Loran Smith: I have had a long-standing affinity for grapes

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Loran Smith: I have had a long-standing affinity for grapes

Since my college years at the University of Georgia, I have had a long-standing affinity for grapes.  That is when I first had an opportunity to partake in this extraordinary fruit.  

Growing up, we had abundant vegetables from the garden, but fruit was not common on our diet except for peaches, figs, and pears.  There were a few of those trees about. There was a crab apple tree, too.  Crab apples are not very tasty unless you dabbed them in salt.





My sentimental affection for grapes came about long before I came to appreciate wine, the grape’s greatest by-product.  

There is much to appreciate about grapes since this fruit has so many health benefits.  When it comes to a healthy snack, could there possibly be anything more inviting and satisfying than a fistful of grapes?

I have my own special treat, which brings about encore after encore.  Mix a handful of unsalted Planter’s peanuts with four of five grapes which you will find irresistible thereafter.  





Nuts are good for you, and grapes are good for you.  Combining them and then reaching for a glass of Black Bush will enable you to experience the ultimate in contentment.

Grapes are low in calories and virtually fat-free.  Grapes strengthen your immune system.  In addition, grapes contain antioxidants and vitamins.  According to the Internet, grapes are good for your heart, eyes, and memory.  Since grapes are full of water, they can help keep you hydrated.  Grapes are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and potassium.  And the best thing about grapes is that they are affordable.

The cultivation of grapes dates back 8,000 years.  Just a modicum of research confirms that there is archaeological evidence that wine-making took place deep into the past.  There is no evidence that Methuselah and Noah planned the construction of the ark over a vintage bottle of wine, but if Noah took to being overserved and became intoxicated, as the Old Testament reveals, then that is confirmation that wine is “older than the hills.”

The oldest known winery (in Armenia) dates to 4,000 B.C.  The Internet refers to the fact that in the 9th century, AD, the city of Shiraz (Iran) “was known to produce some of the finest wines in the Middle East.”

Then there was the marriage feast of Canna when the Master turned water into wine.   Not sure if you remember the details, but when the servants filled the wine containers with water and took the vessels to the chief wedding official, they were rebuked for serving the best wine first.  The tradition was that the best wine in the house was poured last.

That is my favorite miracle of the New Testament but has always left me wondering if the wine was red or white.  One thing we do know is that screw top bottles were not in at that time in history.

Winemaking came about because of grapes which has brought about much pleasure in our society.  Wine and good food are the perfect combination for social engagement and enlightenment.  A late afternoon outing on the back porch or patio with wine and conversation brings about fulfilling social enrichment.

Wine on a river cruise can be unforgettable whether it is the Rhine or the Seine, Danube, Po or the Guadalquivir, and leaves you with abundant gratefulness; a train coursing its way through the mountains of Europe in the company of a classic Bordeaux makes you want to book the trip again.

I remember a train ride from Berlin to Prague with a couple of bottles of duty-free Bordeaux as an unforgettable experience.  The picturesque postcard houses along the river Elbe brought about memorable scenes to savor with the passing of time.  

I was shocked on that first trip to Switzerland many years ago when I discovered their Dole wine.   My provincial image of Helvetia was that it was a place too cold to produce wine.

Australian wines are becoming more and more popular.  If you want a classic pairing with a good steak, you could not do better than a South African Stellenbosch.   If you belly up to a bar at Stellenbosch, there will be no regrets.  The good news is that it is only a 30-mile trip from Cape Town.  Getting to Stellenbosch is another story, however.

Most anywhere you go in the world, including China and Russia, they make wine.  That is the beauty of the grape.  If you have the soil to grow grapes, chances are you can make wine.   Here’s to your health.  Here’s to grapes and its sensational by-product—wine, the nectar of the gods.





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