Monday, August 17, 2015

Learn How to Taste Wine & Develop Your Palate
Article courtesy of

Learn how to taste wine with 4 basic steps. The following wine tasting tips are practiced by sommeliers to refine their palates and sharpen their ability to recall wines. Even though this method is used by pro’s, it’s actually quite simple to understand and can help anyone to improve their wine palate.

We’ve written on this topic before, but wanted to offer up additional detailed facts and wine tasting tips that will improve your understanding far beyond the basics. Anyone can taste wine, all you need is a glass of wine and your brain.

How to Taste Wine

1. Look

Check out the color, opacity and viscosity (wine legs). You don’t really need to spend more than 5 seconds on this step.

2. Smell

Pick out at least 2 flavors and take your time identifying them. There are 3 types of wine aromas:

  • Primary Aromas come from grapes and include fruit, herb and flower notes
  • Secondary Aromas come from fermentation and yeast aromas.
  • Tertiary Bouquets come from aging, oxidation and oak such as baking spices, nutty aromas and vanilla.

3. Taste

Two elements make up taste: flavor and structure.

  • Flavors such as lemon, raspberry or coconut.
  • Structure such as the level of sweetness, body, alcohol, acidity, and tannin.
  • Profile The taste of wine is also time-based, there is a beginning, middle (mid-palate) and end (finish).

4. Conclude

Did the wine taste balanced or out of balance? Did you like the wine? Was this wine unique or unmemorable? Were there any characteristics that shined through and impressed you?

7 Useful Wine Tasting Tips
A professional taster’s analysis station in Rioja, Spain.
Getting past the ‘wine’ smell: the vinous flavor can be hard to move past. A good technique is to alternate between small short sniffs and slow long sniffs.

Learn to Swirl: The act of swirling wine actually increases the number of aroma compounds that release into the air. Watch a short video on how to swirl wine.

Find more flavors when you taste: Try coating your mouth with a larger sip of wine followed by several smaller sips so that you can isolate and pick out flavors. Focus on one flavor at a time.

Improve your tasting skills faster: Comparing different wines in the same setting will help you improve your palate faster, and it also makes wine aromas more obvious. Get a flight of ‘tastes’ at your local wine bar, join a local tasting group or gather some friends to taste several wines at once.

Overloaded with aromas? Neutralize your nose by sniffing your forearm.

How to write useful tasting notes: If you’re someone who learns by doing, taking tasting notes will be very useful to you. Check out this useful technique on taking accurate tasting notes.

A detailed look at the 4 steps on tasting wine:

Step 1: Look

How to judge the look of a wine: Color and opacity of wine can give you hints as to the approximate age, the potential grape varieties, the amount of acidity, alcohol, sugar and even the potential climate (warm vs. cool) where the wine was grown.

Age: As wines age they tend to change color towards more yellow and brown colors. Red wines also tend to become more translucent.

Potential Grape Varieties: Here are some common hints you can look for in the color and rim variation

  • a Nebbiolo-based wine will have a translucent brick color
  • a red blend with Merlot in it will have a slightly orange-tinged rim
  • a Malbec will often have a magenta pink rim
  • a youthful Syrah from a cool climate will have a blueish tinted rim

Alcohol and Sugar: Wine legs can tell us if the wine has high or low alcohol and/or high or low sugar.

Step 2: Smell

How to judge the smell of wine 
Aromas in wine nearly give away everything about a wine; from grape variety, whether or not the wine was oak-aged, where the wine is from and how old the wine is.

Where do wine aromas actually come from?

Aromas like ‘Sweet Meyer lemon’ and ‘pie crust’ are actually aroma compounds called stereoisomers that are captured in our noses from evaporating alcohol. It’s like a scratch and sniff sticker. There can be hundreds of different aroma compounds in a single glass, which is why people smell so many different things.

Wine aromas fall into 3 categories:

Primary Aromas: Primary aromas are from the type of the grape and the climate where it grows. For instance, Barbera will often smell of licorice or anise, and this is because of Barbera grapes. Generally speaking, the fruit flavors in wine are primary aromas. If you’d like to see some examples, check out these articles:

Secondary Aromas: Secondary aromas come from the fermentation process (the yeast). A great example of this is the sour smell that you can find in Brut Champagne that is sometimes described as ‘bready’ or ‘yeasty’. These sour aromas are present in all wines at some level. Some of these aromas are quite bizarre.

