Winemaking is both a science and an art, with many factors influencing each vintage that gets produced. While advances in technology have impacted the practices used by some modern vintners, the principles of winemaking have largely remained unchanged.
How a particular wine tastes is hugely influenced by when the fruit gets picked. On many vineyards, grapes are tested for the appropriate balance of acidity and sweetness with devices that measure sugar levels. However, some growers still use a simple taste-test. When the grapes are determined to be ready, the harvest begins.
Grapes can be picked either by hand or with mechanical harvesters. While faster, the machines tend to be harder on the fruit, and many winemakers prefer to collect their harvest manually. In order to pick the fruit in its prime, a number of vineyards rely on volunteers.
Crushing and pressing
Once the grapes have been sorted to remove any rotten or under-ripe fruit, they’re crushed and pressed. This is no longer done with the winemaker’s feet, however. Nowadays, it’s almost always completed with mechanical crushers that press the grapes into must (juice from the grapes that includes the skin and pulp).
When making white wine, the must gets filtered prior to fermentation. But to make red wine, the must is left unfiltered so that it can acquire the ideal flavoring and coloring from the skin and pulp. Once the must is prepared, the winemakers leave it to ferment for up to a month. It’s then “racked” or filtered and transferred to another vessel to age.
Volunteering and visiting
Are you interested in experiencing crush season firsthand? If so, many small wineries need help picking grapes during the harvest. In return for a day’s efforts, they often provide a hearty meal and a glass of wine.
Even if you’re not interested in volunteering, you can still visit a vineyard during the crush. In fact, it’s such an important event that many wine-growing areas host festivals to celebrate.
There’s a song in your heart! Sing it out!
It’s Saturday night, and a guy who calls himself Mr. Charley is belting out Frank Sinatra tune, telling us, “That’s Life.”
After Mr. Charley sits down, a young woman with purple hair gets up to sing an Adele song.
She’s followed by a lady yodeling, “I Wanna be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” — it is so unexpected and well done that the crowd goes wild.
Welcome to Karaoke. If you have a song in your heart, you can sing it out. Or, you can just be a fan.
In every city and every burg, there is someplace you can sing along to your favorite tunes — or watch someone else do it. There are good and bad singers, familiar tunes and some you forgot or never knew. Regulars fans get to know the singers and each other. It is like a weekly social event.
If you haven’t been to karaoke, you can search online for events in your area. Smaller venues, usually bars, have a more intimate audience. Bigger venues tend to attract better singers but can be more impersonal. Show up early to get the best seats. When the show starts, applaud every singer and give newbies encouragement.
If you want to try out your vocals, practice at home first. Rehearse a high-energy song and a slower song. The later it gets, the less likely that a long, slow ballad will be appreciated. You can listen and practice your songs on sites such as Sunfly or Ameritz.
You will give your name and song to the karaoke DJ when you get to the venue. These days, most every song is available, but in some cases, the choice can be limited to songs listed in a book.
When you are called to the front, sing with confidence, and when finished, go immediately to your seat. Making a speech to the audience or lingering up front is frowned upon.
Love deserves a bit of work
People sometimes feel that they have lost control of their relationships, either following the birth of a child or simply because time has passed. Therefore, it’s very important to take the time, as a couple, to stop for a few minutes to discuss the situation. Investing in your relationship can only bring positive results.
Establish your priorities first. You should both make a list of what is essential to your happiness and the things on which you refuse to compromise. Then specify what would be a bonus to your well-being. When you know exactly what you want, you can sit down together and discuss what improvements can be made.
Keep in mind that in a couple, one party should never have to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the other, nor feel a need to demean the other to enhance their own image. Maintaining the three fundamental basics of a strong relationship is vital: You, your partner, and your couple. These three different entities each have their reasons for existing. Everyone has his or her own individuality, and your relationship has its own personality. It is important, therefore, to maintain your own distinctiveness and not let the other rub off on you.
When a problem becomes apparent, instead of blaming your partner, first look at yourself. People often accuse others of being something they are themselves. The term for this is projection. Couples should always avoid engaging in this type of behavior.
Finally, don’t hesitate to meet with a mediator or a marriage counselor. They have the necessary expertise to help you find concrete solutions.
You should never be afraid of investing in a relationship to help it be happy and successful. Take the necessary time and make use of available resources.
Back-to-school homework tips
Nobody’s perfect, and that includes kids when it’s time for homework. Procrastination can lead to after-dinner battles and evening scrambles to get assigned work done before bedtime. But homework doesn’t have to provoke anxiety every day — try a few of these tips to make homework easier and less stressful for everyone.
