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Multi vitamins are so common these days you wouldn’t even think of them as a supplement. A multi vitamin is defined in the dictionary as “a preparation intended to supplement a human diet with vitamins, minerals and other nutritional elements.” The US government categorizes multi vitamin under “food”, because it contains 3 or more vitamins or minerals but does not contain herbs, hormones, or drugs.

The multi vitamin can come in many forms such as tablets, capsules, packs, powders, liquids and even injections; however, injections can only be prescribed by a doctor. There are many different combinations and doses of vitamins and minerals and many of them exceed the 100% recommended daily allowance. Depending on your physical needs, many of the excess vitamins and minerals that cannot be digested are harmlessly excreted out of the body. There are a few that will not exceed the RDA such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Iron, and many of the trace elements because they are not easily depleted unless under extreme physical stress and could become toxic if too much is retained in the body. Because the body’s nutritional requirements will differ depending on your physical requirements and diet, most multi vitamins are formulated for specific groups of people such as men, woman, over the age of 50,prenatal, stress relief and athletic.

Most multi vitamins will include these standard nutrients:

Vitamin A- Vitamin A plays a role in several functions throughout the body such as vision, bone metabolism, skin health, immune function, antioxidant activity and reproduction. It is found in many foods but these particular foods contain large amounts; liver, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, kale, butter, spinach and leafy vegetables. Deficiencies in Vitamin A can cause impaired vision, particularly in reduced light (night vision), impaired immunity and red bumps on the skin called Keratosis pilaris. Too much Vitamin A can be toxic so do not take more than 5000 UI per day for males and 4000 UI per day for females.

Vitamin C- Vitamin C helps keep your immune system strong and is a powerful antioxidant, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, plays a major role in collagen production and it helps the body recover faster from a hard workout. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits, vegetables and in animal products such as raw cow’s milk and liver. Deficiencies in Vitamin C is known to cause Scurvy, liver spots, feelings of depression, their skin looks pale, and are more susceptible to lung borne diseases.

Vitamin D- Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus and is necessary for thyroid function and bone growth. Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body when it’s exposed to sunlight however due to the negative effects of UV rays; many foods such as dairy products, oil, cereal and bread are now enriched with Vitamin D. You can also find Vitamin D in fatty fishes, eggs, and liver. Deficiencies in Vitamin D in children can cause Rickets, a growth deformity of the bones. In adults deficiencies can cause thinning of the bones (Osteomalacia) and reduced density of the bones (Osteoporosis). Vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to diseases such as type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin E- Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant and is important for a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is important for hard training athletes as their immune systems can be worn down and make them susceptible to health issues. Vitamin E can be found in foods such as whole grains, nuts, milk, eggs, asparagus, vegetable oils and avocados. There have been no known symptoms of deficiencies in Vitamin E.

Vitamin K- Vitamin K plays a key role in blood coagulation, bone metabolism, and the circulatory system. Vitamin K is found mainly in green leafy vegetables but can also be found in avocados and kiwifruit. There are usually no symptoms of deficiencies in adults; however, adults that suffer from liver damage, cystic fibrosis, who have recently had abdominal surgery, bulimics and certain drugs may inhibit the absorption of Vitamin K. Symptoms of deficiencies are anemia, bruising and nose bleeding. Vitamin K should be stored in the cupboard as it will lose its potency in sunlight.

B Vitamins- There are 8 distinctive vitamins that fall under B vitamins umbrella and are discussed in detail in my previous article “B Vitamins Play an Essential Role in Metabolism”. B Vitamins play a key role in increasing the rate of metabolism, maintaining healthy skin and muscle tone, enhancing immune system and nervous system functions and promoting cell growth. B Vitamins can be found in a variety of foods such as animal products, legumes, yeast, fish, seeds and whole grains. Deficiencies in B Vitamins can cause various symptoms such as weight loss, weakness of the limbs, depression, sensitivity to sunlight, diarrhea, insomnia, acne, water retention, and high blood pressure.

Calcium- Is the most abundant mineral in the human body, 99% of it is contained in the bones and teeth. Calcium plays a role in many biological functions such as muscle contraction and as a neurotransmitter between cells, but Calcium’s claim to fame is its role in bone development and sustaining bone density. Calcium can be found in many foods such as dairy products, nuts, sesame seeds, lentils, and eggs. Symptoms of Calcium deficiencies are Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia, thinning of the bones.

Potassium- Potassium is a mineral that can reduce hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Potassium also plays a role in neurotransmission, muscle contraction and heart function. Most fruits, vegetables and meats contain Potassium in low quantities, but orange juice, bananas, kiwi, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, soybeans, brown rice, and garlic are rich in Potassium. Deficiencies of Potassium are rare but in severe cases of vomiting and diarrhea can lead to symptoms such as muscle weakness and cramps.

Zinc- Zinc is an essential metallic trace element which assists in many functions within the body. It is instrumental in immune response, brain function and plays a role in prostate gland health and reproductive organ growth. Zinc plays a major role in cellular metabolism as over 100 enzymes rely on zinc to be a catalyst in many chemical reactions. Zinc also helps DNA tell cells what to do such as hormone secretion and nerve impulses; which is important for growth and disease prevention. Zinc is found in red meat in high concentrations but it is also found in whole grains, beans, almonds, and various seeds. Deficiencies in Zinc can cause repressed growth, diarrhea, impotence and weakened immune system.

Magnesium- Magnesium is another metallic trace element that is essential for all cells in a living organism. Over 300 enzymes require Magnesium to be the catalyst in various chemical reactions including synthesis of ATP into energy. Magnesium also facilitates calcium absorption into the body. Magnesium is found in spices, nuts cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea and green leafy vegetables. Modern countries have inadvertently reduced the amount of Magnesium intake due to the food refining process and modern fertilizers; which do not contain Magnesium. Deficiencies in Magnesium do not usually show symptoms, however deficiencies have been associated with the development of certain illnesses such as asthma, osteoporosis and ADHD.

Chromium- Chromium is another metallic trace element that is required for the body’s production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the body’s blood sugar levels. Chromium helps transport blood sugar from the bloodstream into the cells and is critical in the process of turning fats, carbs and proteins into energy. Good sources of Chromium are brewer’s yeast, meats, whole grains, nuts and cooking with stainless steel cookware. Symptoms of deficiencies in Chromium are rare; however, in severe cases it can cause weight loss, confusion and insulin resistance.

Manganese- Manganese is another metallic trace element that ensures healthy bones, bone metabolism and helps the body absorb Calcium. It is also involved in, insulin regulation, formation of connective tissues, thyroid regulation, collagen formation, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and is a powerful antioxidant. Manganese can be found in many foods such as meats, nuts, garlic, green vegetables, brown rice, and raspberries. Deficiencies in Manganese are rare but can occur. Symptoms include bone malformation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and muscular contraction.