Tertiary Aromas: Tertiary aromas (classically referred to as ‘bouquets’) come from aging wine. Aging aromas come from oxidation, aging in oak and aging in bottle over a period of time. The most common example of this is the ‘vanilla’ aroma associated with wines aged in oak. Other more subtle examples of tertiary aromas are nutty flavors found in vintage Champagne or dried fruit aromas that are associated with older red wines.

Step 3: Taste

How to judge the taste of wine 
With practice you could be able to blind taste a wine down to the style, region and even possible vintage! Here are the details on what to pay attention to.


The best way to sense sweetness is on the front of your tongue in the first moment you taste a wine. Wines range from 0 grams per liter residual sugar (g/l RS) to about 220 g/l RS. By the way, 220 will have a consistency close to syrup!
  • Dry Wines Wine is ‘dry’ if it has less than 10 g/l RS which is equivalent to a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per glass.
  • Acidity Matters Wines with high acidity taste less sweet than wines with low acidity.

Acidity plays a major role in the overall profile of a wine because higher acidity wines tend to taste lighter in body. You can use these clues to determine if the wine is from a hot or cool climate and even to determine how old the wine is and how long it can age.

Acidity refers to pH There are many types of acids in wine but the acid we’re discussing is simply the pH. Acidity is how tart a wine tastes. pH in wine ranges from 2.6 which is mouth-watering to about 4.9 which is flat.

  • Most wines range between 3 and 4 pH.
  • High Acidity wines are more tart and taste lighter.
  • High Acidity can indicate a wine from a cooler climate region or wine grapes that were picked early.
  • Low Acidity wines tend to taste smoother and have more body.
  • Super Low Acidity wines will taste flat or flabby.

Where grape tannin comes from

Tannin is a red wine characteristic and it can tell us the type of grape, if the wine was aged in oak and how long the wine will age.
Tannin comes from 2 places: the skins and seeds of grapes or oak aging.

  • Oak Tannins Tannin from oak will often taste more smooth and round. It typically hits your palate in the center of your tongue.
  • Grape Tannins Tannin from grape skins and seeds is typically more abrasive and tastes more green.

Most red wines have some combination of either ‘only grape’ or ‘grape and oak’ tannins. It is one of the most challenging things to taste the difference between oak tannins and grape tannins, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right away. Here is a detailed article on the topic of tannins.


Alcohol can sometimes tell us the intensity of a wine and the ripeness of the grapes that went into making the wine.

  • Alcohol Level can add quite a bit of body, spiciness and texture to wine.
  • Alcohol Ranges from 5% ABV – 16% ABV. Fortified wines are 17-21% ABV.
  • Alcohol Level directly correlated to the sweetness of the grapes prior to fermenting the wine.
  • Warmer growing regions produce sweeter grapes which have the potential to make higher alcohol wines.
  • Low vs. High Alcohol Wine Neither style is better than the other, it’s simply a characteristic of wine.


Body can give us clues to the type of wine, the region it was grown and the possible use of oak aging.

Body is the culmination of all of the aforementioned wine characteristics as well as the profile of the taste from start to finish. You can categorize wines based on their body to make it easier to find and discover what you like. For example, Syrah tastes very full-bodied up front and typically has a very subtle finish, whereas Nebbiolo starts out light and bright and builds to more intense tannin as the flavor evolves in your mouth.

TIP: A great example of ‘finish’ from the world outside of wine is the sappy, oily feeling 20 seconds after taking a sip of Coca-Cola.cabernet-sauvignon-taste-profile

Step 4: Conclusion

This is your opportunity to sum up a wine. What was the overall profile of the wine? Did the wine taste balanced?

In a scenario when you are blind tasting a wine, you would use this moment to attempt to guess what the wine is that you’re tasting. Try hosting your own private blind tasting to hone your skills.

By activating our brains when we taste, we alter the way we consume. This, my friends, is a very good thing.

View the original article on Wine Folly

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5 Health reasons to go to the beach more often

pismo beach

Who doesn’t love palm trees, warm ocean breeze and the soft feeling of your toes in the fine sand? Sounds great right? But going to the beach, besides being a leisure experience, it can be also beneficial for your health. Here you are a few reasons why to consider to go to the beach more often.

