Wine, chocolate and tea can help beat memory loss


A modest amount of wine could help to beat memory loss and delay the onset of dementia, claim researchers, who added that the same goes for a few squares of chocolate and cups of tea.

However, if anyone thinks that they have got the licence to over-indulge during the festive season, should beware. According to scientists, the benefits wear off dramatically if people take more than half a glass of wine, four squares of chocolate or five cups of tea.

To reach the conclusion, Oxford University researchers examined more than 2,000 elderly people to measure cognitive performance.

They found that chocolate, wine and tea boosted the brainpower of those aged 70 to 74, reports the Daily Express.

Wine was most effective, with better performances after just a tipple.

It has long been claimed that people who consume a lot of flavonoids – present in the food and drinks studied – show lower signs of dementia.



Festive season traps


The holiday looms, and so does Christmas. All you want to do is chill out after what’s been a hard year. But that’s not always the easiest thing to do – you know the bit about life being “the thing that happens while you’re making other plans”.

For some, chilling out may mean booking a camping site 20 km from the nearest village a year in advance. Or going into a Trappist monastery until the festive season is over.

But most people will have a more sociable time – either at home, visiting relatives, or at the seaside somewhere. Who knows, you might need to get back to the office in January to get some rest. In order to get the most out of your break, try and avoid the following festive season stressors.

Guests galore. You have a big house, and over Christmas it fills up with aunties, grannies, nieces, uncles – you name it. Instead of looking after four people, you are now looking after twelve. This is no holiday for you, as you are the unofficial entertainment committee, the caterer, the conflict resolution specialist, and the local cleaner. If you live in a popular destination, you might have to put your foot down. Or at least put together a duty roster for the cooking and the cleaning. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t feel you have to be the unofficial tour guide. Take a day or two off and let the guests entertain themselves.

Feeding frenzy. Food, food, food. It’s all over during the Christmas season and it’s lying in wait for you everywhere, and we’re not talking about celery sticks either. It’s chips, cakes, cheese snacks, chocolates, to name but a few. And, after all, you’re on holiday. So why not? That’s fine, but just don’t get into a new habit. Most people end the festive season with quite a few kilos that were not there in November. Don’t become a festive season fatty.

Booze bonanza. From the office party to friends’ homes, to family barbecues – booze is no stranger to the festive season. And often, other people are paying for it. By all means have a beer or two, if you’re not driving, but don’t binge on booze. Drinking too much is something that carries its own punishment with it, a bit like eating that second helping of hot Indian curry. And do remember, that everyone likes you to have a drink or two, but nobody likes having a social embarrassment at their parties. Fall down drunk, or insult one of the other guests, and you can be sure you’ll be off the party list. Forever.

I’m so lonely. Some people wish everything could be a little quieter. Others wish for a break from the peace and quiet and they dream of the phone ringing or a horde of guests arriving. The secret is to arrange a few things in advance. Invite people for supper, get a friend to go with you to a movie, or organise a day or two away in a different place. Don’t wait until the festive season is upon you before doing something about your social calendar. It’s not going to happen by itself.

Exercise inertia. Most people give their exercise regimes a break during the festive season. It is, after all, the end of the year. Problem is, many people overindulge completely on the food front at the same time, and coupled with a fortnight of couch-potato-ism, your waistline might be expanding at the rate of knots. Go for a walk with the family, run along the beach, play volleyball. Do anything to burn up those extra calories. And get back into it early in the new year.

Credit card crisis. The last of the Big Spenders. If that describes you in the shopping centre with your Christmas bonus and your credit card, you’re obviously a sucker for all those Christmas ads. And you’re going to be stony broke in January, and depressed in February when the credit card statements start arriving. Point is that you can probably buy just as nice a present for R100 as you can for R200, or R400. You just need to plan it well. It’s the thought that counts, not the size of the present.

