Tag Archives: Zenergo

LET THE SKIS DO THE TURNING !

By Marty Heckleman, Mr. SkiTips

From SkiTips.com

All the new shaped skis are designed to turn when you put them on their edges and apply some pressure to the skis. Thus to turn these skis, all you need to do is roll your feet and ankles in the direction that you want to turn. By varying the amount of edging and the amount of pressure that you apply to the skis, you can determine how sharp a turn you make. The more the skis are edged and the harder you press on the skis, the tighter will be the radius of the turn (that is, a sharper turn). Conversely, the less the skis are edged, i.e., the flatter the skis, and the less hard that you press, the turn will have a larger radius (a bigger turn).

These two variables, ‘edging’ and ‘pressure’ are essentially what put you in control of your skis, so it would be useful to consciously play around with different combinations while practicing turns and noting what happens each time.

Skiing Exercise:

Turning the skis uphill to a stop

Here is a good exercise to start with to get the feeling of how easily your skis will turn when you roll your feet and ankles.

32C

On an easy intermediate slope, stand with your skis on a shallow traverse track. Be in a good traverse position with your skis spaced apart and very slightly edged (Picture 32C).

'

Start to traverse across the slope and gather some speed (pictures 32D).

32E

When you are ready to turn, simply roll your feet and ankles up the hill and hold the ski edges gripping in the snow (picture 32E).

The skis will turn up the hill to a stop (picture 32F).

32F

Repeat the same exercise and this time, when you roll your feet and ankles, hold them for a count of three and then roll them back to their original traverse position and glide again. Then roll them up the hill again. Try to notice how the skis turn when you roll your feet and ankles.

Special Tip: Don’t try to turn the skis by turning your feet in the direction of the turn! Be patient and try to feel yourself ‘riding’ on the edges of the skis as they turn. (The skis turn when you put them on their edges because of their shape and design).

ABOUT Martin Heckelman
Martin Heckelman is the author of the books “The New Guide to Skiing,” “The Hamlyn Guide to Skiing,” and “Step by Step Skiing Skills,” as well as the “SkiTips” video and DVD series, available on his site SkiTips.com, and the “SkiTips” Apps series.  Martin is based in Val d’Isere, France, one of the world’s finest ski resorts.

Meet Skiiers on Zenergo

Zenergo is a free activities-focused social manager for active adults networking through their real-life interests. On Zenergo you can create activities, groups and events around Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, as well as other sports and fitness activities, and health, social, group, family, civic, and hobbyist activities. Please visit the site at http://www.zenergo.com to learn how more about how Zenergo can Activate Your Life.

Getting Started as a Youth Soccer Coach

By Kory Barrett

From Soccer For Coaches 

Congratulations on volunteering as a youth soccer coach! Though you may be a bit nervous at first and unsure of what you’ve gotten yourself into, you’ll soon find it to be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience.

The first thing to do is relax, take a deep breath, and tell yourself you can become a great soccer coach. This site is here to help, and this section is where to start. The links to the left will guide you through the following:

I. Coaching Philosophy – Keep the critical goals in mind: for your kids to have fun, develop their soccer skills, and want to come back next season! Everything else will fall in place if you keep your focus on these three goals.

II. Suggested Equipment – As a coach there are a few things you’ll need to run effective practices. Here is a list of items I recommend, along with links of where you can purchase them. Note – I am not trying to sell you anything, and am proud to offer all the information on this site completely for free. However, if you purchase these items by clicking on the links you’ll find, I do get a “commission” from the vendor. This is an easy way for you to help support this website, which I greatly appreciate!

III. Organizing the Season – By planning ahead and taking a little time to organize yourself and your team before that first practice, you’ll give yourself a huge boost towards a successful season. This page helps identify what you need to do first.

IV. Running Practices – Practice can be the toughest part of your job, but with a bit of forethought, they are a lot of fun for everyone. Here you’ll find the issues to consider, as well as a “structure” or “itinerary” for your practices that works really well.

