Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

Jan 8, 2016

Decanting Wine and Whiskey

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, whiskey, once bottled, is a finished product, “If you keep a 12 year old bottle for 100 years, it will always remain a 12 year old whisky.”

The reasons whiskey remains basically the same while wine changes have to do with a couple factors: tannins and alcohol content. Wine has much more tannin content than whiskey. Whiskey has no innate tannins, and only gets a small amount from the barrel in which it ages. Tannins can cause change in a bottle of wine over time, for better or worse.  Whiskey has less tannins, it does not have much chance for major evolutions in flavor.

More important than tannins: alcohol content. Wines may have between 11 and 15%, or higher but almost all whiskeys are bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV. With such high alcohol content, the possibility for a dramatic chemical reaction from oxidation is much lower.

Whiskey can change at all over time, especially if it has been exposed to sunlight or temperature fluctuations.

Wine decanters are specifically designed to encourage interaction between liquid and air, always without a cap.  Whiskey decanters tend to be built for stability, have glass tops, and usually have a wide bottom. Air is not a factor in whiskey decanters, because it does make much difference.

So, wine is decanted for flavor and whiskey is decanted for looks. Incidentally, do not use a lead crystal decanter, because over a long period of time it could leach into the whiskey.

Nov 27, 2015

Alcohol and Calories

Good news for the holidays, a five-ounce glass of red, white, or rosé has about 100 calories per glass. Many believe wine is high in sugar because it is made from grapes, but because the fermentation process in wine-making converts sugars into alcohol. Only sweet or dessert wines are high in sugar. Wine is considered a heart healthy drink, especially red wine, which contains resveratrol, the antioxidant compound linked to heart health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends 1-2 four-ounce servings of wine per day.

Hard liquor is higher in calories per-ounce than wine, but not by much since after distillation, spirits such as vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum have nothing left but the alcohol. They contain zero carbs, which makes them a diet-friendly option, plus, the standard 1.5 ounce serving of spirits has 105 calories.

The average 12-ounce serving of beer contains 150 calories and 13g carbs, higher than wine and spirits. Choosing light versions of beer will save about 50 calories per serving and cut carbs in half. Lager and wheat beers are generally lower in both calories and carbs per serving compared to heavier beers such as ales, stouts, and porters. Beers differ in color, flavor, and consistency, and the good news all offer some nutritional value. The brewer’s yeast used to ferment beer contains B vitamins that benefit the nervous system health and reduce homocysteine, a chemical that can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Bottoms up!

Oct 16, 2015

Wine is Better than Exercise

A recent study found that a glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym. Also, drinking red wine could help burn fat, says another study.

The health benefits of red wine have been well documented. Studies have revealed that those who drink a glass of red wine a day are less likely to develop dementia or cancer, that it is good for your heart, it is anti-aging and can regulate blood sugar.

Research conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada has found that health benefits in resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, are similar to those we get from exercise.  Resveratrol was seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in the same way as they are improved after a gym session. Other sources of resveratrol are blueberries, peanut butter, red grapes, and dark chocolate.

Jul 17, 2015

Cava, Champagne, Cremant, and Prosecco

These are currently the four most popular sparkling wines, although there are many others. Sparkling wines are made using a secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. In 2013, Prosecco outsold champagne around the world.

Cava comes from Spain, primarily around Barcelona and the sparkling wine can be extremely high quality. Cavas are made in the 'Traditional Method', and many are aged longer than Champagne is. The principal grapes used are Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada.

Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Only grapes grown in the Champagne region of France can be used for Champagne, which is produced in that region using a specific 'Traditional Method'. Although its history dates back many hundreds of years, Champagne only got its sparkle in 1668 when Pierre Dom Pérignon, cellar master for the Benedictine Abbey was developing new ways to make wine more enjoyable and stumbled on the method by accident.

Cremant is the sparkling wine made in the same way in any French region other than Champagne. There are 23 sparkling wines made in France and each region may use different grapes, such as Chenin Blanc, Cabernet, Pino Gris, etc.

Prosecco is made from the Glera grape in the Veneto region of Italy. It is made using the ‘Tank Method’. Prosecco is perhaps America’s favorite bubbly, because it is not aged “sur lie” as Champagne is, the flavors of Prosecco tend to be simpler and less complex. Think white flowers, apple, and pear. Some even have a bit of sweetness. Sur Lie is the method of adding extra flavor to the finished wine by letting it sit on the lees (decomposing yeast and grapes) in order to extract more aromas and flavors.

Bottom line, all Champagne sparkles, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Champagne is perceived as a region for luxury wines, so it can command higher prices than the others, which can be as or more enjoyable. As with all wines, trust your tongue and not the advertising.

Jan 2, 2015

Holiday Boozing

Many equate the holidays with drinking, so I looked up some of the common terms we use, beginning with 'crapulous' (a substitute for hangover), from the 18th century Greek kraipale (drunken headache or nausea). I love that word.

Booze
first appeared in Middle Dutch as bûsen, which meant 'to drink to excess.' There was also the Old High German word bausen, which meant 'to bulge or billow.'" It took 200 years for English speakers to start using it as both a verb (to booze) and a noun (give me some booze). It is a common misconception that the word was borrowed from a brand of whiskey sold by E.S. Booz in the 1800s, but the word much older. The 1529 Oxford dictionary defined it as “affected by drinking.”


