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5 Reasons to Love Texas Wines

5 Reasons to Love Texas Wines


Think Texas and food and your mind almost inevitably goes to fajitas and barbecue. Think Texas and wine and you might assume it's just a place that just drinks California Chardonnay and Cabernet. To help put misconceptions to rest, Master Sommelier and Texas wine enthusiast James Tidwell shares five reasons why the Lone Star State is making wines worth paying attention to. — Maryse Chevriere

1. Dynamic. Texas wines have actually been around a long time; if you’ve read the Grape Man of Texas about the life of T.V. Munson, it explains that the state’s vines deserve credit for saving the French wine industry during the phylloxera epidemic. But while people are now starting to acknowledge that Texas wine has been around for a while, modern Texas wine is not that old. It hasn’t really been established outside of the borders. I equate it to Switzerland, which also makes some very good wines. You don’t ever see Texas wines outside of the state because they can sell almost everything within. And Texans are very patriotic, and buy a lot of Texas wines, so it doesn’t have a chance to go out of state. They’re dynamic and on the move in terms of profile.

2. Cohesion. Because the state is so large, wineries had so many different ideas about how to make wine, but we had to move forward as a state. Wineries have recognized that we don’t have to agree on everything because we do have a variety of grapes, but that we should have a general identity. The “Go Texan” program has been instrumental in creating a cohesive representation of Texas wines.

3. Geographically Diverse. You can get it in California, to some extent in Oregon and Washington, maybe New York, but certainly Texas is in the top five states for geographically and climactically diverse wine. We can grow Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay in one area and Rhône varieties in another. Producers are finally realizing the varieties that should be planted in Texas; and the appropriate areas that those varieties should be grown in.

4. Proper Varieties. For a while Texas winemakers were just growing and producing certain wines because it's what they thought people wanted. But it turns out the Hill Country is great for Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Merlot. The High Plains and west Texas do well with Rhône varieties, and the warmer climate in the summers produces some nice Mediterranean varieties.

5. Wines that Reflect Texas. Grown in the right spot, wines are coming onto the market that really reflect Texas. Big, bold flavors – it fits. The wine may be a Sangiovese, but the wine won’t be like the Chianti you’re familiar with, it will be softer, richer, recognizable but not the same.

Texas Wine Recommendations

McPherson Cellars: Located in Lubbock, this vineyard is known for its Rhône varieties. They do a Syrah rosé that is spectacular.

Becker Vineyards: I recommend the Viognier — like Chardonnay's aromatic cousin.

Kiepersol Estates: This Tyler winery makes really good Merlot and Syrah.

Inwood Estates: They make a great Tempranillo and Cabernet blend — essentially what you would get with a Chianti but bigger, bolder, and richer.

Haak Vineyards and Winery: Excellent Madeira-style wine from Galveston. Hot, humid — a natural fit to produce fortified wine when you think about it.


13 Tips Make the Most of Your Texas de Brazil Meal

Plan ahead

Texas de Brazil is all you can eat. It isn&rsquot an inexpensive meal, and I always want to feel like I got my money&rsquos worth. That said, salad and full dinner at my local location is $46.99, and there are plenty of restaurants far more expensive.

Keep reading for tips for discounts to enjoy Texas de Brazil, too!

If I know I plan to go for dinner, I eat a light and early lunch. No snacking, no heavy foods. I want to be hungry when I walk in the door but not so hungry that I pass the point of feeling hungry.

Figure out your Thanksgiving Day strategy and go from there!

Try the caipirinha

The national drink of Brazil is the caipirinha, and they make it fresh on site at Texas de Brazil. If you drink alcohol, make sure to order one.

The main alcohol in the caipirinha is cachaca, made from distilled sugar cane. They mix it with fresh lime juice and sugar to make my flat out favorite cocktail ever.

Even better, Texas de Brazil kicks it up a notch with a variety of flavors. In addition to the traditional caipirinha, you can try strawberry or mango or coconut &ndash six in all. Just don&rsquot try all six in one night!

Don&rsquot forget about the bar menu

If you aren&rsquot up for a whole churrascaria dinner, enjoy their bar bites instead. Rather than all you can eat, you order from a set menu for about $10 per item.

You still get the same great flavors with choices like chicken breast, garlic sirloin, sausage, filet with bacon, or an antipasto platter. It&rsquos a great way to enjoy just a taste of this fantastic restaurant.