Iron- Iron is another metallic trace element that is essential for life. Iron is essential to the proteins that are involved in oxygen transport and for regulating cell growth and metabolism. Iron can be found in meats, cereal’s fortified with iron and cooking with iron cookware. Deficiencies in Iron cause a lack of oxygen to be delivered to the cells and therefore results in fatigue, restless sleep, lack of concentration and decreased immunity. Conversely, too much Iron in the body is very toxic and therefore many vitamins state on the bottle either “with Iron” or “without Iron”. Iron’s RDA for men are 10 mg and for women is 15mg a day, but for athletes, it could be as much as 25 mg a day.

Selenium- Selenium is another metallic trace element that is essential in the activation of glutathione peroxidases, a powerful antioxidant. Selenium is also required for the proper functioning of the thyroid. Selenium can be found in many foods such as nuts, fish, meats, eggs crab and lobster. There are no symptoms of deficiencies of Selenium however when supplemented it seems to have a positive effect on male infertility, cancer cells, and tuberculosis.

How is your diet and what are your physical needs? The majority of Americans do not eat a balanced diet to provide them with all the nutrients to fight off disease, keep bones healthy, protect the skin, cardiovascular health, give us energy and in general to keep us healthy. The proper amount of each nutrient is dependent on your physical needs. Choosing the right multi vitamin can be difficult but here are some things to consider when purchasing a multi vitamin.

Athletes- You will need a multi vitamin with higher overall content as many of them are depleted or excreted out of the body via sweating or urination. These vitamins are especially susceptible to being depleted, B vitamins for energy, potassium for muscle regulation, iron for proper oxygen transport and muscle growth, Vitamin C for proper immune system regulation and calcium for strong bones. If your body’s Calcium reserves are depleted your body will “steal” it from your bones and can lead to future skeletal diseases. Many vitamins will contain amino acids for muscle building and recovery and high levels of antioxidants to eliminate the free radicals produced by a strenuous workout.

Adults over 50- May want to take a multivitamin that is higher in Calcium and vitamin D for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. B vitamins are important for energy and proper absorption of nutrients from food and as we age, our bodies are less able to absorb them. CoQ10 for heart health and energy and as we get older our production levels decreases. Vitamin K for bone health and its antioxidant properties have been shown to prohibit the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Lycopene to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and has been shown to have positive effects on prostate health.

Prenatal- Will have a higher concentration of B9 (Folic Acid) for proper brain, spine and skull formation in fetuses, calcium for proper bone formation and iron for the proper development of red blood cells. It will also have a reduced level of Vitamin A as it can cause health defects in fetuses.

Women- Need to have a multi vitamin higher in calcium for strong bones, as women usually do not get enough from their diet alone. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) for overall health, preventing genetic diseases, and may also prevent cancer and heart disease. Women also need more Iron as women do not eat much meat and they lose a lot of iron every month through menstruation.

Men- Need Boron for prostate health, calcium for healthy bones, chromium to regulate blood sugar levels, Folic Acid for regulating blood flow and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, glucosamine for joint health, and the omegas to reduce blood pressure and for heart health.

Stress Relief- Will be loaded with B vitamins as they produce anti stress hormones and vitamin C to prevent stress related illness.

Conclusion Most multi vitamins should be taken in the morning with a meal as some of the nutrients may cause an upset stomach. Multi vitamins are fairly inexpensive unless they contain high levels of expensive nutrients such as Biotin ($4,000 per active pound!) or contain other nutrients that are condition specific such as bodybuilding. Multi vitamins are worth the price and it the single most important supplement you can take to stay healthy. Think of multi vitamins as insurance for your body. You may not feel much of a difference right away but over time, when you are healthy, you will be glad that you took them.

In the last few months we’ve seen a lot of Health Care Reform rules and regulations being introduced by the Health and Human Services Department. Every time that happens, the media gets hold of it and all kinds of articles are written in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the TV network news programs talk about it. All the analysts start talking about the pros and cons, and what it means to businesses and individuals.

The problem with this is, many times one writer looked at the regulation, and wrote a piece about it. Then other writers start using pieces from that first article and rewriting parts to fit their article. By the time the information gets widely distributed, the actual regulations and rules get twisted and distorted, and what actually shows up in the media sometimes just doesn’t truly represent the reality of what the regulations say.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what is going on with ObamaCare, and one of the things that I’ve noticed in discussions with clients, is that there’s an underlying set of myths that people have picked up about health care reform that just aren’t true. But because of all they’ve heard in the media, people believe these myths are actually true.

Today we’re going to talk about three myths I hear most commonly. Not everybody believes these myths, but enough do, and others are unsure what to believe, so it warrants dispelling these myths now.

The first one is that health care reform only affects uninsured people. The second one is that Medicare benefits and the Medicare program isn’t going to be affected by health care reform. And then the last one is that health care reform is going to reduce the costs of healthcare.

Health Care Reform Only Affects Uninsured

Let’s look at the first myth about health care reform only affecting uninsured people. In a lot of the discussions I have with clients, there are several expressions they use: “I already have coverage, so I won’t be affected by ObamaCare,” or “I’ll just keep my grandfathered health insurance plan,” and the last one – and this one I can give them a little bit of leeway, because part of what they’re saying is true — is “I have group health insurance, so I won’t be affected by health care reform.”

Well, the reality is that health care reform is actually going to affect everybody. Starting in 2014, we’re going to have a whole new set of health plans, and those plans have very rich benefits with lots of extra features that the existing plans today don’t offer. So these new plans are going to be higher cost.

Health Care Reform’s Effect On People With Health Insurance

People that currently have health insurance are going to be transitioned into these new plans sometime in 2014. So the insured will be directly affected by this because the health plans they have today are going away, and they will be mapped into a new ObamaCare plan in 2014.

Health Care Reform Effect On The Uninsured

The uninsured have an additional issue in that if they don’t get health insurance in 2014, they face a mandate penalty. Some of the healthy uninsured are going to look at that penalty and say, “Well, the penalty is 1% of my adjusted gross income; I make $50,000, so I’ll pay a $500 penalty or $1,000 for health insurance. In that case I’ll just take the penalty.” But either way, they will be directly affected by health care reform. Through the mandate it affects the insured as well as the uninsured.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Grandfathered Health Plans

People that have grandfathered health insurance plans are not going to be directly affected by health care reform. But because of the life cycle of their grandfathered health plan, it’s going to make those plans more costly as they discover that there are plans available now that they can easily transfer to that have a richer set of benefits that would be more beneficial for any chronic health issues they may have.