Sunburn stress. The sun in the southern hemisphere is vicious , and skin cancer is a real danger. And remember that the damage is cumulative. Burning yourself to a crisp or having a whimpering and sunburnt child on your hands, is no way to spend Christmas. Speak to your pharmacist and get a high-factor sunblock before you head for the beach. And speaking of the beach – watch out for bluebottles or pieces of broken glass in the sand.

Crowd control. Think of Christmas, and what many people see are teeming masses of people in a shopping centre, all of them with a mission, and accompanied by at least two unwilling and exhausted kids. It can be avoided – do your gift shopping in November and do a bulk grocery shop before 15 December. Milling crowds can be exhausting, and elicit everything but the Christmas spirit in you. In fact, it can bring on a bout of trolley rage.

Gift of the grab. Frantic last-minute gift-buying is a killer – not only don’t you get what you are looking for, you also spend a fortune on it. Rather than give unwanted and expensive presents, go for gift vouchers – at least people will appreciate them, even if they are not the most personal of offerings.

Family fest. Family. You get them, you don’t choose them. And never is it more obvious than at Christmas time when Uncle Freddy is holding forth on all his achievements, or Aunt Doris is slurring after her third beer. Or your cousin’s kids are running around screaming, chasing your poor cats. Then there are the endless questions about when you are going to tie the knot, have babies etc. Family get-togethers seldom do much for your self-esteem. Just repeat the mantra, “It will soon be over for another year.”



The big cheese



When pairing wine and cheese, you want a wine that’s going to complement the flavours of the cheese and not overpower it – and vice versa. You wouldn’t drink a really light wine with a strong-tasting cheese, or a mild cheese with a full-bodied, robust wine.

There’s a general rule of thumb to follow: the stronger the cheese is, move up the spectrum of the body of wine.”

Mild, hard cheeses such as cheddar are best paired with Gamet Noir, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, unwooded Chardonnays or Cabernet Francs. While stronger hard cheeses such as aged Gouda or Asiago go best with a full-bodied Shiraz, Zinfandel or Bordeaux blends.

Aromatic wines such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer are great with soft cheeses like brie and Camembert; while a Sauvignon Blanc and Rose are classic pairings for goat cheese.

When it comes to blue cheeses, you want to pick an ice wine, late harvest wine or port. Going for higher sugar content will smooth out the edges of a strong blue cheese


Health drinking this season





The festive season is famous for bringing family and friends together. This will undoubtedly result in more social eating and of course drinking. Here are some principles to apply this season:


Know your limits:

Safe and healthy alcohol intake levels are 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women (women generally have less of the enzyme that helps break down alcohol in the body).

This means that one unit of alcohol a day is considered safe and healthy for an adult female and two units for a male. One unit = 340ml beer, tot (25ml) spirits, 50ml port, sherry or muscadel or 120ml wine.

 Moderation is key:

Spread your weekly alcohol allowance as evenly as possible over seven days. Infrequent bingeing on alcohol can bring on attacks of gout or pancreatitis, and may cause abnormalities in heart rhythms and increases your risk of cancer.

Stretch your intake:

Use plenty of ice, water or soda water in spirit drinks or white wine (to make a spritzer); this dilutes the alcohol while increasing the volume so you drink less. Ensure your first drink is some other liquid e.g. a mineral water or a cooldrink — your alcoholic beverage should not be used as a thirst quencher.

Arrive alive:

On average it will take the liver about an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. So even after a night’s sleep, if you have had six cans of beer or two bottles of wine, you could still be over the legal limit the next day. Remember that, when driving.

Being fitter makes no difference to the rate of absorption. But, the absence or presence of food and the type of fluid that accompanies the alcohol does. Alcohol consumed on an empty stomach is more rapidly absorbed. Water and fruit juices mixed with alcohol slow the absorption process, whereas carbonated drinks (because of the carbon dioxide) will speed it up. Warm alcohol is absorbed quicker than cold alcohol.