Take advantage of the happy hour, too!

Texas de Brazil&rsquos dining experience includes happy hour specials where allowed by law. (Some states have some really funky laws &ndash Florida&rsquos happy hour regulations are my personal favorite!)

Stop in for happy hour Monday through Friday 4:30-6pm at most locations. You can get $3 domestic beers, $5 glasses of TdB&rsquos private label wines, $7 martinis, and &ndash my favorite &ndash $5 caipirinhas and well cocktails.

The salad bar is worth it

All you can eat focused on meat? Why bother going to the salad bar. It&rsquos just going to fill you up, right?

I&rsquoll be honest. That was my philosophy the first time I went to Texas de Brazil. Then I saw the salad bar. The salad bar that&rsquos the size of my living room.

This isn&rsquot your typical salad bar with lettuce and cottage cheese and a few toppings. It&rsquos worth a stop. Or two.

They have everything from sushi to amazing cheeses and smoked meats. There are fabulous mixed salads and smoked salmon. Don&rsquot forget to take some of the pineapple carpaccio, too.

Enjoy these tastes that help give some variety to the meat you&rsquoll enjoy later. Don&rsquot fill up on the salad bar, but definitely take bites and pieces of your favorites.

If you aren&rsquot a meat eater, you can enjoy just the salad bar, too. Texas de Brazil offers a reduced price if you &ndash like my mom &ndash indulge only in the salad bar.

Texas de Brazil gets allergies

I have plenty of friends with gluten allergies, dairy allergies, and more. When I visited, a friend who joined me eats keto and successfully kept to her keto diet while at Texas de Brazil.

That said, if you have an allergy, don&rsquot just show up. While the gauchos bringing us meat were able to easily identify which were and were not gluten free, had we thought to call ahead and let the manager know, they could have accommodated us even more.

When you have a food allergy or intolerance, it can be nerve wracking to go out to eat. Texas de Brazil gets that and knows exactly what goes into each item, so they can share what you can and cannot eat &ndash and help ensure you have a fantastic experience.

Don&rsquot forget to use your go/no go circles

At each person&rsquos seat in Texas de Brazil is a small cardboard circle. The red side means you aren&rsquot ready for meat from the gauchos, while the green means bring it on.

Keep it on red while you visit the salad bar. Once you finish your salad round, go ahead and flip it over to green.

I like to get 3 or so meats, then I flip it to red so I can enjoy my food. That way I&rsquom not turning away gauchos or filling my plate too full.

As soon as I&rsquom ready for more, I flip it back to green. There&rsquos no limit to how many times you flip it from red to green and back again. Well, no limits until the restaurant closes anyway!

Request your favorites

Each gaucho brings a specific kind of meat to your table. They&rsquoll offer you a serving of their dish, then move to the next person.

After you try the various offerings, you&rsquoll likely discover you have a favorite and want more of it. Or you saw the menu and want to start with a particular item.

When a gaucho comes to your table, let them know what you want more of, and they&rsquoll bring it by. I adore the Brazilian Picanha and Alcatra personally.

And good news &ndash if you can&rsquot remember the name of what you loved, describe it, and the gauchos know their meat! They&rsquoll figure it out for you.

Don&rsquot forget about your tongs

As the gauchos literally serve you a piece of meat from the cut they carry, they end up short handed. One hand holds the tray and the second hand cuts with the knife.

Next to your cutlery, you&rsquoll find a small set of tongs. Use those to help grab the piece of meat from the main cut and place it on your plate.

Sausages and other items that don&rsquot require a knife don&rsquot need the tongs. The gaucho can serve those to your plate directly.

If you have a question about whether or not you need tongs, just ask!

Go ahead and bring your kids

The best part? Kids eat at a discounted rate. As long as there&rsquos an adult enjoying a full price meal, kids under 2 are free. Kids 3-5 are just $5, and kids 6-12 are half price.

That makes this so much more affordable for families! In fact, we dined here for my dad&rsquos, husband&rsquos, and daughter&rsquos birthday a year ago to celebrate, and it was perfect! (Yes, they all have birthdays within 4 days of each other.)

The food at Texas de Brazil is so varied, there&rsquos bound to be something your kids enjoy. And since it&rsquos all you can eat, it&rsquos the perfect chance for them to try foods they wouldn&rsquot otherwise eat.

