Tag Archives: new zealand

I Married a Talented Spitter

hatton winery“Just look at his arc and distance!”  Dave and I were on a wine tour in New Zealand when I first discovered yet another one of his many talents.  He’s a championship spitter. hatton winesAt the Hatton winery they poured us huge glasses of wine. First we had to swish the wine around in the glass to let in the oxygen and then we had to stick our nose right into the glass and take a sniff. dave at winery in new zelandNext they directed us to take a big gulp of wine and swirl it all around being sure it got into every nook and crevice of our mouth.  Then we had to spit it out into huge spitting buckets they provided. Professional wine tasters do this rather than swallowing every glass so their judgement doesn’t get clouded as they taste subsequent wines. Our hostess said it is possible to fully taste a wine just by swishing it around in your mouth for ten seconds.

dave and our wine tour guideSeveral people, including our guide Robert, pictured here with Dave, commented on Dave’s spitting abilities- the arc and distance of the wine he spit out. Dave told them his expertise came from all the years of spitting out hundreds of sunflower seeds during a ball game when he was a fastball catcher.

I have been married to Dave for over forty years but I’m still always learning more about his many talents .

Other posts……..

Wine Stories

Dionysus the God of Wine

Wine Canyon

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Filed under Food, New Zealand

Don’t Be A Wine Snob!

“Don’t be a wine snob!” That was the first piece of advice we received from our zany guide Robert Bevan who we met on a trip to New Zealand. He led a wine tour we joined in Hawkes Bay, on the east coast of the north island. Robert, a former PGA golf caddie, grew up in British Columbia, Canada. He decided to live in New Zealand after holidaying there and falling in love with the country’s golf courses and wines. Robert was funny, enthusiastic and incredibly knowledgeable about wine.

Robert said wine is like art, poetry or music. Everyone has individual tastes and personal preferences. What one person thinks is a great wine another person might not like at all. Only ‘wine snobs’ think they can choose the ‘best’ wines. Despite his warning about wine snobbery, Robert unabashedly praised New Zealand wines. He claimed they ranked third in the world after wines from California’s Napa Valley and the Bordeaux region of France.

It was French missionaries who introduced wine to New Zealand. The Pope sent a group of priests there in 1842 to covert the Maori people to Christianity. The holy fathers knew they’d need communion wine so they brought along their own vintner. He carried cuttings from the best French vineyards and within a decade produced the first New Zealand wine.

We visited four New Zealand wineries on our tour and tasted 30 different wines. Three wineries encouraged us to sip and enjoy their various vintages and varieties. However at the Hatton Estate Winery they taught us a true wine taster spits rather than sips. They poured us generous glasses of wine. After swirling the wine around to release the aroma we were instructed to stick our noses fully into our goblet and sniff heartily to inhale the scent. Next we were to gulp all the wine in our glass and swish it around in our mouth for up to a minute, being sure it reached every corner and crevice and taste bud. Then we were to spit the wine out into the huge buckets provided.

Dan Baker owned the Maona Park Winery. He had studied oenology (the art of winemaking) in Canada. Dan asked us to describe the taste of one of the wines he poured for us. Interestingly, we all tasted different things. A woman from England said it tasted like rose petals. A man from Auckland compared the wine to Turkish Delight candy. My husband thought it tasted like tomatoes. A woman from Finland said it reminded her of asparagus. Dan said we all have certain taste memories stored in our brain. Different wines trigger different memories for us. That’s why four people drinking the same wine each taste something different.

At the Salvatore Winery, our ever -resourceful guide, Robert, brought out a basket filled with nuts and raisins, chunks of dark German rye bread, different New Zealand cheeses, cranberry sauce, artistically sliced kiwis and apples, paper -thin slices of spicy salami, and containers of different flavored olive oils. We sat at wooden tables next to the vineyard, basking in the warm New Zealand sun, enjoying a delightful picnic along with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. At that moment I couldn’t have agreed more with Ernest Hemingway who once said, “Wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”

Other posts about wine…….

Wine Stories

Wine Canyon

Other posts about New Zealand…..

New Zealand Retirement Advice

Taonga Treasures

A Christmas Day In Hell

A Kiwi A Day


Filed under Food, New Zealand, Travel

Taonga Treasures

The Maori people of New Zealand sometimes talk of a taonga or a treasure.