V. Game Day – The culmination of your and your players’ hard work. Game Day is a ton of fun, but there are some things for you to consider. Find these explained here.

Already you may be feeling a bit more at ease by breaking down your task at hand into these five easy sections. Coaching does take a little time to get used to, but after reading the pages listed above, you’ll soon find yourself feeling really confident.

ABOUT
Kory Barrett, licensed coach (NSCAA and U.S. Soccer), currently coaching U11, U9, and U4 teams.

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ZENERGO FOR YOUTH COACHES

Zenergo is a free activities-focused social manager for active adults networking through their real-life interests. On Zenergo you can create activities, groups and events around Soccer and other sports and fitness activities — as well as health, social, group, family, civic, and hobbyist activities.

Zenergo’s Group and Event features, with full privacy levels and the ability to create subgroups, make it a good place to organize teams and leagues, have coach discussions, and manage relations with team parents.  Please visit the site at http://www.zenergo.com to learn more. Zenergo is free to use.

An Easier Way to Manage Your Running Group

By Mac McCarthy, Zenergo 

Runners in Marathon

Photo by Margan Zajdowicz

Coordinating your running group and keeping track of schedules and members  can get complicated. Emails, phone calls, text messages – and perhaps multiple bookmarks to group sites, picture sites, and each member’s calendar to update.

And things still get lost in the shuffle!

Try this, for a one-stop shop: a new site, Zenergo (pronounced ZEN-ergo) , a “Social Manager” that helps you keep your social and activity life organized, and all in one place.

Zenergo focuses on activities, not chatter — they’ve got 300 of them, including every kind of sport, hobby, craft, and social activity — and of course they have there’s a  Running/Jogging Activity.

The main advantage is that everything is in one spot — the Running/Jogging Activity; you can set up your running Group — it’s free — and running Events (also free). There’s  a calendar for each activity, shared among those you’ve friended on that activity — and a calendar shared among group members.

Zenergo has photo sharing, and also document sharing, like for signup sheets. And of course a chat ‘wall’ — but only for discussions among your activity friends or your activity group — about that group  or activity — not a general chat steam of everything and everybody!

You can bring your whole group on board — sign-up is free and simple. You can also recruit more members if you like — Use Zenergo to find other Zenergo members in your neighborhood who are interested in finding running partners or groups.

Here is an example of what you see when you’re looking for a running partner — they can check off details of their interests, so you know you’re both on the same  page, interests-wise.

An Example of a Zenergo Member's Running/Jogging Activity Page

It’s worth a try! — Free, easy to sign up, no spam, as private as you want to make it (each activity, group, and event has privacy levels right there when you set them up, not hidden somewhere). Take a look!

See you on Zenergo!

How To Hold A Great Reunion!

By Mac McCarthy, Zenergo.com 

Whether you’re holding it for your family, for your high school or college class, for your event alumni, for a company a military unit, reunions can be very special events that bring back great memories, reunite friends of the past, and acknowledge the contributions and successes of colleagues.

But a great reunion takes a lot of planning and hard work to get it right. Here is an outline of key steps you’ll need to take, and things to consider.

(And Zenergo’s group, event, calendar, and photo sharing features can be there to help!)

Start One Year Before the Likely Date

You’ll need the time for several reasons. The venue where you’re holding the event needs advance notice, and you want to get your bid in before someone else grabs the best weekends. Planning takes time; so does gathering together the list of all the potential attendees. And those coming to the reunion from far away will appreciate the extra time.

A weekend in the late summer or early fall is generally considered the best time for class, business, and unit reunions.

Assemble a Reunion Committee.

Ideally, you’ll pull together a team of people willing to do the work, meet deadlines, and keep everyone informed.  extra mile to make sure the reunion is a success. Appoint one person to set up conferences and set up meeting agendas. Appoint a second person to oversee the finances.

Set up a reunion Group on Zenergo.com. 

