7Numbers – An Interactive Italian Feast

Food and wine are certainly an interactive experience at 7Numbers. This popular southern Italian family-style trattoria is one of the first restaurants in Toronto to digitize its menu and wine list with iPads.

7Numbers has made the paper-technology shift to “reduce carbon emissions and to provide customers with a more interactive menu and wine list” says Vito Marinuzzi, chef/owner.

Once seated in this intimate and cozy restaurant a staff member promptly hands you an iPad and provides you with a short intro on how to navigate through the menu and wine list (traditional paper menus are available for those not comfortable with technology). I found that within seconds I can skim through the offerings, which include enticing specials and recommendations. The wine list is loaded with descriptions, and ratings by top wine critics. These tablets are not only interactive but are also searchable. I placed my order and within seconds it goes directly to the kitchen and to the bar station for drinks.

There is quite a bit of energy and excitement at other tables – a lot of passing the tablet around, in a collaborative sharing sense. The iPad is cool and trendy – kids love it! Not only does it enhance the dining experience it encourages both sharing and engaging.

The Wine List

Vito personally selects for both restaurants and is the custodian

The list is updated daily

50 bottles on the list and 5 by the glass

25% Canadian wines which are sourced locally
(7Numbers has received the 2010 VQA Restaurant Award of Excellence)

75% Italian wines – Vito sources out eclectic and unusual finds

“Big, heavy reds are back”, says Vito. He highly recommend a Primitivo from Puglia (which comes from 60-year-old vines)

7Numbers is not another Italian restaurant; it is a very different venture and immensely exciting! Go on, live dangerously and explore this new technology while enjoying delicious southern Italian food!

http://www.sevennumbers.com
516 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto – (416) 322-5183
307 Danforth Avenue, Toronto – (416) 469-5183

Liz Palmer
Wine and Travel Writer

STRATEGIES ON PAIRING CHOCOLATE WITH WINE – HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR PALATE TO THE FULLEST

There are some key points of similarity between chocolate and wine. Both chocolate and wine are made from fruit (chocolate from the cacao pod) and (wine from grapes). The flavor and aroma yielded by both the cacao pod and the grape are a function of their rootstock, soil, climate, and weather conditions. And both chocolate and wine are both made from a blend of beans or grapes, each with distinct flavor profiles.

There is some skill involved in pairing the right chocolate with the right wine. And yes chocolate and wine do complement each other! Follow these strategies and you will be able to engage your palate to the fullest – just think of pairing the most exotic chocolate truffle with a glass of vintage Bordeaux!

White Chocolate

White chocolate tends to be mellow and buttery in flavor, making it ideal for Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Fruity Chardonnay, Orange Muscat or Sherry. These styles of wine will pick up on the buttery, fatty tones in the chocolate

Milk Chocolate

The classic milk chocolate pairing is Port; other considerations are lighter-bodied Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Muscat, Desert Wines, Brut Champagnes or Sparkling Wines. Watch out for the high sugar levels in milk chocolate as these can cancel out the fruitiness in reds

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate (50% to 70%) needs a wine that offers a slightly robust flavor such as Cabernet Sauvignon and intense, in-your-face, Zinfandel – this dark chocolate match results in an unparalleled tasting combination. Other choices are Pinot Noir and Merlot. Champagne and sparkling wine can handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Tawny or Vintage Port also offers a well-balanced pairing approach to dark chocolate. Note: some reds have their own chocolate notes – in taste and nosing

Bittersweet Chocolate

Bittersweet chocolate (70% to 100%) enters the bitter range with deep intensity. Chocolate gourmands adore this range of taste, so the wine should live up to it. Excellent choices are Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Shiraz, Orange Muscat, Port, Malbec, and Zinfandel

SOME CONSIDERATIONS

Champagne generally works well across the chocolate spectrum yet some Champagne are high in acid and can react poorly with your chocolate choice.

The perfect pairing balances sweetness, fruitiness, and acidity—and your own flavor preferences!
While it creates a challenge to find the perfect suitor for a box of assorted truffles; it also makes it fun to seek your favorite pairings.

THE FUN PART

IN TASTING
• First take a sip of the wine
• Then take a piece of the chocolate and let the heat from your tongue melt the chocolate – avoid biting
• Followed by another sip of wine
• Engage your palate to the fullest, and
• Indulge in your senses

Liz Palmer,
Wine and Travel Writer

Crisp and Refreshing Summer Wines

Once summer starts, our desire to find crisp and refreshing quaff for entertaining has us scrambling to the local liquor store. The thought of drinking a glass of heavy red now feels just that – heavy! Syrah? Super Tuscan?. Cabernet Sauvignon? Too heavy – plodding along like a palate attached to an anchor! So, what are we left with? Start with crisp acidity, throw in low alcohol content and then mix vigorously with lighter fruit flavors. The end result is a wine that delights the senses and dances across the taste buds.