We watched this Maori carver at work in New Zealand

We watched this Maori carver at work in New Zealand

Maori taonga are those things that have been precious to the Maori people in the past and continue to be important to them today. Taonga provide a link to their ancestry.
A taonga can be a piece of art that an ancestor has carved out of wood. It can be a woven basket, although the art of weaving can also be a taonga. A taonga can be photographs, skills, knowledge and spiritual insights that are considered important enough to pass on to the next generation.

A Maori basket weaver demonstrates his craft

A Maori basket weaver demonstrates his craft

What treasures are part of the history of our families? I know my family gave me some valuable taonga. I definitely learned the importance of hard work from my parents and grandparents.  My parents and grandparents also taught me by example that it is natural and right to help those who are less fortunate. Other taonga I received were a love and appreciation for music, a passion for learning and education, a love of the church community, the value of family loyalty and closeness and a belief in the power of prayer.

My sister and brother and I with my grandmother. I learned lessons of love, gentleness and laughter from her.

My sister and brother and I with my grandmother. We learned lessons of love, gentleness, artistic expression and laughter from her.

I want to continue to recognize and appreciate the taonga I have received from my family and pass on those treasures to the next generation.

Other posts about New Zealand……..

Retirement Advice in New Zealand

Maori Breath of Life


Filed under Art, Childhood, Family, History, New Zealand, Religion, Travel

Retirement Advice From New Zealand

We got some valuable advice about getting the most out of life as a senior citizen on our trip to New Zealand a few years ago. We stayed in three different bed and breakfasts each run by a couple in their late seventies or early eighties. I learned something from each one.

Jan and Lin’s beautiful home was perched atop a knoll overlooking a lake. Lin was in charge of the immaculate yard, lush with flowers and shrubs. Former dairy farmers, they decided to take in bed and breakfast guests as a way to fully utilize their large home. They had two children and three grandchildren living in Australia so they only saw them once or twice a year. Jan made us piping hot croissants and fluffy omelets for breakfast and set a lovely table with dishes and linens she’d collected from their world travels. She gave me my first piece of retirement advice. “You can’t count on your children to live close by in your old age so its important to have good friends. If you have the right attitude you can make friends wherever you are.” Jan was an avid quilter, belonged to a bridge club, sang in a choir and worked for the Save the Children organization. Lin was a member of the golf club, the Lions Club, the veterans club and a business association for bed and breakfast owners. He gave us our second piece of retirement advice. “You need structure, commitments and schedules to be happy”, he said.           

Structure and organization weren’t high on the list for Diane and Keith our next bed and breakfast hosts. Their home was fairly small and comfortably ‘messy’.  The heavily treed yard was a little on the wild side. We arrived on Christmas Day and the place was overflowing with people. Diane and Keith had their children and grandchildren over but also many other people who obviously needed a place to go for Christmas, new immigrants, lonely neighbors and a recently widowed friend. We were warmly welcomed into the milieu and there were even gifts under the tree for us. As we got to know Diane and Keith over the next couple of days, we discovered that while they spent lots of time with their children and grandchildren they had also extended their family circle to include many others. Seemed like a great way to enrich retirement.

Bob and Colleen were the oldest couple we stayed with. They were in their mid- eighties and already had five great grandchildren. Bob and Colleen regaled us with tales of their adventures on every continent. They were wine connoisseurs and talked excitedly about the recent wedding of a granddaughter.  They attended barefoot because she was married on the beach. Colleen belonged to a writers group. One afternoon during our stay she canned thirty jars of apricot jam and then whipped off a letter to the editor of the local paper concerning an issue she felt passionate about.

Colleen whistled hymns and Beatles’ songs almost constantly as she worked.  She gave me a piece of retirement advice over a cup of tea one evening, “ I love my children desperately” she said “but I’ve realized its not healthy for me to be involved in every detail of their lives.” Colleen was vivacious and opinionated and I wished I could be just like her in twenty years.

I saw some inspiring senior citizen role models during my trip to New Zealand. If I can have a retirement as rewarding and positive as theirs I don’t need to worry about getting old. 

You might also want to read……..

Baseball in His 60th Year

Are We Ready For Trailer Park Retirement?

Canadian Snowbirds

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Filed under New Zealand, Retirement, Travel