Why Some Wines Age Better Than Others

Wine that hasn’t been aged is no more than fruit juice. Wine that has been aged too long tastes vinegary and too tart. Like Goldilocks, you want your wine to be just right. Still, some wines age better than others. Here’s why.

Aging wine is dependent on a chemical process called oxidation – the interaction between oxygen and the acids, alcohol and polyphenols (things like tannins, color pigments and other flavor compounds) in the original juice. Phenols are particularly important, as a higher concentration of phenols and a deep color usually means the wines will spend more time in the aging process, leading to deep flavors with subtle differences due to the original strain or blend of grapes.

Terroir – the environment in which the grape is grown – includes factors such as climate, elevation and ground qualities. The same grape variety grown in a different terrior will produce a completely different wine. Terrior also has a strong effect on tannins, and the ripeness of a tannin is a major factor in how well a wine ages. Terrior and the richness of the soil also affect yield, as the grapes and their vines actually compete for nutrients. Higher yields typically mean fewer phenols. Finally, older grape vines tend to produce better-quality grapes.

Wine-Making Variations
Beyond the variety, environment and growing process, the wine-making process also makes a difference. For example, the length of time the grapes are left to macerate after they are crushed affects the amount of phenols extracted, as does the temperature at which the grapes are macerated. Adding sulfur dioxide limits oxidation but is necessary to the process; the amount and timing are critical. Filtration, yeasts and whether to age in oak barrels (including how new the barrels are) all affect wine aging.

There’s always anticipation when you open a wine bottle. Even when everything seems to be right, a wine may not age well. In other cases, a wine low in tannins and pale in color (which usually means it will age poorly) turns out to be surprisingly good 30 years later. The longest-lived white wines are found among Sauternes, German Beerenauslesen and Tokaji. Burgundies and Bordeaux are the classic red wines, while the wine known as Condrieu is not very suitable for aging in the bottle. Wine-making is an art because there are so many different factors that affect aging.


Exercises to Boost Brain Power

Whether you’re a college student studying for an exam or an exec putting the finishing touches on a major work project, you’re likely going to feel stressed or burnt out at one point or another. While you may be able to push through these feelings of exasperation most of the time, it is not always so easy. Here are a few simple methods to help you clear up your mental block and boost your brain power:


1. Listen to music

If you’re looking to boost productivity or escape the noise in your office space, put in some headphones and turn on your favorite uptempo music. Studies show that upbeat music lowers your perception of tension, increases your heart rate and respiration and, in turn, improves your mood.


2. Break your usual routine

If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut as of late, make an effort to break out of your humdrum routine. Make a small change, like working from that new coffee shop you’ve been wanting to visit. Or try switching up elements of your morning routine by brushing your teeth with your nondominant hand, jogging backwards, or anything else that challenges you to do something out of the ordinary.


3. Force yourself to unwind

Meditation has been proven time and time again to be the most effective method of boosting productivity. Why? Because it forces you to take a break, sit still and breathe deeply — all of which reduce stress, replenish the attention span, promote creativity, and result in increased productivity. Try to squeeze at least two mini-meditation breaks into your schedule to keep yourself alert and ready to tackle whatever problems are thrown your way.


4. Organize your workspace

Nothing hinders productivity more than a cluttered or messy desk. Start by clearing out any trash or useless papers, then prioritize your other paperwork by importance — keeping all urgent items in your line of sight and filing away the rest. This small task takes a maximum of 5 minutes and leaves you with a renewed sense of motivation.

5. Eat with your brain in mind

Omega-3s, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, apples, and eggs are just a few foods that have been proven to boost brain power. The effects of incorporating one or more of these foods into your diet range from improved memory, increased alertness, and greater protection from diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

6. Stay hydrated

Seeing as the brain is made of 80 percent water, it should come as no surprise that our brain cells do not function as efficiently when we’re dehydrated. So resist the urge to brew that fourth or fifth cup of coffee and reach for a tall glass of water instead; you won’t be disappointed by the results.

Nonprofits–Not Just Big Orgs and Polticians–Need to Strive for Transparency

Access to information in today’s day and age is unparalleled; most anything we want or need to learn is available at the tips of our fingers, just a few taps on a laptop or cellphone away. We can learn that the population of Zambia is about 14.54 million; we can learn that Mercury takes about 88 days to orbit the sun, and we can learn that Bill Gates has a net worth of about $84 billion. All important in the grand scheme of things, no doubt, but what’s more important is the information readily available to all of us pertaining to the businesses around us–or at least, the information available in a best case scenario.