For people who stay in those grandfathered plans, the pool of subscribers in the plan are going to start to shrink, and as that happens, the cost of those grandfathered health insurance plans will increase even faster than they are now. Therefore, people in grandfathered health plans will also be impacted by ObamaCare.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Group Health Insurance

The last one, the small group marketplace, is going to be the most notably affected by health care reform. Even though the health care reform regulations predominantly affect large and medium-sized companies, and companies that have 50 or more employees, smaller companies will also be affected, even though they’re exempt from ObamaCare itself.

What many surveys and polls are starting to show is that some of the businesses that have 10 or fewer employees are going to look seriously at their option to drop health insurance coverage altogether, and no longer have it as an expense of the company. Instead, they will have their employees get health insurance through the health insurance exchanges.

In fact, some of the carriers are now saying they anticipate that up to 50% of small groups with 10 or fewer employees are going to drop their health insurance plan sometime between 2014 and 2016. That will have a very large effect on all people who have group health insurance, especially if they’re in one of those small companies that drop health insurance coverage.

It’s not just uninsured that are going to be affected by health care reform, everybody is going to be impacted.

Health Care Reform Will Not Affect Medicare

The next myth was that health care reform would not affect Medicare. This one is kind of funny because right from the very get-go, the most notable cuts were specifically targeting the Medicare program. When you look at Medicare’s portion of the overall federal, you can see that in 1970, Medicare was 4% of the U.S. federal budget, and by 2011, it had grown to 16% of the federal budget.

If we look at it over the last 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, Medicare is the fastest growing part of the major entitlement programs in the federal government, and it’s grown by almost 70% during that period of time.

Because of how large Medicare is and how fast it’s growing, it’s one of the key programs that ObamaCare is trying to get a handle on, so it doesn’t bankrupts the U.S. Medicare is going to be impacted, and in fact the initial cuts to Medicare have already been set at about $716 billion.

Medicare Advantage Cuts And The Effects

Of that $716 billion cut, the Medicare Advantage program gets cut the most, and will see the bulk of the effects. What that’s going to do is increase the premiums people pay for their Medicare Advantage plans, and reduce the benefits of those plans.

Increased Medicare Advantage Costs

Right now, many people choose Medicare Advantage plans because they have zero premium. When given a choice on Medicare plans, they view it as an easy choice because it’s a free program for them, “Sure, I get Medicare benefits, I don’t pay anything for it; why not.” Now they’re going to see Medicare premiums start to climb, and go from zero to $70, $80, $90, $100. We’ve already seen that with some of the Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans this year. It’s going to get worse as we go forward in the future.

Reduced Medicare Advantage Benefits

In order to minimize the premium increases, what many Medicare Advantage plans will do is increase the copayments, increase the deductibles, and change the co-insurance rates. In order to keep the premiums down, they’ll just push more of the costs onto the Medicare Advantage recipients. Increased premiums and reduced benefits are what we’re going to see coming in Medicare Advantage plan.

Fewer Medicare Physicians

And then if that wasn’t bad enough, as Medicare doctors begin receiving lower and lower reimbursements for Medicare Advantage people, they’re going to stop taking new Medicare Advantage recipients. We’re going to see the pool of doctors to support people in Medicare starting to shrink as well, unless changes are made over the course of the next five years. So Medicare is going to be affected, and it’s going to be affected dramatically by health care reform. Everybody’s kind of on pins and needles, waiting to see what’s going to happen there.

Health Care Reform Will Reduce Healthcare Costs

The last one, and probably the biggest myth about health care reform, is everybody thinking that ObamaCare will reduce healthcare costs. That’s completely hogwash. Early on in the process, when they were trying to come up with the rules and regulations, the emphasis and one of the goals for reform was to reduce healthcare costs.

But somewhere along the line, the goal actually shifted from cost reduction to regulation of the health insurance industry. Once they made that transition, they pushed cost reductions to the back burner. There are some small cost reduction components in ObamaCare, but the real emphasis is on regulating health insurance. The new plans, for example, have much richer benefits than many plans today: richer benefits means richer prices.

Health Care Reform Subsidies: Will They Make Plans Affordable?

A lot of people hope, “The subsidies are going to make health insurance plans more affordable, won’t they?” Yes, in some cases the subsidies will help to make the plans affordable for people. But if you make $1 too much, the affordable plans are suddenly going to become very expensive and can cost thousands of dollars more over the course of a year. Will a subsidy make it affordable or not affordable is really subject to debate at this point in time. We’re going to have to actually see what the rates look like for these plans.

New Health Care Reform Taxes Passed On To Consumers

Then there’s a whole ton of new health care reform taxes that have been added into the system to help pay for ObamaCare. That means everybody who has a health insurance plan, whether it’s in a large group, a small group, or just as an individual, is going to be taxed in order to pay for the cost of reform. Health care reform adds various taxes on health care that insurance companies will have to collect and pay, but they’re just going to pass it right through to us, the consumer.

Mandate Won’t Reduce Uninsured Very Much

During the initial years of health care reform, the mandate is actually pretty weak. The mandate says that everyone must get health insurance or pay a penalty (a tax). What that’s going to do is make healthy people just sit on the sidelines and wait for the mandate to get to the point where it finally forces them to buy health insurance. People with chronic health conditions that couldn’t get health insurance previously, are all going to jump into healthcare at the beginning of 2014.

At the end of that year, the cost for the plans is going to go up in 2015. I can guarantee that that’s going to happen, because the young healthy people are not going to be motivated to get into the plans. They won’t see the benefit of joining an expensive plan, whereas the chronically ill people are going to get into the plans and drive the costs up.

Health Care Reform’s Purpose Is Just A Matter Of Semantics

The last portion of this is, one of the key things – and it’s funny, I saw it for the first two years, 2010, and ’11 – one of the key things that was listed in the documentation from the Obama administration was: Health Care Reform would help reduce the cost that we would see in the future if we do nothing today. That was emphasized over and over again. That was how they presented health care cost reduction, that it would reduce the future costs. Not today, but it would reduce what we would pay in the future if we did nothing about it now.

Well, that’s great, 10 years from now we’re going to pay less than we might have paid. And we all know how accurate future projections usually are. In the meantime, we’re all paying more today, and we’re going to pay even more in 2014 and more in 2015 and 2016. People are going to be pretty upset about that.

Conclusion

Those three myths, that health care reform is only going to affect the uninsured, that it won’t affect Medicare beneficiaries, and that ObamaCare is going to reduce healthcare costs, are just that. They are myths. There’s nothing to them.

It’s really important that you pay attention to what’s happening with health care reform, because there are more changes that are coming as we go through this year, 2013. Knowing how to position yourself so that you’re in the right spot to be able to make the best decision at the beginning of 2014 is going to be really important for everybody.