1. Sun and Vitamin D
It’s true that the sun’s UV rays are harmful to our health, but all in excess is. In moderation, the sunlight can be beneficial as it manufactures vitamin D in the body.  Visit the beach in the early morning before the sun’s heat becomes strong. Then wear sunscreen and stay under the shade after you’ve gotten your morning sun. About 15 minutes of sun exposure in the early morning is enough to benefit you. Make sure you avoid direct exposure anytime from 10 am to 2 pm.

2. Swimming
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that gives the body a full workout. You also get to work on deep breathing, which improves the function of the body organs. And there is hardly any risk of injury. Have you ever heard of anyone spraining their ankle while swimming? Of course, there’s the danger of drowning or getting cramps but these can be avoided with proper precautionary measures. On top of that, swimming is enjoyable. It’s not like other forms of exercise that are tiring or tedious. You’ll never get bored of swimming especially if you do it with your family or friends.

3. Running on the Sand
Jogging is a good workout but unlike swimming, it can wear out the muscles in your legs. However with beach jogging you don’t have that problem. Jogging on sand doesn’t have as much negative impact on your leg muscles as jogging on pavement. Besides, the shifting sand provides a challenging traction so you can expect a full workout for your muscle groups. Even walking on the beach can give you that benefit. For best results, jog or walk barefoot.

4. Relaxation
There’s nothing as relaxing as the beach for a racing mind. High stress levels release toxins in the body that can lead to various kinds of health problems. Going to the beach can instantly soothe your psyche. Whether it’s sand building with the kids, or simply staring at the waves gently lapping on the sand – you can immediately get the gratifying relaxation that you badly need. And for those who want to elevate the relaxing experience, a beachfront massage is the way to go!

5. Physical Activities
Apart from swimming and jogging, the beach holds countless of opportunities for physical activities. For example, at Excellence Resorts you have included a lot of water sports that you can try like kayaking, windsurf, hobie cats and the stand up paddle board. You can also play beach volleyball, soccer or throw some Frisbee. When you’re at the beach, you can’t resist moving around as there are plenty of things to do. When you get moving, not only do you benefit your physical health but you also improve your mood since physical activity triggers the release of the happy hormones like the endorphins.

Article courtesy of Excellence Group

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If you're looking to visit Pismo Beach, we recommend staying at The Pismo Beach Hotel located right downtown Pismo Beach next to Harry's!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Like to Play Pool? Here are 10 reasons you should keep playing!

Top 10 Health Benefits of Playing Billiards

Article Courtesy of Health Fitness Revolution

A casual game known for its ubiquitous presence in bars and pubs (even coining the name pool hall), billiards is a catchall term for the tabletop game played that requires pool sticks (or cues) to hit hard balls into one of six pockets. The game can be played casually, as an amateur and even on the professional level. Each round of billiards, whatever game type one chooses to play, is uniquely presented and requires players to be mentally agile and physically adept.

Here are the top 10 benefits of playing billiards:

Slows aging in men – Beer and billiards have become a staple for socializing among men and with good reason! According to a recent study from the University of Copenhagen, drinking beer while playing a game of pool with friends can help keep older men active due to the exchange between active activity and passive activity during a round of pool. This can help combat the aging process by providing the elderly a casual activity that still utilizes the use of their muscles.

Helps build focus –  Playing pool requires a great amount of focus and concentration. Your ability to focus on a given objective is essential in achieving happiness and attaining goals. In billiards, players must focus on their targets (the cue ball and the target ball), the angle of their own cue, the angle the cue ball will move in once it is hit and if the cue ball will strike the target ball.

Burns calories – There is a surprising amount of beneficial walking involved in a round of pool: a typical 2-hour 8-ball or 9-ball session often provides 100 trips
around the table’s perimeter, which is about equal to walking nearly three-quarters of a mile. Playing multiple games of pool will stack up these distances and burn even more calories!

Enables stretching and balance – Playing requires a lot more stretching than a person would not normally do. Having to bend across the table top to reach the cue ball at a desired angle requires a player to be moderately flexible, especially with complex shots. Pool also enhances balance as the game requires you to stand on one foot at certain time, promoting stability.

