Health drinking this season


The festive season is famous for bringing family and friends together. This will undoubtedly result in more social eating and of course drinking. Here are some principles to apply this season:


Know your limits:

Safe and healthy alcohol intake levels are 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women (women generally have less of the enzyme that helps break down alcohol in the body).

This means that one unit of alcohol a day is considered safe and healthy for an adult female and two units for a male. One unit = 340ml beer, tot (25ml) spirits, 50ml port, sherry or muscadel or 120ml wine.

Moderation is key:

Spread your weekly alcohol allowance as evenly as possible over seven days. Infrequent bingeing on alcohol can bring on attacks of gout or pancreatitis, and may cause abnormalities in heart rhythms and increases your risk of cancer.

 Stretch your intake:

Use plenty of ice, water or soda water in spirit drinks or white wine (to make a spritzer); this dilutes the alcohol while increasing the volume so you drink less. Ensure your first drink is some other liquid e.g. a mineral water or a cooldrink — your alcoholic beverage should not be used as a thirst quencher.

Arrive alive:

On average it will take the liver about an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. So even after a night’s sleep, if you have had six cans of beer or two bottles of wine, you could still be over the legal limit the next day. Remember that, when driving.

Being fitter makes no difference to the rate of absorption. But, the absence or presence of food and the type of fluid that accompanies the alcohol does. Alcohol consumed on an empty stomach is more rapidly absorbed. Water and fruit juices mixed with alcohol slow the absorption process, whereas carbonated drinks (because of the carbon dioxide) will speed it up. Warm alcohol is absorbed quicker than cold alcohol.

Weight gain:

The calorie content of alcoholic beverages (which depends on the percentage of alcohol, the type of beverage and the type of mixture) plus the behaviour associated with drinking all have their part to play in the effect it will have on your weight.

When drinking alcohol, you tend to snack more, especially on the high fat foods, often available in social drinking environments. Eating high in fat take-away food (e.g. pies or burgers) late at night is another typical problem which arises after drinking, especially in students and young adults.

If you are watching your waistline, consider that one unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a slice of bread. It is then prudent to occasionally substitute a carbohydrate during the day to compensate for a drink or two that night.

Apply the 24 hour rule for training:

Avoid alcohol in the 24 hours prior to exercise. After exercise, once you have rehydrated and refuelled with carbohydrates, enjoy alcohol (and here I must include the ‘in moderation’). However, if you have any soft tissue injuries or bruising, abstain from alcohol for another 24 hours.

Fake it:

My personal favourite — a Rock Shandy (soda water, angostura bitters, ice and a slice of lemon) gives the impression of being an alcoholic drink, but hardly contains alcohol and calories — a sneaky option when friends continuously want to buy you a drink when they spot you standing empty handed.

Did you know?

Using thinner, taller glasses (especially wine glasses) can help you reduce your consumption. Research shows that people consume more alcohol when drinking out of shorter, wider glasses.


By Karlien Smit RD (SA), Dietician for the SSISA Healthy Weight Programme, Shelly Meltzer & Associates, Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).


Source: iafrica.com


Holiday packing made easy


Top holiday packing tips for a fabulous and stress-free holiday

Do you pack as if you are going away for a month when you are only going away for a week?  Do you end up taking a whole lot of clothing that you never wear, or do you arrive at your destination only to realise that you left behind your most important item? Then these packing tips are for you.


Put some thought into what you’d like to take with you a week before the time.  Go into your wardrobe.  Choose two basic colours e.g. white and denim. Depending on your destination, your basics will either be trousers, shorts or skirts in basic colours. Then you select several tops to go with this and bear in mind that you might have some evenings of going out on the town, so select a glamour top that can also be worn with your basic items (trousers, shorts or skirts). This allows you to mix and match with ease.

Make a shopping list.See if anything you need is missing and make a shopping list. For example, do you have the correct bra for that top that you wish to wear? You might think that you have that cami, but find that it’s missing in action. 

 Select clothing that you love to wear and travels well. Most women enjoy wearing fabrics that breathe, such as cotton for a summer holiday. Choose items that have a slight stretch to them, such as cotton blends. This reduces creasing.

Pack to minimize creasing. Iron everything prior to and lay them as flat as possible with as little folding as possible. Take along with you a little travel steam iron. These are small and extremely easy to use.

Take along a little well sealed container of washing powder. This allows you to hand wash underwear or small items and reduces the number of items that you pack. If necessary, make use of your steam iron to get rid of the creasing after washing.

Put thought into shoes. Most women take too many shoes along. Make a list of the activities that you’re likely to embark on and pack your hiking boots for walking and then restrict your other pair of shoes to a thong or pair of shoes that you can easily dress up or down.

 Don’t forget your swimsuit. Take along a sarong or shapely kaftan if you prefer a bit of a cover-up.  Make sure that your sunhat is floppy or small so that it doesn’t get ruined and can literally be pushed into your suitcase.

