How to Cure a Hangover

How to Cure a Hangover (from an actual bar owner!)

Hangover Cures – How to Cure a Hangover

For those of us who enjoy a cold beer, a glass of wine, or a good cocktail now and then, there’s a certain inevitability. A couple glasses of your favorite wine leads to a morning after of regret, complete with headache, dry mouth, sour stomach, or even nausea …

If you’ve never had a hangover, consider yourself fortunate. A hangover is a sure way to render your day crabby, tired, and unproductive. Of course, the easiest way to cure a hangover is to prevent your hangover by not drinking too much in the first place! But that’s the obvious answer and it’s often easier said than done …

We created this article to explore all things hangover … what causes a hangover, myths about hangovers, hangover cures, what to do when you have a hangover, and natural hangover remedies.

You’ll even discover a few “hair of the dog” concoctions that may well help ease your hangover pain!

Other than the obvious (don’t drink), there really are a number of hangover cures that actually work. Time is the first and surest hangover cure … eventually the hangover goes away. But if you’re looking for a hangover cure that works a little faster (translated: right now!), we’ll share them with you. But here’s the first undisputed fact: Different cures work for different people. Our bodies and internal systems are all unique and different … so what works for your buddy might not work for you at all.

Further down this page you’ll discover what a hangover really is … the science behind the agony, so to speak. While we all know a hangover is the result of drinking too much, what are the real causes? Read on, but before that let’s talk about why you’re probably here: What to do when you have a hangover …

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Hangovers are no fun, but there are a few things you can do to prevent a hangover or minimize its’ effect …

It goes without saying the best way to prevent a hangover is not to drink. But we’re not here to preach anti drinking … in fact we enjoy a few social drinks and we imbibe in beer, wine, and spirits from time to time. So let’s just assume you’re a social drinker and you’re in a situation where you’ve had one or two more drinks than normal … and now you’ve got a hangover (or you sense one is coming on).

Here’s what you can do before you drink, while you’re drinking, and afterwards …

Before You Drink

First off, try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. For a variety of reasons, your hangover effects will be much more severe. Food serves to absorb alcohol in the blood stream, and certain foods will provide vitamins and minerals helpful to your body. We can’t really tell you which foods to eat and not eat … but having some food in your system will help ward off alcohol’s effect on your stomach lining, possibly preventing an upset stomach …

For our purposes, something hearty is always a good choice. Pizza, a good burger, or just a simple balanced meal with meat, potato, and vegetable. Plus, you’ll tend to drink less if you’re not hungry.

As a last resort, try eating something just before you go to bed … even though most health experts tell you not to eat right before bedtime. Some food in your system is better than no food in your system, and it’s worth it to help ward off an alcohol-induced upset stomach.

Be careful, though. Choose only the type of food that normally digests easily for you …

While You Drink

It’s a real good idea to have water handy while you drink. Yes, you’ll make more frequent bathroom trips, but it’s the key element to warding off a hangover. A good rule of thumb … a glass of water for every two drinks.

Even better is a 1-to-1 ratio, though it might be impractical in a bar setting.

Keep yourself hydrated with water while you’re drinking and chances are good your hangover symptoms will be much less severe …

Also, try to get as much fresh air as you can while drinking. Oxygen speeds up the detoxification of your body’s cells, and although we won’t get into the science of the process here, suffice it to say ample fresh air will minimize a hangover’s effects.

After You Drink

One thing that has always worked for us … drink as much water as you can handle before going to bed, and if you remember, keep water at your bedside if (when?) you awake during the night.

Try to eat something simple before going to bed. Even a piece of bread will help normalize your system. Again, stick with food that has historically agreed with your system. Strangely enough, Chinese food has always worked for me! Just try to eat a little something and chances are great it’ll help minimize your hangover …

Exercise is a great hangover cure because it brings higher levels of oxygen into your system, thereby speeding up the detox process.

Problem is, exercise is about the last thing you want to do when your head is pounding, you’re tired, and you’ve got world class case of dry mouth. Instead of a run or a spin class, try a brisk walk instead. You’ll be amazed how clearing your head with a brisk walk will help alleviate your symptoms …

One Hangover Don’t …

It’s not a good idea to take acetaminophen tablets (commonly known as Tylenol) to ward off or cure a hangover. Alcohol and acetaminophen are a bad mix and very hard on your liver. Regular aspirin is ok, but not Tylenol. Tylenol is great for flu and body aches and pains, but not when you’ve got a bunch of alcohol in your system.

Natural Hangover Remedies – Speed Your Recovery

When you drink in excess, you flush (literally!) a lot of helpful vitamins from your system, particularly B vitamins. Making sure your body is in a healthy internal balance is crucial for not only easing a hangover’s agony, but helping prevent one in the first place …

Water is a great way to flush toxins from your system, but sometimes your body needs a little more help. There are a number of so called “cures” on the market, few of which are worth your time. One supplement we do recommend is Morning Hangover Med, a 100% homeopathic hangover cure that comes in convenient capsules and drastically reduces the effects of a hangover.

If your hangovers come with the added problem of an upset stomach, something you have around the house will help. Just add a spoonful of baking soda mixed into a glass of water and drink up … the baking soda is a great acid neutralizer that will ease the queasiness …

What Is A Hangover?

In order to properly treat (cure) a hangover, it’s important to understand the medical science behind what’s happening when you overindulge.

First, the actual medical name for a hangover is “veisalgia”. That’s a combination of the Greek word for pain – “algia”, and a Scandanavian word for debauchery or having too much fun – “Kveis”. So basically, pain from having too much fun!

Hangovers differ from person to person. Their severity is dependent on body chemistry and how much alcohol was consumed. There are more than a dozen symptoms, but here are some of the most common.

Hangover Symptoms

  1. Dehydration, including dry mouth and dry eyes
  2. Sensitivity to bright light and loud noises
  3. Headache
  4. Nausea and upset stomach
  5. Fatigue
  6. Loss of appetite
  7. Difficulty concentrating

If this sounds all too familiar, let’s examine what’s actually going on in your body when you drink too much …

What Causes a Hangover – The Science of a Hangover

Some fascinating things occur in your brain, bloodstream, and body when you drink alcohol. As you probably know, alcohol is created via a fermentation process. If you’ve ever toured a brewery, you’ve seen the large fermentation tanks where liquid mash is fermented at high temperatures and turned into beer.

Anyway, one of the by-products of the fermentation process are chemicals known as congeners. These congeners enter your bloodstream and block the production of a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin is an anti diuretic, meaning it causes liquid to be absorbed into the body instead of going directly to the kidneys and hence, urination.

So … when there is no vasopressin being created, most liquid goes directly to your kidneys. Liquid is not absorbed in the body, and you become dehydrated. Drinking alcohol causes more urinary production (you have to “go” more) because much of the liquid goes to your kidneys instead of absorbed into your bloodstream.

Have you ever noticed, when drinking, how you have to “go” more frequently? Now you know why. In fact, studies have shown that drinking causes a urination rate almost four times higher than normal. The liquid is entering your body … but it’s not being absorbed. You become dehydrated much more quickly …

Of course, not all the liquid goes directly to the kidneys … it’s also present in your bloodstream, which accounts for high blood alcohol content.

Dehydration, of course, causes dry mouth and headaches, two common symptoms of a hangover. Further, alcohol interacts with your stomach lining, which often leads to the sour or upset stomach often associated with over indulging and hangovers …

To be precise, it’s not just congeners that wreak havoc with your system. Hard alcohol, along with some trendy beers, have other additives as ingredients. Believe it or not, some common additives are zinc and ethanol, neither of which are good for you in large doses …

Well, now that we know what causes hangovers from a scientific point of view, let’s move on to one commonly used hangover “cure” …

Coffee and Hangovers

It’s A Myth …

In the morning, most people with a hangover can’t reach for a cup of coffee fast enough. This is because they’re tired and unfocused, two common hangover symptoms.

The thought behind coffee as a hangover cure is caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, and as such, it’s commonly thought a cup or two of coffee will snap us right out of the dreaded hangover.

Unfortunately, it’s a myth. Coffee is a dehyradating beverage, and as we noted above, dehydration is the primary cause of why you feel lousy with a hangover. Drinking coffee will only serve to prolong the agony!

Do yourself a big favor … if you’re suffering from a hangover, drink water instead of coffee. Your body is crying out to be hydrated, which is what causes hangover headaches and dry mouth and fatigue in the first place. Drink water consistently for a few hours, and then maybe have coffee or soda or an energy drink …

Hangover Cures

Mixing Liquor, Wine, and Beer…

Your Worst Hangover Ever!

Have you ever heard the phrases “Beer after liquor, never been sicker” or “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear”?

Supposedly, these pearls of wisdom were created to guide you in which order to mix your alcohol consumption. But if you’ve ever had one of those nights where you mixed everything together … a few beers, a couple glasses of wine, and mixed drinks on top of it … you know the hangover suffering that arrives the day after.

So why does mixing different alcoholic drinks make a hangover worse? Well, it goes back to congeners, which we discussed above. Congeners are a chemical created as a by product of the fermentation process.

The fact is, congeners are present to a greater degree in some alcoholic drinks than others. Darker spirits like bourbon, for example, have a higher concentration of congeners. The same is true for red wine.

Drinking an equal amount of red wine vs. white wine would (in general) yield a worse hangover for the red wine drinker.

But mixing all sorts of alcoholic drinks, and their various impurities, is a recipe for hangover disaster. Interestingly, the carbonation in beer actually speeds up the absorption process of alcohol. Combined with hard spirits, and the body gets even less time to process the toxins. This, combined with the dehydration effects of various liquor, makes hangover symptoms even worse.

So, forget the old wives tale slogans. If you’re going to overindulge, pick a lane and bowl in it as they say. Stick to just wine, just beer, or just the hard spirit of your choice. Your body will thank you!

Hair of the Dog

More Drinking As A Cure?

It’s long been suggested the best way to cure a hangover is to get another drink in you as soon as possible. Well … this might work for some people … but it’s akin to trying to put out a fire by pouring more gasoline on the flames.

However, everyone is different. Growing up in Chicago in the early 1970′s, my dad had his own special hangover cure. There was (and still is) a great Mexican restaurant on south Halsted Street in Chicago called Tacos Erendira. Every Sunday, they’d make a big steaming cauldron of shrimp soup, a Mexican specialty made from shrimp, broth, and all sorts of spices. My dad always said, “It straightened me right up.”

Other people swear by a good Bloody Mary, spicy or not. Drinking a Bloody Mary makes some sense as the tomato juice and other ingredients add needed nutrients to the body. Still others jump right back in with whatever they drank the night before.

To be truthful, the only thing more alcohol does to a hangover is prolong it. Yes, there might be a period of rejuvination or a pick-me-up feeling, but after an hour or two you’ll be back in the same boat.

With that said, if you’re insistant on a hair of the dog cure, we’d recommend something with a lot of fruit juice in it, along with a lighter liquor with less congeners. Light rum or vodka are good examples, and try to avoid cheap bar vodkas or rums.

The fruit juice will replace some of the fluids you lost the night before … but again, drinking more to cure a hangover isn’t something we recommend.

We’ll be adding a few recipes for “eye opener” drinks here in the future, so stay tuned to this space …

Hangover Recipes

“Cures” From Around The World

Virgin Islands Tropical Banana Smoothie

  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 1.5 cups milk (soy, almond, or regular)
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • Cup of Ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend well and enjoy. Drink slowly, allowing your body to absorb the smoothie.

(Adjust the amount of milk to make it thicker or thinner, depending on your preference. Frozen strawberries are also a good addition. You can make a virgin colada by substituting coconut cream for the milk and adding some pineapple juice)

Tomato Juice, Beer … And An Egg?

This hair-of-the-dog hangover concoction is simple to make …

Mix equal parts tomato juice and beer in a pint glass, then crack an egg into the glass. You can mix the egg in if you’d like (or if it makes the mixture more palatable for you!). Then, drink up!

We can’t say we’ve ever tried the beer/tomato juice/egg mixture, but the egg will provide protein for your body while the tomato juice will replenish salt and needed vitamins and nutrients. Give it a try and let us know what you think …

My Favorite Breakfast Sandwich

This can help start your day out right!
Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of bacon (I use turkey bacon)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 English muffin, split and toasted
  • 1 slice Cheddar or American cheese

Directions:

Spray a small nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray then warm over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until browned and crispy. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.

In hot skillet, cook egg as desired (I like them over hard – no runny yolk for me). Place egg on one half of English muffin, top with cheese slice, bacon and remaining half of muffin. Enjoy!

Well, I hope you liked my rant on hangovers and their cures. I own a bar and have been practically living in them since I was 15. So yes, I really do know something about drinking. Anyways, hope all of this is useful?

Best Moscow Mule recipe

Make the Perfect Moscow Mule

The Best Moscow Mule recipe EVER!

Once You Taste a Mule You’ll Never Be the Same. The Moscow Mule has been around since 1941 but it’s riding a new wave of popularity since it was featured on Oprah, with people around the world feverishly typing in “What is a Moscow Mule?” in Google ever since.

Today we’re going to look at how to make your very own Moscow Mule but, more importantly, help you find the signature copper mugs the drink is served in that really gives it that extra kick it’s known for.

Once you have one of these you’ll be hooked, with Mule fans often vividly remembering the very first once they ever had.

What is a Moscow Mule?

The Moscow Mule is actually a really simple drink to make — here is the basic ingredient list for a Moscow Mule:

  1. 1 ounce vodka
  2. 1/2 cup ginger beer
  3. Lime slices
  4. Ice

Some people add sugar syrup, bitters, or various liqueurs but this is the no-frills traditional Moscow Mule recipe that devotees swear by.

Making Your Moscow Mule

That ingredient list looks simple but if you want the absolute best Moscow Mule in the world, you’ve got a little more work to do.

Two things separate Mule pros from Mule newbies: getting the right ginger beer and mixing and serving the drink in a copper mug.

The mug is absolutely necessary, both for style points and for the best taste as well. The Moscow Mule is a drink to be slowly savored, especially in the warm summer months.

The copper mug is perfect for that, keeping it absolutely chilled — plus you get added bonus points for drinking the Mule in the classic way it was intended.

Tips on Buying Moscow Mule Copper Mugs

Copper mugs are often impossible to find at your local stores so this is one purchase that’s definitely best to make at Amazon; you’ll also typically save 20-30% by buying your Moscow Mule copper cups online as well.

Notice that we said “cups”, plural. A good quality copper mug will cost about $20 and some people are tempted to start their collection by just being one or two.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that but a word of warning: there’s nothing worse than having friends over and introducing them to the awesomeness of the Moscow Mule, only to run out of mugs.

To avoid that tragedy we highly recommend you start with a set of at least four mugs. Aside from keeping your friends happy and the Mules flowing freely, many people enjoy drinking all sorts of other beverages from copper mugs, with some studies showing that it actually has significant health benefits as well.

