kottke.org posts about beverages
In the future, there will be sommeliers for everything from toothpaste to flip-flops. Today's example: water.
Take Mahalo Deep Sea Water, at £20 for 71cl, which comes from "a freshwater iceberg that melted thousands of years ago and, being of different temperature and salinity to the sea water around it, sank to become a lake at the bottom of the ocean floor. The water has been collected through a 3000ft pipeline off the shores of Hawaii." According to the Daily Mail, Mahalo has a "very rounded quality on the palate" and it "would be good with shellfish."
There's even a book on this "up-and-coming trend": Fine Waters: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters.
Update: The Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo has a cheese sommelier, a specially water menu, and "an extensive soap menu".
Remember the fun we had reading about this root beer tasting a few months back? The #1 root beer from that tasting, Sprecher (from Wisconsin), is now available on the root beer section of the menu at Ssam Bar. My Moscato d'Asti-addled brain forgot to get a bottle to go when I was there last, but I'll be back for you soon, Sprecher.
NY Times wine guy Eric Asimov and his panel taste a bunch of root beers and conclude, among other things, that "too much root beer can make a man mean".
Our No. 1 root beer, from Sprecher in Wisconsin, a wonderfully balanced and complex brew, uses a combination of corn syrup and honey, while our No. 2, the restrained and flavorful IBC, uses only corn syrup. So even with the importance of the sweetener, something more is at play with root beers.
I've always wanted to have a root beer tasting.
Venez vite, je goûte les étoiles!
Attributed to French monk Dom Pierre Pérignon upon his discovery of Champagne. It's typically translated into English as:
Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!
Although Pérignon made important advances in sparkling wine production, a reproducible process for making sparkling wine (of which Champagne is one variety) was actually first described by an Englishman, Christopher Merret, some thirty years before. In a paper presented to the Royal Society, Merret noted that the addition of sugar to wine would result in a second fermentation, which made the wine sparkle.
Merret came to sparkling wine through his interest in glass. The process of secondary fermentation had been known since before medieval times but was not reproducible because the glass bottles would explode under the pressure. Using stronger English glass and sturdy corks, Merret was able to dependably reproduce the sparkling effect and publish the technique for anyone to do the same. A bit less glamorous than "drinking the stars" perhaps, but a deft illustration of the scientific method nonetheless.
BTW, Moët and Chandon, producers of the Dom Pérignon brand of Champagne, still perpetuate the myth that Dom Pérignon invented the method for making sparkling wine. From the DP web site:
Make "the best wine in the world." It took a visionary spirit and exceptional daring to set such an exalted ambition at the end of the 17th century. But vision and daring were second nature to Pierre Pérignon. Before him, there was only what was known as the wines of Reims, of La Montagne and of La Rivière, according to their origins in the Champagne region. With amazing intuition, Dom Pérignon was the first to see the fabulous promise of luxury. He took very ordinary wines and gave them body, spirit and grace. Through his efforts Champagne wine entered a new world.
Whatever helps you sell the Champers, I guess.
Greg Allen still has his bottle of Suck Cola from when the now-defunct web site Suck was handing them out at a trade show in 1996. He's building a registry of Suck Cola bottles...if you've got one, send in the details.
After your Cola information is reviewed and validated, you will be issued a Suck Cola Registry Number. I have designated my bottle SC0005, having reserved the first four Registry Numbers, SC0001-SC0004, for Suck.com co-founders Joey Anuff and Carl Steadman.
Suck the web site has now been dead for as long as it was active, but the Cola lives on.
Jürgen Stumpf owns three wine bars in Berlin that operate on the honor system.
For the price of 1 euro (about $1.50), you rent yourself a glass and get to sample as many of the wines as you want. At the end of the night you throw some bills or coins into a big jar, the amount based on what you think is fair.
Pop quiz, hotshot.
There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour... Who fares worst health-wise, diet soda drinkers or fried food eaters? Surprisingly, researchers have found a correlation between diet soda consumption and metabolic syndrome.
The one-third who ate the most fried food increased their risk by 25 percent compared with the one-third who ate the least, and surprisingly, the risk of developing metabolic syndrome was 34 percent higher among those who drank one can of diet soda a day compared with those who drank none.