Here are some favorite summer varieties when the temperature heats up:

1. Old standby: Chardonnay (oaked or unoaked);

2. Most popular: Sauvignon Blanc;

3. Ubiquitous Pinot Grigio;

4. Sexy and sumptuous: Riesling;

5. Hot now: Grüner-Veltliner;

6. Most versatile: Rosé;

7. Bubbles: Champagne, Prosecco, Franciacorta, and others

There are many other great summertime varieties. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box such by giving lighter red wines a slight chill. Guidelines as to the best summer wine will be your own!

Cheers; Prost; Skaal; Santé; Salud; Yung Sing; Sláinte; Slaandjivaa; Eis Igian; Okole Maluna; L’chaim; Cin Cin and others…

Liz Palmer
Wine and Travel Writer

UNLESS YOU WANT TO END UP WITH MADEIRA OR VINEGAR, HERE ARE 6 BASIC RULES FOR WINE STORAGE ON YOUR BOAT

This article came about by trial and error, research, and the experiences of local and international sailors who enjoy a glass or two of wine after a day at sea.
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Firstly, it is important to note that wine is very much an organic product which may change with time, temperature, light and movement. Finding ideal storage conditions on your boat is challenging, and unless you have “ideal storing conditions”, it is not wise to purchase and store fine wines. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up with the most expensive vinegar around.

For these purposes I will be discussing short-term storage for “ready-to-drink” wines with cork closures.

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TEMPERATURE
The key here is to maintain a constant temperature, with no fluctuations. The generally agreed-upon temperature for short-term storage ranges from 45-64ºF (7-18ºC) as long as variations are gradual. Temperatures above 65 ºF (19 ºC) will cause wine to age prematurely and lose its flavour and balance. If wine stored at temperatures below 45ºF, the wine will lose its flavor and aromas.

• Temperature stability is the “holy grail” of wine storage.

LIGHT
Ensure the area is dark. Ultraviolet light can affect the composition of wine, which is one of the reasons wine is traditionally bottled in coloured glass. Extra care should be given to Champagne and other sparkling wines; they are more sensitive to light.

• Never store your wine in direct sunlight or in a well-lit cabin.

VENTILATION
Air will seep into your wine bottles through the cork. Highly volatile chemical compounds are particularly harmful. Some odors to look out for include gas or diesel fumes, various solvents (i.e. paint, cleaning solutions), or various aromatic food products such as onions, garlic and strong cheeses.

• Check to make sure there are no strong smells or odors coming from substances stored near wine.

HUMIDITY
Ensure there is humidity and air circulation. Humidity is necessary in order to prevent corks from drying out. Do not store bottles in area with longstanding moisture or high humidity conditions or mold will develop. The ideal humidity level for wine storage is between 50% – 70%. Low humidity can cause the cork to dry out and crack, allowing more air into the bottle. High humidity can create mildew or rot on the cork.

• Humidity is necessary in order to prevent corks from drying out.

MOVEMENT
Wine should never be shaken, bumped, or vibrated. This will greatly increase the rate of chemical breakdown. Therefore, avoid putting your wine in locations where there are frequent vibrations such as close to the engine, near dishwashers and air conditioners.

• Purists insist that vibrations affect flavour and bouquet.

STORAGE ANGLE
Wine should always be kept on its side – this will keep the wine in constant contact with the cork ensuring no air gets into the bottle.

• Air is one of the greatest enemies to a good wine, and it can turn it into vinegar.

If you do not have the luxury of having wine cellar on your boat, my suggestion is that you find a location that captures all the ideal conditions. I have found that most of these conditions can be met by storing wine in the bilge. Further to preserve the wine and keep the constant temperature, my suggestion is to wrap the wines individually in either polystyrene or newspaper.

To further assist me, I sent out the question: “Do you have an unique way of storing wine on your boat?” to The World Executives Sailing Club (Social Network Site). I received over 30 answers from fellow sailors ranging from quite comical to technical – Here are some of my favorites:

“my belly 🙂 – Howard Colt”