Outsourcing business solutions allows businesses to maintain a competitive edge while saving on costs. There are certain functions, like IT and web design, that are necessary but may not fall under a business’s core competencies. Maintaining in-house teams can be costly in terms of office space, equipment and training. Some businesses may not have the resources to spend on them.

By outsourcing their solutions, businesses can leverage the expertise of a provider at a fraction of the cost of maintaining in-house services. There are distinct advantages to outsourcing, including:

Cost-effective communication. Businesses can boost staff productivity with professional email and collaboration tools. These solutions require their own servers, however, and need to be maintained by a dedicated IT team. By outsourcing the IT solution, businesses can save on the cost and hassle of server maintenance while enjoying 24/7 support.

Professional Web design. Businesses may not have the time or expertise to design their own website. Through a provider, they can have a professionally designed corporate website built according to their budget and specifications.

Enhanced online visibility. It takes IT expertise to enhance a website’s visibility so the target audience can find it. By leveraging search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising services, businesses can reach their target audience without having to deal with complicated IT processes.

Easy setup of applications. Web applications let businesses manage online content efficiently and enhance customers’ experience. With a managed solution, businesses can easily add applications and upgrades without having to install anything on their own computers.

By outsourcing business solutions, companies can offload complicated processes to an experienced provider while streamlining their own resources towards their core business.

Looking for an interior designer or interior decorator can be overwhelming if you are not sure which designer you need for the scope or your project. Are you building, renovating or moving and need professional advice? Are you planning to sell your property and not sure how to get ready for the first inspection?

This document gives you answers to frequently asked questions in regards to interior design, interior decorating, colour consulting and property styling.

It will help you finding the right designer for your interior design and decorating projects and eventually create your individual style in your home.

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior stylist?

You may have asked yourself this question already when facing a building or renovation project. Do I need an interior designer, an interior decorator, a colour consultant or an interior stylist?

The answer is that it depends on the scope of the project.

An interior designer is a skilled professional who is designing interior environments according to your briefing. The interior designer either modifies what already exists (renovation) or provides an entirely new design for a space (new build). In this case the interior designer works closely with the architect and comes in at an early stage of the project. Interior designers work either along a team in design firm or on their own.

What is the job of an interior stylist? An interior stylist is a designer or consultant in a field subject to changes in style, especially fashion or interior decoration. An interior stylist cultivates or maintains any particular style and in most cases stylist are finders, keepers and collectors of beautiful objects.

The interior stylist can help you finding your own style, creating beautiful interiors that are unique and meaningful. This can be achieved with the simplest things and does not have to be expensive. The only thing you need to do is keep your eyes open to beautiful things in nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel. There is only one rule: Only collect or buy things that mean something to you!

How does a colour consultation work?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

Prior to designing a colour scheme for you the colour consultant should always talk to you about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve in your space. He will explain to you the differences between the paint companies and their products and choose the right product for your needs. After designing the colour scheme you will receive a written recommendation including a specification sheet and brushouts ready for your painter to start.

Why is it important to seek advice from a designer when choosing colours?

Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to non-verbal communication and the design element that makes a space come alive. Colour brings individuality in a space and it is one of the most useful tools to master when finding your own style.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says in her book Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color: “Among other uses, color stimulates and works synergistically with all of the senses, symbolizes abstract concepts and thoughts, expresses fantasy or wish fulfillment, recalls another time or place and produces an aesthetic or emotional response.”

When choosing a colour for a room or house it is important to think about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve. Is it a dark room or flooded with natural light? In which direction is the room facing? How are the proportions? Do you live in a small apartment or a contemporary newly built house with open plan living areas? All this needs to be considered when choosing colours for a space.

If you are overwhelmed by the choice of colours available – yes, there are thousands on the market – how can you start finding your personal colour scheme?

For some people it is a longer journey, for others it comes more naturally. The most important thing is to take some time, open your eyes, walk around your home and absorb the colour combinations you see. Then start gathering all the pieces you love. This can be anything from old porcelain, travel souvenirs, photographs, artwork, clothes, tear sheets from magazines, fabric swatches, stationary, a collection of stones, feathers or glass objects.

And don’t forget nature as inspiration for a colour scheme (interior or exterior). If you live near the ocean, shades of blues and greens can be used to link your interior with its surroundings. Flowers, butterflies, stones, shells, driftwood are fantastic inspirations for colour schemes.

Once you have gathered all your beloved treasures in one spot, play around with the pieces, group them by colours and you will see a colour palette emerge. This “moodboard” is a great starting point for your interior designer, interior stylist or colour consultant to help you creating an individual and personal space, a home that reflects who you are and a place that you love coming home to.

Stylist’s tip: Before you start painting always buy a test pot and paint a large sheet of paper or cardboard (one square metre) with your colour. Tape it to the walls in your room and study it for a couple of days. Look at it in daylight and artificial light. This is very important as colours change depending on the light, the orientation of the room, other colours in the room and spatial elements like furniture and artwork for example.

What is the difference between a colour and a styling consultation?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

The styling consultation focuses on creating a certain (Your) style in your home or simply on answering all your questions about colours, style, furniture sourcing and placement, art sourcing and placement, displays of your collections, accessories, proportions in a space, lighting etc.

Again it is vital that the designer listens to what you would like to achieve (briefing) and makes sure that he understood what you want (debriefing). Don’t let the interior designer or interior stylist talk you into something you don’t like!

How do I maximise the output of my styling consultation?

Are you planning to colour, redecorate or renovate, but don’t know where to start? Do you have lots of questions about colour schemes, furniture placement, how to display your collections, books or other beloved things? Are you not sure whether to redecorate with your old furniture and accessories or to renovate and create a new look? Do you need inspirations where to source furniture and accessories, second hand pieces or antiques?

If you prepare your first consultation with your stylist properly, you will get answers to all the questions you have. Here are my tips how to maximise the output from your styling or colour consultation:

• Be clear what you would like the outcome of the consultation to be.

• Decide which room or space you would like to focus on. Is it only one room or the whole house?

• Prepare yourself with tear sheets from interior design magazines like Real Living, Inside Out, Belle or Vogue Living. There are plenty on the market so choose the one that speaks to you most and start collecting pages of everything you like: colour schemes, furniture, accessories, room layouts, rugs, flooring, wallpaper, decorative items and everything that speaks to you. If you do this for a couple of weeks you will clearly see what you like and find your own personal style.

• Keep your eyes open to the beautiful things around you: nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel.

• Make sure that your stylist is listening and explain what you want to achieve with your styling project, what you would like a room to do for you and what mood you would like to create in your space.

And finally one of the most important things: Don’t let the stylist talk you into something you don’t like! You have to live in the space and you need to feel comfortable and at home! It is all about creating your home with your personal touch.

