Wine Talk

Snooth User: napagirl68

Bottle shock wasn't the problem... it was pine nuts!!!

Posted by napagirl68, Mar 8, 2010.

Hi fellow snoothers,

I posted a topic on Bottle shock, after opening a great bottle of wine I had just gotten, that tasted "off", dead finish, etc.  Even the food I had with it in the past tasted off.  SOOO, I chalked it up to bottle shock (since it wasn't corked or 2nd ferm).  Well, today, food has been tasting odd.  Then I opened some different wine tonite, and THAT tasted bad too!  And then I remembered... I made pesto Sat nite, and was munching on the pine nuts, which I love.  However, a few years ago, after munching on pine nuts, I got the most bitter taste when I ate ANYTHING that lasted for abt 2wks.  I looked it up on the net, and stumbled across pine nuts as a culprit. 

So there you have it.  It seems that, since my last bitter experience with pine nuts, there have been more and more reports of this.  It doesn't seem to be a toxin, just an odd sensitivity in some people.  I guess I am one of them.   No good wines for me until my taste comes back :-(

http://www.mercurynews.com/food-win...

 

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Replies

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Reply by D9sus4, Mar 9, 2010.

Hmm... interesting wine pairing challenge... how about drinking Retsina with your pine nuts?

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2010.

Good'un, D9sus...

 

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 9, 2010.

Bleeeecchhhh!  Never eating pine nuts again.  Wine tastes like crap and so does everything else... hmmm.. maybe the next big diet kick is eating pine nuts so you won't want to eat/drink anything for a week! 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2010.

Speak for yourself, napagirl. I love the things, whether in pesto genovese, or pilaffs from the eastern Med, or most anything else. And yes, I even eat them with retsina. But then I also love camping in pine forests.

Napagirl, ever had that Greek version of white? Wonder, as did d9sus, if it would affect you in anywhere near the same way....

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 9, 2010.

dmcker and D9sus.. did you look at the link I posted in the original posting?  It is a growing phenomenon for some reason.  and eating it on one occasion (for those who are unlucky) have their taste messed up for up to 10 days.

BTW- I do love them... I just don't like this lingering after effect I get.

And yes, I have tasted retsina at a greek restaurant/bar where my friends and I hang out.  I don't care for it, but it did not affect me this way.  We just settle for Uzo shots!  LOL!  I have had pine nuts here and there with no problem.  And way back when, I never had this problem.  Seems to be the ones from China/russia that are the culprit, or so the blogs say... 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2010.

Yes I did read the (formerly San Jose) Mercury News article, though I haven't gone to the other links they post.

Seem to be all sorts of problems with agricultural products from China these days, and thus I wonder if it's merely the type of pine tree from the nuts sourced there. Hate to tar a whole country with a single brush, but for some time now I've avoided food products from China, flora or fauna. The risks, even if infrequent, are just too great, whether for pet or human (and there still is no accountability and credible assurance of remedy from any organization there, private or public). Thus, I never buy pinenuts sourced from there.

Retsina comes in many guises. Don't (pine)tar them all and judge from a single bottle. Search around, and you may find some surprisingly interesting versions. Though Ouzo can be good, too... ;-)

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2010.

Did jump to those links, and found the Epicurious thread the most informative. Then googled 'pine nut mouth' and got a deluge, with many articles from Britain and elsewhere from a year ago, so it seems the Mercury News is a little slow in jumping up on the wagon.

So Napagirl, are your symptoms pretty much exactly what the others describe? Personally, I hope to never meet the syndrome, though I fully intend to keep eating pine nuts. And I like their interaction with wine, especially acidic whites, sangiovese and others... ;-)

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 10, 2010.

Yes, dmcker.  My symptoms are the same.  This happened to me a couple of years ago after eating Trader Joe's pine nuts (from China).  I never had a problem with pine nuts in the past and love them!  I just avoided them, then was gonna make this pesto, and bought a brand I thought was local (without looking.. dumb, I know).  Was from China, and hit me faster this time.  As of today, everything tastes like chewing on a grapefruit seed... YUCK.  Wine tastes like acetone. 

There are actually published medical papers on this, but they do not know the cause.  They do implicate China and other eastern countries tho.  Supposedly, European and US pine nuts are not implicated.  AND, to complicate things more, not everyone eating from the same bag will experience this.

And, BTW, my purpose was NOT to bash the pine nut, but rather to explain the reason my great wine tasted off.  EVERYTHING tastes off.  I believe it may eventually be traced to a genetic variance in the species of pine nut grown in those regions, combined with a genetic predisposition to respond to whatever triggers this. 

Not to be gross, but as a scientist, this stuff really interests me!  TMI follows... Some may be familiar with the strong, unpleasant scent that one's urine takes on after eating asparagus.  Not everyone experiences this.  What was interesting, tho, is that scientists discovered that those who "did not experience" this odor actually lacked a genetic capability to SMELL the odor!  I'm sure the mystery of "pine mouth" will be solved soon.

