101 things to do this summer

An article from the Time Out Beirut magazine issue nb 33 July 2011


You can also check it online on their webpage here

Published in: on July 16, 2011 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Helpful tips for sparkling wine tasting

The Magic Flute
“Flute”-shaped glasses best trap aromas and conduct coolness in sparkling wine, which allows for a steadier stream of bubbles to be released from the bottom of the glass. Bowl-shaped champagne glasses warm up wine too quickly and cause bubbles to dissipate faster. Due to their slick bottoms wine glasses don’t show the bubbles (“bead”) structure and make sparkling wine look flatter, although the bubbles are still present.

The Big Chill
Most of us like to serve sparkling wine a little colder than white wine, but the colder it is the more inhibited the flavours. A good rule of thumb for chilling sparkling wine is 20 to 30 minutes in a half-water-half-ice bath or three hours in the refrigerator. When the sparkling wine warms a little, you’ll notice more flavour.

Big Bang Theory
Always open sparkling wine after it’s been chilled. If you open a sparkling when it’s not chilled you’ll have a far more volatile bottle with a much bigger bang. The pressure can be so great that if you loosen the wire hood the cork is likely to pop on its own accord. Bubbles in a chilled bottle of sparkling wine are more soluble, which lessens the pressure within the bottle, which makes serving much easier.

Glass Act
No need to ice sparkling wine glasses. During your first pour the mousse (foam) will rise to the top of your glass and chill it for you, which results in less mousse on the second pour. For the best bubble viewing you should also make sure the glass is extremely clean.

Palate Prep
If you want to do more serious wine tasting, don’t drink strong coffee or eat dishes with a lot of garlic or hot spice beforehand because it will influence your palate.

Timely Taste buds
Many wine tasters feel the palate is the keenest earlier in the day, which allows for better tasting ability.

Skip the Swirl
No need to swirl a sparkling wine. Its natural carbonation (bubbles) magnifies and releases the aromas and flavour.

The Bead Goes On
You can tell a sparkling wine has been made under the guidelines of méthode traditionnelle (bottle aging) by its bubbles. Big, random bubbles resembling soda are indications of a sparkler that has not been bottle aged. Tiny bubbles in a strand-like formation are associated with bottle-aged sparkling wine.

Crisp and Clean
Sparkling wine’s carbonation and acidity have crisp palate-cleansing qualities. Its bubbles make delicate flavours come to life on the palate. With the help of sparkling wine’s acidity the bubbles lift creamy, salty rich foods off the palate, leaving it refreshed. Sparkling wine’s automatic cleansing qualities come in handy when tasting various sparkling wines since you won’t need to neutralize your palate between tastes.

Dare to Pair
Try sparkling wine with meals. The pop of the cork announces fun, the cleansing characteristics enliven your palate, and pairing versatility makes sparkling wine a great partner for a variety of foods ranging from spicy, salty foods and rich fare to sweet finales.

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Wine Culture

Interview with Dr Carlos Khachan in “Ya Hala” 2011 magazine

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Vin: le Liban compte trois nouveaux domaines

Article featured in “Le Commerce du Levant” magazine (Fevrier 2011)

Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tour des vignobles du Liban avec David Cobbold

Interview avec “Le Commerce du Levant” magazine (Fevrier 2011)

Published in: on March 1, 2011 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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النبيذ اللبناني … يطول العمر 4 سنوات ويبعد الانفلونزا

Here’s an amazing article about the Lebanese Wine posted in “DivaStars” Magazine – Issue 2 (Feb 2011)

Published in: on February 22, 2011 at 8:56 am  Comments (1)  
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Club Grappe in RAGMAG

Below is an interview with sommeliers Carlos Khachan (founder of Club Grappe) and Paul Abdullah in the September 2010 issue of RAGMAG. Article by Sabina LLewellyn-Davies, entitled “Dionysus, LEBANON ADOPTS THE GREEK GOD OF WINE”


Published in: on February 12, 2011 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Clubgrappe

1) First, tell me a bit about your background. How did you first become interested in wine, and how did that interest evolve into a career?

After finishing my agricultural engineering Diploma in Lebanon I decided to travel to France to continue my studies so I started a Master of Science Degree in Sensory Analysis and I graduated from INAPG – ENSIA in 2000. During my journey in France I travelled the country from Montpellier to Lilles and from Strasbourg to Bretagne. Being everywhere in that beautiful country I shared the wines of each place and matched them with French delicious cheeses (knowing that French people have more than 360 kind of cheese carefully made by famous “maitres fromagers”……mmm !!!! heaven on earth !)

So my passion to wine grew there and all these convivial diners with fondue bourguignone, fondue savoyarde, raquelette, Daube, Cassoulet, Choucroute etc, matched with premium French wines made me crazy about wine and the spirit that creates with lovely people.

So I was guided by my passion when I decided to come back to Lebanon and open a wine tasting Club so I came back in 2002 and opened “Club Grappe” the first wine tasting club in Lebanon. A year later I couldn’t stop my passion to wine so I travelled again to France and started a Sommelier diploma. It was in the well known “Universite du Vin” where I was the only Lebanese out of 33 French wine passionate.

I finished first of my promotion and it was the happiest days of my life I shared with wonderful French people who love what they are doing and do what they love! We were in a perfect harmony as if we knew each others in a different life!