Complete Kit at Amazon

Below you’ll find everything you need to buy to make the perfect Moscow Mule drink — minus the vodka, ice, and limes — at Amazon.
The mugs and ginger beer featured are the top choice of Mule fans around the world and you’re just a few clicks away from joining that elite club!

Mixing:

While any ginger beer will work, real Mule aficionados swear by the Fever Tree ginger beer, which can be found in some grocery stores and supermarkets as well as online.

What you want is a thick, pulpy ginger beer made in small batches that’s got some substance to it; avoid all “weak” ginger beers that have been overly processed and mass-produced and are a uniform, thin consistency.

Making a Moscow Mule is a snap. Fill your mug about half full with ice — preferably smaller pellets of ice but larger ice cubes work fine — and add the vodka.

For your first one take it slow and add 1 oz of vodka, but keep in mind that some Mule devotees use 2-3 oz in each Mule, as the 16 oz mugs do hold quite a bit of liquid and some find that 1 oz of vodka isn’t quite enough kick.

Cut a few slices of lime and squeeze it into the mug, dropping in a slice or two depending on your taste. Top off your mug with the ginger beer and stir the lovely creation gently.

Sit back and enjoy this upscale drink. That’s it; you’re done and the proud owner of a Moscow Mule!

The History of the Moscow Mule

Unlike some drinks whose origins have been lost, the Moscow Mule drink actually has an interesting history.

John G. Martin worked for Heublein Spirits and found himself with a lot of excess vodka on his hands when he convinced the company to buy Smirnoff Vodka in 1938.

The purchase looked good on paper but he ran into one big problem; Americans at the time didn’t drink much vodka.

In 1942 Martin was having dinner with Jack Morgan — the owner of the famed Cock ‘n’ Bull restaurant on Sunset Strip — when the two began discussing their mutual woes. Morgan had brewed a lot of ginger beer that no one wanted to drink while Martin was still trying to drum up a market in the US for vodka.

Combining forces (or, you know, excess inventory) Martin’s vodka was introduced to Morgan’s ginger beer and the Moscow Mule was officially born.

It’s been enjoying a recent resurgence in popularity, with the Mule making an appearance on Oprah as well as Esquire.

Best Apple Pie Drink Recipe

The Best Apple Pie Drink Recipe

Alcohol Infused Apple Pie Drink Recipe

I’ve been making this fantastic drink for the last few years. With help of friends and a lot of experimenting I have perfected this recipe. Apple Pie is an alcoholic drink mixed with Everclear, however due to the way Everclear is you barely can taste the alcohol.

It can be served hot or cold depending on the temperature outside. It warms you up great and the taste is to die for.

Ingredients:

The first thing you need to do when you are going to make this apple pie recipe is to gather all of the needed ingredients.

The list is as follows:

  1. 1 Gallon of Indian Summer Apple Juice (If not available pick something that isn’t motts or an off brand)
  2. 1 Gallon of Indian Apple Cider
  3. 8 Cinnamon 6″ Sticks
  4. 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  5. 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
  6. 2 Cups of Brown Sugar
  7. 1 Cup of Sugar
  8. 1 Liter of Everclear (If Everclear is unavailable in your state you can use 151 just add half a liter more to the recipe)
  9. 4 Fresh Apples (Honey Crisp, Granny Smith, Sweetango)
  10. 24 16oz Mason Jars (2 Packs of 12)
  11. 1 Sharpie

Time To Brew:

Step 1: In a large pot (large enough to hold about 2 1/2 gallons of liquid) pour in the gallon of apple juice, the gallon of apple cider, brown sugar, white sugar, and the cinnamon sticks.

Step 2: Bring the pot to a rolling boil on high heat. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved itself into the liquid.

Step 3: Remove the pot from the burner and let it cool down. While cooling down add in the 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract and the 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon and stir it a few times. Put a lid on the pot and let it cool for about 2 hours. It needs to be luke warm! Not HOT before you can continue to the next step.

Step 4: Pour in the Everclear or 151. If the liquid mixture inside the pot is still HOT the Everclear will evaporate. Make sure it is is only luke warm before pouring this in. Otherwise you will have non-alcoholic Apple Pie!

Step 5: Using a ladle take the liquid from the now cooled down pot and pour it into the mason jars. Fill them 3/4 full. Once all of the jars are filled cut up the 4 Apples into slices (you can use an apple cutter for this part) put a slice of the apple into the jar and then seal with the lid.

Step 6: Refrigerate if wanting to drink cold or heat for 2 minutes in the microwave for hot. Apple Pie Drink stays good for over a year if canned and sealed. Take a sharpie marker and write the date that you sealed the jars on the lid.

Prep Time: 15 Mins
Cook Time: 40 Mins
Wait Time: 2 Hours
Finishing Touches: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3.4 Hours

***NOTE*** If you do not drink alcohol but want to enjoy this recipe. Make it the exact same way just without adding the alcohol. You will love it and so will the kids!!!!!!

Drink Up & Enjoy!

The Apple Pie Drink is great for crisp fall days, cold winter nights, or as a cool off drink in the summer. Wrap bows and lace on them and give them as Christmas gifts. I know lots of people who absolutely love getting these as gifts. Each Apple Pie Drink is the equivalent to about 2 shots of regular alcohol so drink responsibly.

Absinthe with sugar cubedrink

What is Absinthe – The Green Fairy in a Bottle

Absinthe the Green Fairy of DrinksAbsinthe, the Green Fairy of Drinks.

ABSINTHE, the legendary green drink that was beloved by the artists living on 19th Century Paris’ Left Bank is making a comeback onto the menus of fashionable cocktail lounges.

The unique sugar burning ritual before its is drank has attracted many of the modish in crowd, though the Green Fairy has been outlawed in many countries at various times.

It is derived from the wormwood plant, a member of the daisy family, which grows all across the Eurasian grasslands.

Folklore claims that doctor Pierre Ordinaire formulated the drink in Switzerland during 1792.

He distilled it with anise, hyssop, lemon balm and a number of other herbs.

Ordinaire passed his recipe on to Major Dubied, who presented it to his son-in-law, Henri-Louis Pernod.

Pernod founded a distillery at Couvet in Switzerland during 1797 before becoming renowned for producing his own aniseed flavored drink.

Absinthe quickly became a huge favorite with the French Army, which was fighting under grueling conditions, both climatically and topographically in North Africa during the 1840s.

Absinthe with sugar cubedrinkIt was originally issued to ward off the many diseases in the area, but the soldiers, particularly the hard-bitten men of the French Foreign Legion, quickly developed a liking for the Green Fairy.

Retired soldiers introduced the drink to the café’s and bars of France. Soon it became the must have drink of the Gallic in-crowd. And to make a toast while sipping the drink was the in-thing to do.

Absinthe, artists and the Moulin Rouge seemed to combine well. Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin shared a bottle one night, Later Gauguin was pursued down the street by a razor wielding Van Gogh, who later returned home to slice off his own ear.

Both Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas were devoted to the Green Fairy.

People, especially the temperance movement began to condemn the conduct of habitual absinthe drinkers as the 20th Century began. They were aided in this by the notorious 1905 Absinthe Murders.

Jean Lanfroy shot dead his wife and child following an absinthe session. The French Government outlawed the drink in 1915.

Absinthe’s sugar ritual helps to reduce the bitterness of the drink. Water is dripped onto a sugar cube on a flat slotted spoon over the drink, The syrup seeps through and sweetens the drink.
An alternative practice is to burn sugar soaked in Absinthe on a spoon and stir the residue into the drink before topping it up with water.

Famous Absinthe painting by Degas Among the trendy bars serving the Green Fairy is the Player on Broadwick Street. This is a friendly cozy sanctuary that is discretely concealed under the streets of Soho.

The American Bar at the Savoy serves select cocktails in elegant and sophisticated surroundings as well as having one of the best wine guide‘s while the Detroit Bar and Restaurant is the smart and hip place to savor absinthe.

Edinburgh has the Opal Lounge on George Street, a stylish and vibrant venue that somehow manages to still stay casual and laid back.

One30 on Cheltenham Road in Bristol is a redbrick bar that offers low tables and leather sofas, making it an ideal venue to drink absinthe in an atmosphere of total chill-out coolness.

Its strength and fearsome reputation has led to absinthe being imbibed only by the bravest and hardiest of drinkers. However if absinthe is taken in moderation, tipplers will not end up resembling the sozzled and dissolute couple in Degas’ famous painting, L’Absinthe.

Absinthe will mix well with most other drinks.

How to Serve Absinthe

There are two traditional ways to serve Absinthe, the French way and the Czech way. Absinthe is usually quite bitter and and strong, therefore, sugar is added to sweeten it and water to dilute it.

The French Absinthe Ritual

  1. 1 ounce of Absinthe is poured into a glass
  2. A sugar cube is placed on an absinthe spoon above the glass
  3. Cold water is slowly poured onto the sugar cube
  4. Louching occurs (the clear green liquid turns cloudy, as when water is added to Pastis)
  5. The rest of the sugar is then stirred into the drink

The Czech Absinthe Ritual

  1. 1 ounce of Absinthe is poured into a glass
  2. A cube of sugar is dipped into a glass of Absinthe on an absinthe spoon
  3. The absinthe spoon is then placed on top of the glass and set alight
  4. The caramelized sugar slowly drips into the drink
  5. When the flame begins to die, it is blown out and the remaining sugar is stirred into the drink

Variations on the French Absinthe Ritual

The Brouille Ritual

A brouilleur is a small glass lid, which is placed over the Absinthe glass. It is then filled with ice cubes and water slowly poured into it. The water gets cooled and flows through a small hole in the bottom of the brouilleur into the Absinthe glass. Because of the extremly thin beam of water, the brouille method is the easiest way to achieve the best louche.

The Pipe Ritual

The Pipe Ritual has its roots in Bohemian culture. The glass pipe is filled with Absinthe and crushed ice and the elixir is sucked up through the glass straw. It is comparable with an Absinthe shot, the effect is intensified as the Absinthe speeds into the mouth and creates a pleasant coolness and activation.

The BEST Jello Shot Recipe

jello shotsHow to Make (the BEST) Jello Shots

Jello shots are great if you’re in need something different from the traditional kamikaze or lemon drop.

Why not work your alcohol into a gelatin state, and serve chilled in small cups?

And, no. You don’t have to be a freshman on spring break to enjoy these shots. Nope. They can be enjoyed by most anyone.

So what is a jello shot anyway?

A jello shot is bite sized serving of regular jello with one additional special ingredient – that ingredient being alcohol. Although typically most popular among the college-aged crowd, jello shots can be welcomed addition to just about any party.

Just like your favorite jeans, jello shots can be dressed up or dressed down depending on your special event. You can keep things simple with these easy jello shot recipes or make your favorite mixed drink into jello with these mixed drink jello shot recipes.

Regardless of the recipe you choose, you can switch things up by the way that you serve your shots. Keep things casual with traditional plastic cups or get creative by serving your shots as fruit slices, in cocktail glasses, fancy jello shot cups or as jello jiggler shots.

Whatever your event, jello shots are the perfect thin to give your party a fun retro feel. Enjoy!

The great thing about jello shots is its versatility. You can flavor them with whatever flavor you’re craving, be it watermelon, lemon, strawberry, or even chocolate. Really, the possibilities are endless. Plus, you can determine how strong or weak you want the shots to be by adjusting the alcohol to gelatin ratio.

Most commonly used alcohol are rum and vodka, however, you can use almost any liquor of your choosing. Remember, though, the more alcohol you use, the stronger the shooter (duh!), and stronger the alcohol taste will be. So the more alcohol you choose to use, consider adding a bit more powder or water to counteract the strong alcohol flavor.

How’s it done?

Basically what you want to do is prepare jello as usual…boil water (the amount listed on your box) and stir in your powder until fully dissolved. Then add your cold water/liquor, and refrigerate.

The key to making great jello shots is how much liquor and how much cold water. If you use no cold water, then the shot will likely be too strong, so you’ll want to use some cold water with the liquor.

The recipe must be done correctly for the gelatin to set. If too much liquid is added, you’ll just be left with colored liquid. You must decifer how much alcohol to add, and then leave that much water out. Perhaps you want to combine the liquor and cold water in a measuring cup first and make sure the total amount combined is what the box asks for for the cold water portion.

Alcohol to Water Conversion:

30 Proof – 15% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 3 Parts Water
40 Proof – 20% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 4 Parts Water
50 Proof – 25% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 5 Parts Water
80 Proof – 40% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 8 Parts Water
90 Proof – 45% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 9 Parts Water
100 Proof – 50% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 10 Parts Water
150 Proof – 75% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 15 Parts Water
190 Proof – 95% Alcohol – 1 Part Liq. 20 Parts Water

Here’s what you’ll need to make about 30-32 1 oz. (standard shot size) jello shooter.

Jello Shot Ingredients

  • 1 Packet of flavored Jello of your choosing**
  • 3.5 cup of water
  • 3 oz. of alcohol of your choosing

What You Need

  • Jello packets in different flavors
  • Vodka, flavored rum, tequila
  • Vegetable cooking oil spray
  • Small plastic cups
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Kettle
  • Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Shallow baking pan (optional)

Making Jello Shots

  1. Line up your small plastic cups on a tray. The plastic cups restaurants use for condiments are ideal, but normal picnic cups should be good, too. Paper cups can also work.
  2. Spray vegetable cooking oil inside the cups. A quick blast will do. You don’t have to worry about the oil affecting the jello’s taste—it won’t.
  3. Put a cup of water to boil. Nope, a water heater won’t do—you really need to boil the water to ensure the jello powder dissolves completely.
  4. Once boiled, pour the water into a mixing bowl. Put in a single of packet of jello. Use a whisk to dissolve all the jello powder so it won’t leave any sediments.
  5. Mix in ¾ cup of your alcohol and ¼ cup of cold water. Vodka is usually the alcohol of choice when it comes to jello shots, but there are alternatives. To recall favorite cocktails, you can try using tequila for lime jello (margarita), coconut rum and pineapple jello (piña colada) and rum with strawberry jello (strawberry daiquiri). You can also use flavored vodka to go along with its corresponding jello flavor.
  6. If you want an even more potent jello shots, you can make it 1 cup of alcohol with no cold water.
  7. Use a ladle to put the jello into the cups.
  8. If you want to make several batches of different jello flavors in one go and boil all the water you need, you will need assistance, since jello requires boiling hot water to dissolve properly. You can try making one batch of the same flavor at the same time instead of doing different flavors instead.
  9. Put the jello shots in the refrigerator. Do not put them in the freezer! Give them four hours to gel completely.
  10. If you find that your refrigerator won’t’ be able to hold trays of cups or a bunch of plastic cups inside, here’s an alternative: Ladle the liquid jello shots into a shallow baking pan, preferably the pans that can be stacked up on each other. Pop them all carefully in the refrigerator, and wait for four hours. Once they’ve gelled, take them out and use a bread knife or even a plastic knife to cut them into small squares. Empty the baking pans into punch bowls and leave a ladle ready. People can then just ladle the jello shots into their cups like any drink.
  11. You can try experimenting with the amounts of water and what you mix in your jello. For example, some people use two cups of boiling hot water added with a little less of a cup of fruit juice, and another less of a cup of flavored vodka. Just remember that the more liquids you put in, whether they are alcohol, water or juice, the greater the chance of your jello shots not gelling properly.
  12. Keep in mind that jello shots may pack a punch, so you might want to keep yourself from knocking back one too many.