This will serve as communications central for the Reunion Committee. Here you have your committee contact info, your documents and photos, and reunion calendar so you can set goals for each step.

Set up Subcommittees.

Zenergo lets you set up “SubGroups” which can serve as your subcommittees – you will need a subcommittee in charge of finding and booking the venue and deciding on the date, a subcommittee to locate all the people you want to invite, a subcommittee to decide on entertainment, events, and activities; and a finance subcommittee to make the tough decisions about what to spend and what to charge.

Invite your Guests.

You can set up a reunion Event under your reunion Group on Zenergo. Import your guest contact list, then send out your invites. Guests will be able to RSVP, and you can let them post pictures and documents, and chat among themselves.

Meet with your reunion committee members regularly.

Monthly is good initially, when you’re getting everything set up and need to make sure it’s working smoothly. Meetings can be face to face, or over the Web or by conference call.

Decide on a budget.

This can take some deep thinking. What are your costs? This depends on the venue, and the cost of the dinner and other activities. How much do you need to charge to cover expenses, and how will your guests react when they find out how much tickets cost? Bear in mind  guests may have added expenses to get to the venue and book hotel rooms. Now is the time to determine if it’s all affordable.

Consider holding one or more fundraisers during the year before the reunion, to help cover some of the costs and make the reunion tickets more affordable. Check to see if the alumni group of your school, or the company or organization or unit are willing to pitch in — they might want to host the reunion at their facility, which can greatly reduce your expenses.

You can maintain planning documents and budgets on your Zenergo reunion group’s site, for sharing among the committee members; taking advantage of Zenergo’s privacy controls.

Plan activities or a theme — fun ones, and

Photographed by and copyright of David Corby

 memorable ones.

Reunions can be as simple as a dinner, or as elaborate as a weekend retreat complete with a full schedule of activities. Here are possible elements to make yours a memorable and engaging event.

  • Have key people give speeches; it sets the tone for the evening.
  • Invite a special or surprise guest: a favorite teacher; a classmate or colleague who’s now  a celebrity.
  • Give tribute to those who have passed away.
  • Run a slideshow at the side of the room, and solicit photo contributions.
  • Dancing can be fun; plan the kind of music your guests will enjoy.
  • Take the reunion guests on a trip to visit the old school or base or headquarters or other key location. Or take the group to a local winery, or a historical site. Or to an activity such as rock climbing, hiking, a bike ride, or sailing.
  • But leave the most time for free socializing; that’s the real reason you are all here.
  • In addition to dinner, your reunion can include a picnic, games day, or a sports night.
  • Collect yearbooks to display at the event — not just your graduation year, but for several years earlier as well. Plan to create your own Reunion memory book, assembling pictures from the reunion plus pictures of mementos, and essays or memories from the attendees. Publish using one of the custom-publishing sites.

On the day of your reunion make sure all your guests are properly registered.

That means you’ll need to assign a workgroup to man the check-in table, and consolidate the information afterwards.

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what is your best (or worst!) reunion memory? share!

Music Performance: How To Manipulate Your Audience in Three Easy Steps

by Christopher Davis Image of a guitar being played

If you’re on stage, you have to be in control of the situation. Here’s three ways to do it.

1. Smile

Your control of the audience begins when you walk on stage. You get to convey whatever it is you want to be. I suggest that you convey enjoyment.

Smile like your life depends on it when you walk in. It’s amazing what happens to an audience when a performer smiles. They’ll think you’re at home on the stage.

If you don’t feel like smiling, fake it.

2. Master the Silence

After (quietly) tuning, it’s time to start. Please don’t plow into the piece. Take a moment of poise before you begin.

This creates a tense moment, in which the audience knows that the real performance is about to begin. The moment of poise is a way to separate the walk in, seating and everything else from the music.

After you finish a piece, take another moment of poise. Play the silence at the end of the piece by freezing in place for a few heartbeats after muting the strings. Then relax, look up and smile (see above).