Let them try a bite. If they don&rsquot like it, they can try something else without worrying that you have to order an entirely new meal.

Save room for dessert

While dessert isn&rsquot included, it&rsquos worth saving a little room to enjoy it. Good news? While you can&rsquot take home any &ldquoleftovers&rdquo of your main all you can eat meal, anything you don&rsquot eat from dessert you can box up to bring home.

At the end of the meal, your waiter will bring the dessert tray by so you can check out all the offerings. Honestly, you may want to share with others at your table so everyone can get a bit and taste of different sweets.

My absolute favorite is the Brazilian papaya cream, something you don&rsquot see on many menus anywhere. It&rsquos light and creamy without being too rich after a large meal.

They offer everything from carrot cake to key lime pie to creme brulee to coconut chess pie and so much more. You may have to enjoy Texas de Brazil more than once to try them all!

Sign up for the Texas de Brazil eClub

Like so many restaurants, Texas de Brazil has an online club that sends periodic offers via email.

When you first sign up, you&rsquoll receive an email good for $20 off the purchase of two dinners. Outside that, you&rsquoll get additional offers for your birthday and anniversary &ndash no surprise.

Beyond that, they share special offers periodically throughout the year to give you extra incentive to come visit. For example, they&rsquove had a ton of great offers during their 20th anniversary celebration.

Follow them on social media, too, so you can stay up to date on current promotions and specials.

Don&rsquot forget about special &ldquothank you&rdquo discounts

This is one of my favorite aspects to Texas de Brazil. This privately held restaurant recognizes the everyday heroes in the world.

If you serve in the military or are a veteran, if you&rsquore a teacher, work in law enforcement, as a firefighter, or EMS, Texas de Brazil wants to say thank you. They offer their 20% heroes&rsquo discount to any of those groups with proper ID for groups up to four.

And let me tell you, as the wife of a hard working schoolteacher, I appreciate that recognition and discount!

Bonus Tip: Try the sides

With your meal, the wait staff will bring you three sides. They&rsquore served family style, and any time you want more of one &ndash or all &ndash of them, just ask.

My hands down favorite is the Brazilian cheese bread. It&rsquos so delicious I figured out how to make it at home, but I&rsquoll take that whole basket just for myself thankyouverymuch.

Beyond the cheese bread, there are also garlic mashed potatoes and &ndash my other favorite &ndash the sweet fried bananas.


In a Rut? How Wine Professionals Recommend Bottles to Strangers

If you ask Gregory Innocent for a wine recommendation, he might reply with a few questions of his own.

“What time of day are you expecting to be drinking? Where are you going? Who are you going to be with?” Innocent, the corporate beverage director of Chicago’s Parker Restaurant Group, wants to know.

He’s not being nosy. The question, “So, what should I drink?” seems straightforward but, like everything in wine, it contains endless variables. There aren’t categorically perfect bottles guaranteed to suit everyone all the time. Your personal tastes, budget and intentions for how, where and when you plan to drink determine what wines are best for you.

However, if you provide your sommelier or retailer with some choice intel, they’ll be more apt to recommend a bottle you’ll love.

Gregory Innocent, corporate beverage director, Parker Restaurant Group / Courtesy Hampton Social

Start by sharing what you normally drink, suggests Regina Jones Jackson CSW, FWS, the owner and principal wine consultant of Corks and Cuvee in Atlanta.

Do you usually buy Pinot Noir? If so, do you know if the bottles you buy tend to come from Northern California, France or someplace else? There’s no right or wrong answer here the grape and its origin simply help wine professionals zero in on your preferences.

If someone tells Jackson that they usually drink Moscato, for example, she might encourage them to consider varieties with related appeal, like “off-dry whites like Gewürztraminer, Riesling or sometimes a Viognier, because it’s very floral,” she says.

“Try something you don’t know, and then you can make an educated decision to say, ‘Oh, I don’t like that for XYZ reasons,’ versus ‘I’m scared to try this.’ ” — Regina Jones Jackson, owner and principal wine consultant, Corks and Cuvee

Sarah Goler, wine director at Tannat in New York City, also finds it useful to know what guests typically drink before suggesting something new.

“If someone says, ‘I like Sauvignon Blanc,’ I will suggest a wine with pronounced herbal and citrus notes, like Hárslevelű from Hungary,” says Goler. “I will pick about three wines in a range of prices to eliminate any financial pressure.”