Fruit Slice Jello Shots

A little slice of happiness. A fun alternative to the traditional shot cups is to make the jello into a slice of fruit. Oranges are the most commonly used peel, but any citric fruit will do. Keep in mind, however, that lemon and lime peels will force their flavor on your jello…so chose your mixes wisely.

Instructions:

Cut your fruit in half and scoop out the insides, being sure to not puncture the peel. Fill each half peel with your jello shot mix of choice. Chill until fully set, and then cut into wedges.

Other fun recipes to try:

Lime Jello – How can you not have fun when green jello is involved? Try one of these in your next batch of lime jello shots.

  • Bacardi Vanilla
  • Coconut Rum
  • Tequila
  • Apple Puckers
  • Rootbeer Schnaps and raspberry Vodka (tastes like bottle-cap candies)
  • Tequila and Triple Sec
  • Vodka

Pineapple Jello

Try these with pineapple jello:

  • Malibu Coconut Rum – Pina Colada!
  • Pineapple Malibu
  • Coco Lopez
  • Parrot Bay Rum
  • Blue hawaiian maui and vodka
  • Tropical Maui

Orange Jello

Try these with orange jello (also try making the jello in an orange peel):

  • Vanilla Vodka – orange creamsicle !
  • Peach Schnapps
  • Grand Marnier
  • Brandy
  • Amaretto
  • Irish Whiskey
  • Midori and Vodka
  • Orange Vodka

Strawberry Jello

  • Bacardi Grand Melon
  • Jagermeister
  • Banana Rum
  • Light Rum

Watermelon Jello

And with your Watermelon flavored jello:

  • Watermelon Bacardi
  • Midori melon liqueur
  • Malibu coconut rum
  • Watermelon pucker
  • Watermelon vodka

Other Combinations

  • Cranberry Jello and Vodka with a slice of lime stuffed in
  • Peach Jello and Peach Schnapps
    Peach Jello and bourbon
  • Mixed Fruit jello and dark rum
    Mixed Fruit jello and wilderberry schnapps
  • Green apple jello and sour apple pucker
  • Strawberry banana jello and Blue Hawaiian maui
  • Pineapple jello and cranberry jello with Malibu Rum
  • Cherry jello and orange jello with Captain Morgan
  • Lemon jello and lime jello with Irish Whiskey

Cherry Jello or Black Cherry Jello

  • Cherry Jello and Fire Ball
  • Cherry Jello and Cherry Brandy
  • Black Cherry Jello and Amaretto
  • Black Cherry Jello and Southern Comfort and drop a cherry into the cup
  • Cherry Jello and Smirnoff watermelon vodka

Grape Jello

Try these with grape jello:
  • Blackberry brandy
  • Vodka

Raspberry Jello

Try these with raspberry jello:

  • Banana Rum
  • Raspberry Schnapps
Comprehensive Wine Guide

The Comprehensive Wine Guide

My Comprehensive Wine Guide for Beginners and Connoisseurs

The long history of wine is heavily intertwined with that of human civilization itself. This alcoholic beverage, typically made from fermented grape juice, dates as far back as 6000 BC. It is believed to have first been created in the area that is now Iran and Georgia.

There are other types of wine that exist beyond those made from grapes, but those tend to be specifically named after the type of fruit or grain that was fermented (such as plum wine or apple wine).

Today, there are an almost mind-boggling variety of wines available for purchase at all price points; the diversity stems from using different strains of yeast to ferment different varieties of grapes. With a higher alcohol content than beer and lower than “hard liquors” such as tequila or gin, wine is a popular choice among drinkers on its own and even as a component in mixed drinks.

The Bottle

A wine bottle can say much about the wine inside; such as where it came from and what kind of wine it is. Although recently some producers are coming up with more decorative wine bottles, specific wine regions have their own classic bottle shapes that have been used for generations.

For example, the green-cast bottle of the Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot iswine bottles referred to as the Red Bordeaux or Claret classic bottle. This typically square-ish shape is widely associated as the staple wine bottle for these wines around the world.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are typically released in a bottle known as the Burgundy in a dark green or yellow green hue. The yellow color is referred to as “dead leaf.”

The Champagne bottle has a distinctive heft to it as well as a typical dark green coloring. Sparkling wine bottles have a classically deep punt and are a bigger version of the Burgundy bottle.

The Alsace or Riesling bottle has a distinctively narrow form and ranges in color between faint green to brown. This is a popular bottle shape for most white wines around the world.

The White Bordeaux bottle is similar to the Bordeaux or Claret bottle in shape but comes in clear glass.

Sweet and dry Bordeauxs are traditionally released in this bottle. Although recently, more and more white wines are being released in the White Bordeaux.

The Sherry bottle is as distinctive for its broad shoulderline and longer neck as it is for its brown coloring.

The Port bottle is shorter than most of the others and has a graceful curvature to its neck shape.

These bottles come in deep green or nearly black hues. Although these bottle shapes are unique in themselves, the most distinctive wine bottle shape belongs to the Bocksbeutel.

Short, green, and round in shape, the Bocksbeutel is a traditional aspect of the German Franken area.

The Label

The label on a wine is an important aspect of the wine itself. Meant to inform the consumer, wine labels are a serious, and even legal, aspect of winemaking.

wine bottles with lablesEvery label includes at least four essential facts that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a wine. These facts involve the region or country the wine was made in, the types of grapes used, the name of the producer, and the harvest year.

Legal considerations include alcoholic content, volume of the liquid, and health warnings.

Although not all this information is included on labels from every country, many producers include a back label to offer more information.

American wine labels offer no information of wine quality, whereas French and German labels do. French labels center around information on where the wine was made and German labels focus around the quality of the grapes used.

To ensure quality of the wine, major growing areas include a classifications guarantee which ensures that the label is true to the wine inside the bottle.

These classifications follow the French model of Appelation Controlee, which involves guarantees on the origin of the wine, requirements to certain grape assortments, alcohol levels, and production ceilings.

This strict requirement system is followed in Italy, Spain, Portugal and most other countries of the European Union.

Germany and Austria have their own quality system and guidelines.

The rest of the world, including the United States, follows a slightly less formidable qualifications system.

AVA’s or American Viticultural Areas leaves grape quality and variety up to each winery. However, some guidelines that involve specific regions of the world must be followed strictly.

For example, a Cabernet Sauvignon labeled wine must include at least seventy five percent of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety.

Beware of phrases on labels such as “Proprietor’s Reserve,” “Barrel Select,” or “Cellar Selection” which are just terms put on there to create a sense of esteem for the wine.

If you are looking to purchase a real quality wine, make sure you are familiar with the producers and aren’t just going by what the label says.

Opening the Bottle – Wine

Opening a bottle of wine or champagne is coated in as much history as the drink itself. This is such a vital part of enjoying the drink of the gods that there is actual consumer resistance to improvements in caps and corks.

Throughout the olden days, the foils used to cover the cork on the bottle was made from lead and essential for keeping mice and other critters from chomping away at the cork.

Today, although mainly for decoration, these plastic, tin, or paper foils can help differentiate between bottles on a rack. Some wine producers have even turned to capping the cork with a blot of wax.

Foil cutters that slice the foil just below the lip of the bottle are a helpful way to keep the bottle looking presentable.wine opener with corks

After the foil is cut, it is necessary to remove the cork. Corkscrews come in many sizes, shapes and varieties. Although the type of corkscrew that is used is not important, it is imperative that the worm of the corkscrew be at least 5 centimeters or 2 inches long.

Having a worm shorter than this specified length might cause breakage and other damage to the cork. The worm should also be round with an open spiral and sharp tip. The most common type of corkscrew has two winged on each side that pull the cork up as they push down.

Popular models include the “waiter’s friend,” which uses the bottle as leverage to secure and pull out the cork, and the “butler’s friend,” which avoids inserting a worm into the cork and instead grips the cork at its sides with two prongs while it is twisted out.

One of the most frustrating aspects of opening a bottle of wine is having the cork break off, leaving part of it still in the bottle. Although having the cork floating around inside the wine will not effect taste or quality, it makes the bottle a bit less presentable.

Hence, pulling out the cork slowly and securely is a good way to ensure it comes out undamaged. However, even the best corkscrewer can have an off day. If a bit of the cork is left in the neck after the first attempt, carefully re-inserting the corkscrew at an angle is the best bet on removing it completely.

If this fails, then gently nudging the cork into the bottle is a good idea. If the cork has split into many pieces, decanting the wine into another bottle can make it more enjoyable.

Opening the Bottle – Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Opening a bottle of Champagne can be a tricky and dangerous task considering the jolt of force that is released when the cap is undone. Using a corkscrew for this operation will bring nothing but bad news, so avoid it at all costs. Holding the bottle at a 45 degree angle and away from people at all times during the opening process can help ensure that a celebration doesn’t turn into tragedy.

Even while removing the foil and the wire, keep a thumb securely over the cork. Establish a good grip on the cork and twist the bottle, not the cork, open. Champagne pliers are a safety tool that help you hold onto the cork while twisting the bottle.

Keep in mind that corks have been known to burst once the foil is removed and be cautious at all times.

The soft cork inside vintage port can present a problem during the opening process. To solve this, heat port thongs to a very high temperature and close them around the neck of the bottle for half a minute.

After removing the thongs, swipe a wet cloth over the same area and gently break off the neck.

Wine Collecting

Collecting wine is a good way to age, keep, and always have wine on hand.

However, even for the biggest wine lover, investing in wine is a big step and requires doing your homework on how wine is made and aged, what to spend, and how to avoid the dangers of spoiling your collection.

Remember to invest in wines that you truly love and enjoy and try not to get wrapped up in “wines of the moment.”

Before you start, attend wine tastings, join a wine group, and get to know your local wine merchants. Wine collecting is about being able to cultivate your passion into a memorable and solid collection.

Keeping Cellar Records

With a growing collection and the hectic lifestyles of today, losing track of your wines wont be too hard. Cellar records can help you save money by keeping you from having to throw out that old wine.

Cellar books are a handy way to jot down the name of the wine, its bin number or location in the rack, and a few lines for tasting notes.

Other notes that can be beneficial include tips on when the wine should be drunk, the region and history behind the wine, and who you bought it from. A good note to make also includes the amount paid for the bottle.

This can come in handy if you ever decide to sell the wine.

wine collectingLaying Down Wine

Laying down wine, or storing it for long periods of time, can be beneficial for many fine wines while other, usually less expensive bottles are made for immediate consumption.

Many red wines, cheap or not, require at least a month of laying down to settle their sediments.

Red wines that will benefit from longer aging include fine bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

Some of these varieties can age exceptionally well for decades. How long wines are kept for aging depends on several factors such as year, grapes, method of production and personal preference.

Wines do not usually spoil, but rather lose fruitiness while gaining complexity with aging. Tannic elements in red wines, for example, become softer.

White wines, in general, are not the best options for aging. However, some Rieslings and Chardonnays of exceptional quality have been known to do well over two or three decades.

High end Champagnes are also known for having good aging potential. If you are uncertain still about how long to age your wine, try purchasing more than one bottle and opening one after a few months or years.

Storing Wine

When storing your collection of beloved wines, temperature should always be the main concern. The main temperature to consider should remain between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Wine matures quicker at higher temperatures so to keep wine young, store your favorites below the 50 degree marker.

For a quick aging process that will not spoil your wine, anywhere up to 68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

The second most important consideration with storing wine involves the conditions of the storage.

Fluctuating conditions in temperature, light, and humidity can have detrimental effects to perfectly good bottles of wine. Lots of light can, for example, permeate easily through clear white wine bottles, while too much heat can dry out the corks and allow air to enter them.

Humidity has damaging effects on labels while vibrations in the ground can shake up sediment.

When creating a storage space for wine, insulation is key. Consider a small closet in a quiet area of the home. Air conditioning is also key for storage in hotter climates. The bottles should be stored on their sides in order to keep the wine and the cork in contact.

Wine racks vary from inexpensive slotted styles that offer the option of expanding with your growing collection, to fully temperature controlled cabinets that hold hundreds of bottles.

Bin racks are usually special order but can hold up to 12 bottles each. Also, if no ideal spaces in your home will do, commercial cellar space can be rented in many large cities.

Cooking with Wine

Cooking with wine has been a tradition of many cultures for generations but it’s about more than just deciding whether to use red or white. The nutty, fruity, dry, or sweet nuances in wine can really make or break your dish.

Although certain food and wine pairings have been well established, it’s always a good idea to experiment on your own.

When cooking with wine, the alcohol evaporates while the flavor concentrates, making it a delicate process.

Do your homework and find out the basics of using wine in food before you branch off and experiment on your own.

Basic Principles of Cooking with Winecooking with wine

Wine has been an essential component in cooking for centuries. Vital considerations involved with cooking with wine involve quality, quantity, timing, and temperature. Also, knowing which wines to use for each type of dish can considerably help or hinder your meal. First and foremost, always cook with a wine of good quality.

Cooking with a wine you wouldn’t enjoy drinking will result in a meal you wouldn’t enjoy eating. Cooking with wine imparts and magnifies all the small nuances of flavor in the wine to the food.

When considering quantity, realize that less is more. Overpowering the meal with lots of liquid will not help anything.

Try substituting wine for another liquid a recipe may call for.

Adding wine at the beginning stage of cooking will result in a more subtle flavoring to the meal. The longer the wine stays on the burner, the more the flavors will become infused in the other ingredients. Adding wine at a later stage of cooking will have bolder results since reduced wine will have more concentrated flavors.

The temperature during cooking can also destroy aromatic flavors present in the wine if heated at high temperatures.

Also, the alcohol content of the wine will be preserved, to some extent, after all the cooking has been completed.

For all dishes except desserts, it is often best to use dry wine as to avoid altering the natural flavors of the ingredients.

For desserts, a port or sweet sherry as well as Madeira and Marsala are common. Poached fruit is also a popular treat.

Dry red wine works well with poached strawberries and pears. The tannic aspects of wine are also helpful with the softening of meats in marinades.

With meat and game, remember to use a powerful red wine to cut through the strong flavors associated with these dishes.