3. Stay Focused

As an audience member, it’s incredibly uncomfortably when you don’t know when to clap. Sure the program is there, but when a perform sends unclear signals it becomes difficult.Clarinetist playing on the street

Practice the moment of poise (see above) after each movement, but stay focused on your instrument and the music. Do not address the audience by looking at them during this time. Take a few moments to relax (I like less time between movements, but that’s up to you!), then use another moment of poise and begin.

Of course if the movement was particularly fiery, you might get some applause anyway! That’s okay. I suggest acknowledging it with a smile and nod, but not a full bow. Save that for the end of the piece.

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Creative Commons. This article was originally published in The Classical Guitar Blog

About the Author

Christopher Davis is a Doctoral student in Dallas, Texas, and a professional guitarist and teacher. Passionate about the music business, he speaks and consults on the subject. He writes The Classical Guitar Blog, with articles on practicing, performing, interpreting, and guitar technique.

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ZENERGO.COM is for Musicians and Performers

Try ZENERGO.COM for organizing your music business, your band, your fan club, your performances.

Zenergo is a free activities-oriented online social network that appeals to people looking for things to do, and friends to do them with. You can join, find others who love music. Set up a Group for your business, your band, or your fan club. Publish Events to let other Zenergo members know of your play dates. Post pictures, writeups, reviews. Organize practices using the built-in calendar (if you have different groups, you can have separate calendars for each!). Message your band members, and maintain your mailing list. Even find and recruit to fill that drummer or rhythm guitarist opening. All this — everything in one convenient place — and you don’t need to be technical to make it happen.

Just to give you an idea of how thorough we are, here is the Activity Profile for the Music Performing activity — see how much detail we offer!

The Zenergo Activity Profile for the Music-Performing Activity

The Strategy of Playing Better Tennis

By Gary Berner

Special to Zenergo

Greetings again, tennis fans. This is my second attempt to write in this format about the sport I love. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below and tell me what you’d like to see.

First, I want to report again on professional tennis, as today marks the second major tournament in the last several weeks. The most recent event was the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida played from 3/19 to 4/3. This tournament, like the Indian Wells tournament played a couple of weeks ago, was one of the year’s most important events. Like Indian Wells, players often call this tournament “The 5th Slam.”

In Saturday’s women’s final, a hard-hitting, loud-grunting Victoria Azarenka defeated an almost equally ear-piercing (and I’m not talking jewelry) Maria Sharapova in straight sets. I really don’t mind players expressing the effort involved, but c’mon! This twosome sounded like they were auditioning for some kind of weird reality show. “Don’t men grunt?” I’m hearing some of you ask. Yes, and some of them are pretty annoying too. I just don’t get how screaming at the top of your lungs helps you in any way other than disturbing your opponent’s concentration.

The other issue in women’s tennis today, as announcer Mary Carillo pointed out, is there is currently a “for rent” sign above the World #1 ranking. No dominant player, no rivalry. When those Martina/Chrissie, Stephie/Monica, Venus/Serena rivalries return to  women’s tennis, it will be great for the game. Until then, it’s hard to get too excited.

The men’s game, by contrast has an emerging new rivalry in Djokovic/Nadal. Today’s final was a repeat of the Indian Wells final, with World #1 Rafael Nadal again being overcome by #2-ranked Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. It was another tight match that Djokovic was able to pull out in the end, remaining undefeated in 2011. By his own admission, Novak is playing the best tennis of his career. Just as it seems that Nadal has “solved” Roger Federer in recent head-to-head competition, Djokovic seems to have “solved” Nadal.

It’s All About Strategy

Which brings me to the next section of this post, geared to perhaps the more advanced club player looking to get an edge in match play. One of the most interesting aspects of tennis is strategy. Unlike team sports, and pretty much all other sports except boxing, singles tennis is a one-on-one battle of wills and wits. How well you play, and whether you win or lose a given match, is highly dependent upon how your game matches up with your opponent’s. The concept I refer to above, “solving your opponent’s game,” really means determining how your strengths and weaknesses match up against a specific opponent–then devising a strategy to exploit those matchups.