How do I find my own style?

The answer is as simple as this: explore the world around you and appreciate the beauty that lies within everything you discover!

Keep your eyes open and your mind excited! Discover and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you every day! Find inspiration in nature, buildings, shops, exhibitions, museums, art, events, markets, magazines and of course books.

One of my favourite books I spotted in a museum shop is called: How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith. On the back it says: “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.”

A stylist’s tip: always carry a little notebook and a pen with you in order to be able to sketch, doodle and write down what you discover.

Keep all your findings, notes and pictures in a folder or box and keep searching for at least four to eight weeks. Then start to group things by colour or theme and you will discover what your style is. And there are no rules. It is all about finding what you like!

Books for your inspiration

This is a list of books that I personally own and love! They are all a fantastic source of inspiration and creative ideas for your home.

Sibella Court: Bowerbird

Shannon Fricke: Sense of Style

Megan Morton: Home Love

Holly Becker: Decorate

Susanna Salk: Be Your Own Decorator

Geraldine James: Creative Walls

Hans Blomquist: The Natural Home

Is it necessary to seek advice from a stylist when I want to sell my property?

If you plan to sell your house it is worth investing in a styling consultation. A professional property stylist can help you to achieve maximum impact when presenting your home to potential buyers. A property stylist will help you to get ready for the first inspection by giving you advice on how to style your house with what you have. He will help you with colour schemes that attract potential buyers. He will also advice if you need rental furniture to style each room according to its function and help potential buyers to envisage themselves in the space. Property styling is all about creating a wow factor in key areas of your home and help the buyers to envisage themselves in your space. Once the styling is done don’t forget to book your stylist for the real estate photography shoot to make sure everything looks perfect on this day!

Have you heard of the waterless cooking method? It is a relatively new method of cooking that has many advantages. In the past, a lot of household cooking has involved cooking food with water. When cooked in water, however, a lot of the food’s nutritional value, not to mention the flavor, is taken away. Waterless cooking allows you to cook food in it own juices, retaining all the vitamins and minerals as well as most of the original flavor. There is no need to add water to foods (especially vegetables) because the natural moisture in the food is released and the steam created helps the cooking process. The steam is circulated throughout the pot and falls back into the food allowing it to stay moist and juicy.

So what are the advantages to waterless cooking? First of all, it is an easy way to cook. Many times you can use a one-pan cooking method so that all the food (meat, veggies and potatoes) is cooked together. This also allows for easier clean up with only one pan to wash up. And the new waterless cookware, with its superior heat distribution, tends to have less chance of food burning or sticking.

Waterless cooking also tends to cook food a lot faster. With the new waterless cookware available now the heat is evenly distributed along the bottom of the pot or pan. Because of this, there are no ‘hot-spots’ that may tend to burn your food. The lid of the pot forms a seal, which locks in the heat (as well as the moisture) so the cooking time is decreased.

As mentioned, waterless cooking is a healthy way to cook. None of the nutrients are lost during cooking, and you don’t need to add oil to stop the food from sticking to the pan, which also makes it healthier. The natural color and texture of the food is also retained which makes the food more appealing. Foods that are supposed to be crisp tend to keep their crunchy texture as well.

The features of waterless cookware that allow this cooking method to work include a flat bottom on the pots and pans which allow the most efficient means of heat transfer. The flat bottom connects with your stove element better, whether it be the coils of an electric stove or a gas unit, so that the heat transfer is more efficient. The cookware also has an iron core and an aluminum or copper base plate built into it that helps to retain a continuous, constant cooking temperature even after the heating element has been turned off.

Waterless cookware is typically made of high-grade stainless steel, which is better than other traditional pans in a couple of different ways. The stainless steel does not allow the taste of the metal to transfer to your food, as may be the case with aluminum or Teflon-coated cookware. Some companies use surgical stainless steel, which is the highest grade you can get for a real quality product. The stainless steel is easy to clean, durable (enabling it to last an extremely long time) and it allows you to keep your cookware sterilized.

One of the main features of waterless cookware is the special lid that keeps the natural moisture in the food from escaping. The lid forms a seal with the pot and lets the natural juices form into steam so the food cooks in its own natural juices, retaining all the nutrients and original flavors. There is a steam valve that whistles and tells you when you should turn off the heat (once the juices have created sufficient steam). In this way you save energy when cooking and the food is always cooked at a constant temperature.

Although it is referred to as waterless cooking, one thing you should do before cooking with this method is to rinse your food in water and then drain it before cooking. This ensures there will be enough water clinging to the food to create enough steam, mixed with foods natural juices, to cook it properly.

Cooking times with the waterless cooking method is generally a little less than traditional cooking times, depending on personal tastes for doneness. You should always cook your food at medium to low temperatures because the special waterless cookware construction allows the unit to conduct heat in the most efficient manner. You must also resist the urge to lift the lid during the cooking process as this will lengthen the cooking time and may even allow the food to dry out when the steam escapes.

The steam valve will tell you when you should turn off your stove element-when the correct temperature has been reached to allow the food to cook itself. When the steam valve whistles, turn off your stove, but do not lift the lid until the specified cooking time has elapsed-then you can open the lid and serve out your hot food. As a tip, put warm water into the unit after the food has been removed and let it sit while you eat so clean-up will be a snap afterwards.

Most recipes can be adapted (with a few alterations) to using the waterless cooking method as well. You will discover that old favorites will taste better and new recipes will be simple to master. The waterless cooking method is a new and healthier way to cook. It is more energy efficient, allows the food to retain its own juices, texture and color, and is an easy way to cook.

Looking for a great place for vacation with family? Europe is one lovely continent where everyone has an ample number and variety to choose from according to their interest. However, this can also confuse the travellers since they may not be able to decide as where to go and what all to skip. For this, there are numerous pre-set Europe travel packages which are available to the tourists to choose from.

These travel packages which are available to tourists for holiday are prepared keeping in mind the general interest and preference of the tourists. For those who have an interest in history, the places and destinations which have a high historical importance are included in the packages and thereby suit the tourists. Also, for those who have an interest in architecture, such people can take up a package which is prepared keeping in mind architectural wonders of the continent of Europe. Out of these Europe travel packages, the tourists can easily choose one and enjoy the best trip according to their interest.

The Europe travel packages that are pre-set and defined are also done considering the budget that a traveller has. Also, keeping in mind a time frame too, the packages can be obtained. Proper planning by online tour planners, tour guides for Europe etc precede the making of the package for the travellers which thereby suit their needs well.

Complete care of the travellers is taken. Europe travel package includes all the facilities for the travellers. Whether it is hotel booking, flight reservation, sight seeing, taxi bookings etc, all is done beforehand through the package organiser itself. Prior booking also helps in saving money of the travellers.

