Thursday, January 12, 2006

Smoking, Wine Tasting, and Lamb Brain

Smoking is a big problem. People smoke in bars and restaurants. We were quite surprised when Oliver told us there was a law prohibiting smoking in any public building. Why did people still smoke? The answer to this question reveals how the French observe rules and laws. This is not easily observed by visitors who often see the tip of the cultural iceberg such as foods, languages, heroes, and landmarks.

Some recap on the wine tasting class given by Chris we had the evening before. Generally there are two types of wine: single vine and mixed. In term of color, there are red (rouge) and white (blanc). The difference is that the red is soaked in skins and seeds for 2 weeks at the later brewing stage. The process is called masteration. Normally white wine's barrel time (BT) is about a few months while red's BT could be as long as years. Wine tasting involves three steps. First, you hold the stem of the glass and swirl it. Then you tell what colors the wine has. For white, it could be yellow green or yellow gold. For red, it could be red blue or red brown. Second, you smell the wine twice with first one being deep and the second one being shallow. You discern whether it is floral or fruity. Finally, you drink a mouthful and swirl in your month for a second before swallow or spit it. The objective here is to tell whether the wine is dry or sweet. This is just a skeleton of it. There are many more details in the process, which take a life time to learn. Wine tasting is, in a way, a test for memory for you have to remember what characteristics of the wine you had last time and distinction between wines can be very small.

I had lamb brain for dinner. The taste was really awful. I had a couple of bites before giving up. But I do not regret it at all because now I know. I don’t mind trying different things.


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