Azarenka

For example, suppose your opponent has an outstanding and aggressive forehand, and a much weaker backhand. You have gained pretty good control of your game and feel confident that you can place the ball if you get a chance to set up. How should you plan to play such a player? How will your strengths and weaknesses match up against a lopsided player like this? On first blush, it seems obvious that the best way to “solve” this opponent is to hit to his backhand. But on each of the last several times you played him/her, maybe you didn’t do very well with this strategy. It seems like your attempts to find this weakness was answered by a player who was more than willing to step around the backhand and pound forehand winners from all over the court. So your game didn’t match up very well, and the obvious strategy didn’t work. (Sound familiar to anyone?)

Nadal

An alternative suggestion would be to try pulling this forehand-loving opponent wide to his/her favorite side. “But then I’m hitting to his/her strength,” you might reply. This seemingly counterintuitive strategy has several advantages. Often times, the lover of forehands is very happy to step around the backhand. So much so that running around that weaker side has become a favorite move. By pulling this player in the opposite direction, you move them out of their comfort zone. The second advantage you gain is the court will now be open on the backhand side for your next shot, and this previously happy forehand striker now has to run all the way across the court to hit that lousy backhand you’ve been trying to find for the last three years. So yes, you are playing to their strength, surprising them, and breaking a pattern. Try it, and see if you don’t get inside their heads a little–one of the true joys of singles tennis competition.  🙂

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Take Your Tennis To Zenergo

Zenergo.com is the place you and your tennis friends can form a group to plan your games, schedule them on your group Calendar, share comments and pictures. Tennis coaches can manage their class schedules and your students can comment on Activity Talk — everything you need is in one place, fully integrated. Visit Zenergo.com – it’s fast, it’s free, it’s fun!

WINE TUTORIAL 3: For Beginners–What To Drink (and What To Skip!)

By Mac McCarthy, Zenergo

Jean Edwards Cellarsm, Napa


When you first try various wines, you quickly find that some — well, many — are hard to take, especially for a beginner. Many wines are acquired tastes — you have to get used to them.

Especially for red wine, the tannin (a stinging, puckery sort of sensation on your tongue, similar to what you’d experience if you sucked on a teabag) is what makes it hard to take. Some red wines are very tannic, so they definitely take practice. And wines, especially red wines, can be acidic on top of that. And then there’s the alcohol, which is not very high for wines (10% to 16%) compared to liquors, but liquors are hard to take too, aren’t they? That’s why you mix them with soda and fruit juice!

Luckily, there are a lot of wine types that are “approachable,” which means easier for beginners to like right from their first taste — they are much less tannic, less acidic, and lower in alcohol. So start with these wines that are safe for a beginner like you. NOTE: I indicate where these particular grapes and wines originate, but most are made in many places — especially in the United States, which makes a version of almost every type of wine in the world.

[A good way to learn is to join with others to share and try wines. On Zenergo.com, you can sign up for the Wine Tasting Activity, find others in your area with similar interests, join or start your own wine tasting Group, and find out about wine tasting events in your area. Give it a try.]

Safe Wines for Beginners

Reds

Louis Jadot Beajolais-Villages

Beaujolais (and Beaujolais Nouveau) is an area in France that makes a very light, fruity, mild red wine from the Gamay grape, very easy to enjoy. The “Nouveau” is sold around Thanksgiving time. In fact, it makes a good turkey-day wine. (It’s also supposed to be consumed before New Year’s Day, as it doesn’t age like the regular wines from Beaujolais do.)