It’s useful and not at all tacky to share how much you want to spend. There are great wines for $13 and $300, and all have their time and place.

Sarah Goler, wine director, Tannat / Courtesy Tannat Market and Tavern

Your culinary preferences can be a window into the sorts of wine you’ll like, too.

“There are people who gravitate toward sweet, and there are people who would rather a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips to dessert,” says Innocent. “I like to break it down in those terms because it’s very approachable, and it allows you to say, ‘O.K., I know I don’t really care for sweet. I would much rather something savory.’ ”

From there, Innocent might be able to identify whether you’d prefer a fruity red wine or “something with more tannin structure and baking-spice notes,” he says.

If you can provide your sommelier or retailer with some choice intel, they’ll be more apt to recommend a bottle you’ll love. / Photo: The Hampton Social

If you rarely buy wine and have no idea what varieties you like, tell the wine professional when and where you’re going to drink it.

“If you’re in Florida, and you want to sit outside and drink wine in the middle of the day, I would think twice about saying, ‘O.K., let’s do this big, heavy Cabernet,’ ” says Innocent. Instead, he’d recommend a light, refreshing wine to complement whatever you might be snacking on during the day.

Or, “maybe you’re just looking for something to watch a movie with at night,” he says. “Then I would definitely recommend something that is more complex and has more depth, and that opens up as you drink it.”

Willingness to experiment is key.

“Try something you don’t know, and then you can make an educated decision to say, ‘Oh, I don’t like that for XYZ reasons,’ versus ‘I’m scared to try this, and I don’t really know what I like, I’ve never had it, so I’m just saying no because I’ve always said no,’” says Jackson.

You have a lot to gain by stepping outside your comfort zone.

“I use myself as an example,” says Jackson. “I would only drink, big, buttery Chardonnay for years. That was my drink… I literally would not venture out, and so my appreciation of wine was very limited because I only knew about one kind.”

You don’t have to speak French or memorize appellations to find something new. You’ll get the most out of wine simply by asking and answering questions.

“Wine varies so much, and there’s so much out there,” says Jackson. “I just want people to be open to new things.”


Jump straight to a cocktail

The Old Cuban, Where a Mojito and French 75 Meet

Rum Punch

A Proper Mojito

The Original Puerto Rican Piña Colada

Rum Old Fashioned

The Story (and Recipe) Behind the Hemingway Daiquiri

The El Floridita Daiquiri

Planter’s Punch

The New Rum & Coke

Rum Alexander

These days, it’s hard to find a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have a cocktail menu packed with original creations. Budding mixologists the world-over are vying to innovate and leave a lasting mark on bartending culture. But what does it take for a new cocktail to transcend from a one-off recipe to a modern classic?

It takes someone like Audrey Saunders, owner and founder of Pegu Club in New York City, and a drink like the Old Cuban.

The Old Cuban was invented by Saunders in 2001, and quickly made its way into bar books across America. Like all great classic cocktails, the recipe is deceptively simple, requiring just rum, sparkling wine, lime, mint and bitters. It shares heritage with two other better-known classics, the storied Mojito and French 75, a gin- and sparkling wine-based drink.

Aged rum provides more depth to this drink than your standard white-rum Mojito, while a dash of bitters balances the sweetness. And then there’s Saunders’s masterstroke, swapping the Mojito’s ordinary sparkling water for sparkling wine.

Pegu Club has been at the forefront of modern cocktail culture since Saunders opened the venue in 2005. Important to note was her insistence on double-straining for quality and consistency—this, at a time in bar culture when a majority of New York City was still trying to remember how to make an Old Fashioned. The extra attention to detail ensures a cocktail with a crisp hit of mint, without any fear of getting muddled leaves stuck between your teeth.

So, whether you’re looking for a new way to punch up brunch, something to sip in the sun or just want to upgrade your cocktail game with a modern classic, here’s how to make an Old Cuban.

  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 6–8 mint leaves
  • 1 ½ ounces aged rum (like Bacardi Reserva Ocho)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces sparkling wine
  • Mint sprig, for garnish

Combine lime juice, simple syrup, bitters and mint leaves in mixing tin without ice. Gently muddle mint using muddler or flat back of bar spoon. Add rum, bitters and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Double-strain through fine-mesh strainer into chilled coupe glass. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with mint sprig.