“I was the skipper of a 106 ft staysail schooner, then called S/Y Mariepierre now Aschanti of Saba. The trick of storing wine on a boat, any boat, is even temperature as close to cellar temp as one can get. Mariepierre had a wonderful wine cellar in the mid-ship bilge area with normal wine racks, no particular trick to that. That wine was meant for the aft’guard, we up forward of the foremast, we had a 50 lit. red wine cask from an Alicante ship chandler. We stored that cask as close to the waterline we could under the fo’c’s’le ladder. We gained access to the wine by siphon it out. This wine was sensitive to everything including air so we made air as scares as possible. Well after a good month at sea only our engineer managed to drink the vinegar. Here in Sweden on more modestly sized sail boats we have a problem with a short season with very low temperatures on both ends, and midnight sun and quite warm during the six weeks surrounding July. When the water temp is quite right we store wine as dry as possible in the bilges, bottles and “wine in the box” with the carton box part removed prior castoff. On late or early season voyages cold weather and cold water we store the wine we consume for the next two – three days wrapped in a sleeping bag or similar. NB one need two good days of even temp for the wine to taste as good as it can. Best of Luck – Göran Svalling”

“I like your priorities Liz!
We lived aboard for four years and travel overland often, here are a few ideas:

The PlatyPreserve, transfer the wine from the bottle to this container for durable, compact, short to medium term storage. http://www.cascadedesigns.com/Platypus/Wine-Preservation/PlatyPreserve/product.

Padded pack for two bottles – http://www.bottlewise.com.

And then there is my favorite! A 10L French military issue jerrycan marked “VIN” on the side. These are the cans that the French military used to use to dole out the soldiers daily ration of wine. If you live near your favorite winery this would be perfect! http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21917 – Brian McVickers”

“Liz,
On a boat, it is likely to get hot in the salon and cabins. The coolest place is under the salon flooring (bilge) where it is cooler and near water temp. Place the bottles so they don’t block any water flow thru the bilge and separate them with material that does not break down when wet. If the yacht has other storage areas, be certain that bottles are seriously secured since normally the yacht may rock & roll in various weather conditions -Tim Monsul”

“Excellent question! Before opening, we stored red wine in the icebox of each of our different sailboats over the years. After opening, the wine bottle storage was never a problem because the wine was always finished, and the empty bottle secured appropriately. Many sailors on the great lakes would store their wine or beer in the bilge of the boat. especially during long distance races. Jeremy, where does one store red wine on the corporate aircraft that you sell? – Thomas Harvey”

“Well…. wine in my country is a national sport (Spain), and I would say that wine (good wine that is) does not like being shaken about nor does it like warm temperatures. I would not take GOOD wine to a sail. However, if desperate for wine while sailing, carton box wine (…personally, wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole…) could do the trick. In a transatlantic crossing in 1990, we took 200 bottles or cheap white and rose, newspaper wrapped and stored in carton boxes all over. We drank about two a day and the skipper sold the rest when we arrived (at quite a profit I must say….) – Victor Guasch”

“I had an interesting observation a number of years back regarding wine and passage making on sailing yachts. There might even be some money to be made here if we are clever… I was thinking all wines turned to vinegar because we had those expensive charter wines still on board during our post season passage from the Caribbean to the Med and once we would arrive it, the little that was left (ha!) was no good any more.
Not being able to resist the amazing price on those reds out of Provence at the end of the season I decided to stock up anyway for the return to the Caribbean. Lo and behold, by the time we got back the wine was aged perfectly. The moral: Don’t keep the good vintage wines around too long. But if you want to stock up, buy some of the fresh young ones and roll ’em around for about a month or so. Don’t let your friends see the bottle, just tell them it is something really special you brought back. They will be really impressed! 😉 – Ann E McHorney”

Lastly, make note of these six points (Temperature, Light, Ventilation, Humidity, Movement, and Storage Angle) when storing wine on your boat, enjoy the summer and what you drink because life is too short to drink bad wine!

Liz Palmer
Wine and Travel Writer
Summer 2010

ROSÉ WINES …. SO VERY VERSATILE

Rosé is being rediscovered as a fun, versatile wine that complements today’s lifestyles.

How Rosé is made

Red grapes are crushed and the skins remain in contact with the juice for two to three days. The grapes are then pressed, and the skins are discarded. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the wine. Hues range from pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine-making techniques.

How to choose a Rosé

The qualities to look for in good Rosés would be crispness and freshness. When you buy the most recent vintage you are guaranteed fruitiness and good balance.

Serving temperature

Range from 45-55°F (7-13°C).

So very Versatile

Many foodies consider Rosé THE pairing wine because it complements many dishes. With its crisp, cool flavors a well-balanced Rosé pairs well not only with traditional Provençal cuisine, but with spicy, full-flavored dishes from around the world.
What the experts are saying

“A more versatile food wine you won’t find in any color, at any price point.”
-Wine Enthusiast

Proven Rosés are “…gently made, intriguingly perfumed , and dry enough to be the perfect foil for the garlic and olive oil that characterize the region’s cuisine.”
-The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

“Not just for summer sipping and bouillabaisse, Rosé wines pair well with all kinds of cuisines, all year-long.”
-Wine Enthusiast