With Europe travel packages available to the tourists easily, they can make a readymade choice which suits their needs. This way they can have a great holiday and at the same time, stick to a proper budget as well as time frame.

What is the first thought you get when you hear the words “natural skin care remedies”? Do you think about things you can do at home to make your skin beautiful? Or do you associate it with natural skin care you can buy instead?

For me, natural skin care remedies include both things – face gymnastics to give yourself a little face lift without a knife daily, cosmetics you can make in your own kitchen, but also 100% natural, commercial skin care products.

There are as thousands of remedies there for all kinds of skin problems out there, but in this article I’d like to concentrate on the ones that slow down the signs of aging, that means the ones which smooth away wrinkles, tighten skin and make the skin look younger.

Believe me, I’ve done my research and I can say there are so many natural substances that are supposed to make your skin look youthful and smooth. Usually these substances need to be used on the skin in the form of a cream, or taken orally as a supplement.

Of course many foods in themselves are filled with vitamins and nutrients that can help your skin rejuvenate itself, but usually you’d need to eat impossible amounts of these foods to really get the benefits of the substances in them. Don’t get me wrong, I love to have a few tomatoes or strawberries a day, but there’s a limit a person can eat!

To really get a benefit of natural skin care remedies you’ll need to eat a good diet based on natural foods, but also use natural skin care, which you can buy or make yourself. If needed, you can complement the process with quality supplements, too.

Be careful when shopping for natural skin care products, though. There are so many product lines that claim to be natural, but really aren’t. Sure, the cream in the pretty tube has some olive oil, aloe vera or keratin in it, but just a little bit! If that’s not bad enough, many products are in fact based on mineral oil! Make sure you get a 100% natural product and not one with 10% or even 90% natural ingredients.

Get a cream based on natural glycerines instead. These kinds of creams, which are great for moisturizing, can be made at home, too. For an anti-aging effect you’ll need special ingredients and buying a cream might be a more viable option. Do your research and try a few brands, the good ones will have a money-back guarantee so there’s no risk for you.

If you’d like to know more about natural skin care and the products I recommend, please visit my website for more information.

If you have not yet considered a financial solution to reduce your credit card debt and are still carrying the stress, then you must think a little on where this stress can ultimately lead you. There are an increasing number of patients reporting one or other health problem due to such stress. Most of them are under stress because of the money they owe to their creditors.

Interconnection of Stress and Debt

Research and studies carried out recently on interconnection of stress and debt reveal some astounding facts. They say that debt does not lead you to depression or health problem but it is the worry. As long as one has to carry this heavy mountain of debt on his shoulders he cannot stop worrying about it. And this constant worrying becomes a habit eventually accumulating a lot of stress.

If anyone want to be perfectly healthy then it is not possible unless there is a balance and proper coordination between body and mind. Debt fills the mind with different emotions like worry, anxiety and stress. Your mind has no space to think of other things in life. You have no freedom to enjoy the life in the way that brings you joy. And you cannot have peace of mind until you achieve your goal of zero debt in your financial life.

Adverse effects of Debt stress

Much of the stress is accumulated in your mind as you do not like to share it with your friends. You feel ashamed to let anyone know about your debt. Hiding your stress from others makes it worse and it affects physical and mental health. Instead of developing a sense of control, what people usually try is to cope up with stress on their own which proves to be more harmful for them.

Some common stress symptoms are watching more television, eating more, smoking, drinking and tendency to act more violently. Stress can also be correlated to symptoms such as abdominal pains, heartburns, migraines and headaches. People also have nightmares and hallucination. The suicidal thoughts also increase due to constant worry and one finds it difficult to sleep. Stress can lead you to several ulcers, migraines, back pain, depression as well as heart attacks.

Relief form Debt stress

So if you are suffering from debt stress, act fast and consider a financial solution that reduces debt. Make a proper plan to increase your sense of control to fight stress. You can approach free debt relief networks that can help you to find debt settlement companies having good success rate in helping their clients to move towards a debt free life.

Though vineyards exist in almost every U.S. state, California outranks all of the others by a great deal and its production can even be ranked on a global scale. In fact, California ranks # 4 in the world in volume production among wine producers with a total of 2 billion liters per year, following only Italy, France, and Spain. It also ranks as one of the most diverse wine regions in the world due to its ability to produce almost 100 separate high-quality grape varietals. Some of the most popular wines include:

* Merlot

* Pinot Noir

* Cabernet Sauvignon

* Shiraz

* Zinfandel

* Chardonnay

* Sauvignon Blanc

Within the state, there are approximate 4,500 wine grape growers; a testament to the size and importance of the wine industry in California. In 2006, the California wine industry had a $51.8 billion dollar economic impact on its own state and a $125.3 billion dollar impact on the entire United States. The wine industry in California is easily the most profitable of any other area in the Unites States and its wine’s are among the top in quality around the world.

Due to different growing conditions within the state, the California wine producing areas are separated into five major regions: North Coast, Sierra Foothills, Central Coast, Central Valley, and Southern California. Each of these regions can be divided even further into sub-regions called appellations (which are often counties) that many people who are not even familiar with wine will easily recognize by name such as Napa, Sonoma, and San Joaquin Valley. When a wine label contains a specific appellation, it means that at least 75 percent of the grapes used within the wine were grown within that specific region. Wine labels can also contain two or three appellations to classify the different grapes used within the wine if the percentages are specifically noted as well.

The climate range in California varies from region to region which allows for superb production of many different types of perfectly grown grapes which results in many different varietals. Elements of the weather, such as the cool offshore breezes that cool the Sonoma County vineyards, are extremely important in the distinct growing condition needs for specific wine grapes.

The most important varietals produced in the California wine region are chardonnay and cabernet, though many other varietals from the region are massively popular such a pinot noir. The California wine region has a reputation for producing a high-quality wine to be enjoyed in a relaxed setting among friends, just the way its biggest fans would want it.

Merlot

Merlot is a popular thin-skinned red wine grape that is believed to be descended from the Cabernet Franc grape and was first recorded in Italy in 1832. It is used for both the purposes of blending inspired by the Bordeaux wine region of France and also for the production of straight varietal wine. In the 1990’s particularly, Merlot experienced a huge surge in popularity and became the new trendy wine but its popularity has proved to possess staying power. In 2003 there were over 50,000 acres in California devoted to the Merlot grape alone.

