Tagged With wine

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The corkscrew, like so many other inventions, was borne out of necessity. For as long as we have sold wine in glass bottles sealed with cork stoppers, consumers have struggled to easily remove those corks. As soon as the earliest glass bottles arrived in late 17th-century England, inventors began dreaming up instruments to ease the removal of corks.

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Wine-tasting notes are famous for their verbal flourishes -- for example, "kirsch, dried beef and baker's chocolate" -- but the liquid is ultimately just a collection of molecules, some sour, some bitter, some dry. And we're getting better at quantifying taste. A newly developed artificial tongue uses the very proteins from our mouths to measure the dryness of wine.

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The tricky thing about wine -- especially the fancy stuff -- is that since it gets better with age, what you buy off the shelf isn't necessarily always at its peak. A few seconds with the Clef du Vin, though, will age it to perfection. And, if you're not careful, all the way around to bad again.

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As long as rich men are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for old, fermented juice, there will be schemers willing to dupe them out of their money. But if you're dropping a cool half million on four bottles of wine supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson (true story), you want to make sure you have the real thing, right? You can, thanks in part to the atomic bomb.

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The story behind NASA's brief embrace of extraterrestrial sherry is a curious one. In the early seventies, the agency's focus was shifting from short, Moon-focused missions to possibility of longer-term inhabitation of space. A revamped menu was among the most pressing challenges: food on the Gemini and Apollo programs came in dehydrated cube form, or squeezed from a pouch, and was universally regarded as inedible.

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I am 99.9 per cent sure that there will never be commercial production of genetically engineered wine grapes ("GMO" to use the common misnomer). Even so, I'd like to indulge in imagining what could be if we lived in some parallel universe where rational scientific thinking prevailed.

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For non-connoisseurs and two-buck-chuck aficionados, there's a moment of minor social panic when dining out and it's time to select a bottle of the good stuff for the table. "Oh gosh," you think. "Don't ask for my opinion. I do not have an opinion. Don't pour that first sip for me. Don't make me swirl the glass like I know what I'm doing. Please for the love of all things holy just bring us the basic House whatever and let's move onto the food."

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Amy Harmon's excellent, recent article in the New York Times describes how the Florida orange juice industry may soon be wiped-out because of a new bacterial disease spread by an introduced insect. It looks like there could be a technology-fix for the problem using genetic engineering. The question is whether the growers will get to apply that solution.

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Picking out the right bottle of wine to take to a dinner party is too often a tough task, so many people go with the pick-the-pretty-label approach. And, of course, you want to send the right message. With Vino Loco, that message is loud and clear: You crazy.

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There are plenty of ways to open a nice bottle of wine, but they all involve the avoidable decision to finish the bottle (or risk the weird-tasting leftovers). We can do better than this, people. A new opener from Coravin aimed at connoisseurs lets you drink one glass at a time, by performing what amounts to a surgical procedure on your bottle.