With this increased access to information, the necessity for businesses and high profile individuals to increase their level of transparency has risen. Unfiltered access to information about an organization can lead to a stronger public opinion and more fluid collaboration between businesses. While not all organizations are jumping aboard the transparency train, those who are have seen tangible benefits.


While we’ve heard the call this political season for transparency on behalf of those in politics, and we’ve heard people voice time and time again the necessity for big businesses to increase their levels of transparency to benefit both mankind and consumers, we often neglect the importance of transparency in the world of nonprofits.


Transparency becomes an issue when a lack of it leads to scandals like the one that rocked the Cancer Fund of America not long ago. The discovery that millions of donated dollars were being misused on personal items worked to effectively shut down the charity permanently. And on top of reflecting poorly on the charity itself, it called into question just how the funds were being used at other charities.


It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that people would be a bit more hesitant to donate their money immediately following a scandal of that magnitude–it’s been shown in the past that even seemingly reputable charities have had their fair share of issues with transparency and ethical dealings.


This is precisely why it’s so important that nonprofits around the globe open their organizations to the public as effectively as possible. A study done by Georgetown University found that charities who are open and honest with their operations could see a rise in donations. As an organization opens itself to the public, the public will begin to build trust, which, for a nonprofit, can make all the difference.




Originally published in Newsweek.

For America’s presidential contenders, it’s open season on free trade.

GOP nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted “globalism” and trade policies he says move “our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.”

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has slammed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation mega-agreement of Pacific Rim countries, arguing that it is financially crippling American business.

While not entirely devoid of reason, their positions present one-sided views of the free trade issue. Limiting the conversation about trade to supposed job losses ignores the most important benefit of free trade, one that flows directly to billions of people: world peace.

Trade agreements are powerful tools to prevent international conflict and foster collaboration among nations. Instead of blaming them for America’s wavering job market, policymakers must embrace them as tools that stabilize and pacify international politics.


Free trade is a powerful peacekeeping force. The logic is simple: When a country’s prosperity is dependent on trade with other nations, it is far less likely to get into wars that disrupt the flow of commerce. Instead, trading countries often opt for more peaceful methods of dispute settlement.

The pacifying effect of increased trade is something philosophers like Immanuel Kant speculated about centuries ago. In our day, numerous empirical studies confirm the relationship.

A study at the University of Texas, for example, examined an extensive array of countries from 1960 to 2000. It concluded that higher tariffs and other barriers to free trade increased a country’s chances of international conflict. Conversely, countries with fewer trade barriers were less likely to invade or be invaded.

Similarly, a Stanford University study found that from 1950 to 2000 war between countries was about one-10th that of the previous century. Unsurprisingly, global trade networks have grown almost fourfold since 1950. As the lead professor of the study, Matthew Jackson, put it, “Economic interest drives a lot of what goes on in terms of where nations are willing to exercise military strength.”

For more proof, look to Europe. When the European economy was in a shambles after World War II, nations formed the European Coal and Steel Community to create a common market for those essential commodities.

Only part of the reason for doing so was economic, however. As the man who originally proposed the ECSC, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, clearly stated at the time, its purpose was to make war “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”

The six-member ECSC led directly to today’s 28-member European Union, a remarkable model of how common economic interests can maintain peace. And despite the U.K.’s recent vote to leave the EU, the British government is wisely seeking to negotiate a trade deal that will keep goods and services moving freely.

The United States, which has free trade agreements with 20 countries, has experienced firsthand the diplomatic benefits of open trade policies and the international cooperation they foster.

The 2007 United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement, for example, not only significantly reduced tariffs on goods between America and South Korea but also strengthened their relationship on other key issues. Since signing the agreement, the two nations have worked together on a myriad of important projects—from climate change to nuclear disarmament.

America has also signed free trade agreements with Columbia, Jordan and Chile that include commitments to collaborate on labor and environmental issues.

The United States isn’t even close to tapping the full potential of strategic trade partnerships. A good place to foster trade would be former Soviet states, where nations are eager to bolster their economic and political integration into the international community and reassert their economic self-determination.

Via a trade agreement with the EU, the Republic of Moldova has just pledged to reform its political systems to be more democratic and protective of human rights.

The Caucasus country of Georgia, with a strategic location that opens up an economic and energy gateway between Asia and the EU, is a perfect trading partner.

The nation knows all too well the calamities of war—and it has signed trade agreements with a number of its neighbors, from Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia to eight former Soviet states and the EU. Indeed, it recently ranked third out of 178 countries on its openness to trade. Heightened U.S.-Georgian trade would seriously stabilize the caucuses and pacify surrounding regions.

Free trade economically benefits countries, but its ability to benefit peace and global order is far more significant. U.S. leaders mustn’t sell those diplomatic bonds short.