2) Can you describe a typical tasting process?

Sure, all you need is to appreciate every single moment while sipping a glass of Chardonnay because tasting is something that only human being can express and talk about. Tasting wine is a cultural manner; it’s a life style, an art in itself. So perception of food and wine is something that we practice every day but since we aren’t focusing and paying attention to what we are “eating”.

Now wine tasting is a technique that every civilized person will practice to describe and talk about his perception.

It’s about seeing, smelling and tasting. First we have the visual exam where we check the color, the aspect and the “robe” of the wine than we have the smell exam where we talk about the aromas and the “nose” of the wine and at the end we have the taste exam where we sip the wine and we talk about the sourness, astringency and sweetness of the wine. It looks very simple but it needs practice and concentration.

3) Do you have a favorite varietal?

Yes I have. As I prefer red wines and as I am a fan of the Cotes du Rhone wines I like the “Syrah” or Shiraz grape as well as its “cousin” “Mondeuse” grape. The Syrah grape is planted in Lebanon and it’s giving very good results.

On the other hand and for white grapes I will choose the Viognier as well as the Riesling grapes.

4) What are some of the best experiences you’ve had with wine?

My wine trip that I did in Alsace, it was so rich and full of adventure. Wine trips are valorizing the wine because not only you discover the place where the wine is made but you talk and get the experience of the wine maker as well as the vine grower, people full of passion. Therefore, I am preparing with my Wine tasting Club, Club Grappe, a wine trip to Spain. You will be informed through my website http://www.clubgrappe.com

5) Have you ever thought of growing wine yourself?

As I am a wine consultant I already started to big wine projects for 2 different new companies but it’s true that I didn’t start my own vineyard yet. I will enjoy starting my “Chateau” right after my retirement! It will be an organic wine from the essence of my experience!

6) What are some of your greatest lessons?

Enjoy wine not the prestigious label you are paying! Always be humble when you taste and don’t pretend that you know everything! It’s wonderful because it’s a very convivial human job far from perfection and standardization. Drinking wine is like sharing good time with people you love; it’s far from the showy Lebanese way of consuming “labels”. Wine tasting is an art and not a science so welcome to the world of subjectivity. It learn us how to respect others taste and opinion. Also it’s the most symbolic beverage and that’s why Jesus turned Water into wine and not wine into water! (It was his first miracle – Cana, Lebanon)

7) What wines are you drinking at the moment?

I don’t like to be stucked in one kind usually.

I appreciate red wines in general and my favorite are French wines from Cotes du Rhone like Gigondas, Chateau-Neuf du Pape and Cornas they are really a perfect match with birds and games dishes. Between the Lebanese wines I like organic wines like Domaine de Baal from Dhour Zahle.

8) Is Lebanon emerging as great wine producer?

Still to come but we are working on quality. Lebanon wine production needs an international marketing strategy that’s why without the support of the government we can’t go far. We need to promote the Lebanese wine identity and not famous brands!

We are about 32 wine producers in Lebanon only 3 are commercials and the rest is focusing on quality (when you produce less than 300000 bottles/year) rather than quantity(when you produce 2.5 million bottles/year).

Producing premium wines oblige you to be selective and patient which means practically: you decrease the yield so you harvest around 3 to 4 grapes per vine or you produce less than 40hl/hectare than you practice a sever pruning on the vine so you will produce a small quantity of grapes also you must practice the “green” pruning when you get rid of extra grapes during the blooming period of the vine.

9) Do you think that in general people are more inclined to buy local wines now?

Unfortunately the Lebanese wine market is monopolized with 2 big commercial brands. Marketing and money power can hypnotize the choice of the consumer. Let me explain my point of view: As Lebanese do not have the culture of wine, you can brainwash their taste with any wine you serve as long as you create a good prestigious image to the commercial wine you produce. So the Lebanese wine consumer is a showy consumer with a lack of information about wine and wine science, so he is ready to drink anything appealing even if the taste is not to our standards.

10) If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 1 case of the same wine what would it be and why?

I will choose a case full 12 different premium Lebanese wines (2 from the northern Lebanese terroir, 5 from the Bekaa Valley, 2 from the southern Lebanese terroir and 3 from Mont Lebanon terroir (Bhamdoun))

11) When do you decant a bottle of wine?

When the wine is not revealing his aromas you must aerate the bottle for at least 1 hour. Also we aerate wines full of tannin.

Actually the world decanting has not the same meaning in French because decanting is like “carafage” but when French people decant their wines it will be for separating the residual of the bottle from the wine in itself and not really for aerating the wine.

12) Tell us about the process of building such an extensive cellar at Le Gray.

Le Gray is dealing with people who have the wine culture, gourmet people who knows what they want. These people arerich in culture as well as in their “pockets”. I am quite sure that Le Gray has a professional Sommelier (wine waiter) to serve and take care of such a cellar.So in my point of view, the main clients of this Hotel are Europeans and not Lebanese or from the Golf countries.

13) What advice would you offer to an aspiring sommelier?

Be always humble and modest and always enjoy discovering new wines even if they are cheap and not known or famous. Always taste blindly and do not be influenced by the label or any talks about the wine you taste.

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment