

5. Potatoes. Tired of being nagged about reducing your sodium? Here&rsquos good news: Studies show that (as long as you are otherwise healthy), increasing your potassium intake can completely offset the negative effects of dietary sodium. Although you can get potassium from a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other whole foods, potatoes are among the best sources. In fact, one small study suggests that a daily serving of potatoes might reduce your blood pressure ! I suggest you skip the fries and loaded skins: go for baked, roasted, or microwaved instead.

5 Surprising Hair-Loss Triggers for Women

Hair loss and thinning isn&rsquot fun for anyone. However, with embedded societal beauty standards commonly associating femininity with thick, lustrous hair, it can be particularly traumatic for women. So what causes it &ndash and what can you do about it? We spoke to Harley Street trichologist Mark Blake to find out some of the more surprising triggers.

1. A restricted diet

&lsquoWhen it comes to women losing their hair, nutrition is a huge factor,&rsquo Blake says. &lsquoHair needs energy from food to grow. If you follow a restricted diet, it will affect your energy levels. Hair isn&rsquot essential to life, so the body diverts energy to other, more necessary, organs instead.&rsquo

Hair needs lots of vitamins D and C, and iron (B12). &lsquoMany women are B12 deficient,&rsquo Blake explains. &lsquoMenstruating women who are already B12 deficient can suffer weak or thinning hair, as can women who have heavy periods. This has to be monitored by a doctor or specialist. Vitamin C boosts iron absorption, so they all work together.&rsquo

If you&rsquore worried about your hair health, Blake recommends supplements: &lsquoI think all women should take iron supplements and that everyone should take vitamin D supplements from October to April, when we don&rsquot get enough sun. This will help hair strength.&rsquo

2. Female-pattern baldness

We&rsquove all heard of male-pattern baldness, but the fact women can have the same genetic predisposition to hair loss isn&rsquot as well-known. Female-pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia to give it its fancy title, usually starts during the perimenopause or menopause and can affect around 50% of women over the age of 65 according to NHS England. &lsquoOestrogen levels drop, meaning it doesn&rsquot cancel out the testosterone like it used to,&rsquo Blake explains. &lsquoWomen may find themselves with thinner hair on their head, but more hair on their face or body.&rsquo

Can anything be done about it? &lsquoThere&rsquos no &ldquoone size fits all&rdquo when it comes to hair loss,&rsquo Blake says. &lsquoThe best course of action is to get educated on all the possible causes and look at the factors you can control. Using products by specialist brands such as Nioxin can help slow the rate of hair loss. The styling products and topical solutions contain ingredients that drive blood to the surface of the skin and stimulate the arrector pili muscles &ndash which stand your hairs on end when you get goosebumps &ndash encouraging strength and growth.&rsquo

3. Chronic stress

Hair loss-inducing stress is the kind that causes your body to go into survival mode. &lsquoWhen you go into fight or flight, your body releases cortisol,&rsquo Blake says. &lsquoThis evolutionary function prioritises the organs you&rsquoll need to either fight or run away &ndash and your hair is definitely not one of them. A chronically stressed body can shut down a person&rsquos hair follicles. Sleep deprivation can too &ndash anything that disrupts your body&rsquos normal cycles.&rsquo The good news is that when the stress alleviates, the cortisol reduces. This, coupled with more natural sleeping and eating cycles, means hair should grow back.

4. Handbag hair

If your hair tends to be much thinner or weaker on one side, there may be a surprising culprit: your handbag strap. &lsquoTraction alopecia is hair loss due to constant pulling,&rsquo Blake explains. &lsquo&ldquoHandbag hair&rdquo is a form of this &ndash when we see hair loss on one side of the head. The friction from the handbag strap constantly rubbing on the hair snaps it off. The simple solution for this is to change the style of your handbag.&rsquo

Another cause of traction alopecia can be certain hairstyles, like braids and long dreadlocks, where repeated and prolonged pulling is applied to the follicles. Constant repetitive pulling can damage the hair follicle for good.