OK back to wine.  So tell me some good Retsina to try...

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Reply by littlekat, Mar 10, 2010.

That pine nut thing happened to me too.  And ironically, I was trying to enjoy a nice bottle of late harvest zin with some friends.  Think I'll pass on the pine nuts from now on :)

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 10, 2010.

I definitely can smell the asparagus, and remember as a seven-or-eight-year-old knowing what my great grandparents (the greenest thumb I've ever met still resides with my ggfather, who spent most his years growing all sorts of things in Lake County, but 'retired' to Ojai where he still grew up a storm in his 'backyard garden' of a few acres) had for lunch when I visited later in the afternoon, merely by visiting their bathroom. He was very good at growing some of the most delicious asparagus I've ever had at many meals on multiple continents, over a very long growing season.

Unfortunately, not a lot of retsina makes it overseas, though I imagine the Bay Area gets more selection than Tokyo. I could definitely show you several during some taverna crawling in Athens, lickety split. I talk about my most recent experience with a retsina in Tokyo here:

http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/owner-cooking-school/2/

 

From a Wine & Spirits mag. article on a visit to Astoria, Queens and a liquor store there (fyi Astoria has the most Greeks outside Greece) that stocks hundreds of different Greek wines:

====

"Retsina is still the top seller," the salesman remarks.
  And why not? I love a good retsina, if it's fresh and crisp (as it should be - the problem is that in a non-Greek neighborhood, retsina often languishes far too long on a dusty bottom shelf). There's no other wine that pairs so well with the sharp and aggressive flavors found on a mezes platter: pickled grape leaves wrapped around spiced rice, thick yogurt made tangy with garlic, beet salads, eggplant purée, salty feta, crunchy caper berries, bitter greens... retsina handles them all, refreshing the palate with that cool, foresty note of pine. I add a bottle to my cache.

====

Of those I can remember having in the States (I'm trying to focus on quick meals at that small place in the Farmer's Market in L.A., right next to the Grove, or that extremely popular scene of a place just off PCH in Malibu, both of whose names I can't remember right now), Kourtaki stays in mind as a fresh and very mild entry-level retsina, and is probably the widest-distributed, though Boutaris is probably up there in sales, too. Both of these two are very mildy resinated to capture newbie interest, even if old hands don't usually order them. Retsina's home is in Attica, but I remember a sunny, fruity light-handed version from Crete called Creta Olympias. Gaia Ritinitis was more of a refined, modern style, something purists would call heretical though what wine geeks new to retsina might like, while Malamamatina was very old-skool with a deep yellow hue (some people water it down a bit when drinking, it's that hardcore).

The Tyrnavos Co-op wine I mention in that other thread was actually two different bottles, and made from muscat, which is not the usual grape. One was labeled Retsinaki and the other Ampelophyllo, though I don't know if they're distributed in the US.

 

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Reply by D9sus4, Mar 10, 2010.

Don't think there's much I could add to what dmcker has already said concerning Retsina and other Greek wine, but I would like to revisit the origin of this thread, pine nuts.

Having tasted pine nuts in many different regions of the world, my taste memory kicked in and I decided to do a little research. Napagirl, you may want to take another chance with pine nuts after reading this.

There are indeed a number of different species of pine nuts available and as far as I can determine, the only problems were with the species of pine nuts from China and possibly Korea (the Korean nuts may have been purchased from China). OK, so maybe it's time to buy American. Here's the deal, we have growing in the USA the true Pinus Edulis and Pinus Monophylla along with several other varieties of excellent edible pine nuts. See link: http://www.pinonnuts.org/regions.htm

I remember clearly the pine nuts I've puchased in New Mexico and Arizona from the Native American Indians. These were the best pine nuts I have tasted anywhere, rich, buttery, and quite healthy for you too. So why not buy domestic, especially when it tastes better?

As of today, I have decided to purchase only pine nuts certified in accordance with New Mexico law. In 1987, New Mexico passed the Pinon Nut Act to support the state's pinon nut industry. It is illegal in New Mexico for anyone to label and sell pine nuts from species other than those listed in the law under the label of pinon nuts. The law's purpose was to distinguish local pinon nuts from imported pine nuts. The law authorizes the New Mexico Department of Agriculture to examine pine nut dealers' records to verify that they are selling pinon nuts and not fraudulently labeled pine nuts from species not included under the law.

Whew... I need a glass of wine now.

 

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 11, 2010.

Thanks! D9sus!  I have read this as well.  the problem seems to lie with the species of pine nuts grown in China, other asian countries, and Russia...     to my knowledge, no american nuts have been implicated.

I have to say, I never had a problem before 2-3 yrs ago.  Maybe that's when china took over as the main importer?  I don't know. 