Pinot Noir (but $$) Pinot Noir can be a light yet flavorful wine that’s very approachable, with more interesting things going on with it than the simpler Beaujolais. It’s tricky to shop for, though, for a few reasons. One is that good Pinots can be pricey. Some of the very best, from Burgundy (or “Bourgogne“) in France, can have price tags that will take your breath away even more than the flavor does. And, to confuse things, many Pinots made in Oregon, Washington, and California are made in a more intense West-Coast style that’s not much like the light Burgundies we’re recommending here. So when you shop for a Pinot, ask the clerk if this is a “French-style” Pinot, or a “West Coast-style.” Buy the French-style ones.

Rhones are blended wines made along the Rhone river in France; they can be light and easy to drink, but the flavors a highly varied – some like ’em, some don’t. A famous example is Chateauneuf du Pape. Personally, I like the ones from Gigonda. Americans make Rhone-style blended wines too, and they also vary a lot in what they taste like. It’s a good area for exploration.

Ruffino Chianti

Light Italian wines: Chianti (not in straw bottle), Sangiovese, Valpolicello  are light ones easy to drink. There are other Italian reds that are intense, that you might not be able to handle as easily. One clue: If it’s a light red — if it looks watered down compared to other, dark reds — then it’s probably lighter in taste, too, so it’s worth a try.

Cheap Australian Shiraz wines can be great fun because they show a lot of fruit. Examples are Yellowtail and Rosemount, and best of all they are usually very affordably priced.

Any red wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Light yet flavorful, they sometimes don’t say what grape is in the wine; in many cases, they are native American grapes, not the French-sourced grapes all the rest of the wines are made from, and that can be very interesting — a lost marketing opportunity, if you ask me.

Roses

I’ve already lectured you about why Roses can be tasty wines that you should be trying at every opportunity, despite whatever you may have heard about White Zinfandel. There is more variety in Roses than in any other wine type — from completely “dry” to lightly sweet. And, let’s face it, folks, even White Zinfandel has the not-to-be-dismissed virtue of being very easy to drink — light, with no offensive elements, it’s a perfect starter wine, which is why it’s so popular. Just know that you’ll get tired of it after a while because it’s bland and flabby, but until that day comes, you can sip it without concern for your tongue. And please remember that this is *not* what other Roses taste like, nor other red Zins, nor other sweet dessert wines, so when you do get tired of it, don’t swear off the good stuff.

Whites

White wines, lacking tannins, are easier for beginners to taste — though there are still a few whites that have enough acidic tang to make your taste buds jump. Whites are often lower in alcohol than reds, too, which is a bonus. The real trick for a beginner is finding a white wine that actually *tastes* good — not just doesn’t hurt, but has a flavor that a beginning taster finds pleasant and enjoyable. Here are a few popular grapes.

Chardonnay – No longer “fashionable,” but easy to drink, which is why it continues to be popular. When you get tired of regular everyday Chardonnay that you find in bars and nightclubs, you can graduate to the tasty White Burgundy from France, which is very different, and to the many new “unoaked” Chardonnays being made in the US, where the fruit comes forward in a delicious way. Americans are experimenting with the taste of Chardonnay, so taste around.

Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc from the US or New Zealand – This grape makes a white wine with a little more character than oaked Chardonnays, so it’s a popular next step for many drinkers. It has a little but of a tang, a kind of “stony” taste. It is fashionable, though. French versions (from Bordeaux and from the Loire Valley) taste different (and good).

Viognier and Pinot Grigio (Italian) or Pinot Gris (French) are light white wines that vary from maker to maker a whole lot. They can sometimes have a wonderful flowery or fruity aroma–and no particular flavor; or they can be very tasty — it’s a crap shoot. Experiment.

Italian Prosecco is a sparkling white wine, like champagne but much easier to drink — slightly sweet, fruity, fun. In fact, you should consider it for your wedding reception in place of Champagne–it’s easier for non-wine-drinkers to enjoy, and it’s much less expensive.