Note: Saunders’s original Pegu Club recipe called for a sugar-coated vanilla bean as garnish, but we’re opting for a sprig of mint here for simplicity.

Though this fruity tiki-style drink is a fantastic single serve cocktail, it also works well in a punch bowl format. Figure out how much your punch bowl holds for a standard 8-quart size, add 4 cups of each ingredient. That will leave enough room for a big block of punchbowl ice (freeze water in a bowl or loaf pan) to keep everything nice and cold as the New Year’s countdown ticks away.

  • 1 ounce dark (aged) rum
  • 1 ounce golden rum
  • 1 ounce brewed, cooled black tea
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce mango juice
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • Mint sprig, for garnish

In a Collins glass or tiki mug filled with crushed ice, combine both rums, tea, lime juice, mango juice, pomegranate juice and simple syrup. Swizzle to mix. Garnish with the mint sprig before serving.

The mojito is a funny drink. There might not be another cocktail that people so love to order and bartenders so hate to make.

Even the most casual bar-goer can understand. It’s a delicious drink, well balanced and refreshing. And given all the muddling and shaking involved, it’s also time-consuming and creates a gigantic mess.

For a bartender, mojitos mean that your sink gets clogged up with mint, with flecks ending up in the next 10 drinks you make. It’s also a guarantee that the next six customers who see it will order one, too.

However, the secret (that shouldn’t even be a secret) is that when done correctly, mojitos are simple, fast, clean and easy to make.

The history of the mojito is steeped in mystery. With records that date back more than 500 years, it’s widely regarded as one of the oldest cocktails still consumed.

For a bartender, mojitos mean that your sink gets clogged up with mint, with flecks ending up in the next 10 drinks you make. It’s also a guarantee that the next six customers who see it will order one, too.

The crew of infamous sea captain and pirate Sir Francis Drake is said to have come up with the recipe upon landing in Cuba in the 1500s. Like many classic cocktails, its original purpose seemed to be medicinal.

The long journeys at sea had left Drake’s men riddled with scurvy and dysentery, and the combination of sugar and lime helped with vitamin C deficiency. Mint helped alleviate the nausea that came from months at sea, while the island’s local spirit, aguardiente (rum’s precursor, roughly translated to “fire water”), made the concoction feel all the better.

Whether the story is true is best left to legend. But as with many drinks that enjoy a popularity explosion (like margaritas, martinis, Old Fashioneds), recipes have strayed to become sugary fruit-bombs. Many modern mojitos are less akin to an elegant classic cocktail than a spiked lemon-lime soda served with a stick of spearmint gum.

Here is how to make a proper, simple and refreshing mojito. Don’t tear the mint to pieces while muddling (a light slap is all you need), and allow the lime to take center stage over sugar.

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 6–8 large mint leaves
  • Soda water, to top
  • Mint sprig (for garnish)

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds until well chilled, and strain into a highball glass. Gather mint in the palm of one hand, and firmly slap with your opposite palm to release the oils. Add mint to the glass.

Add crushed ice to the glass until full. If crushed ice isn’t available, pulse ice cubes in a blender, or use the leftover cracked ice from the cocktail shaker. Pack until glass is full and ice rests on the bottom. Top with soda water, and garnish with a large sprig of mint.


Use Lillet Rosé in a Paloma

A Paloma, which traditionally combines Tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda, screams summer, and Lillet Rosé can be used for a playful take. Instead of the traditional two ounces of Tequila, Trickett will reduce it to one ounce and add two ounces of Lillet Rosé before adding lime juice and seltzer or grapefruit soda.

“The nice thing about the Lillet Rosé is that it adds the orange and all the sweetness from the fruit liqueurs in there,” she says. “You could add honey, but I honestly don’t have a big sweet tooth. So, I like it on the drier side,” says Trickett.


Cowboy Caviar Recipe

Ingredients

  • 15.5 oz. black beans
  • 15.5 oz. black-eyed peas
  • 15 oz. sweet corn
  • 1 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped or diced
  • 1/2 cup orange bell pepper chopped or diced
  • 1/2 cup red onions diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Instructions

Video

Notes

Recipe Tip:

  • Lightly warm the salad if refrigerated overnight to loosen up the liquid/oil or thaw for 1 hour before serving.