Hooch comes from Alaska. There was a native tribe there called the Hoochinoo that distilled rum made primarily from molasses and introduced it to soldiers from the lower 48.

Alcohol began as an Arabic word describing a fine metallic powder used as eye shadow (al-kuhul). The word was broadened to mean 'the pure spirit of anything'. Later it was expanded to include a distilled spirit or liquor. Alcoholic meaning 'caused by drunkenness' is attested by the 1800s and meaning 'habitually drunk' by 1910.

Liquor dates back to at least 1200, likur "any matter in a liquid state," and the Latin verb liquere, meaning "to be fluid", from Latin liquorem. The definition including a fermented or distilled drink followed about a hundred years later. In North America, the term hard liquor is used to distinguish distilled beverages from undistilled ones and does not include beverages such as beer, wine, and cider, which are fermented, but not distilled.

Spirits refers to a distilled beverage that contains no added sugar and has at least 20% alcohol by volume. It probably originated with ancient alchemists, who referred to the vapor given off and collected during an alchemical process (like the distillation of alcohol) as the 'spirit' of the original material. Early European Monks believed that the spirit was removed from the mash during the distilling process.

Cocktail refers to any beverage that contains two or more ingredients with at least one of them being alcohol. When a cocktail contains only a distilled spirit and a mixer, it is a highball. The Oxford English dictionary cites the word as originating in the US. The first recorded use of the word cocktail as a beverage was during the early 1800s. Of the many origins, two stand out: an old French recipe for mixed wines, called a coquetel, brought to America by General Lafayette’s soldiers in 1777; and New Orleans brandy drink in an egg-cup called a coquetier in French. The latter was a morning drink served at the time the tail of the evening met with the morning cock-a-doodle-do of a rooster.


Bar is an abbreviation of barrier, the counter that separates drinks from the drinkers. Toward the end of the 16th century it expanded to mean the building that housed the barrier. Barmaid didn’t appear in print until the mid 1700s and bartender arrived about fifty years later and barfly came about during the early 1900s. Bottom line, beer, wine, cider, hooch, and alcohol are booze, but only hooch, and alcohol are liquors. Spirits are alcohol and both are liquor. All highballs are cocktails, but not all cocktails are highballs.

May 30, 2014

What's in a Name Sherry

This fortified wine is named for the Anglican version of its town of origin, Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Like champagne, sherry is a Protected Designation of Origin, and only wine from that area of Spain can be labeled sherry in Europe.

Feb 28, 2014

How to Stay Young

It need not take a lot of effort. John Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University outlines a ten-step program to improve quality of life as we age.

He suggests little changes that involve good eating, such as including dark chocolate in your diet, drinking wine, socializing, adding simple exercises, fidgeting in your office chair to burn calories, spending time walking from your car to the store rather than driving to find a close parking space, working in your garden, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going dancing once a week. I  already socialize, drink wine, and eat chocolate, but need to practice fidgeting a bit more.

Jan 17, 2014

Wordology, Punt

A punt is the small indentation on the bottom of wine bottles designed to give the bottle extra strength. It is also known as a kick.

Jan 10, 2014

How Much Water

Speaking of hydration, North American companies use 1.39 liters of water to make one liter of bottled water. That is less than the global averages of a liter of soda, which requires 2.02 liters of water. A liter of beer needs 4 liters of water, wine needs 4.74 liters. Hard alcohol guzzles 34.55 liters of water for every liter.

Aug 2, 2013

Wine Colors

Red wine and white wine do not come from red and white grapes. The color in wine comes from the inclusion of the grape skins. White wines are made from just the pulp.

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape. Red zinfandel and other red wines are made from it as well as white zinfandel and rosé (by using the pulp and not skins).

Apr 17, 2013

Wordology, Ullage

The space in a bottle of wine that is not occupied by wine. In other words, the amount the bottle lacks in being full. Pronounced ull ij.

Dec 2, 2011

American Drinking

Sixty four percent of American adults drink alcohol. Of those who imbibe, 36% prefer wine, 35% beer and 23% hard liquor.

Nov 9, 2011

Other Uses for Wine

A nice glass of wine with dinner is always appreciated, but what happens when dinner is over and there is still wine in the bottle? We all know wine does not last forever, so here are a few tips to make use of the last bit of wine in the bottle. Pour leftover white wine onto grease and oil stains on garage floors and driveways, and the alcohol and acidity will help them dissipate.

Just like baking soda, wine can be used as a natural fruit and vegetable cleaner. The alcohol in the wine dissolves impurities on the surface, and according to a 2005 study by Mark Daeschel of Oregon State University, components in wine kill several types of foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.

Spoiled white wine is on its way to being vinegar, so naturally it works like a charm on dirty glass. Add a few tablespoons to a spray bottle of water, apply to windows and mirrors and wipe with a newspaper.

Apr 26, 2011

Cheap Wine is Good Wine

A survey was recently taken with 578 drinkers at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The participants sampled a variety of red and white wines in a blind taste test with prices ranging from about $6 to $50. The results concluded that people could only tell the difference between cheap and expensive white wines 53% of the time, and 47% of the time for red wines. 50% average is equal to a guess.

This  backs up a study from a few years ago, which showed that individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. That survey of 6,000 blind tastings showed that the correlation between price and overall rating is small and negative, suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less. Bottom line - wine does not have to be expensive to taste good.