Poultry dishes require dry wines. Keep in mind that red wines will slightly tint this meat.

White and red wines can also be used to make wine sauces.

Overly tannic and acidic wines should be avoided in reduced sauces.

Seafood dishes are best prepared with dry white wines.

Soups benefit from dry to medium sherries and white wines. Adding these towards the end of the cooking process creates a bold flavor and splash of pizazz.

Red Grapes

grapes for making red wineRed grapes are used to make red, rose, and sparkling wines and can be known by different names in different countries. The Cabernet Sauvignon variety is a popular choice for California wines as well as the star grape in many French Bordeauxs.

Italy, Washington, Australia and even Chile are also places where this grape is adored and crafted into fine wines. From this grape arises wines that are both complex and aromatic with deep flavors that can be absorbing yet fruity.

Often a good choice for aging, the Cabernet Sauvignon is a favorite for wine drinkers around the world. Around 2000 bottles of the exceptional Napa Cabernet Sauvignon are produced by the Bryant Family Vineyard in Napa Valley every year.

The Gamay variety grape has caused some controversy in California. Originally from the Beaujolais district of France, Californians mistook their Valdiguie grape for the Gamay.

The Gamay variety grape produces wines with a good balance of acidity and cherry or berry flavors. Usually light, the French versions of these wines are mostly deep and complex.

The Grenache variety of grape are common in the south of France. By itself, the variety produces a wine with thorough fruit flavors and good potential for aging. Often, this variety is blended with other varieties around the world.

In France, the Grenache wines are blended with with wine from the Rhone Valley and the Banyul regions.

Spain blends the Grenache, or “Garnacha,” with wines from the Priorato regions. These wines tend to age well over decades. Rioja regions blend the Grenache variety with Tempranillo to bring out intense fruitiness in the wines. Merlot grapes are the most extensively planted variety in the Bordeaux region.

Merlots have been used in the past only for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and have only recently come to stand on their own in the wine world.

The best Merlots are found in the Pomerol and St-Emilion areas of the Bordeaux region in France.

These wines are velvety smooth with tendencies towards fruity cherry and blackberry flavors. Hints of spice can also be detected throughout the Merlot varieties.

Other areas that excel in Merlot making include California, Washington State, Chile, and South Africa.

The Italians have the standard when it comes to the Nebbiolo grape. Nebbiolo variety grapes are used to make some of the worlds best red wines including Italian wines such as the Barolo, Barbaresco, and Gattinara.

The variety bestows these wines with high levels of acidity and good tannic structure, which makes them great candidates for aging. Northern Italy has prime conditions for growing this variety as it prefers hilly areas with cool temperatures.

The Nebbiolo variety is also grown in California and South America although the grapes are not as high quality as their Italian counterparts.

Pinot Noir wines involve smooth textures and vibrant fruity flavors. One of three varieties, Pinot Noir wines are perfect for aging because they develop richer and more complex characteristics with time.

The red wines of Burgundy use the Pinot Noir grape. Oregon and California, as well as other cool climates like New Zealand, Australia and Chile, fare well with the Pinot Noir variety and produce exceptional wines.

Sangiovese red wine grapes is mostly grown in the Tuscany, Chianti, and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano regions of Italy. This versatile variety is responsible for both young, vibrant wines with fruity tendencies as well as sophisticated, older wines with powerful, deep flavors. Sangiovese grapes are sometimes blended in California and Tuscany with Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots.

The Tempranillo Spanish grape is a popular variety in areas such as Rioja, the Penedes region, Ribera del Duero, and Castilla-La Mancha. The Tempranillo grape leans towards strawberry and raspberry flavor tendencies with light textures and full body. The wine from this variety is often blended with the Grenache in areas like the Ribera del Duero and Rioja. This adds to the aging properties of both wines.

Finally, the Zinfandel variety of wine grape is a popular favorite among beginners to the wine craze.

In its light, spicy, and berry flavored form, Zinfandel wines attract drinkers of all ages. Bolder wines of this variety involve deep black cherry and blackberry flavors.

Zinfandel does well in areas with hot afternoons and cooler nights.

White Grapes

grapes for white wineConsidered to be at the top of all white grape varieties, the Chardonnay grape variety is used to make fine white wines all over the world.

Most beloved in the Burgundy region of France, the Chardonnay variety offers flavors anywhere from buttery, smooth oaky tendencies to green apple, melon, pear and tropical fruit flavors.

Cold regions tend to produce crisp acidic Chardonnays while warmer regions produce fruitier flavors with high levels of alcohol.

White Burgundys become increasingly riper and richer with the use of oak.

Oaked Chardonnay is a popular wine in California.

Another wine grape variety is the German Gewurztraminer. Best known for its distinguishing spicy flavors and bouquet, this style is best in its dry versions from France’s Alsace region. The flavors and texture combine to give an unusual full bodied heft to white wine.

Sometimes referred to as the Gewurz, this variety prefers cooler climates and has a naturally high sugar content that can give off an aroma of roses and passion fruit. Difficult to grow, wines from regions other than Alsace lack the complexity that truly sets it apart.

Muscat variety of white wine grapes are popular in the Mediterranean region of the world. However, the sheer number of varieties of this grape suggest that it was the first domesticated grape variety, if not one of the oldest.

Muscats yield both dry sweet wines including Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat a Petits Grains and Moscato Bianco. The sweeter wines in this variety are sometimes fortified and all Muscat wines are known to be good heart disease preventers.

Pinot Gris grape varieties is named so because of the gray coloring of the grape skin. Wines in this variety can range from the spicy and full bodied Alsace flavors to the refreshing and easy-appley flavors of Italian wines. Regional distinctions in this variety are broad and some Alsatian Pinot gris age well while most are meant for early consumption.

Germany produces the most full bodied versions of wine from this variety. Oregon is somewhere in the middle while California and Italy are on the lighter bodied end of the spectrum.

Rieslings are the other white grape variety, rivaling Chardonnay in popularity and quality.

Flavors and wines from this grape can range from elegant and aromatic to bold honeyed bouquets and finishes. Styles of wine also range from dry table wines to sweet desert wines from Germany.

Alsace, California and Australia make both dry and semi-sweet styles.

The Sauvignon Blanc variety of white wine grape produces a slightly more assertive and peppery flavored white wine than usual. Although the dry and sweet white Bordeaux made with Sauvignon Blanc ages exceptionally well, many wines made with this variety of grape are best consumed young.

Good Sauvignon varieties come from the Loire Valley and Pouilly-Fume of France, California, New Zealand, Chile, and Australia.

Semillon varieties are often blended with the Sauvignon Blanc to increase its acidity. This variety produces deeper flavors with hints of fig and melon and makes a good dry, unoaked wine that ages well. Many sweet wines are made using Semillon because its thin skin makes it so susceptible to noble rot.

Viognier has recently exploded onto the wine scene much thanks to the explosion of fans in the US in the mid 1980s. Originally from the Rhone Valley in France, Virginia and California as well as Tuscany and Australia have begun growing this variety.

The Viognier grape produces a wine with accomplished flavors of apricot and pear with a honeyed finish as well as floral aromas. Although usually meant for immediate consumption, wines from older vines and late harvests are suitable for aging.

Making Wine

making wine with a wood wine pressWine making has been cultivated for centuries in different regions across the world. Mostly, the great wine making battles rage between old world and new world preparers.

Old world wine preparation has been built on centuries of classification systems and a passed down knowledge of which grape varieties grow best in which areas.

Without this knowledge, new world growers have turned to innovations in irrigation and oak aging in order to bring their wines into the international market.

This “war of the worlds” has introduced a diversity into the wine market that can only benefit wine lovers everywhere.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine and Champagne are essentially the same drink, but the label of “Champagne,” exclusively belongs to that wine which has been made from grapes grown in the Champagne region in France.

The three grape varieties grown in this region are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier and the process they go through to become champagne, known as the “Traditional Method,” is a long and expensive one.

After the still wines are tasted and mixed into a final blend, the concoction is bottled with liequeur de tirage, or small mixture of wine, sugar, and yeast.

The entire bottle is sealed and set aside for anywhere from around two weeks to around three months to undergo a second fermentation that creates carbon dioxide.

After the carbon dioxide has diffused throughout the wine, it is further set aside for any desired amount of time.

This step in the champagne making process turns the mixture into remuage and gives the Champagne its fizz.

These bottles are then stored in pupitres, tilted at sharp angles. This angle and a regular turning of the bottles at different intervals allows all the settlement to gather in the neck of the bottle.

Then, in a process called degorgement, the neck of the bottles are emerged into a solution of chilly brine that forms a block of ice around the sediment. This makes removing the sediment simple, as the ice pops out when the bottles are turned over and uncapped.

The bottle is further sweetened with a mixture of wine and sugar called the dosage, and kept corked up until release.

This traditional method can take up to a year from start to finish while cheaper methods involving the pumping of carbon dioxide into still wines are less expensive and less time consuming.

Other processes, such as the Charmat process, of making sparkling wine involve a period of second fermentation where the yeast is left to react with the wine and create bubbles.

This method ferments the wine in large tanks whereas better wines are fermented in the bottles.

Fortified Wines

Fortified wine is wine that has had additional alcohol incorporated to it. First developed as a wine preservation technique, fortified wines now have their own category and fans. fortified wines in wooden barrelsBrandy or some other grape spirit as well as additional sweetness is added, giving the fortified wine an alcohol content between wines and spirits.

One type of fortified wine is port. The higher alcoholic content in port is achieved through adding grape spirit to stop the fermentation process. This also maintains a higher sugar content.

Vintage ports are made only during excellent seasons and left in wood to mature for two years. Other ports are matured in wood for different time spans.

Sherry is another type of fortified wine that comes as either a deep Oloroso or light Fino. Sweetness is added to either style before bottling for sweet sherry.

Sherry is aged in wooden casks or butts and blended in a system called a solera.

This system involves adding older wines to younger wines over a period of several years which allows the younger ones to become more like the older ones in flavor.

The intensity of the fortification in sherries depends on whether they develop a yeast bloom called a flor while in the butts. Those that do, become Fino sherries and are fortified with brandy. Olorosos are fortified more intensely than Finos.

Madeira is a dry and sweet fortified wine that was sent on sea trips to the tropics. During these long durations, its flavors were softened by the warm temperatures.

Today, heat is a key factor in the aging process of the wine. Expect the cheaper wines to have been heated only for about three months while the expensive madeiras are heated less intensely for almost a year.

Origins of Wine

Celebrated as the nectar of the Gods by the Greeks and Romans, traded as a valuable commodity throughout the Mediterranean, and held to high esteem by drinkers all over the world today, wine is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world.

It is believed that wine could have first been discovered around 4000 BC when grapes were accidentally left in a clay or wooden pot for a period of several days. The naturally occurring yeast on the skin of the grapes would have begun the fermentation process and created a primitive version of the delectable drink.

Evidence for wine’s ancient origins also includes the fact that the Egyptian God Osiris was also referred to as “The God of Wine.”

With the discovery of the New World in the sixteenth century, winemaking was proliferated throughout Mexico, as well as South America, Texas, California and New Mexico largely due to the efforts of Spanish missionaries.

By the 1830’s, commercial winemaking was well underway in the United States as well as in Australia. The scientific work of Louis Pasteur on yeast and its processes gave winemakers control over fermentation and consistency. Grape growers also improved pest control methods while developing resistant rootstock.

Although European countries, such as France in particular, are traditionally known for fine wines, today, wine is grown on every continent.

Recently, wines from North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa are giving the Europeans a run for their vines by matching and even surpassing them in quality.
Still Wines

The basic components of good wine are good grapes.

wine grapesEver since winemaking was first established, growers have experimented with methods of improving quality.

Different trellis systems, different types of soils, and knowing when to pick the grapes are all important factors in the art of winemaking.

After these are established, the winery commences the winemaking process by first crushing the grapes.

Regardless of color, all grapes produce clear liquid. Whether the wine will be red, white, or something in between, is decided by the color of the skin on the grapes.

Different colors of wine are created by either leaving or discarding the skins.

White wines are pressed to separate them from their skins before fermentation whereas red wines are left to ferment in their skins before pressing.

After pressing, the wines are left in oak or steel canteens to mature then are clarified and bottled.

Red wine is famous for its tannin quality which gives it a sharp taste and allows the wine to mature.

To achieve this desired characteristic, red wine is fermented at much higher temperatures than is white wine and can be aged in wood or stainless steel.

The taste of white wine is enhanced by fermenting it just after crushing in stainless steel at low temperatures. This combination of steel and less heat allows the fruit flavors of the wine to emerge. Since the skins of the grapes in the white wine making process are discarded, either red or white grapes can be used to make white wine.

Sometimes white wine is moved to oak barrels at a later period during its maturation process. Red and white wine’s bitter taste is subdued through a process known as “racking.” As the wine is moved from barrel to barrel, oxygen is incorporated to the mix while the fermentation sediments are removed.

Rose wines are achieved by allowing contact between the juices and the skin of the grapes for only a period of several hours. This short time span allows the wine to develop slight coloration while resisting tannin. Another, less expensive, method of making rose wines involves mixing amounts of red and white wine together.

Dessert wine is characteristic of its sugary taste. To achieve this quality, the grapes are left on their vines for longer periods of time in order to encourage the concentration of sugar within them.

The process of aging is critical for any fine wine. Types of storage systems, such as wood or steel barrels, can have major effects on the final taste of the wine.

Wood barrels allows more oxygen to seep through and soften tannin qualities but can also impart wood tannin flavors to the wine. Wines in new wood barrels develop sharper qualities than do wines in older, softer barrels.

Red Wines

Red wines come in four basic styles; Bordeauxs, red Burgundys, juicy reds, and warm, spicy reds. Bordeaux styles range from tannic Cabernets to deep, velvety Merlots.

While Cabernets from Australia and California regions are perfect compliments to meals with roast beef, leg of lamb, or steak, duck and fish dinners are best complimented by Merlots from the Bordeaux regions of France.

Red Burgundy is a style of wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. Similar to the Merlot in velvety, deep textures, the French red Burgundy has a somewhat smooth flavor.

Other Burgundys such as the Pinot Noir from the Oregon region can be more subtle in flavor. These go well with rabbit and salmon dishes.

The California versions of these wines tend to have fruitier aspects to their flavors and go well with Asian food as well as grilled fish. Juice red wines are increasingly becoming popular choices for wine lovers everywhere because of their immediate satisfaction delivery capabilities.

This style of wine includes the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot, Spanish Tempranillos, French Crus Beaujolais, and Italian Bardolino and Dolcettos. Juicy red wines are great for everyday drinking and go well with anything from barbecue to grilled steak.

Spicy red wines come from regions such as the Rhone Valley of France, Nebbiolo in Italy, and the northern regions of Australia, California and Spain. Stylistic elements are further enhanced by grapes from the Sangiovese, Grenache, Syrah, and Zinfandel varieties.

