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Showdown: Boxed wine vs. bottled wine

By Nicola Burrows

There has been a long-standing stereotype that has haunted boxed wine. Some suggest that it’s cheap, low quality and dissatisfying to the taste buds. In reality, when the characteristics of boxed wine are compared with those of bottled wine, the stereotype doesn’t prove to be true.

These words may conjure up images of drinking back in college. Oh, how times have changed. Today, chic packaging has made cardboard the new “it” product for thinking inside the box. As one of the fastest growing segments of the wine industry, high-quality boxed wines are getting attention. Australia has led the way since the majority of wine Down Under is sold in boxes. Now people are getting hip to the idea that good wine can come in something other than a bottle.

Boxed wines make a trip to the beach a breeze. They’re your answer. Not only are wine boxes ideal for big gatherings, they are environmentally friendly, with some reducing waste by nearly 90 percent of the equivalent bottle.

Convenience is also a factor. Bag in box technology, which is used in many boxed wines, allows the wine to stay fresh for up to four weeks. As the wine is consumed, the bag collapses. This, along with an airtight spigot to pour, keeps oxygen from getting in to ruin the wine. No more worries about what to do with leftover bottles.

Box sizes have also gone creative. Instead of the standard five litre size, higher quality boxes have reduced their size. Most range from three litre down to one litre, containing just over a standard size 750ml bottle.  There are even mini boxes that hold enough for a single glass of wine.

So if going green, drinking affordably and having fun while sipping interest you, then it’s time to reach for a box. You just might like what you taste.

Portability

Most people bring bottles of wine to a variety of events like outdoor parties, holiday celebrations and birthday parties. Boxed wines eliminate the risk of breaking a bottle and are also more insulated, causing the wine to stay colder longer.

Fresh Factor

Most wine enthusiasts will tell you that a bottle of wine is best when finished a day or two after opening it. This is not the case with boxed wine. The bag inside the box stays airtight around the wine as it is dispensed, and boxed wine will stay fresh for about four weeks after opening.

Reducing Waste

When it comes to the environment, it is important to recycle our waste. One box of wine reduces the amount of waste produced by 90 percent when compared to one bottle of wine.

Networking — online and off

By Nicole Duquette

The idea of networking makes me shudder. I dread the thought of attending seminars and conventions because of the expectation that the entire event will be spent schmoozing. I’m just not a schmoozer. Luckily, the internet has made it possible to start networking without ever having to get out of your pajamas.

Joining LinkedIn is a good place to start building a professional online presence and it’s also a great place for marketing yourself in the industry you would like to work in. When building your profile, highlight the skills that make you qualified for the position you want, not the job you already have. When I was fresh out of university, even though I wasn’t yet a professional writer, I set up my LinkedIn profile as such, so that people viewing my profile knew what I was interested in. I also joined writing and publishing industry groups, to familiarize myself with the issues in the industry. Taking it one step further, I reviewed the profiles of people working at jobs I was interested in. By doing this, I was able to get an idea of the type of education and work experience that was necessary to do the jobs I was going after.

Another useful site for marketing yourself in the industry: www.about.me. On this site, you can create what is essentially an internet business card. You are provided with a page to include a picture, a short description of yourself, and links to other sites, like your LinkedIn profile. I now always include the link to my about.me page on all my social networking sites and at the end of my personal emails. From this simple gesture, I have received numerous replies from people who say they look forward to reading my work, or that they know someone else who is a writer. It is a great way to start a conversation and build up a strong networking base.

Online networking can also help get your face-to-face networking off the ground. Try sending out a mass email to your contact list, explaining that you are interested in getting into a certain industry and looking to be introduced to someone who may be able to help. I did this once and met an editor who lived next door to a family friend, and a columnist whose husband knew my dad. These people were happy to talk to me because we were introduced through mutual acquaintances, and it was much less intimidating for me than approaching a complete stranger.

After getting your feet wet with face-to-face networking, try joining a volunteer group or a sports team—you could even bring a friend. It’s a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and be able to bond over your shared activity before broaching the subject of professional interests.

Networking still isn’t my favourite task, as I’m still mustering the courage to go to a Business After Five meeting, but I’ve found that using online networking to gradually approach in-person networking makes the arduous task somewhat less intimidating.