Any white from Germany, Alsace, or Austria, such as Gewurztraminer (do yourself a favor and just call it “Gevoortz”), Riesling, or Gruner Veltliner, tend to be aromatic, light but with an acidic tang, and vary from very dry to lightly sweet — to, in the case of late-harvest “Spaetlese” and “Trockenbeerenauslese,” quite sweet. All these whites vary a lot from maker to maker, so don’t give up if the first ones you try you don’t care much for. Keeping trying; you’ll find one you like. There’s a whole world of white (and red) wines, from unique grapes most of which you’ve never heard of and probably can’t pronounce, in the world of German, Alsatian, and Austrian wines; it’s worth a lifetime of flavorful study. While all the wine snobs are festishing over in France, you could becoming an expert in a different, tasty world.

Late-Harvest Reds and Whites

Dashe Cellars 2007 Late-Harvest ZinfandelDon’t like sweet wines? Ha ha ha — you’re wrong! You just haven’t had a chance to try a well-made one! Seriously, though, there are many, many so-called Dessert Wines (or, for fun, “Stickies”)  that are unbelievably delicious — like the best piece of liquid candy you’ve ever tasted. Look for Sauterne (a French white made from Sauvignon Blanc)), Tokay (Hungarian), Canadian or German Ice Wine (white), or Muscat (red). They mostly come in half-sized bottles and vary from a little bit expensive ($18 for a half bottle?) to oh-my-God expensive (hundreds of dollars for a vintage Chateau d’Yquem, also a half bottle). Try the cheap ones — they are also tasty. And meant to be sipped–they can be very high in alcohol.

Wines Not Safe for Beginners

Reason: These wines take getting used to – they are dense, heavy, intense, very tannic, alcoholic, acidic – OR ELSE expensive yet just hard to know when you’ve gotten a good bottle.

ZAP Festival San Francisco 2010

Zinfandel — Me, I love big, jammy red Zinfandels — heck, I vclunteer at the big ZAP Zinfandel festival every January in San Francisco, where 300 winemakers serve up over 800 Zinfandels! But others find it overwhelming. Exceptions: Any relatively inexpensive red Zinfandel with an aggressive, hard-hitting name intended to give you the impression that this is one bad Zin, baby! — is likely to be light and easy to drink — the name is a marketing gimmick. For example, Seven Deadly Zins, Earthquake Zin, and Cardinal Zin (best label ever, though) are fun and easy to drink, fruity, and affordable (thank goodness!). (This is similar to the marketing-wine rule that any wine with a fun, jokey, smartalecky name and picture is probably junk wine that, however, *tastes great*! Not sophisticated — just fun.

Jean Edwards Cellars 2007 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon– is usually made as a Big Red — heavy, tannic, sometimes expensive, and highly variable in flavor and style. You won’t know what you’re buying, so drink someone else’s until you find brands that work for you.

Merlot – Can be absolutely delicious when made right, but bland and mediocre if not; unfortunately, the best-tasting Merlot is the most expensive Merlot.

French Bordeaux and Burgundy – Because the good ones are expensive, the really good ones are very expensive, and the affordable ones vary all over the map in flavor and quality. Don’t jump into this world yet; drink OPB — Other People’s Bordeaux.

Argentinean Malbecs – Can be as big and intense and amazing as a great California Cab — but, unfortunately, just as costly. If you’re willing to spend the bucks, go ahead, you will rarely be disappointed. (Which is wonderful, because a couple of decades ago, Argentinian Malbec was dreck!)

Champagne – In general, the best are expensive; and surprisingly many people don’t really care for the taste of champagne, even good champagne — it has an acidic edge that you might not like. If you have to buy Champagne, go for the Champagne-type bubblies made elsewhere in France: Clairett de Die Cave Carod, for example, can cost as little as $13(!). Cremant d’Alsace is another winner. And there’s a Champagne-style bubbly made by a winery called Gruet in, of all places, New Mexico, that costs as little as $8.50 — yet tastes great. (If you like Champagne, that is — see above.) Can you believe that? I’ve tasted it, and it’s true.