Nioxin Anti-Hair Loss Serum, £48

Nioxin Thickening Spray, £20.80

Nioxin Night Density Rescue, £50.60

&lsquoPeople will be less likely to get traction alopecia or to suffer permanent damage if they take steps to strengthen their hair,&rsquo Blake says. One of which is trying Nioxin&rsquos new Anti-Hair Loss Serum with Sandalore. Clinically proven to reduce hair loss by 20% in only eight weeks, its unique hair-loss reduction formula, containing Sandalore scent, stimulates hair follicles and prolongs hair growth. 98% of users noticed improved hair anchorage and 95% noticed less hair in their brush.

5. Giving birth

&lsquoIt&rsquos usual to grow and also lose about 100-150 hairs a day,&rsquo Blake explains. &lsquoBut when you&rsquore pregnant, differing hormone levels mean you don&rsquot lose as many hairs as usual. That&rsquos why pregnant women often report having thicker, fuller and even shinier hair.

&lsquoHowever, when you&rsquove had the baby, you may suddenly lose all of the hair that should have fallen out before. It&rsquos all to do with the change in hormones. But don&rsquot worry, it would be very rare for the loss to be permanent.&rsquo


According to WebMD, foods that are rich in tyramine can trigger migraines for people. Tyramine is an amino acid that can naturally be found in aged and fermented foods like cheese, cured meats, and of course, wine. Red wines tend to have a higher count of tyramine compared to white wines.

But that doesn't mean you have to stay away from all red wines! Not everyone suffers from a headache because of tyramine. The best way to evaluate this is to keep track of the wines that give you headaches, and look for any patterns in the types of wines—and even where they were made.

5 Surprising Signs of Breast Cancer

When we think about the discovery process of breast cancer, we often think about finding a lump or getting a “call-back” after a mammogram. But breast cancer can present itself in other ways. When it does, it can confuse, and cause us to delay diagnosis and treatment. Here are five less-obvious ways that breast cancer can begin to show signs:

A “lump” makes us think about something that is obviously foreign, with smoothly defined edges. But that sort of lump is more consistent with benign conditions, such as cysts. Despite that, we are told to look for “lumps” on self examination, but what we should look for is any thickening or other change within the flesh of the breast. (My own breast cancer – diagnosed in 2002 – was a thickening, as if my skin had adhered to the flesh under it.)

One form of breast cancer does not present itself as a lump, but as inflammation. The skin can feel unusually warm to the touch. It can also take on the appearance of orange-skin – with the pores showing visibly as a result of swelling. The breast may feel heavy. The type of breast cancer that causes these signs is called “Inflammatory Breast Cancer” and is highly aggressive. Because it does not present as a “lump”, its symptoms are often confused with infections and treated with antibiotics before the realization is made that a biopsy is in order.

We are often told that breast cancer tumors are not painful. While it may be true that the tumor is not painful, its presence in the breast can cause pain and discomfort. One woman I spoke with experienced pain in her breast after a bike riding accident, which she attributed (correctly) to the fact that she had fallen and traumatized her breast. But while her other bruises healed and she felt better, her breast did not. She went to see her doctor, who discovered a mass in her breast and explained that the pain was likely caused by the tumor pushing against other flesh.

Breast cancer can be detected by changes in the nipple. The nipple may become inverted, leak blood or fluid and even become slightly discolored. Some of these symptoms can be caused by an infection. But since many breast tumors originate in the milk-producing ducts of the breast (this type of tumor is known as a “Ductal Carcinoma”), the cause of these symptoms may turn out to be a tumor putting pressure on the milk ducts.

Men can get breast cancer too. This is an abstract idea for many, especially those who incorrectly believe that the bigger the breast, the greater the risk of breast cancer. If a man detects any of the above symptoms – or a lump – he should have it looked at by a doctor.

When breast cancer is detected early, survival rates are far higher, even in more aggressive forms of the disease. Early detection in breast cancer means detection before the cancer has metastasized to distant organs or bone. Hopefully these five signs will help guide you to get medical advice rapidly if the need arises.