**This post was first published in May 2018. It is now republished with a video**

Enjoy!

Nutrition

Making this recipe? Mention @MSavoryThoughts or tag #SavoryThoughts!

Tried this recipe? Mention @SavoryThoughts or tag #SavoryThoughts!


8 Reasons To Love Red Wine

Any hardworking gal knows that kicking back with a girlfriend and a glass of red wine is a fabulous way to de-stress. The best part? Your red-wine habit also happens to come with some happy health benefits, such as protecting your ticker and even slimming your waistline. Check out these eight reasons why winding down with a glass of vino is a good call all around.

High-fiber Tempranillo red grapes&mdashwhich are used to make certain red wines, like Rioja&mdashmay actually have a significant effect on cholesterol levels, according to a study from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain.

Healthy study participants who consumed the same grape supplement found in red wine saw their LDL, or "bad cholesterol," levels decrease by 9% among healthy. Participants with high cholesterol experienced a drop of 12%. What's the big deal? Excess LDL ends up getting deposited in arterial walls and forming plaque, which causes arteries to stiffen and blood pressure to rise, ultimately leading to heart attacks, says Arthur Agatson, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami and author of The South Beach Heart Program.

On top of lowering bad cholesterol, polyphenols&mdashthe antioxidants in red wine&mdashcan help keep blood vessels flexible and reduce the risk of unwanted clotting, says John Folts, PhD, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and nutrition at the University of Wisconsin&ndashMadison.

"They're nearly as effective as aspirin," says Folts. But be careful: Chronic heavy drinking damages the heart, so, as with most things, moderation is key. (If you prefer an aspirin to protect your ticker, be sure to follow these 3 aspirin safety tips.)

The skin of red grapes&mdasha rich source of red wine's natural compound resveratrol&mdashmay actually help diabetics regulate their blood sugar, finds recent research published in the journal Nutrition. Study participants who took a 250 mg resveratrol supplement once a day for three months had lower blood glucose levels than those who didn't take the pill. Plus, resveratrol-takers also had significant decreases in total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. Researchers suspect that resveratrol may help stimulate insulin secretion or activate a protein that helps regulate glucose and insulin sensitivity.

Resveratrol may also be the key to keeping your memory sharp, says Philippe Marambaud, PhD, a senior research scientist at New York's Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders. The compound has been shown to hamper the formation of beta-amyloid protein, a key ingredient in the plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Marambaud suggests flexing your noodle by doing crossword puzzles and brain teasers for an hour then cooling down with a glass of wine. New to brain teasers? We've got you covered with 7 Brain Games That Make You Smarter.

If you hate getting sick (and who doesn't?), the antioxidants in red wine may help keep you healthy. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that among 4,000 faculty members at five Spanish universities, those who drank more than 14 weekly glasses of wine for a year were 40% less likely to come down with a common cold. Why? According to the National Institutes of Health, antioxidants are believed to fight infection and protect cells against the effects of free radicals, which may play role in cancer and other diseases.

Another antioxidant boost? They may also lower sex hormone levels to protect against breast cancer, says a study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Stay up to date on the latest breast cancer news with our Breast Cancer Center.)

According to researchers at the University of Virginia, the resveratrol you get from drinking one glass of red wine three or four times a week may be enough to starve any nascent cancer cells. The scientists dosed human cancer cells with resveratrol and found that the compound inhibited the key action of a cancer-feeding protein.

Clearly, resveratrol is a bit of a limelight hog when it comes to the healthful compounds in vino. But research in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggests piceatannol, the chemical compound our bodies convert from resveratrol, deserves some credit. This compound was shown to actually prevent the growth of fat cells in a series of lab tests. How? Researchers say that piceatannol binds to the insulin receptors of fat cells, essentially blocking the pathways necessary for immature fat cells to mature and grow.

Who said your red wine consumption had to be limited to the glass? You can include the drink in your dinner, either as a sauce (in which case we suggest our yummy DIY red wine sauce) or complimentary ingredient, and still reap its benefits.


5. It’s a Nature Lover’s Paradise

When you imagine Austin, Texas, you probably envision tall buildings and busy streets. And while this is certainly part of what Austin has to offer, there’s also plenty of nature to enjoy and to explore.