Spicy red wines have rich, heavy, and very fruity flavors which are sometimes complimented with spices. They go well with game and many stews.

Generally, it is good to keep in mind that the more alcohol content a wine has, the heavier it will feel on the palate.

Rose Wines

Rose wines are consideredlightweights by true wine connoisseurs but continue to gain fans around theworld. The best roses are found in Portugal, France, Spain, Canada, Australia and the USA. Although the White Zinfandels is often considered a rose wine, it is, in fact, a blush wine.

True roses are actually made during the winemaking process and acquire their flavor through maceration.

Cheaper wines carrying the rose name are often blends of red and white wines. Great for hot summer days and spring picnics, rose wines follow the wine flavors more so than white.

Low tannin and refreshing crispness makes rose wines suitable for when a red is too strong and a white is too light. Foods that go particularly well with roses are white, sauteed or roasted meats as well as Mediterranean cuisine. Their ability to be enjoyable at low temperatures makes rose wines great aperitifs as well.

Serving Wine

Good wine is the product of labor, passion, luck, and a centuries old art-form of growing a quality product. It is art that you can taste. Hence, great considerations should be taken when servingserving wine correctly wine. Would you hang a Picasso just anywhere?

Serving wine involves understanding the kinds of glasses that work with different styles of wine, recognizing how temperature differences can affect the flavor of the wine, and decanting your wine to ensure quality. Wine accessories make serving wine at tasting parties a cinch.

Look through this site to learn all you need to know about providing your closest friends with the most positive wine experience at your next party.

Wine Accessories

The major variety of wine accessories available to wine lovers today can make keeping track of wine simple, storing wine decorative, and serving wine easy. Especially during a taste testing party, wine accessories like pouring discs, coasters and a spittoon can be very helpful.

Pouring discs are a useful way to avoid drips and messes while pouring wine for friends across a table.

Decanters come in many shapes and sizes and can double as a decorative touch to any home decor.

Accessories such as bottle collars and neck labels can help identify wines even when they’ve been decanted.

Decanting is made easier with accessories such as wine thieves, decanting funnels and mechanical decanting cradles.

In fact, an endless array of possible gadgets designed to make wine drinking easier are available to consumers.

However, before investing in these trinkets, it is important to keep in mind that wine is meant to be one of life’s simple pleasures.

Chilling Wine

Unlike other alcoholic beverages, wine does freeze. Hence, putting a bottle of wine in the freezer for any longer than 15 minutes is not the best way to chill wine. In fact, for a quick chill, even the refrigerator is not as good an option as wine coolers.

Wine is typically ready to serve at around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. A bucket filled with ice and water can serve as a great chiller for wine. Ice cubes alone will not serve this purpose.

Placing the wine bottle in this type of contraption for around 15 minutes ensures your wine will be ready to serve.

Wine coolers act both as chillers and insulators for keeping wine cool throughout dinner or a party.

Wine coolers can come in stainless steel or as gel-filled wrapables where the gel package can be frozen and wrapped around a bottle to keep it cool.

Heavy red wines like Bordeaux, California Cabernet and Rhone should be served at around 68 degrees, medium reds like Pinot Noir, Rioja, and Zinfandel are best around 64 degrees, and light reds such as Beaujolais are great at around 60 degrees.

White wines are best served at temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees and Champagne and roses are best at around 45 degrees.

Decanting

decanting a bottle of wineDecanting is the process of pouring out a bottle of wine into another container, known as a decanter, while holding it over a light source. The light source allows you to see the sediment coming up and therefore immediately stop the process.

Although decanting a bottle of wine is not an absolute necessity, older red wines and very young wines should be decanted for quality purposes. In older wines, sediments tend to accumulate and disrupt the clarity of the wine.

Younger wines are especially tannin and decanting them several times helps mix them with the air them and soften the overall flavor.

Older bottles of wine should be set upright for several hours or days before opening and decanting ensue.

This helps the sediment collect at the bottom of the bottle and makes it easier to decant.

Decanting a smaller amount into a wine glass is a good idea when drinking alone. Leaving a glass of wine sitting out for couple hours will help it oxidize and release its full aromas.

Older wines should be enjoyed immediately after decanting whereas younger wines need to be set aside in the decanter for a few hours.

Young wines also don’t have to be decanted as carefully as older wines. Decanters come in many shapes, sizes and designs.

A couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing a decanter include the clarity and heft of the glass.

Glasses

wine glassesKnowing when and how to serve wine, as well as the best ways of preserving left over wine should be important to any lover of wine.

The wine glass is a key part of the entire wine tasting experience.

Although there are certain shapes for certain wines, the main thing to avoid when choosing glasses is non-clear, or tinted, glass.

The clarity of the glass allows the full color of the wine to be admired.

For beginners, the two basic styles to start out with involve the classic red wine glass and the Champagne glass.

The classic red wine glass has a wide bowl that makes it easy for the aromas of the wine to come through. This is a good choice for many different varieties of table wine including port and sherry.

The Champagne, or sparkling wine glass has a narrow shape that prevents the bubbles from escaping too quickly and preserves the aroma of the wine.

Other traditional glasses include the white wine glass, which is a slightly smaller version of the red wine glass because white wine aromas aren’t typically as strong as red wine aromas.

Wines that absolve of their bouquets more quickly, such as Burgundys and Pino Noirs, are traditionally served in a glass with a wider bowl and tapered sides.

This allows maximum enjoyment of all aromas.

The Red Bordeaux glass is one of the largest and has tapered sides whereas the port glass is small and tapered. Port is fortified and therefore, is not typically served in such large quantities.

The sherry glass, or copita, is smaller than the port and is narrower with less tapering at the sides. It is easier to know how much to fill a glass when the traditional glasses are used in accordance with their wines.

However, a wine glass should almost always be filled about two-thirds full. Champagne and sparkling wine flutes can be filled nearly to the top whereas wine tasting soirees usually involve glasses that are only one thirds full.

The International Standards Organization developed their own wine glass for tasting known as the “ISO.” This large bowled, yet thin glass with fairly straight sides makes enjoying the full range of aromas in any wine easy.

Cleaning and storing wine glasses can be tricky. It is important to always wash, rinse and dry the glasses carefully in order to make sure foreign smells and residues do not make their way into your next wine tasting experience.

Using detergent is not recommended as even tiny traces of detergent can ruin a good sparkling wine. Storing glasses in a closed cupboard standing upright is the best way to keep musty odors from settling into the bowl.

Leftover Wine

As soon as the cork is pulled, wine begins to deteriorate. This deterioration extracts from the quality of the wine, making it lose much of its flavor and aroma. For this reason, leftover wine can only be stored for about three days before it has lost much of its original quality.

Although methods of delaying this deterioration including vacuum pumps, nitrogen injections, and decanting are widely used, refrigerating often works just as well or better. Leave the wine in its original bottle, cork it and place in a dark, cool refrigerator.

Remember that the majority of wines produced for the general population are meant to last no longer than one or two years.

Champagnes and sparkling wines are best sealed with a bottle stopper and can be enjoyed right out of the refrigerator much like white wines.

It is best to allow leftover red wine to warm before drinking. Keep in mind that older wines will lose their composition much quicker than younger wines.

Warming Wine

Sometimes a good party can distract anyone from the fact that they’ve got a bottle of wine sitting in the freezer.

Although microwaving is an appropriate method of warming wine, it is not usually the best controlled. Although it does not necessarily ruin the wine, overheating can cause a change in flavor.

For example, whereas the wine was originally fresh, vibrant and young tasting, overheated, it can have an earthy, more subtle flavor with less tannic.

For an alternative method, run a decanter under hot water until the glass is warm to hot. Then, decant the wine from the bottle into the decanter. This should warm the wine sufficiently enough for it to be enjoyed. Another way wine can be warmed is by simply leaving in out in a few glasses and allowing the warmth of the room to help it warm up.

Sparkling Wines

Champagne A good Champagne or sparkling wine is difficult to achieve, but the best ones are often wonderful companions to oysters and caviar. Sushi and soy sauce as well as spinach, feta and fried dishes also work well with this style of wine.

Wasabi, however is a key ingredient to avoid.

Good sparkling wines will have a good balance of acidity and fruity flavor as well as bubbles. The best bottles, usually from France, also have a buttery or creamy texture.

Sparkling wines and Champagne are also famous for lazy Sunday morning memosas. This wonderful breakfast drink is made of one part Champagne and two parts orange juice.

This style of wine is so versatile and delicious that it is easy to get creative with.

Tasting the Wine

drinking a glass of wineTasting wine is an artform in itself. Wine should first and foremost be poured into a clear glass with a wide brim so that the full color and aroma can be examined.

Placing the glass in front of a white background can help deduce the clarity and color of the wine.

Young red wine should appear luminous and clear while white wines are more transparent and bright.

Other attributes such as age and place of origin can also be deduced by looking at the depth of color.

Older wines and wines from cool climates have a less vibrant hue than their counterparts.

Some very old wines can even appear brown at the rim of the glass.

Beware of any murkiness or blotching in the color of the wine as these can be indicators of wine defects.

After the eyes have done their part, the nose takes over.

Smelling the wine is an important part of understanding its richness.

Young wines are usually swirled around more rigorously than older wines in order to incorporate the oxygen more thoroughly.

Swirling can be accomplished easily by holding the glass by its stem and making small circular motions with the wrist and hand.

The smell of the wine can open up stored memories of youth or joy and finding the vocabulary to describe this is a key aspect of professional wine tasters.

Younger wines have more vibrant redolence while older wines are usually calmer and complex aroma.

Tasting wine is such an involving experience that it is sometimes referred to as chewing.

To taste the wine, take in about half a mouthful of wine and let it run across your taste buds for a while.

This allows even more aromas to escape into the nasal cavity and expands the tasting experience. After letting the wine coat the tongue and mouth, one can either spit or swallow.

During a wine tasting tour, it is usually imperative to spit while enjoying a cup of wine must involve swallowing.

After swallowing the wine, it is important to note how well the flavors and alcoholic content balanced in the mouth. The wine should be a good blend of flavor, tannin, and acidity.

A burning sensation after the wine goes down can indicate a flaw in this balance. Some people take notes on the images and terms the aroma, texture, and taste of the wine conjured up for them.

A wine notebook is a great way to test the consistency of a palate and to record how ones tastes can alter over the years.

Wine Faults

Although modern technology has wiped out many of the wine fault problems of the past, the modern consumer should still be aware of possible defects that can ruin any bottle of wine.

One of the oldest and most common problems with wine surprisingly involves the cork.

Corked wine is wine which has been sealed with a cork contaminated with cork mold.

Although certain light levels of corkiness can remain undetected even by professional tasters, corkiness is widely considered a fatal flaw which ruins the flavor and aromas in the wine.

Heavy corkiness is easily detectable by the mildewy, damp cardboard like smell and flavor it imparts to the wine.

Although the problem is not as grave as it used to be and producers are coming up with new ways to prevent it, about 4 percent of wines still become corked.

Another fault that wine can develop, although a less common one, is known as oxidization.

Oxidized wines have been exposed to air for a greater period of time than desirable.

Although some oxidization is necessary to develop a mature and aged wine, oxidized wines develop a sour apple taste and a brown coloring.

Oxidization can occur when a faulty cork allows air into the bottle or when air reacts more quickly than usual with the wine after the bottle is opened.

Vinegary wine is another fault that can develop from an overabundance of the bacteria that make vinegar are present in the wine.

Although very small amounts can be used in some wines, this defect causes a piercingly irritating smell and taste.

In the past, vinegary wine has a sign of bad quality but has become less and less a problem for todays wines.

Making a good bottle of wine becomes more than just a matter of good grapes when considering all the things that can go wrong.

Other wine defects include an infection of Brettanomyces or “Brett,” a wild yeast that gives wine a leathery, metallic aroma and flavor.

In small amounts, Brett is considered by some as a characteristic of complex and rich aged red Burgundies, Rhones, Bordeaux and Italian wines. Sometimes, Brett infections are a result of bad sanitary conditions in a winery.

Other defects, such as marcaptan, evolve during the fermentation process and produce a putrid odor that makes the wine completely unsuitable for drinking.

Too much sulfur dioxide in a wine produces a burnt smell and stinging aftertaste.

Although some sulfur is used in the winemaking process as a sterilizing agent and antioxidant, many people are allergic to sulfur.

On top of the added sulfur, some sulfur is also produced during fermentation.

Technology is working to eliminate the need for the added sulfur and allow more people the chance to enjoy wine.

Scoring System

Along with note taking, many professional and amateur wine tasters enjoy scoring the wines they try. A scoring system is more of a systematic approach to note taking and can help wine lovers compare notes with eachother. The scoring system can rely on a simple 10 point scale.

However, the 100 point scale is the most popular method.

In a scoring system, numerical values are assigned to each category in the tasting process. “Look,” “smell,” and “flavor” all receive scores as the taster proceeds.

The widely used 100 point system is also followed by many wine magazines and involves a scoring style often used in school.

In the 100 point system, wines scoring 90 and above are deemed of excellent quality, 80 to 89 are average, 70 to 79 are alright, while scores of 69 and below are considered unfit for purchase.

Knowing these numbers can be a great help in choosing your next wine.

Wine Tasting Terminology

Becoming a part of the wine craze demands a great amount of self education. Wine is taken seriously by wine lovers around the world and getting involved at any degree often requires getting to know some of the general terms associated with the industry.

Professional wine tasters and connoisseurs use a certain vocabulary when talking about wine.

For example, the term “acidity” refers to the wines tartness. When the balance is just right, acidity can give the wine a good sense of body and structure.

Chardonnays and cheaper sparkling wines often have an “appley” taste associated with the malic acid present in grapes. Oaked Chardonnays do not usually possess this quality.

“Balance” is the term used to refer to how well all the key aspects of the wine, such as fruitiness, tannin, and alcoholic content, harmonize with one another.

“Berrylike” is a term used to describe wine with a distinct berry taste.

“Body” is used to refer to the full texture and weight of the wine in the mouth. The body is formed from a combination of factors such as alcohol, sugar, and tannin.

The term “aroma” is used to refer to the fruit smells coming from the wine while the term “bouquet” refers to older wines which have developed distinct smells in their bottles.

Wine lovers will also throw around the term “complex” to identify vibrant wines. This term refers to a deep, rich fruit flavor that also involves acidity and oakiness.

An “earthy” flavor or aroma conjures up images of the forest and other organic elements of nature. Although highly admired by some drinkers, the element remains controversial.

After swallowing, the lingering aftertaste that remains on the tongue is what is referred to as the “finish.” Although it is after the fact, this is still an important aspect of wine flavor.

Terms such as “flowery” or “floral” are often associated with white wines and refer to a blossom aroma.