11 Surprising Ways to Win With Avocado

You already love avocado in all the usual places -- we&aposre looking at you, guacamole! Now discover avocado in some unexpected spots. Because if you&aposve ever thought, "Avocados are so healthy and delicious, I wish I could have them in everything" -- well, you kinda can have them in everything. These recipes prove it.

Sometimes the unexpected avocado is the best:

"Healthy and delicious &aposfries&apos with a spicy and flavorful dipping sauce, says kathleenem, the recipe submitter. "Great for a snack or an appetizer or even a whole bunch for a yummy lunch!"

Not just rich and delicious, avocados are loaded with fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats that make you feel full -- and keep you feeling that way longer. Avocados also pack in vitamins C, E, and K, plus B vitamins, including folate. Try &aposem in smoothies to start the day with a healthy bang avocados add terrific velvety texture.

"This is an ingenious way to make pesto," says nickbobkysr, who gave it 5 stars. "If you like avocado or guacamole even a little bit, you need to try this recipe!"

Admit it, you did not see this coming. What&aposs next, avocado in the chocolate pudding?

Yes, avocado in the chocolate pudding. Avocado goes deep undercover here, and totally solves the case. There&aposs zero dairy in this pudding -- avocado steps up to add the rich creaminess.

So good we&aposve granted this recipe an honorary 6th star. "A new twist on regular egg salad," explains tracy918, the recipe submitter. "Serve on lettuce leaves or your favorite cracker."

Keep this compound of butter, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, spices, and avocado on hand for grilling season. "Cook steak, chicken, or even fish and top with a a coin of compound butter to add delicious buttery flavor," says Mitchell, the recipe submitter.

Avocados belong in the salad, why not the salad dressing, too? Here avocado combines with other healthy ingredients: yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a dash or two of hot pepper sauce. Beyond dressing green salads, try it with grilled chicken and pork.

There&aposs avocado in the Irish cream fudge. No blarney. "Although avocados seem like a strange ingredient for fudge, they give a great creamy texture to a decadent treat," explains Sarah, the recipe submitter. "No one can ever believe it&aposs made with avocados!"

Avocado in green salads and veggie salsas is old school. But avocado in fruit salads? Breaks all the rules, excepting the rule that says avocado is itself a fruit.

This creamy garlic sauce with avocado is everything. It&aposs a dipping sauce, a salad dressing, a condiment for grilled steaks and burgers. Try it with the avocado fries for delicious avocado-on-avocado action.

Rude guests bringing wine - should I have served it?

I'm still brooding about this one, and am wondering if I reacted badly. what are your thoughts?

Some friends/accquaintances here (we generally walked our dogs together), decided to move back to Australia. They're generally nice people, though the wife is more than a little bit neurotic (She had a long running feud with her neighbour that involved many panicked phone calls to us and her husband, and from what I know - no communication with the neighbour besides mutual setting off of car alarms at unfriendly times. She also spent a great deal of time on her own as her husband travelled quite a bit for business, and made no effort to go anywhere by herself or really do anything aside from walk her poor dog into the ground at least three times a day). We invited them for a farewell dinner at our home.

The wife had seen our barbecue and mentioned that she would like her husband to buy her a proper grill rather than the cheap ones that she's had to make due with in the past. So, we decided that we would grill some steaks to show it off a bit. I bought an absolutely wonderful beef fillet to serve.

When they arrived, they brought some wine along with them - an Australian (Wyndham's Bin 555), and a bottle of Mateus Rose. (Now, maybe I'm being a bit of a snob here, but Mateus was always the "joke" wine, akin to Baby Duck that you drank when you were a teenager.) Since we were having steak, I decided to open the Shiraz, as I didn't feel that the Rose would really complement the beef all that well.

Supper went well (though the wife asked for her beautiful fillet to be well-done. I had jokingly said to my husband earlier that if anyone asked for well-done, they could have pasta. We're a blue rare/medium rare household). I sucked it up, butterflied her beautiful steak, and proceeded to make a baseball glove out of it. Once we were done with the Shiraz, I brought out another Australian red wine (cabernet-merlot - can't remember the winery), which was met with approval.

