Think wine and what’s the first image that comes to mind? That’s right. Miles and miles of rolling, lush vineyards of France and Italy and blue, sunny skies. Few are aware that the Roman Empire was responsible for popularising the concept of growing grapes and setting up vineyards outside Italy. A concept that was immediately picked up by its neighbouring countries like Spain, Portugal, Germany, and France.
In addition to Italy and France, today, there are many other regions in the world that are equally renowned for wine production, in terms of quantity and quality.
Let’s take a journey through the top 8 wine producing regions of the world:
1. France. Wine has been synonymous with France since ancient times. This European country has long been one of the most famous wine countries in the world for centuries. It has something to do with region’s soil and climate that is ideal for the cultivation of grapes. Without doubt, the Loire Valley holds the distinction for being the most fertile wine-producing region of France. From the Loire Valley come the world-famous white wines, particularly the Sauvignon Blanc, and some great fruity reds as well.
2. Bordeaux, France. Bordeaux is known the world over for its famed red wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The celebrated Alsace wine route is a must-see on the itinerary of every die-hard wine lover. The Alsace region boasts a wide range of wines: Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, and Muscat d’Alsace.
3. Tuscany, Italy. Italy has given to the world some of the most loved wines of all times, such as Chianti. It boasts of some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Tuscany, in central Italy, is the birthplace of the world-famous Chianti wine, and is also known for being one of the world’s top producers of fine quality red wines. Not surprisingly, grape cultivation and wine brewing has been integral to the Tuscan civilization for almost three millenniums. It was the famous 19th century Italian wine entrepreneur, Bettino Ricasoli, who popularised the most famous wine of all- the Chianti.
Summertime crock pot recipes, you may ask? But the crock pot is only used for “cold-weather meals” such as stews, roasts, and other hearty stick-to-your-ribs type meals. Wrong! This fabulous kitchen appliance has truly received a seasonal stereotype and sits in many kitchen cupboards all summer long. Bring it back to your kitchen counter during the summer; there are so many benefits and fabulous light summertime meals that can be prepared in the slow cooker!
Most people already know how wonderful crockpot cooking is; throw a few ingredients in a pot, turn it on, and come back eight hours later to a wonderful home cooked meal. We also know that cheaper cuts of meat turn out tender and juicy because they’re cooked with moist heat over long periods of time. It is perfect for the busy homemaker, the office mom, the busy dad, the work-at-home mom, anyone who has anything to do during the day and is tired by dinnertime, not wanting to spend countless hours preparing dinner for their family. But crock pot cooking is also perfect for the summertime.
Where I live, we have humid, hot, sticky summers where the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven or fire up my gas stove, much less spend time standing around them preparing meals! During the summer I don’t crave meals like chicken and dumplings, lasagna, beef stew, or pork roast. I want light meals with little or no preparation so I’m not standing in a hot kitchen getting even warmer and stickier. So, I use my crock pot! Out of any of the cooking devices in your kitchen, it sets off very little heat and can allow you to put everything into the slow cooker in the morning (when your kitchen is cool) and spoon it up at dinnertime (when your kitchen is not).
Knowing the basics of how to properly store your wine is critical to enjoying it, regardless or whether your preference is for red, white or sparkling wines. If you’re not careful about the way you store it and you simply leave it atop your fridge for a year or more, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when that special day comes to open and enjoy it.
Even though wines are perishable, if you know how and what do to with regards to storing it, you can actually help to enhance its’ quality over time, improving everything from its’ nose, flavor, texture and overall body and complexity. It really is worth getting it right.
The first step is knowing how long you plan to store your wine.
There are two basic categories to consider here; short term and long term, depending on the initial quality of the wine. For your less expensive, every-day type of drinking wines, storage might only be a matter of a couple of months (or maybe as much as 6 months to a year). For your more prized, expensive wines, storage could be as long as a few decades!
Proper Wine Storage Conditions:
Regardless of the quality of the wine or whether you’re planning short term storage or long term, the most important thing to keep in mind is to always store your bottles horizontally. By doing so, you ensure that the cork stays moistened and will not dry out, leading to spoiling of the wine.
You should also ensure that the wine can ‘rest peacefully’, where ever you choose to store it. In other words, you don’t want them on top of something that consistently moves a lot, like on top of a large appliance (fridge or washer, for example). from a subway) should be avoided.
Another reason you wouldn’t want to store your wine on top of a large appliance is because you want to keep the surrounding temperature consistent. The ideal temperature for wine is about 55 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore you want to keep them in a place where there is minimal temperature variations (NOT in the garage), or if there are variations, that they occur slowly and gradually. For example, the general temperature inside your home will probably vary from summer to winter, but not drastically, and it happens over time, not over night.
The crock pot is the busy person’s best friend and right hand man (woman,) always working with you, never against you, and couldn’t care less about what the weather’s doing outside.
The beauty of the crock pot is that it can be stocked in the morning and left to its own devices all day. No babysitting required. And by the time you drag your sore body home at the end of a hectic day, your crock pot will greet you with a ready-to-serve home-cooked meal!
If you’re curious to test the servitude of your crock pot, here’s a quick (prep time wise) and easy recipe for barbecue beef.
Crock Full of Beef
4lb roast of beef
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup water
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1tsp ground black pepper
2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
Add cooking oil to frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Remove from heat.
To stock your pot, add 1/2 of the sliced onion to the bottom of the pot. Place the browned roast on top of the onion. Add the water, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and the remaining onion.
Cover and set timer according to the length of your work day for a minimum 4-6 hours or maximum 8-10 hours. The longer you work, the better your roast will be!