Don’t forget your essential skin products.  Make sure to take a large container of sun screen lotion that best suits your skin typeToo much sun may give you a tan this season, but a lot of wrinkles a few years from now.  Throw in a tube of ‘after-sun’ or aloe gel to cure sunburn for the patches of skin you possibly missed when applying your sun screen lotion.  Aloe gel is also really handy for insect bites, stings and burns.

 Decant your toiletry items into smaller plastic containers to increase space. Woolworths sells a wonderful little travel pack of small plastic containers that make packing your toiletries easy.

Most importantly, always pack clothing that will make you feel fabulous, reflect your holiday mood and enhance your holiday pleasure.

Source: spice4life.co.za

The gift that keeps giving


For a gift with a real feel-good factor for both the giver and the recipient, Long Distance wines are the perfect present. It’s a win-win situation: the lucky recipient has the opportunity to enjoy a unique limited-edition blend of good Riesling, and you’ll be contributing towards a worthy charitable cause as the entire proceeds will be donated to the South African mentally handicapped national soccer team.


Created by winemaker Christoph Hammel, who produced 1 500 litres of Riesling in Germany, and South African winemaker Morné van Rooyen who produced 1 500 litres of Riesling locally, the end result is a quality wine which is as good on the palate as it is on the conscience. The entire winemaking process occurred while the two winemakers were on opposite sides of the world and relied mostly on technology to perfect their blend.   


This pale-straw colour wine with an intense floral nose, bright acidity and a hint of sweetness on the palate is ideal for enjoying chilled during the silly season.


Long Distance is available at Welmoed cellar door at a mere R50 per bottle. Call 021 881 8062 or email info@thecompanyofwinepeople.co.za to order.






Silly or sane season?


This time of year is not called “silly season” for nothing! December arrives and with it comes extended traffic jams, queues and congestion.

This is a time for sharing. Involve your family and friends in all festive preparations. Here are some ideas to help lighten your load.

• As a family set a theme or colour scheme for this Christmas. Involve everyone in choosing decorations and they’ll want to stay involved with setting things up.

• If you are planning on having lots of visitors throughout the day – set the table once – use a long lasting centre piece such as ‘peace in the home’ in terracotta pots, add candles, lanterns and torches for the night time. Set up a separate table for buffet tea/coffee – this takes off a lot of pressure and gives you more time to mingle and relax.

Decide on a simple menu that can be prepared well in advance to reduce last minute stress. You want to be out celebrating with your guests and not cooped up in the kitchen.

Delegate simple tasks to the kids – setting the table (you can do a sample setting for them to copy), gift wrapping, card making. The key is to keep things fun – that way they’ll stay motivated. Tip: set out some coloured card, stars and glitter glue so the children can make their own cards while you focus on more challenging things.

• This is a great time of year to go through the old toys to make space for the new. Involve the children with this task and let them put broken or seldom-used toys aside for giving away. Before Christmas go with your children to a charity of their choice to experience the joy of giving.

Shop for gifts throughout the year – this way you won’t blow your entire bonus cheque on Christmas gifts. Have a list of names with a budget figure next to their name to keep you focused – once you have purchased a gift for that person write the gift next to the name and cross them off your list. Remember teachers and caregivers and have a couple of extra generic gifts packed away in case someone unexpected pops in. (This tip might be a little late… but as the saying goes ‘better late than never’ – now you know the info – get to the stores ASAP)

Keep one running ‘to-do’ list. As a family decide who will take on which tasks. People are far more likely to carry out a task if they have chosen to do it other than being told that they have to do it.

Do whatever preparations you can at least 2 weeks before. On your ‘to-do’ list allocate an estimated time frame for the task – mark in red the tasks that can be carried out before the time and allocate a time for these in your diary.

Remember that this is supposed to be fun. If you feel yourself slipping into the wicked witch of the west… take a deep breath and laugh it off.

Articles supplied by Tracey Foulkes of the national professional organiser company Get Organised. Visit http://www.getorganised.co.za. to download your free organising info pack to help you take control of your clutter and create calm in your life. Contact tracey@getorganised.co.za, 084 507 6891.

Source: women24.com


The Telegraph Travel Awards for 2008 were released today and New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were voted the readers’ “favourite destinations on earth”; while their favourite cities were voted as Cape Town, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver.

The Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town was named one of the favourite city hotels in the world to visit.

More than 25 000 readers were polled in Britain’s biggest survey of travel habits and an overwhelming 92 per cent of them maintain that the financial crisis will not affect their choice of holiday destinations. 96 per cent of the readers polled refuse to downgrade their holiday accommodation.