The art of wine cellaring

By Nicola Burrows

It seems ridiculous to call them cellars as they are the most celebrated crafted wine establishments ever seen. While some are contemporary others can surround you in the hills of Tuscany. A vintage surrounded by deep rich mahogany is the epitome of wine cellars, and savouring a stunningly favourite vintage is the most well respected investment in the history of wine connoisseurs.The art of wine cellaring protects your investment and gracefully matures the wine into something more complex and interesting than the wine in its youth. Furthermore, the ambiance of spectacularly designed wine cellars serves as the best wine tasting experience. A dusty bottle of wine that has aged over 20 years has worked to provide the ultimate taste enhancement for discerning wine enthusiasts worldwide. The Art of Wine Cellaring is as imperative as producing a great bottle of wine, and the goal of cellaring wine is to prolong the life of these wines, giving the wines a stable environment to age. Here are five tips to creating the optimal wine cellar.

Position and Peace

An essential part in cellar and wine management is the peace and position of the wines. The bottles need to be kept safely in a horizontal manner so that they are not disturbed in any case. The bottles need to lay horizontally and always be in touch with the cork to prevent them from drying.

Light

Protect wine from strong and direct sunlight as it could have an adverse effect on the body and aroma of the wine. Darkness is the best option when maintaining a wine cellar.

Humidity

Keep the humidity level high to avoid cork shrinking from the outside. For best results, maintain the humidity between 60-75% and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wine Tasting Room

Wine rooms require temperature control and design for tasting and entertaining. You need to have easy access to your wine while still being able to host wine tastings without worrying about the warming effects on the wine.

The Mahogany Wine Cellar Is Best

The Mahogany wine cellar is the epitome of wine storage. Other woods simply don’t measure up to the colour, the durability, and the absolute strength of mahogany. Wine racks made from mahogany are strong and can hold more bottles.

Cheers.

Freedom of expression: The pack mentality online can make you afraid to speak your mind

by Heather Lochner

Just a few months ago, my kids and I took a trip to the Lego store. My son had been saving his pennies and wanted to buy a new Lego kit. He had been eyeing up a Star Wars battle ship and finally had enough sheckles to buy it himself. While I am not a fan of “battle toys,” I do understand my son loves to build these ships and fly them around the house.

As we were leaving, my daughter loudly complained, “why don’t they make any Lego for girls?” My equal- opportunity mothering kicked in and I tried to show her some Lego that would appeal to her; but all she wanted was pink, pretty Lego. So, it was with excitement that I greeted the announcement by Lego of a “girl’s” line. Not because I believed girls need pink, but because my daughter wanted it.

I was about to take my euphoria to Twitter and Facebook, but then I saw the tweets and posts. From people who I respect and like, anger was being voiced at this new development. I saw things like – “So proud to be included in the list of activists who are asking LEGO to rethink their marketing and new products created for girls! The petition submitted to LEGO yesterday has over 47k signatures!” And that was just one of many that I saw.

Suddenly my euphoria ended. At first I doubted myself and my parenting. But then I realized, these comments silenced me. They made me more embarrassed of what my daughter wanted. They made me rethink my voice and my support. My fear of being a lone wolf in a crowd of many, prevented me from typing.

I am a little disappointed in myself. I feel silly that I was intimidated to say, “hey, I like this!” I was more worried about negative tweets than about freedom of expression.

Social media is a great place to have a voice. It is a great medium for public discussion, debate and in some cases activation. But what happens when people feel silenced or embarrassed to voice an opinion? How do we overcome that? How, as a society can we let everyone have an opinion and not feel uncomfortable about expression? Do I need a thicker skin or do others feel the same?

E-mail 101

by Heather Lochner

Out of curiosity, how many times have you received an email that has left you shaking your head in bewilderment? Wondering, “what the heck is she thinking?” Or to be less diplomatic – “why is she being so rude?” It happens to me on a fairly regular basis. You see, I have this friend who has no clue how to properly converse on email.

Her lack of proper email etiquette usually happens when we have group emails. It starts off innocently enough. Someone sends out an email saying “Hey everyone, has been ages since we have seen one another. How about we get together for dinner? Here are some dates, and I think we should try such and such a place out.”

If not initiating the email, I am usually one of the first to respond. My email usually says, “Fabulous idea. Here are the times that work for me. Thanks for getting this going and I can’t wait to see everyone.” Others usually respond in the same vein.

And then my friend weighs in with an email saying something like, “Doesn’t work for me.”

And I sit there, reading her response wondering – what the heck do I do with that? Do we plan without her? Offer up some new dates? My first reaction is usually anger. I want to see a “Thanks,” or “Great Idea, but…” I want her to offer up a solution. Not leave us to guess what to do. After my frustration subsides, I move to “oh well,” and hope the rest of us continue planning. But I always wonder, why? Why are her responses so limited?

Until I realized, she really doesn’t know any better.

After much thought I have come up with the following five points to remember when emailing. While they may seem obvious – for some they are new knowledge.

