Foodie briefs: More protein, Balmy shelflife, Wine of the Week

More protein

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says 'the average American consumes about double the protein her or his body needs.' Still, the protein-centered-product business offers up General Mills' Nature Valley Protein chewy bars and, from Kellogg's, Eggo protein waffles. (Kellogg's already had Special K protein meal bars and Special K Protein Plus cereal.) And now Nabisco has an entry, under its Snackwell's brand: three flavors of cereal bars.

Balmy shelf life

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Vinegar in general has a very long shelf life. Older bottles of wine-based vinegars might get sediment at the bottom, and sometimes they develop a growth of what is called Mother of Vinegar, the natural mold used to make new batches of vinegar. Mother looks more like a thin sheet you'll see floating in a bottle than thick globs. Balsamic vinegars vary wildly in price, from the true aged balsamicos that can cost more than $100 a bottle to very cheap balsamic-flavored vinegars that cost less than $5. With the cheap stuff, manufacturers sometimes add caramel flavoring or sweeteners to mimic the true balsamic taste. Home cooks sometimes boil a cheaper balsamic with a little sugar to make it thicker or sweeter, too.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Les Terrasses d'Eole Ventoux

Region: Rhone Valley

Price: About $9

Style: Full-bodied and intense

What it goes with: Burgers and barbecue

Think South of France, Rhone Valley. Inky dark, with the taste of sun-baked blackberries, brambles, something wild and woolly. This is a C�tes de Ventoux from the hills just below the famous Mt. Ventoux, one of the stages in the Tour de France bicycle race. The current vintage, 2010, is perfect for a burger bash or to wash down a rack of baby back ribs. Too intense for sipping on its own, this is a wine that needs food, and food with big, bold flavors. It's inexpensive enough that you can by it by the case to have on hand for summer's barbecues.

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