When that bottle was done, as we were still eating, I brought out an American zinfandel (I loves me some zin). Once the wife found out it was American and not Aussie, she took one sip, proceeded to make gagging noises, started to exclaim about how horrible it was, and asked me why I didn't serve the lovely Mateus. I went into the kitchen, opened a different bottle of Australian red, took her glass of American zin, and poured her a fresh glass. I also mentioned that I thought that the rose would be far too light after the heavier reds that we had been drinking. I poured a glass of the zinfandel for myself, at which point she remarked "Kali_MM, you'll be giving yourself a terrible headache the next day".

I kept my temper, reminded myself that we didn't need to see them again, and we finished out the evening. I've been wondering since - was my response appropriate? Should I have broken down and served the Mateus? I found the wife's reaction to be incredibly rude - should I have not bit my tongue and said something instead? What would you have done?

What Does Sensory Processing Have to Do With Picky Eating?

A lot. Eating is an entirely sensory experience.

To even begin eating, we have to look at the food, this gives visual input to our sensory system. And, if you’ve got a picky eater, then you know that this is often the first road block. Picky eaters will look at a food and decide immediately if they’re going to eat it or not, often before they touch, smell, or taste the food.

Sometimes picky eaters smell a food though long before they see it. It’s not uncommon to hear a picky eater complain from another room, “What is that smell. ” while dinner is being prepared.

And, if they can get past the sight and smell of the food, their sensory processing has to sift through the texture and tactile sensations from touching the food on their hands and how it feels on the inside of their mouth.

Lastly, the taste is one more sensation that the picky eater has to overcome.

Not to mention that if a picky eater is an active child that seeks out proprioception and vestibular input they might have a hard time sitting still at the table. If their sensory system is out of balance or dysregulated , then they can’t focus on eating.

10 Tips for Attending a Wine Tasting

As a wine lover, going to a wine tasting is one of the most exciting things you can do. But if you're new to these events, they might seem overwhelming, and even a little intimidating. At Wine Spectator's annual tasting events, the New York Wine Experience Grand Tastings in the fall and the Grand Tour in the spring, there are hundreds of world-class wines to taste, so there's no time to be bogged down by questions of etiquette or strategy. Here, our staff share their advice, from personal experience and interviews with other wine pros, for attending and enjoying a wine tasting.

1. Dress for the event

Dress in dark colors (the better to hide spills), avoid dangling sleeves (so you don't cause spills) and consider the venue to suss out the appropriate dress code. Women should consider wearing flats or low heels for comfort. If you have long hair, tie it back so you can spit easily (see tip No. 5) or keep a hand free to hold it back. And if you’re going to carry anything (tasting book, notebook, smartphone or tablet), bring a purse or have deep pockets to stash it. Carrying a wineglass around means you’ll only have one hand free for holding a plate of food, shaking hands with winemakers and taking notes.

2. Don't wear fragrance

Smell is a huge part of tasting. It's impossible to appreciate all the aromas of a delicate Riesling or a layered Cabernet Sauvignon when the air is heavy with perfume, cologne or smoke, so be mindful not to introduce any unwanted aromatics to the tasting area—it's just proper tasting-room etiquette. You don't want to miss out on the nuances of the very wines you're trying to enjoy. And you don't want to be the answer to, "What's that smell?"

3. Come up with a plan for tasting

At most tastings, there will be more wines than you can sensibly try in just a few hours. If you can get a list of the producers or wines at the tasting ahead of time, come prepared with a game plan.

A basic plan involves browsing your way through the aisles, working from light wines to heavier ones: Start with sparkling wines, then fresh whites and move on to richer whites and tannic reds. But you can get a lot more focused with it: A survey of the wines of Italy? A comparative tasting of only one variety such, as Pinot Noir, from different appellations? All up to you.

At the New York Wine Experience, senior editor Tim Fish likes to aim for two main goals: Taste the classics, and explore the unfamiliar. If you want to try the biggest names, such as the Bordeaux first-growths, head there first before the crowds form then skip the busiest tables and fit in new discoveries.