China — The best-known red wine from China is from a winery called Great Wall. Really. Its  Cabernet Sauvignon is awful, truly awfuo. One day, maybe soon, China will produce good wines for export; we’ll be glad.

California Syrah – I love West-Coast Syrahs — because they are made in a dense, big-red, intense, fruit-forward style that I love. As a beginning wine drinker, though, you may find it as overwhelming as big red Zins. However, Syrah can also be made in lighter styles, and is the backbone of the blend of wines that makes up Rhone-style reds, where the mix is much easier on the palate.

Port — Port wines and the related styles of Sherry can be a traumatic experience for beginning wine drinkers. They put brandy in it! And you can taste it! Arrgh!

An exception might be Madeira — maybe. It’s just as dense, intensely sweet, even raisiny, yet not as harsh. Have a sip.

Where To Start?

Start Your Own Wine Group

As we said earlier, a good way to learn  about wines — and a fun way — is to join with others to share and try wines. So start a wine-tasting group of your own — Head on over to Zenergo, sign up (easy & free), join the ‘Wine Tasting’ Activity, and from there click ‘Create’ for Groups. Put in your info, send invites to your friends – and there you have it! A wine group spot where you can coordinate your tasting events, manage your email list, post your pictures, a chat amongst yourselves — all in one convenient spot! If you host public winetasting events, post them to Zenergo and recruit from among local members!

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Copyright 2011 Michael “Mac” McCarthy, all rights reserved. The four posts in this Wine 101 series are now available combined as an Amazon Single for your Kindle. Click the link for more info.

SOCIAL NETWORKING FATIGUE (or: I Don’t Care What You Had for Breakfast!!)

Whenever I introduce Zenergo to someone, I ask them two questions. The first is “When you’re not working, what do you like to do?” Their answer is always around their interests, passions and activities that define their social being, like tennis, knitting, book reading, wine tasting, parenting and so on. Then, I ask them “Do you do these things with all the same people?”  And, I always get an emphatic “NO!”

This is the fabric of the social lives of the mass market consumer, how people enjoy their passions and friends through the social circles that surround them. This is also the fabric of Zenergo.

It seems that two phenomena are occurring in the world of the social web.

Every site on the web is a “social network” is the first trend. That’s been the required moniker of every damned site that carries even a chat function, as they all think that’s the golden ticket to users coming on board. At Zenergo we don’t think of ourselves as a social network, but more of a “lifestyle compass.”  A site designed to enhance your social life, to give it direction, and to lead you to *do something.*

Social networking fatigue is the second trend I see. Most people have a busy lifestyle, and the quality of their time spent on this planet is important.  Many of the existing social networks have become personal soapboxes for the vocal minority (actually, the VERY vocal 5%), and the rest of us are pounded in their wake.   While I love my friends, I really don’t care that they bought a virtual pig,  or that they have a broken fingernail, or that they had Fruity Pebbles (yumm! yumm!, their words not mine) for breakfast.  So, I simply hide the ones that use a social network as a dumping ground for blah-blah-blah. And I’m not alone in this feeling or seeing this trend.

When I’m online, I want relevant discussions around the social areas that are important to me.  I want to be excited about what my social buddies have to say, not dreading the hours spent wading through the dribble looking for the nuggets that validate my time spent online. And I want to get excited about my favorite activities and motivated to go do them.

We created Zenergo to enhance people’s time online, to give them the feature-sets to make their online time fun, rewarding, and worth the time invested.   We’re all about one’s existing passions, finding new social frontiers, and embracing the social circles that surround them.  The web should be reflections of the way people lead their lives, not an attempt to change social norms.

Finally, to my daughter and her outbursts about college, and to my nephew who constantly posts videos of singing animals, I have one statement…”I had an apple fritter for breakfast, yum, yum!”

Enjoy Zenergo and watch the fatigue melt away!

Patrick J. Ferrell, CEO