The term “nose” is used as both a noun and a verb in the wine industry. As a noun, it refers to the smell of a wine.

Used as a verb, the term means to smell the wine. It is also an overarching term that includes both the aroma and bouquet of the wine.

“Oaky” wines tend to have too much of the aroma and flavoring of the oak barrels that they were stored in.

Lastly, the term “tannin” is a wine taster’s best friend when in perfect harmony with the body of the wine.

However, this acidic texture can ruin a tasting and be considered a flaw.

White Wines

White wines range from classic to hard Chardonnays, dry to sweet Rieslings, to ambrosial and vibrant whites. Classic

Chardonnays are now made all over the world through the same process of white wineaging the wine for 12 years in oak barrels after fermentation.

This gives the classic Chardonnay a fruity yet intricate flavor that goes best with roast chicken and dishes with creamy sauces.

Flinty Chardonnay is a bit more abrupt with its flavor and involves an unoaked fruit flavor that is crisp and rich.

These wines are best suited with dishes involving oysters, white fish and sea food stews.

Steak and game will overwhelm the buttery, light flavors in Chardonnay and are best avoided.

Spicy Chardonnay incorporates subtle oakiness with a tropical and citrus twist to create a flavor that is becoming more and more popular.

Often drank before a meal to get the appetite going, the spicy Chardonnay is best paired with pasta and light meats.

Appreciating the full complexities associated with the Riesling wines may take some time for many wine lovers. The dry Riesling offers tasters the succulence and aroma of lime-fruited flavors. It is paired well with many foods but is best enjoyed by itself.

Sweeter Rieslings are made with grapes which have been shriveled and their sugary flavors condensed by a benevolent rot.

These wines involve a slight honey flavor that adds richness to their overall complexity. Sweeter Rieslings go best with blue cheese, Asian influenced meals and many chili dishes.

White wines can range from aromatic to fruity styles. Especially fragrant white wines include the Gewurztraminer, the Pinot Gris, and the Viognier.

These wines originate from France, Oregon and California and each come with subtle hints of their regions. The Gewurztraminer is known for its acute spiciness and lemony flavors that go best with spicy dishes from Asia as well as smoked meats and fish.

The hints of apricot and pear in Viognier and the more subtle spiciness of the Pinot Gris make them a more downplayed perfumy white wine than the Gewurztraminer.

More vibrant white wines include the Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux or the Loire Valley, the lighter Rieslings from Germany, Albarino from Spain and the Soave from Italy. These wines exhibit dynamic acidity mixed with earthy fruit flavors and are often best with fish dishes and tomato sauce based dishes.

The Sauvignon Blanc, especially, is a favorite compliment with most fish dishes.

Dry white wines that go well with other foods include the Trebbiano, the Pinot Grigio, the Muscadet and the unoaked Sauvignon Blanc from California among others. These wines are usually underwhelming, crisp, and have high acidic contents.

The very sweet white wines, otherwise known as dessert wines, not only go splendidly with deserts but also with many cheeses and nuts.

A good Sauterne from France, for example, can be deliciously paired with aged blue cheese. These sweet wines involve honey flavors and abundant aromas which please the palate immediately.

Wine as Medicine

The health benefits of wine have been widely understood from ancient times. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek now known as the “father of modern medicine,” encouraged wine consumption on a daily basis. The drink of the gods was both a preventative and a truly remarkable answer to many diseases that afflicted mankind over the centuries.

Wine was also a life saver when water supplies became infected and unsafe to drink. Regions throughout the world have considered and still consider moderate wine consumption to be an overall healthy habit.

The antioxidants, anticoagulant properties, potential to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol found in wine reduce heart disease and make for a very beneficial drink.

Scientifically, these results were first noticed as a relatively low rate of heart disease in the wine loving people of southern France.

Although prohibition and anti-alcohol attitudes resulted in a decline in wine consumption in the nineteenth century, regulations, a better understanding of alcoholism, and further scientific research have helped return wine to its medically beneficial status.

Dietary Guidelines

Along with grains, dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables, the U.S. government has recently listed wine in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This listing states that one, 5 fluid ounce cup of wine for women, and two cups for men, per day is considered part of a healthy diet.

Producers are encouraged to list a phone number and website referring consumers to the guidelines.

Although high consumption of alcohol and its potentially detrimental effects on pregnant women and drivers is warned against on all American wine labels, the listing offers Americans a good reason to begin a love affair the rest of the world has shared for centuries.

The Wine List

When dining out, the wine list is an integral part of the meal. Expensive restaurants will often have a separate book for their wines while others may include them at the back or end of the menu.

Every wine list will take some time to sift through and, depending on the country, can be arranged by grape variety or region. Traditionally, wines are listed cheapest to most expensive in top to bottom order.

Be careful however because restaurants have, more recently, begun listing wines by weight, with the lighter wines at the top.

The wine list is meant to give customers a good idea of the quality of each wine offered. It should, but most definitely will not always, include information about a wine’s region, variety, vintage and producer.

If after looking through the list there arise some questions, it is best to ask the waiter. Make sure he knows his wine by asking him a question or two about the wines you are familiar with.

Ordering the Wine

ordering wineDinners with a large group can be difficult to pair with a single bottle of wine.

Before ordering, make sure you are aware of the dishes everyone has decided on.

If the dishes range widely, consider a wine that is flexible enough to accommodate them all.

These wines include reds such as the Beaujolais, Merlot, and Zinfandel. White wines such as oaky Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or sparkling also tend to do well with many types of dishes.

If the meal consists of several courses, it is best to move from white to red wines in the order that they are best paired with the dishes.

This way, more than one bottle of wine can be enjoyed trough out the meal.

An even better option to ordering more than one bottle of wine is ordering wine by the glass.

This relieves major worries about satisfying every individual’s wine needs.

Potential Problems

When the wine arrives, the bottle should be examined before opening to make sure that it is the same vintage and producer that was on the list.

After the waiter opens the bottle, the cork should be turned over to you for examination.

A few deep sniffs can help you recognize corkiness in the wine. Also, producers often put their marks on the corks as well. The waiter should then pour you a glass for further testing.

Taste the wine and pay attention to the color of the wine in the glass. After the bottle has passed your examinations, the waiter may commence with pouring for the table.

Oxidized white wines will have a brown or yellow tint and red wines will exhibit a brownish color at the cusp of the bowl.

A good restaurant will be happy to replace the bottle. If problems aren’t recognized until midway through the meal, the waiter should be notified and the bottle still replaced.

Having a backup selection when looking through the wine list can help move things along if problems are detected with your first choice.

Wine Pairings

Aside from customary and established partnerships, wine pairing is largely dependent on individual tastes and preferences.

In its essence, pairing food and wine is about balance. Most people wouldn’t enjoy a delicate piece of fish smothered in garlic and coated in lemon sauce.

In cooking, you choose flavors that compliment and work off each other. The same idea is at the core of wine pairings.

With this in mind, one can try out different pairings depending on whether you enjoy spicy, sweet, meaty, or robust flavors.

Look through this site to learn about traditional wine pairings and how they are determined.

Beef Pairings

The traditional rule of red wine with meat, poultry, or game is a good way to avoid catastrophic mistakes, however, where an entire meal is concerned, spices and sauces need to be considered. As a general idea, a hearty red wine is best with simply cooked beef.

These can range from Cabernets to Zinfandels to Barolos. Barbecued beef benefits from full bodied wines such as Zinfandel.

Spicy dishes like beef curry benefit from a dry Riesling or unoaked Sauvignon Blanc. Hamburger is a beef that is often just one component of many, hence a wine pairing challenge.

Californian Syrahs, Cabernets, or light, red Zinfandels work well at harmonizing with the pickles, catsup and other ingredients.

Tannin wines work especially well with beef or meat dishes. The thick flavors of the meat soften the wine and the sharp flavors of the wine soften the meat.

It is quite a beautiful relationship.

Beef dishes such as liver do well with red wines like the Pinot Noir or Merlot.

Roast is one dish that is best served with the best wine you’ve got and a rich Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon is often best.

One dish that always calls for red wine is steak. A red French Bordeaux or a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon work well with most steaks.

Cheese Pairings

wine pairing with cheesesMany different types of cheeses tend to work very well with sweet, white wines. Blue cheeses are generally very acidic and benefit from wines that can balance this trait. Different blue cheeses require various wine selections.

The French Roquefort, for example, does well with Sauterne or Sauvignon Blanc. Stilton cheese pairs well with aged vintage port and Cabrales cheeses benefit from dry Oloroso sherries and big red wines like Barolo and Shiraz.

Creamier cheeses such as Brie and Camembert go better with very young, red wines with layers of fruity flavor. Try Pinot Noir and Beaujolais for a good pairing. Cheddar has a harder texture than most other cheeses and goes better with a wine that can curb its sharp flavor.

While Red Bordeaux is to be avoided at all cost, Oloroso sherry and vintage port do very well with this cheese.

Goat’s milk cheeses tend to lean towards bold flavors and soft textures. These match well with Sancerre, Sauternes, and aged ports. Aged cheeses and aged wines, such as the Gouda and Bordeaux, harmonize well with each other.

Manchego cheese can be served with delicate Muscat, vintage port, or light Zinfandels.

Parmigiano and Reggiano cheeses involve bold flavors that will overpower subtle wines. Big red wines like the Barolo and aged Cabernet Sauvignon will balance this cheese well.

Pecorino cheese, on the other hand, has sharp hints of nut and hard texture that will compliment with Zinfandel and Rose wines.

Dessert Pairings

Traditionally, dessert wines are considered tasty treats all by themselves. Although best enjoyed on their own, dessert wines follow one general rule; a sweet dessert requires an even sweeter wine. Treats that diverge from this rule include fruit, or fruity desserts, which require a wine high in acidity and chocolate treats that go best with port.

Cheesecake is a dessert savored by millions. Although it seems strange that this sweet concoction would go well with an even sweeter drink, this combination is known to work best.

Wines like the Oloroso sherry, Madeira, and ruby port match extremely well with cheesecake. Chocolate can be served with port or wines that have hints of chocolate buried in their layers of flavor, such as the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Crème Brulee served with creamy sherry, Madeira or sweet Muscat becomes even more enjoyable.

Fruit and sparkling wine or Champagne is known to be a good pairing while Tiramisu is better matched with sweet sherry , ruby port, and sparkling wines.

If wine is used in a dessert, such as the Marsala in a Zabaglione, the same wine can be served to enhance flavors.

Ethnic Cuisine Pairings

wine with dinner meatTraditionally, ethnic foods have been paired with beer or drinks other than wine but an increasing trend of mixing and matching has created interesting pairing combinations.

Chinese food is often grouped into four categories but a peppery wine such as Gewurztraminer tends to work well in each of these areas.

Full bodied wines are important for this type of cuisine because of the many flavors incorporated into each dish.

Unoaked Chardonnay, semi dry Riesling and young Sauvignon Blancs are also appropriate choices for this cuisine.

For dishes that include pork or chicken, a rich Zinfandel or Beaujolais can be served.

Fusion or Pacific Rim cuisine has so many elements from different cultures that a general assumption about wine pairings is difficult to make.

Each dish should be taken into consideration in its own regard and the ingredients and spices of that dish should be the deciding factors of the wine selection.

Indian cuisine is also grouped into different categories, but common threads in these dishes allow white wines like the Gewurztraminer, Riesling or Pinot Gris and sparkling roses to be good general picks.

Red wines like a Shiraz or Syrah or a grassy, vibrant Zinfandel are good options. Most Indian cuisine is rich in flavor so a hefty wine with lots of body is usually best.

Japanese food is often salty so a semi sweet, or off dry Riesling or white Zinfandel can work well. Sparkling wine is also an option to consider when it comes to the delicate flavors of Japenese cuisine.

Red wine is a surprisingly good accompaniment to Mexican food.

Although spicy or chili based foods have been traditionally thought of as “beer foods”, wines with fresh flavors also work well with these dishes.

Mexican food also goes well with red wines like Zinfandel, Merlot, light Pinot Noirs, and Cabernet Sauvignons for dishes with hints of chocolate.

These wines also pair well with Southwestern U.S. or Tex-Mex foods.

Cambodian, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisine can surprise the palate with occasional firecracker flavors that go best with unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and fresh Zinfandel and Merlots.

Thai food has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years and can include a variety of ingredients, ranging from chilies to coconut milk, that make it difficult to pair.

Try enjoying this type of cuisine with an Oregon Pinot Gris, a peppery Gewurztraminer, or a lively Sauvignon Blanc.

Although some foods may seem too strange or difficult for a good wine pairing, keep an open mind and experiment to find those truly unique combinations that stimulate your palate.

Fish and Shellfish Pairings

wine with fishFish and shellfish have always traditionally been paired with white wines, however when pairing this food category it is more helpful to consider the sauces used in each dish.

Heavier sauced seafood tends to work well with red wines although lightly grilled entrees are still best served with white wine.

Anchovies, for example, would go well with a Sauvignon Blanc or Spanish sherry.

Foods that can be prepared in more than one way should be paired with complimenting wines.

For example, fried calamari is best served with a fruity wine such as a Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio while calamari with tomato sauce would go best with a Sauvignon Blanc.

Although caviar has traditionally been served with Champagne, an unoaked Chardonnay would also serve to bring out the rich textures and layers of flavor of caviar.

Clams that have been steamed go exceptionally well with a white Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc or dry rose wine.

Clams served with creamy sauces tend to require more acidic wines such as the Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadet. Clams with wine sauce can be taken with the same wine that’s been used in the sauce to enhance the flavors of the meal altogether.

Different kinds of fish also benefit from different wines.

The flounder, for example, would be best served with an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay while the Halibut goes better with a Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, or Chardonnay.

Lobster, on the other hand, when broiled, is best served with a Burgundy or Chardonnay.

All other methods of serving do well with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Muscles are another treat that can be served many ways. In steamed form, they go best with a dry Riesling, unoaked Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Blanc. In a cream sauce, mussels are best served with lightly oaked Chardonnays or Rieslings.

Oysters can be served with a dry Riesling or a good sparkling wine.

They also tend to enhance the flavors in an unoaked Suavignon Blanc or a Pinot Noir when served in raw form.

Salmon always goes best with red wine. If it must be white, consider a slightly oaky Chardaonnay.

Tuna is another fish that can benefit from a read wine such as a Rhone or lively Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, or Merlot. Buttery Chardonnays also tend to do well with this hearty fish.

Game Pairings

Game is traditionally served with red Burgundy from France but, as with beef, herb and sauce considerations must be made.

Roasted wild duck, for example, matches exceptionally well with Syrah or Merlot. Stuffing is another aspect to the wine pairing challenge and quail is one game bird that usually does well with red wines such as the Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Merlot.

Depending on the stuffing, white wines such as an oaky Chardonnay can also work well with quail.