Some of the highest quality Merlots comes from Bordeaux, France, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Chile, and Washington State. These areas have elevated the historical planting of Merlot into better quality soils which have resulted in a Merlot that is less-suited for blending and perfect for its own varietal. The taste of a Merlot is dependent on the type of soil in which it was grown. For instance, Merlot from flatter and more clay-like soil results in a smoother, more velvety wine. Merlot grown in more mountainous regions tends to taste more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many Merlots tend to have a taste reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon, but they has less acidity due to a thinner skin in the grapes and earlier ripening time. It also frequently possesses a wide variety of flavors such as: currant, plum, black cherry, caramel, clove, bay leaf, bell pepper, olive, and violet. It is low in tannins and many wine drinkers believe that it is smooth and an easy-to-drink red varietal.

When blended, Merlot is often combined with Cabernet Sauvignon to balance the taste strengths and flavors of each separate varietal resulting in a blend with the best of both worlds. Another benefit to Merlot and the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends is that the cost is often substantially less than the fuller-bodied Cabert Sauvignon varietal itself.

Although many wine drinkers think that red wines should only be served right at room temperature, Merlot should actually be served a few degrees below room temperature as it can sometimes develop less pleasant tastes at approximately 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Chilling it for simply a couple minutes will ensure that the wine is slightly cooler and result in the best possible flavors.

Because Merlot is not quite as rich as some other red wine varietals, it is still fairly flexible in its easy pairings with many popular dinner choices. Because it is a medium-bodied wine, it will pair well with veal, meatloaf, sausages, and hearty pasta dishes.

Pinot Noir

Thanks to the recent movie Sideways, Pinot Noir has become much more widely acclaimed by the general wine-drinking population in recent years and multiplied quite drastically in popularity. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of France but today, has spread around the world to vastly differing wine regions which encompass almost all wine growing areas. Despite its worldwide popularity, Pinot Noir remains among the most difficult varietal grapes to cultivate efficiently as it is delicate and difficult to control in terms of preventing mutations of the grapes or any other unwanted variations which result in undesirable changes in the flavors or other characteristics present in the grapes.

Pinot Noir reaches its peak in flavor development when grown in cooler wine regions and has never reproduced the level of accuracy and perfection in development that it has achieved in its home in the Burgundy wine region. However, all Pinot Noir wines are typically a light hue of red which range from cherry to plum. They also possess a fragrant aroma encompassing notes of cherries, violets, berries, and spices. Like most other wines, Pinot Noir wines develop a greater complexity of flavors when aged. The aging process can contribute flavors reminiscent of leather and mushroom to the flavor dimensions of the wine.

Pinot Noir wines are usually considered light or medium-bodied as they are quite a delicate varietal which often also encompass fine silky tannins.

The Pinot Noir grapes, while notoriously difficult to grow efficiently, also become difficult to maintain consistency in the winemaking process. Winemakers struggle to modify the winemaking process for Pinot Noirs in order to find the optimal process to highlight the delicate flavor and structural aspects of this varietal. For example, winemakers must take great care in the aging of Pinot Noirs with oak barrels because the woody flavors can easily overtake the natural fragility of the flavors balanced within the Pinot Noir. Batches of Pinot Noir wine grapes can also be blended together in a way that masks the imperfections due to changes in the winemaking process or weakness inherent in the grapes themselves.

When pairing Pinot Noir wines with foods, remember to go easy on the spices, otherwise the delicate flavors of the Pinot Noir will be masked. Salmon is one of the best pairings for Pinot Noir wines, as the flavors are both fairly light but with a complexity that compliments the opposite quite nicely.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet is a term which encompasses a few different varietals: most notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon is a particularly popular varietal which arose from a grape developed by crossing the Cabernet Franc grape with the Sauvignon Blanc grape. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely grown red grape in most wine regions of the world and particularly the Boudreaux wine region in France. In other parts of the world Cabernet Sauvignon is also referred to as Petit Cabernet, Sauvignon Rouge, and Vidure so it is important to keep those phrases in mind while abroad.

Additionally, since the 1960’s, Cabernet Sauvignon has been the most common varietal term for red wines due to it’s wide appeal and critical acclaim. Because it is so widely in demand in many wine circles, Cabernet Sauvignon becomes easily subjected to inflation-related cost increases as demand from wealthy wine-lovers drives prices upward. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grape Cabernet Franc is less popular because it is a less desirable grape than its grape offspring. However, it is quite often used as a blending element in mixed varietal wines, particularly with Merlot. A general tip for most novice wine consumers is that most bottled wines labeled Cabernet belong to the Cabernet Sauvignon family of grapes, rather than the Cabernet Franc.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes thrive best in regions with long growing seasons due to a warm climate and reaches maturity quite late in the season. It also grows well in slightly arid areas with well-drained soil. These elements will allow the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to mature with a fruity taste, rather than the more herbal flavor that arises from the grape’s exposure to increased moisture and excessive soil-based nutrients during the growing process. The grapes themselves are comparatively small with a tough outer skin that protects the grapes from many elements. They are considerably resistant to disease and can be viewed as a fairly hardy grape varietal.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of the best aged wines. It is traditionally aged in small oak barrels for up to eighteen months before bottling. This aging period allows the wine to develop a greater complexity and depth of the flavors it encompasses. Some of the flavors which are most often attributed to Cabernet Sauvignon are: dark cherry, black currant, olive, pepper, cedar, and tobacco. Cabernet Sauvignon’s can also sometimes have spicy or earthy taste profiles as well.

Sirah – Shiraz

Shiraz currently accounts for one-fifth of all wine grape production in Australia and is one of the most widely harvested grapes in the country. Though the intense popularity of the rival red Cabernet Sauvignon has accounted for the secondary status of Shiraz in the minds of wine consumers in recent years, many vintners are beginning to revitalizing their Shiraz with new styles and methods of aging.

The Shiraz wine grape has an interesting history and place in the contemporary wine world as well. Generally described as “New World” wines, these wines are generally thought to be more fruity in their predominate flavors in opposition to the “Old World” wines which are often labeled Syrah. Because both variations of wine are derived from the same grape genetically, the differences between them are minimal to say the least. Some wine purveyors even maintain that the distinction between Shiraz and Syrah is in relation to style preferences only.

However, South Africa, Canada, and Australia are three of primary growing regions which refer to this varietal of wine as Shiraz rather than Syrah. These regions keep with the trend of identifying their exports with the New World wine classification of Shiraz which identifies it as a lighter and more aggressively fruity style of wine.

The Shiraz grape is commonly used in the production of red table wines which characteristically age well. Shiraz often reaches its prime complexity of flavor after approximately ten to fifteen years of aging; however it can easily be consumed much earlier in its aging process without sacrificing its excellent taste. It is also commonly used as a blending wine, although this occurs primarily in Spanish regions.