 Weight gain:

The calorie content of alcoholic beverages (which depends on the percentage of alcohol, the type of beverage and the type of mixture) plus the behaviour associated with drinking all have their part to play in the effect it will have on your weight.

When drinking alcohol, you tend to snack more, especially on the high fat foods, often available in social drinking environments. Eating high in fat take-away food (e.g. pies or burgers) late at night is another typical problem which arises after drinking, especially in students and young adults.

If you are watching your waistline, consider that one unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a slice of bread. It is then prudent to occasionally substitute a carbohydrate during the day to compensate for a drink or two that night.

Apply the 24 hour rule for training:

Avoid alcohol in the 24 hours prior to exercise. After exercise, once you have rehydrated and refuelled with carbohydrates, enjoy alcohol (and here I must include the ‘in moderation’). However, if you have any soft tissue injuries or bruising, abstain from alcohol for another 24 hours.

Fake it:

My personal favourite — a Rock Shandy (soda water, angostura bitters, ice and a slice of lemon) gives the impression of being an alcoholic drink, but hardly contains alcohol and calories — a sneaky option when friends continuously want to buy you a drink when they spot you standing empty handed.

 Did you know?

Using thinner, taller glasses (especially wine glasses) can help you reduce your consumption. Research shows that people consume more alcohol when drinking out of shorter, wider glasses.


By Karlien Smit RD (SA), Dietician for the SSISA Healthy Weight Programme, Shelly Meltzer & Associates, Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).



Silly or sane season?


This time of year is not called “silly season” for nothing! December arrives and with it comes extended traffic jams, queues and congestion.

This is a time for sharing. Involve your family and friends in all festive preparations. Here are some ideas to help lighten your load.

• As a family set a theme or colour scheme for this Christmas. Involve everyone in choosing decorations and they’ll want to stay involved with setting things up.

• If you are planning on having lots of visitors throughout the day – set the table once – use a long lasting centre piece such as ‘peace in the home’ in terracotta pots, add candles, lanterns and torches for the night time. Set up a separate table for buffet tea/coffee – this takes off a lot of pressure and gives you more time to mingle and relax.

Decide on a simple menu that can be prepared well in advance to reduce last minute stress. You want to be out celebrating with your guests and not cooped up in the kitchen.

Delegate simple tasks to the kids – setting the table (you can do a sample setting for them to copy), gift wrapping, card making. The key is to keep things fun – that way they’ll stay motivated. Tip: set out some coloured card, stars and glitter glue so the children can make their own cards while you focus on more challenging things.

• This is a great time of year to go through the old toys to make space for the new. Involve the children with this task and let them put broken or seldom-used toys aside for giving away. Before Christmas go with your children to a charity of their choice to experience the joy of giving.

Shop for gifts throughout the year – this way you won’t blow your entire bonus cheque on Christmas gifts. Have a list of names with a budget figure next to their name to keep you focused – once you have purchased a gift for that person write the gift next to the name and cross them off your list. Remember teachers and caregivers and have a couple of extra generic gifts packed away in case someone unexpected pops in. (This tip might be a little late… but as the saying goes ‘better late than never’ – now you know the info – get to the stores ASAP)

Keep one running ‘to-do’ list. As a family decide who will take on which tasks. People are far more likely to carry out a task if they have chosen to do it other than being told that they have to do it.

Do whatever preparations you can at least 2 weeks before. On your ‘to-do’ list allocate an estimated time frame for the task – mark in red the tasks that can be carried out before the time and allocate a time for these in your diary.

Remember that this is supposed to be fun. If you feel yourself slipping into the wicked witch of the west… take a deep breath and laugh it off.

Articles supplied by Tracey Foulkes of the national professional organiser company Get Organised. Visit to download your free organising info pack to help you take control of your clutter and create calm in your life. Contact, 084 507 6891.


Preserving unfinished wines


This is a dilemma amongst many of us. There are times we want to drink wine but couldn’t finish a bottle alone.

