Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wine and Wine Racks

Anna writes... I have questions that will be pertinent to our super fun father-daughter activities over break:
-Why are wine bottles usually stored horizontally? Does it make a difference?
-Is there a right and wrong way to organize wine on a wine rack... by type? age? cutest label?
-How awesome will the wine rack be that we build?

Wine is stored horizontally in order to keep the cork wet. If a bottle of wine spends too much time upright, the cork will dry out and lose its seal. Then oxygen will get in and spoil the wine. When you go to a restaurant and order a bottle of wine, they will often open the bottle, put the cork down in front of you and pour a little wine in a glass for you to taste. You can tell by looking at the cork if it has dried out due to poor storage. Also, the wine has a very distinct flavor if it has become oxidized. This is mostly a formality as most places know how to store their wines and would recognize a bad cork before they would serve it to you.

Many things about wines and their bottles are steeped in tradition. If you look at the bottom of many wine bottles, you will see that they are indented instead of flat. This is because wines used to have sediments that would keep settling out long after they were in the bottle. Before you would drink the wine, you would store it upright for some time so those sediments would fall to the bottom. It was then easier to decant the wine leaving the sediment but very little of the wine behind. Traditional decanters are still made and sold today but their only purpose is a nice way to display your wine while it is served, much like one would find nice "cat" or "trout" plates at finer eating establishments.

If your bottle has a screw top, there is no need to store the bottle on its side. As corks are becoming more and more expensive, wineries are trying their best to talk the public into accepting screw tops. There is nothing wrong with screw tops other than in the past they have been associated with cheaper wines. People judge things by their appearance so wineries are reluctant to use screw tops though some who have already made a reputation are now going to screw tops. I have recently had several very good wines with screw top bottles. Wines in a bag in a box, however, are still associated with cheap, low quality wines.

When it comes to organizing your wines on the wine rack, you should order them either by age or by price. Democrats usually order them according to age as the older wines should be drunk before the newer ones. Republicans usually sort them according to price, with the most expensive ones on top. After all, what would be the point of buying expensive wines if your friends couldn't see them and be impressed with your lavish life style? European tradition is to stack them left to right, but Jewish tradition is to stack them right to left.

Finally, the wine rack that we will build will be TOTALLY awesome. It will be something you will be able to hand down to your children and grandchildren just like the doll house we built.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Puppies and CDs

Jen says...

Hi Jim,

Why does my roommate's puppy want to poop in my room instead of his? How can I train her to poop in his room instead?

Also, how do CD players work?

Jen, the question as to why a dog poops in one part of the house and how to make it poop in another part of the house is a misguided question. Dogs should not poop in the house anytime, anywhere, without some extenuating circumstance. Throughout the country there are farms that accept animals that don't behave. There they can live outside and poop anywhere and anytime. They are usually owned by a very nice elderly couple whose greatest joy comes from rescuing these wayward animals. Those dogs who insist on pooping in the house should be brought to one of these farms where they can romp freely and act badly. Tell your roommate to take his dog to the farm. If the dog poops in your room more than once, it is perfectly acceptable for you to take the dog to the farm. Remember, we have pets to bring joy to our lives. If we stop receiving joy from having pets, they need to be passed on to someone who they can bring joy to.

As far as how a CD works, there are plenty of web sites that get into the technical explanations of how they work, but let me give you the simple version. A laser is used to engrave "ridges" into the shiny CD media. During playback, the laser in your CD reflects off the high spots but not the ridges. A photo eye will pick up those reflections and turn that information into electronic pulses which in turn are turned into the music that you hear through the earphones or speakers. For a more detailed explanation, visit the following web site.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter Wonderland

December came in with a roar here in the 'Lou. Here is what it looks like...