Shiraz wines are characteristically quite full-bodied and flavors vary easily depending on the physical characteristics of the wine region of its production. Some of the flavors most commonly attributed to Shiraz wines are: blackberry, chocolate, black pepper, plums, and spices. Shiraz also has soft tannins and varying degrees of oak flavors. They flourish especially in the wine regions of Australia with cooler, dry climates which allow for the berry finishes. Other Shiraz wine grapes grown in warmer climates tend to encompass the more mellow plum flavors.

Despite its frequent New World wine associations, Shiraz is one of the oldest known wine grape varietals. In fact, it is named for the city of the same name in Iran where wine-making may have originated many thousands of years ago.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel often gets a less-than-stellar reputation among the most pretentious of wine drinkers as it has recently held the reputation of being a “starter wine,” especially for women, due to its popular sweet taste in the 1980’s and 90’s. However, in the past several years, winemakers have responded to this prejudice against Zinfandels by improving the complexity and balance of flavors within their wines to make them a more palatable choice to the savvy wine consumer’s sophisticated sense of flavors.

What makes a wine more appealing to wine lovers? Complexity and fullness of the flavors are a few of the key aspects of a well-crafted wine. In Zinfanfels, a few of the most popularly described characteristics of the flavors are blackberry, raspberry, cherry, cloves, black pepper, and anise. However, depending on the complexity of the Zinfandel, many other levels of flavors may emerge, especially through a tasting in which you carefully give your attention to the subtleties released within the entire experience of the wine. Another interesting characteristic of Zinfandels is that they are also often mixed with others such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Syrah.

Because Zinfandels range from lighter-bodied whites to quite robust reds, they are no steadfast rules for which foods to pair with them. Some zinfandels do possess enough body and presence of flavors to drink even with a hearty steak or rich chocolate dessert. The lighter zinfandels can be a great pairing for Latin American and tropically-inspired foods.

Zinfandel originates from a distinctly American red-skinned Zinfandel wine grape that is used to make both red and white Zinfandels. Formally named in 1832, Zinfandels are traditionally defined as an American varietal and can occasionally be quite difficult to locate in overseas markets. It was recently discovered that Zinfandel grape is genetically identical to the Primotivo grape native to Italy. This discovery begins explains the previously unknown heritage of the Zinfandel grape’s development.

Californian vineries have come to embraced Zinfandels as their own characteristic varietal, leading the reputation of Zinfandel to become a representation and branding image for California wine. Some of the most popular regions for the production of Zinfandels are: Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino-Lake, Central Valley, Bay area, Sierra Foothills, and Southern California. However, Zinfandel’s aren’t exclusive to California and can be produced in American regions as distant as North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as overseas locations to which the Zinfandel grape has been exported.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay has become the most popular white wine in America in the past few decades. The reasons for this development are varied. The first is that Chardonnays possess a widely appealing taste often consisting of fruity and full-bodied buttery notes. Due to the wine’s versatility, it can possess many distinguishable variations of flavors and vintners can even mix Chardonnay with other varietals as a way to experience new flavors with blended wines. One of the other most important reasons for its popularity is that it’s widely available and can be quite inexpensive due to the small, hardy Chardonnay grapes resistance to many diseases and thus easier to grow in many conditions. Thus, the demand for Chardonnay becomes easily to fill, despite the fact that Chardonnay grapes are more delicate in the wine-making phase of development.

Some of the key distinguishing characteristics of this well-loved wine white are that it is dry and often quite full-bodied with the most popularly distinguished flavors and aromas mentioned in descriptions of Chardonnay are apple, melon, pears, lemon, and pineapple, as well as buttery, nutty, creamy, vanilla, oak, and citrus. Particularly when Chardonnay is aged in an oak barrel, it develops a toasty or buttery quality along with a vanilla or coconut flavor which adds to the depth of the richness in the tasting experience. Many cheaper types of Chardonnay that try to achieve the oak-aged taste, use steel barrels with oak chips to lessen production costs while still obtaining similar flavors and textures within their wines.

Chardonnays are one of the most popular varietals grown in the California wine region but also flourish in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. In 2000, Chardonnay grapes accounted for 40 percent of the total white wine grapes planted in California wine regions and can thrive in many regions with quite distinguishably different weather patterns. French Chardonnays are also reputed to be of extremely high-quality and in fact, in the Chablis wine region of France, Chardonnay grapes are the only grape varietals allowed.

Today’s Chardonnays are less-heavily subjected to oak fermentation as public preference has shifted to lighter and crisper versions of this varietal. The reason for this preference can be viewed as a return from the past several decades in which all chardonnays were so heavily processed with malo-lactic fermentation and other aging techniques that even the most distinctive Chardonnays began to lose their distinctive flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a currently very popular white wine varietal. Californian Sauvignon Blanc is also occasionally referred to as Fume Blanc. The growth of Sauvignon Blanc grapes encompasses nearly 14,000 acres in California alone. Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in regions such as South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Italy, France, Australia and can even be grown in surprising regions such as Canada and Long Island, New York.

Sauvignon Blanc is often viewed as the best white wine for many food combinations as its tangy, aggressive flavor pairs well with foods. It is especially well-matched with foods containing components such as peppers, garlic, cilantro smoked cheeses, and tomatoes which are foods that would ordinarily completely overpower even the strongest-flavored Chardonnays in addition to most other dry white wines.

Sauvignon Blanc possesses a unique aroma which makes it easily identifiable compared to other white wines. Its flavors tend to be classified as herbaceous such as those of lemongrass, gooseberry, and freshly mown grass. However, it also possesses some other more traditional flavors such as green melon, grapefruit, passion fruit, and bell pepper. Overall, Sauvignon Blanc is a strong, tangy, and flavorful varietal that outweighs many other white wines in intensity and sharpness of flavors.

Unlike many other wine varietals, Sauvignon Blanc is not frequently aged in oak barrels because it often departs an unfavorable taste combination. However, Sauvignon Blancs are frequently blended which is a technique that calms their occasionally abrasive tastes. Blending Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon (another wine varietal grown primarily in France) is a popular practice, especially in France’s legendary Boudreaux wine region, as the Semillon adds a fig flavor and softens the overall taste profile of the Sauvignon Blanc. The ratio of Semillon blended with the Sauvignon Blanc ranges on the region and occurs primarily in France. However, some versions are comprised of 70 percent Semillon and 30 percent Sauvignon Blanc and other varieties are comprised of the nearly inverse ratio of 75 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon. These blends are a perfect option for the wine consumers who enjoy some of the flavors of Sauvignon Blanc but find it a little too aggressive for their palates.

Because Sauvignon Blanc is still not as popular with many wine drinking consumers as its more popular cousin varietal Chardonnay, many quality Sauvignon Blanc are very economically priced. Combined with its perfection in matching many difficult to pair food combinations, Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice for a dinner party varietal.