The beautiful Lady Bird Lake offers you an incredible view and lots of outdoor recreational activities including fishing, kayaking, rowing, and more. Make sure you visit Mount Bonnell where you’ll be able to see the city and Texas hill country from its highest vantage point. And when it comes to sunrises and sunsets, you’ll be in awe of the gorgeous blue and purple light that covers the downtown area almost every day.

If you enjoy hiking and biking, there are plenty of trails to choose from throughout the Austin area. A large trail surrounding Lady Bird Lake is one of the city’s most popular options with about 1.5 million visitors every year. The trail is 10 miles long and features an abundance of trees along the beautiful Colorado River.

There’s also no shortage of gorgeous parks throughout Austin, Texas. Take a picnic lunch with you to enjoy a relaxing view, or grab your bike and head out to a local nature trail. Spending time outdoors is good for the soul, and you can certainly take advantage of it if you move to Austin, Texas.


Yet Another Reason To Visit Hill Country

Stroll through olive orchards, taste the oil, and enjoy a Mediterranean adventure in Texas.

Maybe you wouldn&apost expect to find an Italophile in San Antonio, but here I am𠅊n Alabama transplant who loves my adopted Texas home but still dreams of making a return trip to Tuscany. As it turns out, there&aposs a Lone Star version of the Mediterranean nestled in the arid Hill Country, where local olive growers are thriving.

Wind your way over the rise and fall of rural roads toward Bella Vista Ranch in Wimberley, Texas, and you&aposll be lulled into a relaxed Tuscan state of mind. In Italy, no one&aposs in a hurry�rtainly not the olive growers and vineyard owners who cultivate their crops with patience. Those guys don&apost usually wear cowboy hats, but Jack Dougherty, Bella Vista&aposs proud owner, does. He was the first commercial grower of Texas olives and is the maker of award-winning olive oil produced by his business, First Texas Olive Oil Company.

"I tell people that a visit here is like going on a day trip to Italy but without the expensive airfare," says Dougherty. He&aposs right. Italian cypress trees stand near sprawling live oaks and frame the property&aposs olive-oil tasting room. A newer project on the ranch is the vineyard, a small battalion of neatly cultivated grapevines. And then there&aposs the olive orchard: 1,200 trees strong with row upon row of silvery green branches studded with olives. "I know every tree," Dougherty says.

On weekends, visitors enjoy walks through the shady orchard. Inside the tasting room, much like that of a vineyard, they sip and savor—only it&aposs olive oil instead of wine. If sipping oil seems foreign to you, don&apost worry. Right there on-site, Dougherty will help you appreciate the nuances of the oils that his company presses: three kinds of extra-virgin olive oil along with citrus-infused varieties pressed with blood oranges, Meyer lemons, and limes.

Dougherty also offers sips of balsamic vinegars sourced directly from Italy. Thick and sweet, the Blackberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar makes a delicious marinade for strawberries, he says. Just add a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a sprinkle of bittersweet chocolate for an instant dessert.

Fascinated by California&aposs agritourism, Dougherty planted his olive trees back in 1998, hoping quality oils would attract food-minded travelers. He aimed to emulate an Italian-style family farm—growing olive trees, blackberries, and grapes in close proximity. When a county Extension agent told him that olives wouldn&apost grow in Texas, Dougherty set out to prove otherwise, though the quest did have its challenges. "It seems very romantic, but there is no romance involved," he says. "It&aposs hard to grow olives. It&aposs hard to make olive oil."

Dougherty uses ancient Roman techniques to grow his olive trees, which have matured quickly. Planted less than 20 years ago, they&aposre now equivalent in size to 50-year-old trees. He won a Gold Award for his 2013 Estate Grown Coratina Olive Oil at an international competition in New York. And the Coratina oil made from his 2015 harvest sold out by April 2016. "I&aposve had Italian visitors come here and buy a case of olive oil," he says, highlighting the authenticity. His daughter, Colleen Peters, with whom he shared his techniques, helps manage the business.

In nearby Dripping Springs, Texas, another father-daughter pair, John and Cara Gambini, operate Texas Hill Country Olive Company, established in 2008. Here, an Italianate facility with a red-tile roof enhances the Tuscan-like views, while a cozy bistro offers lunch. Cara enjoys educating tourists in the orchard, the elegant tasting room, and the mill. "Most people have never really tasted [authentic] extra-virgin olive oil," she says. "Once you know what the good stuff tastes like, you&aposre not going to want the bad."


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