- Designate a space for homework, like a corner in a quiet room or the dining room table. Limit distractions from siblings or screens to help them focus on their work.
- Check-in with them before they start. If they have a large amount of work to complete in one night, help them create an action plan to reduce their anxiety and help them work more efficiently.
- Be present. Hang around nearby with a book or some of your own work and be available for questions or to offer praise and encouragement.
- Ask for outside help if necessary. If your child is struggling with their homework and you can’t help them on your own, reach out to their teacher to discuss the situation.
- Schedule study and homework time. Set up a schedule that works best for your child, including playtime. Some kids function best right after school, while others need a break so they can attack it after dinner.
- Make sure your kids do their own work. Guidance and suggestions are great, but don’t complete assignments for your child — it defeats the purpose.
State fairs are new each year, but they were born in a millennium past
Our modern state fairs feature various agricultural displays, competitions, races, and entertainment. They are an annual event attended by hundreds of thousands of people. But when did all of this begin?
How about 14,000 years ago — or even before that? In China, the Rites of Chow-li, a fair-like event, dates from the 12th century B.C. In Mexico, the Aztecs had festivals and fairs a few centuries later. In Greece, the Olympic Games were primarily athletic, but trade was conducted at the same time for grain, linens, carpets, and furniture.
The word “fair” is believed to originate from the Latin word feriae, meaning festival or holiday. From the fifth century of the Christian era, fairs were held in Champagne in France. Early medieval festivals were held in the seventh century in Rome, Antwerp, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Madrid, and the British Isles, according to Collier’s Encyclopedia.
Trade conducted at early fairs resulted in benefits that have survived from antiquity. For example, the modern system of Troy weights is derived from the system employed at the medieval fair in Troyes. Some historians say paper money originated as promissory notes between merchants at these fairs.
Medieval fairs were governed by laws enforced by their own officials and courts. The laws maintained peace and order, enforced quality standards for trade goods, and prevented fraud. The guarantee of freedom of attendance and honest trading at French fairs led to a pledge all merchants had to make “to keep the peace and to deal honestly.”
The first fair in the U.S. took place in New Haven, CT, in 1644 and was devoted to the exhibition of livestock and agricultural products. Other early fairs were held in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, and South Carolina.
Two of the oldest state fairs started in 1841 in New Brunswick, NJ, and Syracuse, NY. Other states soon held their own state fairs.
The fair you attend now was born at the dawn of recorded history.
Extermination Pest prevention services
Pest infestations can have serious consequences. For instance, small animals and insects can chew through electrical wires and wood structures, and they can carry harmful diseases. At work, there’s the added risk of a customer seeing critters lurking in your place of business. When it comes to pests, it’s easier to prevent an infestation than to get rid of one. Here’s how a professional exterminator can help.
Pest prevention services limit the risk of infestation by identifying and eliminating the cause of unwanted visitors. Exterminators know what attracts the pests and can locate where they hide. They can identify potential entry points, seal them and prevent access to the interior of your property.
Additionally, an exterminator can advise you on how to prevent future infestations. They’ll offer tips like storing food in airtight containers, controlling humidity levels, and keeping your yard clean. You can also pre-emptively spray the area around your home, playground equipment, and swimming pool to prevent spiders and insects like ants and wasps from breeding.
Is your home or business infested with insects or other pests? Give yourself some peace of mind. Contact a professional exterminator in your area for high-quality pest prevention services.
Here’s how to improve your free throws
The basketball greats make the game look easy, but you know better. You may never get into the NBA, but you can still have a great time on the playground, in the gym, or on a concrete slab with a hoop.
The free throw is one of the most basic skills to improve or master. Though they aren’t shot in pickup ball, they are often your ticket onto the court when there are more than ten players or an odd number of players. Two teams are usually selected with free throws, and the number of players has to be even.
Of course, the free throw is even more important if you play on your company team.
One NBA pro quoted in Men’s Fitness says free throws are all about rhythm. Jeff Hornacek, who retired with a free-throw shooting record of 95 percent, should know.
What do you put into your pre-shot routine? It’s up to you. Hornacek scratched his cheek three times as part of his foul-shooting prep. He says no matter what you do, it has got to be the same every time to get yourself in rhythm. Use the routine to establish mental focus.
Other than that, keep it simple. Place your feet shoulder-width apart right behind the foul line. Bend your knees slightly and dribble the ball a couple of times to get a set rhythm. Rise and shoot the ball so it begins to arc right above the line. Remember to follow through and keep your shooting hand in the air to emphasize the arc of the ball. The ball should always roll off the fingertips, not the palms.
Hornacek says the follow-through is important because you are guiding the ball over the rim.