Helps build control – Studies have shown that individuals who play cue sports like pool are less likely to panic amid crisis.The levelheadedness of those who play concentration games are able to think clearly and logically, enabling them examine the most pertinent facts and details and encourage them to go into action without becoming hysterical.

Sharpens the mind – Those who frequently play billiards and pool often have sharper minds. Pool requires performing mental mathematical estimates and calculations, such as basic geometry and physics. These skills are necessary to calculate precise angles and trajectories and to determine how much force to apply during a strike so as not to under or overshoot a target. Having a sharp mind enables one to think on their feet faster and pick up on little details.

Hones good hand-eye coordination – Playing pool can also increase your eye-and-hand coordination. In the above bullet regarding how pool can sharpen the mind, all that is for nothing if the player cannot apply those calculations to the table. The hand-eye coordination involved is a crucial factor in winning a game of pool. Your hands become swift and agile and can perform minute, finite tasks.

Fun for all ages – Anyone can play this activity regardless of age and sex, so playing these games can be a regular family event. From your youngest nephew who wants to stab the 8-ball into a pocket, to your spouse’s great grandmother, billiards is leisure activity that anyone can learn and anyone can play, ensuring that everyone gets a turn around the table. 

Tones muscles – The physical benefits of playing pool include low-impact toning of the back, hip and leg muscles pertaining to continuous bending and reaching to
facilitate arm/hand setups and the exercises found in cue-stroking movements.

Improves cognitive skills – The mental stimulation of pool is rich and variable, owing to the virtually infinite table layouts that each broken rack presents. These layouts challenge the player’s imagination, visualization and creative problem-solving skills and requires constant improvisation in order to pocket balls and achieve good position on further shots as
skills increase.

To read the original article, visit 
Health Fitness Revolution 
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

7 Ways Music Benefits Your Heart, Brain & Health

Who doesn’t love music? Certainly there are some of us, but for the most part music is a big part of our lives. Whether it’s the music that we listen to on the way to work, while we workout, or the music we hear in a symphony or film, it can bring up our moods, tell us a story or even bring us down. Music has touched cultures all over the world since very early times in human history. Have you ever wondered how music might affect our health?
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ~ Billy Joel
Personally I like many types of music, but I can’t say that I fall in love with a lot of music. It is usually special bands here and there that make their way through my ears that I tend to love and stick with for a long time. The beautiful thing is, everyone’s taste in music is different so no matter what music you make, you’re likely to find someone who will appreciate it. Of course the music industry favours certain types of music and is designed to not allow indie bands to get very far, but that is a whole other discussion.

Music is capable of a number of health benefits including lowering stress levels, raising states of consciousness, changing moods, accessing different states of mind, developing the brain and is useful in meditation -- which has a ton of health benefits.

The fact is, there isn’t a single human culture on earth that has lived without music! For example, native Africans and Americans both used music in the form of chanting for their rituals and healing ceremonies. In Ancient Greece music was used to ease stress, soothe pain and help with sleeping patterns. Many have said music heals the soul, and it appears that they were right!

How Music Benefits Our Health

1) Improves visual & verbal skills
Several studies have shown that music education at an early age stimulates the child’s brain in a number of ways that helps to improve verbal skills, communication skills and visual skills.

A study that looked at 4 to 6 year olds who were subject to one month of musical training that included training in rhythm, pitch, melody, voice and basic musical concepts resulted in enhanced ability to understand words and explain their meaning. [1]

A study using subjects that were 8 to 11 year olds found that those who were involved in extra-curricular music classes were developing higher verbal IQ’s and their visual ability was greater than those who were not receiving the training. [2]

Even children as young as one year old  who participated in interactive music lessons with their parents had a greater ability to communicate, smiled more frequently and were showing greater signs of sophisticated brain responses to music. [3]

2) Keeps an aging brain healthy
Research has shown that having musical training and listening to or playing music in old age can help keep the brain healthy especially as it ages. Since listening to music is like exercising the brain, one can expect the benefits of better memory and mental sharpness as they age. [4]

Even people who have some form of brain damage can regain partial or full access to memories (depending on severity) by listening to music, as listening can help draw on old memories and neurological patterns due to the fact that the rhythm and sounds of music stay within the core of the mind for a long time.