I can say, as I sit here starving, not drinking ANY wine, cause everything tastes like acetone,  I am not sure I want to experiment with any pine nuts ever again :-( :-(  

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 11, 2010.

The Platonic Ideal of New Mexican pinon nuts sounds wonderful now, but I'm afraid the marketplace here is going to force me to make use of those from, perhaps, Turkey.

I remembered those two restaurants in L.A. that each, in their  own way, provide a good stop for eating and drinking Greek when in that area. Have been to each several times and never been disappointed.

Raucous party taverna in Malibu:

http://www.tavernatony.com/index.html

Great stop before, during, or after shopping at the Farmer's Market or the Grove, nearby screenings, etc.:

http://ulyssesvoyage.com/

Suitable name for a Greek restaurant in Tinseltown, I guess... ;-)

 

There's another good Greek taverna-style restaurant, conveniently, I suppose, but not so attractively located down near LAX. It's Aliki's, near the intersection where Airport Blvd. meets Arbor Vitae:

http://www.elikioliveoil.com/custes.html

Very serious about their food, and try to be as close to back home as possible. Lots of condiments and other products to buy and take home, too.

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 12, 2010.

Dmcker, thanks for the cool ideas in SoCal... any Greek places you like in the SF bay area (or Northern CA)?

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2010.

Strangely, I can't remember having Greek that much in the Bay Area. I'll have to ponder on that a bit. Maybe it has something do with the weather, since LA is so much more a Mediterannean environment? And thinking about it, I do tend to party differently in SoCal than up north. More Greek and Mexican restaurants, clubs and rooftop poolside bars in LA, while contrarily tapas and Chez Panisse-type meals and intellectual conversations besides fireplaces in the Bay Area. There is innertubing down the Russian River and the like, but somehow more often than not BBQs on hillsides overlooking the sea in Big Sur, Marin, Sonoma and especially anywhere from Mendocino up (rather than Malibu or Santa Barbara or Laguna or....) end up with a lot of huddling together in the wind in wool or fleece, even in summer (and beachside fires find good use all year round).  ;-)

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2010.

I have had decent Greek in NYC, but that was all about the partying, and more trying to remember recent trips to Greece with friends who'd been there with me. Certainly doesn't feel at all like Greece there, though SoCal allows a hint of the true feeling.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2010.

OK, after a cup of tea and some remembering, here's my less than 2cts worth on Greek in the Bay Area:

Have been to Evvia in Palo Alto and Dio Deka in Los Gatos, but those were mostly business meals where I wasn't really able to savor the meal itself. Evvia is a better restaurant, but I don't really take any restaurant in that area all that seriously. There's so much money and attitude there now, that you usually need a chainsaw to cut through. And people who otherwise should know better, have more green than they know what to properly do with, and don't want to travel hours in rotten traffic for a meal, will pay more than they should in their neighborhood and try to convince themselves they've had a special experience.

Have heard some good things about Mezes in the Marina District, but that's unconfirmed. I don't really view La Mediterranee in Berkeley as Greek, though some people want to say they are. There's a particularly poor Greek place in Oakland that will remain nameless, that my sister keeps trying to drag me to (I know it's poor because I gave in once). She does the same with nasty Thai places. She's never been to either country but keeps wanting to do them with me every time I see her. It was better when she used to live in Santa Cruz because Vasili's is at least acceptable.

Sorry I can't be more help. I'm sure there must be something out there....

Oh, and I also heard someone saying less than complimentary things about Demitri's in Livermore. Have you been?

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 12, 2010.

I have eaten at La Mediterranee a lot since my sister is in Piedmont and likes that place.. it's more middle eastern to me tho.. I agree, do not consider it to be Greek.

Demitri's is where I party with my bffs sometimes in Livermore (not a lot of nite life there!).. ok food-it's a casual place, but still looking for much more, when I want real greek.  I can say at least that their food isn't dripping in oil.  As someone who watches her figure, I like places where I can get lean meat that is grilled without rolling it in fat (butter, olive oil) afterward... And Demitri's does not do that.

Epsilon in Monterey used to be rated highly, but has dropped in ratings a bit.  Haven't been since mid 90's, and it was GOOD back then. 

Will have to try the place in Los Gatos since I travel over to Santa Cruz a bit...

Thanks for all your suggestions, dmcker!

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2010.

Try Vasili's in Santa Cruz, too, and let us know what you think. Gotta go now, so will leave it at that.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 12, 2010.

I also remembered a place I'd been to a in the '90s called Mykonos, on Polk in the City. It was fun for some parties back then, and I'm pretty sure it's still around, but I imagine Mezes in the Marina is going to get more accolades these days.

And Napagirl, you should check out NorthBerkeleyImports. Considering where you live, even pop over for a quick visit to talk to the people running it. The don't carry all that many wines, but they do have quite a few that are more than interesting, and they have a lot of local information about the wines from regions in Europe they represent.

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