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  Not Just Wine Issue 45, October 2006   
AvocadoAvocado AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 44, September 2006 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 46, November 2006

Avocado

A particular fruit which perfectly accompanies salty recipes and salads, its fame of aphrodisiac has accelerated its spreading from America to Europe

 Avocado, Persea americana Mill., it is a plant belonging to the Lauraceae family, genus Persea, coming from Central America, known before the pre-columbian era. Its origins are believed to be around 5,000 b.C. and the name derives from Spanish “avogado”, which in turn derives from the Aztec terms “ahuacatl”, “aguacate” or “ahuacate” (testicle). Because of its particular shape and color of the skin, it is also called “alligator pear”. Avocado is cultivated in tropical countries and with a tempered climate, such as Mexico, California, Florida, Venezuela, Australia, Philippines, Kenya, New Zealand, Brazil and South Africa. In the Mediterranean area it is found a small production in Spain and in Israel.


Avocado fruits
Avocado fruits

 Avocado is a tree of about 20 meters in height (about 65 feet), with a wide crown having a sphere shape, evergreen leaves, small flowers and not very noticeable, with six greenish yellow petals grouped in clusters. Fruits are not very showy and are not very visible to insects, therefore determining the low productivity. Fruits are fleshy large berries, from 7 to 20 centimeters long (2.5-8 inches), with a pear like shape, the external skin, according to variety, has a green, black-purple or coffee color, rough at the touch. The pulp has a greenish yellow or pale yellow color, with buttery consistence because of the high content in fats, it wraps one whitish or pink seed. According to a botanical point of view, it is an evergreen plant, although near the blossoming period, it tends to lose almost all of its leaves. Avocado can be adapted to tropical, subtropical and tempered climates, however in lands exposed to wind, proper measures must be taken in order to shield the plants.

 

Varieties of Avocado

 The varieties of avocado are three: Antillian, Guatemalan and Mexican. The main differences are shown in the leaves: the sprouts of the Mexican and Antillian varieties are green, whereas in the Guatemalan variety have a green bronze-purple color. The Mexican variety has the typical aroma of anise. The most resistant varieties are the Mexican and Guatemalan, however they do not stand to temperatures lower than 4° C (39° F). The avocados cultivated in modern plantations do not show these differences, as in most of the cases they are hybrids. The hybrids used in cultivations, although they have hermaphrodites flowers, are characterized by a high difficulty in self-fecundation. Plants are divided in two categories: “A” and “B”. They differ from floral biology: in plants belonging to type “A”, the receptivity of the pistil is active during morning hours, when the anthers are folded and pollen cannot reach its destination; in plants belonging to type “B” happens the opposite. In case it is wanted to obtain a production of avocados, it is indispensable to have both variety “A” and “B”.

 The most commercialized varieties are:

 

  • Ettinger and Fuerte - are the most common varieties, characterized by a stretched shape, with a thin skin and of brilliant green color
  • Nabal - with a more round shape, thick skin and pulp with a particularly delicate taste
  • Hass - with rough skin which during ripeness changes from green color to dark green, considered the best according to taste

 Avocado can be considered a plant with a quick growth, at least when compared to citrus fruits: in three years a plant of avocado grows as much as a plant of citrus fruits do in ten. Plantations of avocado do not require particular cares. The harvesting period begins in November and usually ends in March or April, according to variety. Also yields changes according to varieties, usually about 10-20 tons per hectare. Every fruit usually weigh from 200 to 500 grams (7-17 ounces). Leaves provide fruits a hormone which avoids full ripeness: in order to get them ripe it is then necessary to remove them from the plant. Avocado was one of the base foods for Aztec and Maya people, where it was considered aphrodisiac, a characteristic which did not pass unnoticed to Spanish conquerors who planted it in Europe, as well as importing the legends which made it famous. Avocado oil is used for massages; the oil with a pale yellow color is more refined and it is used for massaging the face, whereas the green or brown one, less refined, it is used to massage the body.

 

Nutritional Qualities


 

 Avocado is one of the few fresh fruits very rich in fats and poor in simple sugars. Because of its high content in calories, it is advisable to limit its consumption, in fact, 100 grams provides more than 200 calories. Most of the cases, it provides mono-unsaturated fats, whereas it has a small quantity of poly-unsaturated fats. For this reason, avocado cannot be considered a balanced source of essential fats. Avocado is a good source of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and glutation, it is rich in vitamin A, B1 and B2; it is good against aging, for the skin and eyes. The consumption can be advised for the ones following a vegetarian diet, in case of convalescence, aging and pregnancy. Because of its high contents in mucillagins, it is advised to the ones suffering from colitis or gastritis, and thanks to its antioxidant properties, it can be useful against precocious aging. Recently has been discovered avocado favors the absorption of alpha-carotenes and beta-carotenes.

 One hundred grams of avocado contains: 83% edible part; 64g water; 2.2g proteins; 17g lipids; 6g sugars; 1.5g fibers; 4mg sodium; 340mg potassium; 0.6mg iron; 10mg calcium; 42mg phosphor; 14mg vitamin A; 0.11mg vitamin B1; 0.2mg vitamin B2; 18mg vitamin C; 6.4mg vitamin E; 1.6mg vitamina PP. Besides its nutritional qualities, avocado is also known for its cosmetic properties. Women in South and Central America used avocado for the preparation of masks particularly effective on dry skin and for the hair. It also has digestive properties, indicated against dysentery thanks to its astringent qualities.