3) Music Makes You Happier
As mentioned before, music has the power to do so much. It can make you feel happy, sad, excited or even pumped up. Listening to music that hits you in a special way causes your brain to release dopamine which is known as a feel good chemical. It causes us to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, joy, etc. Listening to music provides us with the same burst of happiness that we would get from eating a piece of chocolate, sex or certain drugs.

Another study showed that music with a quick tempo played in a major key made people feel happy, while music with a slow tempo in a minor key more easily led to feelings of sadness.[6]

4) Heartbeat, Pulse Rate & Blood Pressure
‘We listen to music with our muscles.’ Nietzsche
Studies have shown that music strengthens the heart and improves the recovery time of patients who were suffering from heart disease. [7]

Regardless of the genre of music, listening to your favorite music releases endorphins in the brain that help to improve vascular health. It has been seen that both men and women who listened to music soon after cardiac surgery were much less anxious and even reported having less pain as opposed to those who rested quietly.

An observation made at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that heart patients confined to a bed that listened to music for 30 minutes had lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, and less distress than those who didn’t listen to music.

5) Improves Sleep Quality
Some of the most common things to interfere with sleep are stress and anxiety (heart rates.) Since music has the ability to affect both in a positive way, research has found that listening to music at various times promotes better sleep patterns for people and even created more restful sleeps. In some cases music might even be able to be used to effectively treat insomnia. [8]

6) Boosts Your Immune System & Reduces Pain
Research has shown that music is capable of reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is responsible for weakening the immune system, increasing risk of heart disease, interfering with learning and memory, lowering bone density, blood pressure, etc. [9] Research found that by listening to just 50 minutes of uplifting music the levels of antibodies in the human body increases. While different types of music were not studied, it is important one listens to music they enjoy as personal preference of music does have an effect on overall physical effects. [10]

7) Reduces Depression & Anxiety
Researchers from Drexel University found that cancer patients who either listened to music or worked with a music therapist experienced a reduction in anxiety, had better blood pressure levels and improved moods. Music can have positive effects on the psyche, mood, pain and quality of life as well.
“The evidence suggests that music interventions may be useful as a complementary treatment to people with cancer,” Joke Bradt

Article courtesy of
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

5 Reasons Why Live Music Matters

When you think about listening to music, do earbuds and mp3′s immediately come to mind? Do you mostly listen to music on the radio while traveling from one place to another? If you can’t remember the last time you saw a live performance, this list is for you! Read on to find out the five most important reasons why live music matters and then make plans to see a concert soon!

1. See the Sweat

Music doesn’t come out of a machine, a cloud, or a search engine. People make music, and it takes a lot of energy, dedication, and commitment. If you rarely see live music, it is easy to forget how much work goes into that killer beat, sweet riff, or catchy melody. Go to a show and get close enough to see the passion, energy, and yes, sweat, that goes into making music. You will definitely walk away with a deeper appreciation for what musicians do.

2. Learn How

Ever wonder how a band gets a particular sound? Do you want to learn how to be a better performer yourself? One of the best ways to learn is by watching other artists to see what they do. You might discover a cool guitar move, a way of engaging a crowd, or a combination of instruments or effects that you never thought of.

3. Share Experiences

Spending time with friends or family enjoying live music is a great way to bond. Shared musical experiences will become memories that can last a lifetime. You will always remember the time your best friend took you to see your favorite band or the new artist who surprised you with their talent or their message. It also feels amazing to be completely absorbed in the music and then glance around the room to see you’re surrounded by so many others who feel the same way! When you go to a concert, you are sharing your love.

4. Unplug

Although it is becoming more and more common for audiences to watch performances through their smartphone cameras, attending a live music event is actually a great opportunity to unplug from your devices and enjoy the present moment. There is so much to see, hear, and feel at a performance, so don’t spend your time glued to a screen. You might find that the time you spend enjoying music in the moment with your cellphone switched off refreshes your mind and gives you a new perspective on life.

5. Support Artists

It has always been hard to make a living as an artist, and it is particularly difficult now that so much music is available for free online. Many musicians now make more money performing than they do from their recordings, so if there is an artist whose work moves you one of the best ways to show your support is to attend their next concert. Especially for independent artists playing in smaller venues, a supportive audience is one of the most wonderful things a musician can see.

Article courtesy of Megan L. of
Click here to read the original article

What’s your favorite band that plays at Harry's? Tell us what makes them special to you in the comments!

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