If you're coming prepared with a list of must-visit producers, branch out a bit and allow for some spontaneity, suggests senior editor James Molesworth. After you get your sip of Château Haut-Brion, look at the wineries pouring on each side of that booth—if you've never tried one of them, now is your chance.

How you determine your likes and dislikes requires exposure to different wines, notes senior editor James Laube. He doesn't just spend a whole tasting pinpointing the types of wine that give him the most pleasure. He also visits, or revisits, wines that inspire other people, if not necessarily him. By doing this, you can gain a better understanding of why you like certain wines.

Polish off the evening with something unforgettable, like a glass of sweet wine such as late-harvest Riesling, Sauternes or Port. Laube likes to finish with Champagne, which he calls the “perfect palate cleanser.”

4. Eat something

Tasting wines (and maybe drinking some too) on an empty stomach is a recipe for getting drunk quickly and not being able to enjoy the rest of the event. Remember to eat beforehand, and if there’s food offered at the tasting, take a break to eat there too. Drinking water in between wines helps to stay hydrated.

5. Remember to spit (at least most of the time)

Yes, you’ll be tasting good wines, and yes, no one likes to “waste” wine, but those tasting-size pours really add up—and quickly at that. To get the full experience of the event, you’ll want to pace yourself by spitting wine as you go. That's why there are buckets on every table. Unglamorous maybe, but take heart—all the pros do it. Don't be shy, says Fish the winery staff are used to it. And if you don't want to finish a wine, pour out any leftover from your glass into one of the spit buckets as well.

On spitting, our resident expert, Dr. Vinny, tells us: Practice at home first, don’t do it too hard or too slow, and get close to the spit bucket. If you’re spitting into a full shared bucket, you’ll want to spit slowly to avoid backsplash (ew!) or you can ask to have the bucket changed out or find another receptacle. If there’s a crowd around the spit bucket, you might want to wait to take a sip of wine until you can get closer.

Dr. Vinny also weighs in on whether you should rinse your glass between pours: It's not necessary, unless you're switching between red and white or sweet and dry, or you had a flawed wine. And if you're going to rinse, Vinny says the best way to do that is to use a splash of wine instead of water, but water is not a terrible faux pas.

6. Take notes

You may swear you'll remember the name of that fantastic red from Italy, but even if you're spitting consistently, a couple dozen wines and a day later, you'll be struggling to recall whether you preferred the Chianti Classico or the Brunello at the booth next to it. If you’re using the tasting as a scouting trip for bottles you want to buy, remember to bring something to write with so you can take notes, or use your phone's camera to document the wines you liked. Not sure how to describe what you're tasting? Dr. Vinny has some tips for you. But your method can be as simple as a plus or minus sign next to the name of the producer or the wine on the tasting sheet, says Laube.

7. Think ahead about the red-wine teeth dilemma

It’s an unfortunate side effect of the wine-tasting business that drinking red wine can stain your teeth. Unless you want to leave the event with a purple-tinged grin, think ahead about how you’re going to manage this. Brushing your teeth right after wine tasting can strip your teeth of protective enamel. The better route is to remember to drink water and maybe bring some chewing gum for when you're done, says Laube.

8. Talk to the winemakers

Wine can be more fun and memorable when you know the story behind the bottle. At both the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience and the Grand Tour, winemakers and winery owners come to pour at the event, so take the time to talk to them! If you have any questions about styles, grapes, vintages or regions, they are a great resource. If you’re polite and enthusiastic, they’ll want to answer your questions and make a connection—that’s why they’re there.

9. But don’t hog the booth

If plenty of guests are clamoring to get a taste, don't monopolize the table or block the spit bucket. Take your glass and move away to give others a chance and to avoid being jostled, or step to one side to continue your conversation with the winemaker while allowing them to pour for others.

10. Have fun

Some people get very serious when they’re tasting wines, but remember it’s OK to smile and have a good time too. You’re tasting wine, not attending a tax seminar, and you will not be quizzed at the exit doors.