The readers’ favourite destinations (outside of Europe) can be identified as ones where the pound has strengthened against the respective foreign currencies in the past year (the Australian and New Zealand dollars, and the South African rand). The same can be said for the choices of cities, with the exception of San Francisco (where the pound has fallen against the dollar).

The Telegraph readers’ holiday budget remains high – more than half of the readers polled spent more than £1,000 (R15 220) on their last holiday: one in six spent between £2,500 (R38 000) and £5,000 (R76 000) and one in twenty spent more than £5,000.

“As Britain enters a new winter of discontent, taking a break may never feel more needed, but the value for money it provides will be scrutinised like never before,” said Charles Starmer-Smith.

“This is why, during belt-tightening times, readers return to destinations they know – namely, the English-speaking former colonies.”

Source: sagoodnews.co.za

Preserving unfinished wines


This is a dilemma amongst many of us. There are times we want to drink wine but couldn’t finish a bottle alone.

Or when we are with a date who is not much of a wine drinker, we will end up with leftover wine, which of course we do not want to just throw away. Wine is really tough to preserve after opening. But there are gadgets to do this preservation for us.

Remember, re-corking your opened wine does not help much, except prolong the wine for a few more hours. As you know, the cork is porous, and aeration will continue to happen, risking the optimum quality of your wine. Putting your leftover wine into a refrigerator also help very little, and may actually make the wine worse. Not only will the change in temperature of the wine fluctuate drastically, but refrigerators also vibrate, and vibration further agitates the wine. The odour of food in the fridge may also affect the wine.

The only way to preserve wine is to seal it properly. You can buy expensive sealing machines or you can simply buy wine with screw cap closures (also called Stelvin closures).

The Arniston Bay range, which has been repackaged to refresh and upgrade the range, proudly boasts with screwcap closures from its entry level wines such as The Shore or The Reef, to premium wines such as Arniston Bay Reserve. Unlike former years when screwcaps were used mainly for sealing inferior quality or cheaper wine, these wines are certainly worth preserving for future enjoyment.

WINE magazine recommends two wine preserving options. One option is the SoWine-bar refrigerated storage unit. If you are not in the mood to finish a bottle of wine, simply place the opened bottle back into the compartment and plunge down the oxidation extraction cap. The oxygen extraction system will draw oxygen from the bottle, keeping it “fresh” and unoxidised until your next party. The SoWine-bar is distributed by Wine Essentials and retails for R4299. Visit http://www.wineessentials.co.za for more info.

The second option is the Preserver Loyalty Can. This can retails for R65 and is an easy and effective way to preserve opened wine. All you do is to squirt the odourless, argon gas into the neck of the bottle to prevent contact with oxygen, then lightly re-insert the cork or screw the cap back on. The bottle can then be kept in a cool place for between one and two weeks. The Preserver is available at winesense. Call them on 021 702 0128 or e-mail info@winesense.co.za for more information.

Seeing how expensive (especially the storage units) and complicated preserving wine can be, I suggest that you only save wines that are worth saving— those expensive and fuller-bodied reds. Also, the fuller or heavier bodied your wine is, the better it preserves on its own for hours without any preservation method.

When I am asked how long a wine should be kept when opened, I always give the six-hour rule—meaning, sip and drink gradually, and your wine should still be good for six hours (at comfortable room temperature). But the lighter the body, the lower the alcohol, the faster the wine loses its elements. For these wines, even the wine preservation gadgets cannot salvage them.

The best (cheapest and most satisfying) solution, however, remains very simple… just finish the bottle.

Sources: manilastandardtoday.com

And Wine Magazine


Contrary to what you may expect, most wines today are made for consumption while they are still young (within a year or two of the vintage on the label) and will not improve much over time.

With red wines, you can generally bank on an older vintage having more complexity and smoothness than a younger vintage, especially for age-worthy grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends containing these grapes.

Because red wines contain age-friendly tannins originating from contact with grape skins and stems, and from aging in oak barrels, they continue to develop and mature inside the bottle and become more drinkable over time.

Fine red wines that are more expensive than average usually will improve with age, whereas lower-priced wines, usually under R40 , are made for more immediate consumption — within months of their release.

The issue of vintage can be complex. There are wine vintage charts (available as a reference resource in many wine stores) that list wine regions around the world and rate each vintage year according to its quality, which is primarily determined by that year’s weather.

Weather in a given year is more critical in France, for example, than in the United States because wine laws in France prohibit irrigation of vines. In other words, the quantity of water that a vine gets is not controlled.

What’s more, the climates in California wine regions are fairly consistent from year to year, making differences between vintages less meaningful.
Red wines age according to a curve that reaches a peak of improvement and then declines. It is just a guess by winemakers and wine critics as to when in the life of the wine that peak occurs.

Because white wines are absent of tannins and their preservative characteristics, the older a white wine gets, the greater the chance that it may be beyond its peak and on the downside slope of its “drinkability” curve.

Source: Ventura Country Star