Keep in mind to balance the heft of the meal with the taste of the wine as to make sure neither is overpowered.

Rabbit is not as bold a meat as many others, hence try Chianti or red Burgundy.

Rabbit in mustard sauce goes better with white wines like the Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.

Hearty meats like venison need a bold, full bodied red wine like the Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lamb Pairings

Lamb and wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties have traditionally matched very well together.

The Spanish serve lamb with Rioja, but the Californian Zinfandel and the Washington Merlot work just as well with this meat. Lamb is one of those meats that tends to work well with all wines, however, specific wines can do a great deal to enhance certain meals.

Barbecued lamb in the kabob style does very well with lively flavored wines like the Cabernet Franc or Shiraz. The spices work well with the bustling flavors in the wines.

Broiled lamb, on the other hand, does better with Zinfandel, healthy Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Riojas. Lamb chops go better with aged wines.

Try serving this dish with Spanish Rioja, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Although meat such as lamb does well with wines, sometimes sauces such as the classic mint sauce that is served with this dish, will spoil all attempts at pairing.

Otherwise, roast lamb does well with aged Bordeaux or very good Cabernet Sauvignon.

Lamb shanks often have many added flavors that match superbly with Spanish Rioja, Rhone reds, or hearty Zinfandels. Boldly flavored stews work well with Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Zinfandel.

More delicately flavored lamb stews work better with Merlot or Syrah.

Pasta Pairings

wine with pastaThe main aspect of a pasta dish that is being paired is the sauce. The wine and sauce involved in the meal should compliment, instead of battle or overwhelm, one another.

More acidic wines tend to do well with cheese and tomato sauces.

Try a read wine with cheese and a crisp white for tomato.

Pesto sauce is best served with a healthy red wine such as Docetto or Beaujolais. Fruity Zinfandels also work well with the herbs involved in pesto sauce.

Alfredo sauces are a good match with Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Sancerre.

With macaroni and cheese, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon compliment well.

Pasta Primavera, on the other hand, is often paired with Grigio or Viognier wines.

Pizza can also be paired well with wine. Different toppings on the pizza call for different wines. Pepperoni, for example, goes well with Barbera or Chianti, while vegetarian pizzas work better with just the Chianti.

Pork Pairings

Pork is a more difficult meat to pair with wine because of its sweet tendencies. Spices associated with pork dishes are also difficult to pair.

However, pork dishes generally do well with red or white young, slightly acidic wines without much tannin.

Fruit flavors in wine can also compliment the sweetness of pork.

Baked ham dishes are best matched with an off-dry Riesling or a lively Merlot with fruity tendencies.

Barbecued pork is often spicy so a chilled Zinfandel or semi-dry Riesling tend to balance these flavors.

Pork chops have a hefty flavor and hence, are best paired with full bodied wines like the Pinot Noir or the Shiraz. Dried Italian or Spanish ham is well paired with dry roses or flavorfull reds.

In roast form, pork can be heavy and overwhelming for lighter wines.

Try a Pinot Noir or full structured Rhone to bring balance to this meal.

Poultry Pairings

Poultry is a meat that can be enjoyed with either red or white wines. Certainly an easier candidate for pairing, poultry takes exceptionally well to certain wines. Roasted chicken, for example, can go well with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Depending on the amount and variety of seasonings, chicken can also be matched with Merlot or light Shiraz wines. Spicier chicken curry will work better with Gewurztraminer or dry sparkling wine. Mustard and tarragon sauces included in the dishes require light wines such as Cabernet Franc or oaky Chardonnays to be considered.

Wine is a great partner for even fried foods. Fried chicken goes best with dry rose or fruity Sauvignon Blanc wines.

With wine sauces, the same rule as with other meats applies. Always pair a better version of the wine used in the sauce for drinking.

Domestic duck needs a less intense wine such as Merlot, Chianti or Chardonnay because of its more delicate and sweet contrast to wild duck.

Goose is a richer type of poultry than others and, by itself, matches well with red Burgundy. When served in its traditional form, with sweet side dishes, goose goes well with German Riesling or California Pinot Noir.

Turkey has a slight sweetness to its meat and therefore requires a fruity Zinfandel for a good balance.

Salad Pairings

With salad and wine pairings it is best to keep in mind that simple salads, especially those with vinegar based dressings, do not pair well with wines. However, other salads such as caesar, nicoise, seafood, or spinach, can benefit immensely from a good selection.

Generally, dressings and meats used in the salad are an important consideration for the wine selection.

Caesar salad does well with sparkling wine whiles the tuna in nicoise works better with a dry rose wine. Seafood salads benefit from the company of a Californian Chardonnay or a white Burgundy from France.

Spinach salad works well with young Sauvignon Blancs or a very dry sparkling rose Keep in mind that the best way to enjoy salad and wine is to have a wine based dressing for your salad.

Salads with croutons and toasted nuts tend to work well with oaky wines. In general, keep in mind that similar flavors and textures will work better together.

Vegetable Pairings

Although it seems more foreign than matching wine with meat or fish, matching vegetables goes by the same rules and guidelines covered before.

Vegetables and wines tend to compliment each other easily for most cases and the different textures of various vegetables match different wines.

The avocado, for example, requires a young Sauvignon Blanc or Verdicchio to compliment the fatty layers of texture in this vegetable.

Beans and lentils can be paired with red or white wines such as the fruity red Shiraz, a French Beaujolais, or a good Merlot. White wines that go well with these veggies include the Riesling or Pinot Grigio.

Eggplant is best with a dry rose or light reds while corn is complimented by the textures of creamy Chardonnays.

Hummus, a popular Mediterranean dish made from smashed chick-peas, goes well with fresh, sharp tasting wines like the Albarino or a dry Chenin Blanc.

Mushrooms and sauces with mushrooms often go well with Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Beaujolais.

Black truffles must be enjoyed with an expensive, first rate Champagne or sparkling wine. Other options include Syrah or Rhone wines while white truffles are better matched with red Burgundys and Barolos.

Although asparagus is difficult to pair and might work well with an oaky Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, the artichoke is completely impossible to pair well with any wine.

italian vineyard

Wine Regions with Great Wine

Wine Regions Around the World

wine vineyardsAlthough France and Italy are perhaps the best known, there are numerous quality wine regions around the world. Wine grapes are grown all over the world and each region produces a wine that exhibits the characteristics of its foundation.

Although Europe has been longest known for the best wines, regions in California, Washington, Australia, and New Zealand have been producing quality wines in recent decades.

Knowing which region a wine is from helps wine lovers determine quality, grape variety, and flavor. Learning all you can about wine, including where it comes from, greatly enhances every connoisseur’s enjoyment of this tasty treat.

Alsac

Alsac of France is known for its German inspired red wines and flute bottles. Sitting on the border between Germany and France, Alsac wines such as the Tokay-Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Gewürztraminer seem foreign to wine lovers.

However, the wines produced here are distinctively French in style, leaning towards dry, full-bodied flavors. The white wines of the area are few in number but charismatic enough to be worth a try. The Alsac labels are unique to other French wine labels in that they include the grape variety. After a period of decline, this marketing ploy helped bring prestige back to the region.

The best Alsac wines are produced from the Riesling grape although varieties like the muscat, pinot-blanc, sylvaner, the pinot-gris, and the gewurztraminer are also grown. Rieslings wines from this region are simultaneously extremely dry and buttery in texture . Alsac also produces Sélection des Grains Nobles, some of the worlds finest dessert wines.

Argentina

Argentina is one of the worlds largest four wine producers. However, the industry is suffering because most of this production was for local consumption and as trends lead young drinkers towards more popular drinks such as beer and cola, wine consumption has dropped to less than half of what it used to be.

The Andes mountain range supplies most of the water that the otherwise dry region uses for production. Although mass varieties of Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have been planted, Argentina also grows Spanish and Italian varieties like Tempranillo, Bonarda and Barbera. Two superstar varieties appearing in the wine scene include the Torrontes and the Malbec. The Torrontes makes white wine with a rich bouquet and structured body while the Malbec makes a deep black-red wine that is peppery and smooth.

Argentinean wine regions include Mendoza, the center of all production, Salta, Rio Negro, San Juan and La Rioja.

Australia

vassefelix wineryKnown for cheap, easy to drink wines with delectable tastes and full textures, Australian wines are highly popular especially in Britain. Hot, arid climates have led Australian winemakers to employ irrigation methods to almost all their vineyards. Grape production is best in the cooler, moderate southeast, the far southwest, and Tasmania regions of the country.

The Australian method of wine production involves strict techniques that include the use of stainless-steel tanks for temperature control, experimentation with specific yeasts, and an extreme avoidance of oxidisation. Many grape varieties flourish within the Australian continent but the best known are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling, Semillon, Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.

Many growers also plant dozens of varieties while other regions concentrate on a few. This has led to a good variety of Australian wines that are steadily gaining popularity and demand throughout the world.

Good Australian wines include the Margaret River valley’s Vasse Felix, Evans Tate, and Cullens estate wines. Other noteworthy bottles surprisingly include the Tasmanian Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling.

Bordeaux

If one thing the Bordeaux region of France is known for it is dependable, good red wine. However, sweet, dry and white sparkling wines are also made. The region is so diverse that wines can vary greatly depending on the vineyard. Subregions include Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Medoc, and Graves.

The best Bordeaux wines offer the palate a sensuous experience of refined quality and aromatic, flavorful tastes. Bordeaux wines are usually blended grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. White wines are also made from varieties such as Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. The quality factors in Bordeaux wines follow regulations set by the “Appellation Controllee” or “AC.” Different AC’s govern different districts of wine production within France in order to ensure excellence.

Bordeaux ACs that include everyday, generic wines are the AC Bordeaux and AC Bordeaux Superieur among others. Exceptional wines go by specific titles such as AC Fronsac or AC Pomerol. These wines are often restricted to harsher regulations.

The classic claret wines of this region are famous around the world for their superior quality.

Burgundy

Unlike the Bordeaux region, Burgundy is a unique conglomeration of thousands of small growers and individual wine makers. Producing both red and white wines, the main grape varieties in the region are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Aside from Chateau wine makers, individuals who buy grapes and finished wines for blending and bottling under their own label, known as négociants, are a vital contribution to the prestige of the region.

A few hundred miles northeast to Bordeaux, the area’s climate is hot and humid during the summer and cold in the winter. The Burgundy region is divided into the more distinct regions of Chablis, The Côte de Nuits, The Côte de Beaune, The Côte Chalonnaise, The Mâconnais, and sometimes Beaujolais.

AC regulations rank Burgundy wines from the best in quality, the Grand Crux, to the general label that appears on all Burgundy wines not suitable for other rankings, the AC Bourgogne.

Larger house négociants are usually reliable and include wines such as Jadot, Drouhin, Bouchard, Louis Latour and Faiveley.

California

Famous for its Napa Valley wines, California is also home to the wine producing regions of Mendocino, near San Francisco, and Temecula, near Los Angeles and San Diego, although most wine production is at the Northern and Central Coast areas. A variety of localized climate conditions, called microclimates, allow a range of cool, hazy air and temperate conditions.

Aside from growing many varieties of grapes, California is the producer of its own grape variety known as the Zinfandel. Although best known for their light, fruity wines, the Zinfandel can also produce deep tannic red wines with bold blueberry and spicy flavors.

Good quality wines from California of the Pinot Noir variety are the Au Bon Climat, Swan and Sanford. The Zinfandel variety produces good Marietta, Swan, Ridge and Raveswood, while the best Cabernet Sauvignons include Mondavi, Ridge, Laurel Glen, and Caymus to name a few.

Chardonnays worth investing some money into involve the Au Bon Climat, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chalone, Landmark, and Peter Michael. Recently, old world greats have established wineries in California. Champagne houses such as Moet, Krug, and Mumm were the first with big names of Bordeaux and Burgundy following suit.

Champagne

The northernmost AC of France, Champagne is famous for its sparkling wines. The Champagne process ensures the fizz in every bottle by allowing added yeast to dissolve added sugar and produce carbon dioxide gas. The region’s chalky, poor soil produces acidic, thin wines that would not be suitable for drinking without this additional spark.

The region of Champagne includes around 300 wine producing villages with 17 being producers of the best quality sparkling wines. Known as the Grand Crux vineyards, these top producers include the Bouzy, Aÿ, Sillery and Le Mesnil.

Most Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot meaunier grapes while some pure bottles do exits. Champagne comes in styles ranging from the highly exceptional brut, which is extremely dry and full, to the sweet, desert doux , with extra dry and sec styles in between. Champagne also comes in a range of production styles.

These include the blended non-vintage Champagnes which are meant for immediate consumption and the vintage Champagnes that are made from a single vintage of the best grapes.

Other styles include the Blanc de Blancs, made only from Chardonnay, the Blanc de Noirs, made from the two Pinots, the Rose, and the expensive and high quality De-luxe Cuvees.

Chile

Chile offers wines such as fruity, oaky Chardonnays, delicious Cabernet Sauvignons and tempting Merlots. Chile is most famous for ungrafted vinestock. Through some remarkable fate, the plague of phyllorexia has never embarked upon the region and hence grafted vinestock is not needed. Interesting Chilean grape varieties include the Pais and the and the Carmenere.

A recent influx of modern techniques and technology has given the region new fervor for the industry.

Chilean winemaking regions include Aconcagua, Casablanca, Maipo, Rapel, Curico and Maule, and Bio Bio. Superstar Chile wines include the Caballo Loco, Cousino Macul’s Finis Terrae, Montes “M”, Erazuriz’s Sena and Almaviva.

Chile’s dry climate depends on the Pacific ocean and Andes mountain range for the ability to produce grapes. Most of the wine growing regions are at the south end of Santiago.

Chile has grown into the fourth largest exporter of wines to the United States.

Germany

vineyard in GermanyGermany has accumulated a bad reputation for overly sweet, mass produced and mediocre wines over the last 20 years. However, Germany is the worlds number one producer of exceptional Riesling wines. Germanys chief grape is the Riesling but other varieties include the Scheurebe, the Ruländer, the Silvaner, the Gewürztraminer and the Weissburgunder for white wines as well as the red wine grapes of Spätburgunder, Dornfelder, Portugieser and Trollinger. Most grape production is near and around rivers such as the Rhine and Mosel in order to take advantage of soil rich in minerals and slate. The German classification system involves Tafelwein, a general label for many table wines, Landwein, a slightly better but still not high quality label, Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA), the first level of quality wines, and the Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP), the most superb wines available. This highest level has 6 more levels of distinction that involve the increasing levels of sugar content. These range from the Kabinett, a dry a low alcohol content wine, the Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and the Eiswein, the sweetest of them all.

Italy

italian vineyardItaly has had a rough time gaining prestige for their wine industry. Years of harsh regulations that did more to hurt rather than help the industry and a history of cheap, mass produced wines has made getting back on track extremely difficult.