1. Email has no tone. It is up to you to set up the feeling of the email.
2. Using all capitals can come across as yelling, not enthusiasm.
3. Re-read what you wrote and make sure it sounds okay and not insulting.
4. When sending out an email to a large group of people, use the BCC function. Not everyone wants their email address publicized.
5. Don’t use email to avoid a situation. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to go when expressing something personal.

I’ve found that following these simple tips makes my use of e-mail much more effective in both my personal and professional lives.

How to throw a wine and cheese party

By Nicola Burrows

Looking to pull together a sophisticated and savvy bash for you and a few friends? Throw a wine and cheese party they will never forget. This delectable duo is perfect when paired together for an early or late night get together.  Here are a few tips on planning the perfect wine and cheese party.

How to Plan

Because wine and cheese can get expensive, it’s best to keep your guest list to a minimum. Once you have your head count, write down a few of the wines you’d like to have available. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Bordeaux and Sparkling Wine are deemed to be among the top choices so start pairing each of them with the comparative cheese. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Sparkling wines go well with mild cheeses.
  • Acidic wines like a Pinot Grigio go best with soft cheeses as they help cut the fat and expose the flavours of the cheese.
  • Full bodied reds and chardonnays taste best with rich cheeses. Think brie or camembert.
  • Red wines are suited with strong flavoured cheeses like four-year aged cheddars or parmesan.

 

Cocktail Appetizers

To complement your wine and cheese pairings it’s important to serve a few other appetizers guests can nibble on. You can also create a spread of bread and olive oil or smoked meats. Keep all appetizers to cocktail size and keep your plates full of tasty snacks.

Wine Tasting Tips

Be sure to have guests taste whites before reds; the full bodied tannins of the reds will confuse taste buds to the sweetness of the whites. You may also want to have some recyclable dixie cups on hand to serve and sip from. Whenever guests swap to a new wine, make sure they use a fresh glass to avoid mixing the wines and tastes.

Building Your Cheese Plate

To create the perfect plate of cheese, start with several trays or dishes. Place the soft cheeses on one plate and harder ones on another. Be sure to have one knife available for each cheese, as using a knife for multiple brands will result in flavour mixing. Also, in front of each cheese, place a small handmade label describing the cheese and what wine complements what cheese. This will help educate guests on the perfect wine cheese pairings.

Thinking like a man? Male DNA found in female brains

By Hanna Mohammed

The phrase act like a lady and think like a man has taken on new meaning. A Canadian researcher has discovered for the first time that the female brain contains prominent male DNA.

Researchers have discovered that the male DNA found in women’s brains most likely come from cells developed in a pregnancy with a baby boy.

During pregnancy, cells are exchanged between mother and fetus. After pregnancy, females retain a small number of cells from the fetus.

Women who have never been pregnant can also acquire male DNA from sharing the mother’s womb with a male twin. It was also found that male DNA could be acquired from non-radiated blood transfusions.

The finding suggests that if the male DNA can infiltrate the female brain then it can possibly have masculinizing effects on the female.

Scientists had previously found evidence of male microchimerisms in the blood, bone marrow, liver and other tissues of women, but never before had they realized that cells could cross the blood-brain barrier and thus live in the brain potentially for decades.

In an unexpected finding, researchers have also found that women with Alzheimer’s disease had less male DNA in their brains.

Women from the ages 37 to 59 were tested and 63 per cent had traces of male DNA in multiple regions of the brain.

Researchers have discovered the mommy gene

by Hanna Mohammed

Have you always wanted to be a mom? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you possess the mommy gene.

In a study done by researchers at Rockefeller University, scientists have determined that a single gene exists that could be responsible for motivating mothers to protect, feed and raise their young.

The findings suggest that there could be a biological reason for why some women are maternal, while others seem cold or indifferent towards wanting to have children.

Researchers theorize that young girl’s who play with dolls and show an inclination to nurture could have been born with the mommy gene.

Some remain skeptical of the gene’s link to parenting.

#TOpoli with Thomson Panel: Travis Myers, Ashley Csanady, Conrad Black (Part 4)

Join host Sarah Thomson discussing the week’s hottest issues with Toronto’s political panel. Top #TOpoli journalists Ashley Csanady of Queen’s Park Briefing and Travis Myers of Women’s Post are joined this week by Lord Conrad Black.

In the final portion of the show Conrad Black lets us know what he really thinks of Rob Ford’s battle with the media and we learn the difference between how Conrad and Sarah define the term ‘bully’ while Ashley and Travis dissect the winning chances of some contenders in the upcoming municipal election.