 

Keeping and Use in Cooking

 Avocado usually is an imported fruit, therefore it is not always easy to find good quality fruits, they are usually sold unripe and therefore they need to get ripe before consumption. Before buying one, it is enough to take it on hands and to do a slight pressure with the thumb on the surface of the fruit: in case it is hard, it means it is still unripe and it takes some time in order to get ripe, usually few days. In case in the skin remains a hole with no wrinkles, it is the right time to consume it. In case in the skin remains a hole and a wrinkle, it means it is overripe and it should be used for the preparation of creams. In case in the skin remains a deep wrinkle, it means it is too much ripe and it should not be purchased. In case are being bought unripe fruits, it is suggested to leave them at room temperature from three to six days, never in the fridge. In order to accelerate the ripening process, it is enough to put them in a paper bag together with a tomato or wrapped with aluminum foil. In case a ripe avocado was bought, it can be kept in the fridge for one or two days.

 To open an avocado, take a sharp knife and cut the fruit on halves, vertically, by cutting around the hard seed with the knife, then the two halves are taken in the hands and it is done a light twist, clockwise with one hand, opposite direction with the other. The pulp in contact with air gets dark: in order to avoid this inconvenience it is enough to sprinkle it with some lemon juice. Avocado is a fruit which can be consumed as a vegetable. The pulp cut in small pieces or slices, can be seasoned with oil, pepper, salt, vinegar, mustard, garlic or mayonnaise sauce. The pulp can also be mashed and spread on bread slices. The pulp cut in small pieces can be added to salads. In case it is being prepared a cream, it is advisable to cover it with a film in order to avoid as much as possible the contact with oxygen. In Philippines avocado is served as a dessert by adding milk and sugar. Finally, from the seed is being obtained an edible oil.

 



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  Not Just Wine Issue 45, October 2006   
AvocadoAvocado AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 44, September 2006 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 46, November 2006

Aquavitae

Review of Grappa, Distillates and Brandy

 

Distillates are rated according to DiWineTaste's evaluation method. Please see score legend in the "Wines of the Month" section.



Grappa di Sagrantino, Antonelli (Umbria, Italy)
Grappa di Sagrantino
Antonelli (Umbria, Italy)
(Distiller: Distilleria Nannoni)
Raw matter: Pomace of Sagrantino
Price: € 20.00 - 50cl Score: Wine that excels in its category
The grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas of blackberry, plum, licorice, violet and hints of anise with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, balanced sweetness, dry taste. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry and plum. This grappa is distilled with a bainmarie alembic still. Alcohol 43%.



Grappa di Dolcetto Monovitigno, Magnoberta (Piedmont, Italy)
Grappa di Dolcetto Monovitigno
Magnoberta (Piedmont, Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Dolcetto
Price: € 15.50 - 70cl Score:
This grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of cherry, raspberry, plum, strawberry and hazelnut with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, balanced sweetness, intense flavors, agreeable roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of cherry and raspberry. This grappa is produced with a discontinuous alembic still operating at low pressure. Alcohol 42%.



Grappa di Teroldego 2004, Zeni (Trentino, Italy)
Grappa di Teroldego 2004
Zeni (Trentino, Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Teroldego
Price: € 19.00 - 70cl Score:
This grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas of black cherry, plum, raspberry, hazelnut, licorice and violet with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, balanced sweetness. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and raspberry. This grappa is distilled with a discontinuous bainmarie alembic still. Alcohol 45%.



Grappa Rubinia 1998, Distilleria Gualco (Pidemont, Italy)
Grappa Rubinia 1998
Distilleria Gualco (Pidemont, Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Dolcetto of Ovada and Barbera
Price: € 34.50 - 70cl Score:
This grappa shows a pale amber yellow color, limpid and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of dried fig, vanilla, prune, licorice, tobacco, hazelnut and honey with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, balanced sweetness, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of prune, dried fig and honey. This grappa is distilled with a discontinuous bainmarie alembic still, it ages for 2 years in oak casks and for 3 years in acacia casks. Alcohol 42%.





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  Not Just Wine Issue 45, October 2006   
AvocadoAvocado AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 44, September 2006 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 46, November 2006

Wine Parade


 

The best 15 wines according to DiWineTaste's readers. To express your best three wines send us an E-mail or fill in the form available at our WEB site.


Rank Wine, Producer
1 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000, Zenato (Italy)
2 Wine Obsession 2001, Vignamaggio (Italy)
3 Brunello di Montalcino 1999, Castello Banfi (Italy)
4 Notarpanaro 1999, Taurino (Italy)
5 Colli Orientali del Friuli Rosazzo Bianco Terre Alte 2002, Livio Felluga (Italy)
6 Chianti Classico Riserva Novecento 2000, Dievole (Italy)
7 Nero al Tondo 2001, Ruffino (Italy)
8 Trento Talento Brut Riserva Methius 1998, Dorigati (Italy)
9 Chianti Classico Riserva Novecento 2000, Dievole (Italy)
10 Don Antonio 2003, Morgante (Italy)
11 Riesling Central Otago 2004, Felton Road (New Zealand)
12 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera 2001, Masi (Italy)
13 Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano 2003, Arnaldo Caprai (Italy)
14 Soave Classico Monte Alto 2004, Ca' Rugate (Italy)
15 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998, Santa Sofia (Italy)

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