However, a new set of regulations issued in 1992, deemed the Indicazione Geografica Tipica, or IGT, hopes to provide the possibility of more flexible movement within the old, rigid Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) classification system. Although winemakers are slow to adopt this new, pyramid set of regulations, it is more a question of time.

The regulations are as follows: a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) rating is at the top of the pyramid and awarded only to the highest quality wines, a DOC rating ensures a dependable high standard wine, and the VdT ratings are for everyday, good wines. Great Italian wine growing regions include Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily, Sardinia and Veneto.

New Zealand

Rather than quantity, the inability to plant more than a quarter of one percent of the world’s total grapes ensures that New Zealand has a concentrated eye on quality. Much of New Zealands climate is prime for grape growing. Moderate temperatures, warm and sunny days and cool and breezy nights allow for long seasons.

The star grape of all of New Zealand is the Sauvignon Blanc which encompasses goosberry, passionfruit, citrus and asparagus flavors. Other varieties include the Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muller-Thurgau. Also, the rich loamy New Zealand soil is proving to be a great breeding ground for the difficult to grow Pinot Noir grape.

Other varieties enjoying successful production include the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the Cabernet Franc in the North Island regions. New Zealand wine producing regions include Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough, and Central Otago. The country is best known for its extremely fruitful and dry Sauvignon Blanc, which rivals its French counterparts and is known as the worlds greatest of its kind.

Portugal

Famous for its Port and Madeira wines, Portugal is the scene of an ever changing industry that brings new and interesting wines to the consumer marketplace. The best grape varieties in Portugal are grown in the warm, sunny region of the Northeastern quarter of the country. These grapes include the Touriga Nacional, the Periquita and the Baga for red wines and the Alvarinho, the Fernao Pires, Bual, Malvasia, Sercial and Verdelho for whites. Cheaper wines will be blends of other grape varieties. Portugal also makes 6 styles of Port wine that range from the superb Vintage Ports to the popular aperitif White Ports. The Single-Quinta Vintage Port, Late Bottled Vintage, Ruby Port, and Tawny Port range between the two extremes and popular mostly in France. Portugal also is the producer of some note worthy table wines such as the Alentejo, the Ribetejo, the Bairrada, the Dao and the Duoro to name a few.

Rhône Valley

The Rhône Valley of France is known for producing a contrasting variety of wines both rare and for everyday. Divided into North and South, the region produces robust red wines with the red grape varieties of Syrah and Viognier in the North and Grenache, Syrah,Mourvèdre and Cinsaut in the South.

Northern white wines are made from Marsanne and Roussanne varieties while Southern whites involve the Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul as well.

Covered in extremely steep, granite hillsides, the Northern region of the Rhône Valley is home to the hefty Hermitage and Cote-Rotie,two of the greatest red wines in the world. These wines involve deep, rich flavors and heavy bodies which have led them to be considered the manliest of French wines.

Expensive, superb and unusually powerful white wines produced in the north include the Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet.

TheSouthern region of the area is best known for the cheaper yet wonderful wines of the Côtes du Rhône. The best of these wines will be labeled with the actual village name.

South Africa

Virtually isolated from other producers, South African winemakers have evolved a distinct style and developed good quality to their wines. The countrys southernmost tip is the only region suitable for production. Although hot and dry, breezes off the Indian and Atlantic oceans cool it down and supply pockets of good potential.

Producing more white than red wines, South Africas grape varieties include the Chanin Blanc, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Muscat d’Alexandrie, Pinotage, Pinot Noir, and the Cabernet Sauvignon.

South African wines exhibit a fusion of new world lively fruit flavors with old world structure and body.

The main growing regions include Stellenboch, Paarl, Constantia, Walker Bay, Robertson and Franschhoek. Although no superstar wines command the attention of the world at large as of yet, various winemakers are toughing out the political restrictions the country places on production and offering examples of truly superb wine.

Among these palatable wines are the Vin de Constance, the Pinots Noir and the Chardonnays of Bouchard-Finlayson and Hamilton-Russell, and wines from La Motte, Von Ortloff, Bellingham and Boschendal.

Spain

Famous for Spanish sherry, Spain is the third largest producer of wine after France and Italy. Aside from the success of the fortified wines, the history of Spanish winemaking iss bruised by mass productions of cheap red wines.

Only the Rioja region, which was embraced by French winemakers after phylloxera had infested their fields, has managed to build a strong reputation for full wines with vanilla bouquets and velvety finishes.

Tempranillo is the star grape in the Rioja region, which is divided into 3 subregions. Of the three subregions, Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa have the cooler climates and therefore the more superior wines. In the last 10 years or so, the region of Ribera del Duero has taken over the wine scene with its Vega Sicilia wines. These are both a rare and expensive blend of grapes, such as the Cabernet Sauvinon and the Merlot, which have been aged in oak for sometimes over a decade.

Spanish white wines, such as the White Rioja and wines from Galicia, have also been making a steady comeback. The future of Spanish wine looks bright and tasty.

The Loire Valley

The Loire Valley of France is known for its vast variety of white wines and the sharp, acidic qualities in all its wines. Comprised of western Loire, middle Loire and upper Loire, the region can vary in climate. Western Loire is prone to cool and cloudy temperatures that are perfect for the Muscadet grape.

This grape is used mainly for making dry, white wines.

Muscadet wines often carry the lable of Sur Lie, which means that there will be an added nutty or fruity flavoring to the wine. Middle Loire is slightly warmer and wetter than western Loire and usually a good climate for noble rot. This leads to the area’s sweet wine production.

The Chenin Blanc grape is the star of the white wines of middle Loire with Cabernet Franc being used for reds.

Upper Loire is the hottest of all the sections and good for growing Suavignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

So these are the most common places where wine grapes are grown. Not an exhaustive list, but pretty thorough. If you have some information you’d like to add let us know. At Upscale Drinks we are always looking for great content to help inform our readers.

jello shots

Jello Shot Cups

The BEST Jello Shot Cups Guide

You wouldn’t think it, but there are actually a lot of considerations when you’re looking to buy jello shot cups. So even though it might be a really boring topic, we decided to write you this guide anyway.

You have size, do you want one ounce or two ounces?

Do you want paper or plastic jello shot cups?

Do you want colored or clear?

Or do you just want the cheapest shot cups and move on…

So, having thrown far too many parties as well as owning a bar, I think I can give you a really good breakdown as to what you should and shouldn’t buy when it comes to cups for jello shots.

Sizes

First, let’s talk about size. Size does matter 🙂 Both in amount consumed and price per cup.

The standard shot sizes are one ounce and two ounces.

Deciding which size to choose is more of a personal preference and anything else. But most people go with 2 ounces. And I suggest you do the same unless you’re creating your Jell-O shot masterpieces for a children’s party.

That it’s best to keep the sugar down as much as possible. I’m talking about sugar, though forget you can use sugar-free Jell-O.

The next point I want to hit has to do about being environmentally friendly.

When it comes to choosing paper or plastic, it’s the same old debate as choosing which bags to use a supermarket.

Personally I just use the paper cheap ones when I’m making a ton of shots for family and friends.

But if I’m trying to be artistic, and I want to layer my Jell-O shots, then I use the clear plastic ones.

Again, it really depends on what you’re using these four. If you’re just making Jell-O shots for some frat party, nobody’s can a care what the shot actually looks like. All they’re going to care about is getting ripped. So the paper cups are not only cheap but also super easy to dispose of.

On the other hand if you’re creating artisan Jell-O shots that are three layers deep in a festive color combination, then you’re going to want people to see your artistic abilities. That’s when the clear Jell-O shop cups come in.

One last thing to consider is if you’re going to need lids for your shots.

Don’t forget, if you’re planning on traveling with your Jell-O shots, you need some way to keep the Jell-O in the cup.

There are two easy with fixes for this.

The first one is if you have a good sized baking sheet or an actual commercial baking sheet, you can just use the paper cups and then use Saran wrap to cover him up. It works and it’s easy.

The second one is you really care about how your shots look aesthetically, then you just going to want to go with the plastic cups with lids. It really is the best option.

Okay, so hopefully I’ve given you some things to think about when it comes to buying Jell-O shot cups. It’s not rocket science, but there are a few considerations.

Now hopefully you know what you’re using the cups for. So now it’s time to move on and figure out which option is the best to buy for what you’re going for.

Paper Jell-O shot cups

paper jello shot cupsSo let’s start with the easiest. Paper jello shot cups may be the one of the more environmentally friendly options out there, but they are not always the most practical.

There are plenty of pros to them. They’re super cheap, they’re disposable so no mess to contend with, and you can usually get a hold of them pretty easily.

The main disadvantage with paper cups is that they can leak, leaving your fridge a mess and your cups rather soggy when it comes time to shoot your shooters.

And when it comes to eating the actual shot out of one of these, you pretty much have to squeeze out whatever you can while hopefully not breaking the bottom out of your cup. Or licking the sides where the jello sticks between the cracks where the paper folds.

And even though you might be able to more easily recycle paper, it’s not such an Earth friendly option if the paper cup is still covered in jello, which is likely to be the case.

Usually though, they won’t be recycled at all. But at least these cups will break down over time in your local dump, so for the environmentally friendly drinkers out there, this is your best option if you’re looking to throw them away.

One tip when using paper Jell-O shot cups. Try to use them as soon as possible. Don’t let the Jell-O sit in them too long. The longer the Jell-O sits inside the cups, the more they stick to the paper. So the best case scenario would be to make your jello shots in the afternoon and use them that night.

Plastic Jello Shot Cups with Lids

The obvious advantage to using plastic cups with lids is that they are plastic and therefore won’t leak and that they have optional matching plastic jello shot cups with lidslids which helps them stay fresh and make them easy to store and transport.

It’s one thing to make them in your kitchen, another to get them to where the party is.

But where these cups really stand out is that most plastic cups are completely see-through which means you can make some really beautiful Halloween or Christmas shots using the festive colored appropriate Jell-O and your shots will end up looking beautiful enough to be the centerpiece of your party. Who doesn’t love a little color, right?

And of course these cups come in both 1 ounce or 2 ounce varieties. And the cost is minimal.

Some not only that, there usually sold either with lids or without them. So if you don’t need him, you can even save a few pennies more and lessen the load on the environment.

And of course there’s always a few cons. The biggest disadvantage for the average jello shots containers is that there are usually made from a very cheap and easily broken plastic. So when you try to squeeze out the Jell-O, you sometimes just end up breaking up the cup in making a bigger mess than anything else.

So if kids are involved, you might want to just give them spoons as well.

ez squeeze Jello Shot Cups

jello cupsThese cups were definitely a great idea. The company actually makes products specifically for jello shots. And nice ez jello shots and easy to squeeze cups are perfect!

But… truth is, these things don’t stand up the way you think they would. So here’s my quick overview…

Pros: These cups have some pros for sure. They are cheap, they don’t leak and according to their manufacture, they help shorten the chill time of your shots setting up. They also really do allow you to shoot your shot more easily than say the paper cups do.

But one caveat as far as the pros, when I made my jello shots, I didn’t notice any noticeable difference on the time it took for my shots to be ready. But maybe they do shave off a few seconds, I really couldn’t “scientifically” say.

The Cons: They’re plastic, so if you’re environmentally friendly, you won’t want these.

Also, although they are plastic, they really don’t hold their shape after you use them. This is because of the squeezing you do. It deforms the cups shape and they will never return to their natural state!

And forget the lids. They really don’t fit that well. even before you squeeze them!

AND you still end up licking the sides of the cup just like any of the cheaper cups. although if you use the sugar-free Jell-O, for some reason it seems to stick less.

So my biggest negative is that they are plastic, yet they aren’t reusable. So what’s the point???

The regular plastic cups with lids are better, cheaper and if you are making layered shots, look a lot more stunning as these are a bit “foggy” as far as the see through plastic goes.

Jello Shot SyringesJello Shot Syringes

The last thing I want to talk about as far as jello shot containers aren’t cups at all. They are actually Jell-O shot syringes.

Yep, I’m talking about syringe is as far as getting shots. These things are pretty cool. And they make a great complement to any college or Halloween party.

Just think about it, if you use red Jell-O that it looks like blood inside the syringe. Or maybe you want to use lime colored Jell-O since after doing a few of the shots, you’re probably going to feel like the Hulk.

Honestly have never use these before. I just wouldn’t want to deal with the cleanup. But they’re pretty inexpensive and like I said there are great gag oddity and they look to be a lot of fun.

Great for probably a kids Halloween party.

So there you have it. A complete buyers guide to Jell-O shot cups. I’ve tried to make sure everything you could possibly want to know about them was included so that you could make an easy buying decision. And if you’re asking where can I buy jello shot cups or where to buy jello shot cups? The easiest way is just use Amazon!

And don’t forget to take a look at my article: How to Make Jello Shots!

And if you think I left anything out, please feel free to comment below and I’ll add it to the article.

making a toast

How to Make a Toast: 12 Tips

If you are nervous about being called on to make a toast, use these instructions from Upscale Drinks to make the perfect one.

Many people are uncomfortable when expected to raise a toast. If you are one of them you are not alone. Remember the focus of the toast is on the recipient; It is an experience you both will share.

Toasts should be reserved for special occasions such as birthdays, wedding, and anniversary receptions, and confined to those present who are key figures in the festivities. The main reasons for giving a toast are:

  1. To congratulate the person(s) for an accomplishment like having a baby or buying a house.
  2. To offer good wishes to one or more people who about to embark on a venture or personal relationship.
  3. To express appreciation for assistance or support by the person the person toasted.
  4. To remember someone who may not be present.
  5. To give assurance of one’s blessing to a person who has made an important decision.
  6. If possible prepare your toast before the occasion and practice in front of a mirror.
  7. Stand up at what seems like the appropriate moment, before, during, or at the end of dinner. Raise your glass whether it has an alcoholic beverage, soda, or plain water, and announce firmly,” I propose a toast to…”
  8. Refer to the person in formal (’Dr.Brown”), informal, (’Trudy”), or colloquial (”Sis”) depending on the occasion and your relationship to the person toasted.
  9. Keep your remarks brief and to the point. If you are good at telling jokes, feel free to use the occasion to make a pertinent point. However be sensitive in choosing your remark. This is not the time to bring up embarrassing anecdotes. Confirm you remarks to no more than two or three minutes out of consideration of others.
  10. When you finish your remarks, raise your glass and wait until others do the same. Then take a sip. Everyone else will follow suit.
  11. If two or more toasts are in order, either make them yourself while you have the attention of the group or say you are turning the floor over to someone else who has a few words to say. If appropriate, encourage a few words from the toastee.
  12. When toasting, it customary to use wine. Although you can use other alcoholic beverages, something like jello shots might not be very appropriate.

I thought this was interesting. The term toast became popular in the 18th century when guests at dinners in England praised their hostess for being as tempting as a favorite gourmet dish of the day: spiced toast.