Or when we are with a date who is not much of a wine drinker, we will end up with leftover wine, which of course we do not want to just throw away. Wine is really tough to preserve after opening. But there are gadgets to do this preservation for us.

Remember, re-corking your opened wine does not help much, except prolong the wine for a few more hours. As you know, the cork is porous, and aeration will continue to happen, risking the optimum quality of your wine. Putting your leftover wine into a refrigerator also help very little, and may actually make the wine worse. Not only will the change in temperature of the wine fluctuate drastically, but refrigerators also vibrate, and vibration further agitates the wine. The odour of food in the fridge may also affect the wine.

The only way to preserve wine is to seal it properly. You can buy expensive sealing machines or you can simply buy wine with screw cap closures (also called Stelvin closures).

Numerous wines in the award-winning Kumkani range are sealed with screwcap closures. Unlike former years when screwcaps were used mainly for sealing inferior quality or cheaper wine, these wines are certainly worth preserving for future consumption.

WINE magazine recommends two wine preserving options. One option is the SoWine-bar refrigerated storage unit. If you are not in the mood to finish a bottle of wine, simply place the opened bottle back into the compartment and plunge down the oxidation extraction cap. The oxygen extraction system will draw oxygen from the bottle, keeping it “fresh” and unoxidised until your next party. The SoWine-bar is distributed by Wine Essentials and retails for R4299. Visit for more info.

The second option is the Preserver Loyalty Can. This can retails for R65 and is an easy and effective way to preserve opened wine. All you do is to squirt the odourless, argon gas into the neck of the bottle to prevent contact with oxygen, then lightly re-insert the cork or screw the cap back on. The bottle can then be kept in a cool place for between one and two weeks. The Preserver is available at winesense. Call them on 021 702 0128 or e-mail for more information.

Seeing how expensive (especially the storage units) and complicated preserving wine can be, I suggest that you only save wines that are worth saving— those expensive and fuller-bodied reds. Also, the fuller or heavier bodied your wine is, the better it preserves on its own for hours without any preservation method.

When I am asked how long a wine should be kept when opened, I always give the six-hour rule—meaning, sip and drink gradually, and your wine should still be good for six hours (at comfortable room temperature). But the lighter the body, the lower the alcohol, the faster the wine loses its elements. For these wines, even the wine preservation gadgets cannot salvage them.

The best (cheapest and most satisfying) solution, however, remains very simple… just finish the bottle.


And Wine Magazine

Recipe: Sparkling Wine Cheesecake


Summer celebrations usually conjure up thoughts of sweet treats and some bubbly. Here’s an easy, delicious dessert which incorporates the best of both these elements. You’re bound to receive a barrage of compliments from your guests!

– 200g digestive biscuits
-90g butter, melted

– 15ml gelatine
– 60ml water
– 500g cream cheese
– 85ml castor sugar
– Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
– 125ml sparkling wine
(the Kumkani Infiniti Methode Cap Classique is ideal)
– 250ml cream, lightly whipped
– 1 punnet of cherries, washed, retaining stalks
– Sugar
– Icing sugar

– Crush the biscuits and combine with butter.
– Press into base of a 20cm, loose-bottomed cake pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
– Refrigerate.
– Sprinkle gelatine over water and set aside to form a thick cake.
– In a mixing bowl, beat cheese and castor sugar together. Add rind, juice and sparkling wine and beat again.
– Place gelatine in microwave on medium for 1 minute. Pouring from a height, add to cheese mixture and then stir through the cream.
– Pour into biscuit base, cover and refrigerate for three hours.
– Just before serving, stone a handful of cherries.
– Place in food processor with 60ml sugar, 100ml warm water and 15ml honey. Process till you have a chunky sauce.
– Use remaining cherries to decorate the top of the cheesecake.
– Drizzle over the cooled sauce and sift over some icing sugar and serve.

Source: The Times