What I Learned Today did some further digging and found a different study that links diet soda consumption and obesity.
For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
- 36.5% for up to 1/2 can each day
- 37.5% for 1/2 to one can each day
- 54.5% for 1 to 2 cans each day
- 57.1% for more than 2 cans each day.
Costco is selling Mexican Coke made with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, at least in the San Francisco area. "Costco has conformed to CA and U.S. rules, such as CRV (the sort-of deposit you pay for the bottle) and 'nutrition' labeling, so everything appears to be nice and legal." (via serious eats)
Time to lower the drinking age? "The age at highest risk for an alcohol-related auto fatality is 21, followed by 22 and 23, an indication that delaying first exposure to alcohol until young adults are away from home may not be the best way to introduce them to drink."
Compared with Snapple, whiteout, and Pepto Bismol ($123.20/gallon), gasoline is surprisingly inexpensive. "$21.19 for WATER - and the buyers don't even know the source. No wonder Evian spelled backwards is Naive."
Update: Rob Cockerham did a more extensive analysis of liquid pricing a few years ago.
Some back-of-the-envelope calculations about the embodied energy of bottled water: "the cost to produce and deliver a bottle of imported water is $0.22, leaving $1.28 per bottle profit for the manufacturer and the retail store".
Crushpad lets you make your own wine from the comfort of your own home. "Crushpad offers a web-based system called MyCrushpad that allows you to monitor and manage your wine remotely.You'll be able to create your winemaking plan online, see pictures of your grapes while they're still on the vine, access the dozens of statistics (like sugar, acids, fermentation temperatures, etc.) our winemakers use to make decisions about handling the fruit. You'll be able to check on your wine at every stage from the vineyard to the barrel to the bottle no matter where you are."
A list of possible Red Sox-inspired wines. Matsusake, Two-Buck 'Tek, Coco Cristal, and Big Papinot Noir all sound delicious.
One of the most enjoyable presentations at Taste3 was by mad scientist David Arnold, who made gin and tonic onstage, but without the tonic. (He added the fizz directly to the gin with a CO2 canister.) Pete Wells recently profiled Arnold in Food & Wine magazine. And here's an article from IT World.
Hiroshi Tanaka demonstrated his "fast aging" technique for wine at the Taste3 conference. I tasted some of the "after" wine and it was better and smoother than the "before" wine. A promising technique, especially for cheaper wines and spirits.
Slate's wine columnist considers which champagne Jay-Z should drink now that he's given up the Cristal. Taste and prestige are not the only considerations: "Take, for instance, this line from the Jay-Z hit 'Can't Knock the Hustle': 'My motto, stack rocks like Colorado/ auto off the champagne, Cristal's by the bottle. 'Salon' can be substituted for 'Cristal' at no cost to the flow."
Jay-Z is banning Cristal champagne in his clubs after some "racist" comments by the champagne house's managing director in The Economist. I think Jay-Z is confusing race with culture here; I can't imagine two cultures that are more different from each other than American hip hop and French champagne production. Despite his hesitancy about discussing a culture unfamiliar to him, I thought the director essentially said that they aren't worried about the bling lifestyle association because it's ultimately good for business. (via bb)
Science blog Cocktail Party Physics has a list of "physics cocktails" in the sidebar (scroll down a bit). The Black Hole is "so called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation." Boy, am I a huge sucker for physics puns.
Long, varied, and interesting recap from a participant at the 2006 United States Barista Championship. The drink he prepared for the competition (scroll to the bottom for the recipe) was called Coffee and a Cigar, a coffee drink with tobacco in it. "The tray never touches the table - ever. That's just a faux pas that I think should result in immediate disqualification. What reason is there to place your dirty tray bottom on your clean table? None."
Mexican Coke is growing in popularity in the US, despite Coca-Cola's insistence that it's the same product. (And for the record, it does taste different and better because of the real sugar used.)
Influential wine critic Robert Parker gave 90 to 91 points (out of 100) to a wine made by porn star Savanna Samson, denoting it as "an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character". I'll leave you to make your own jokes about the wine's "great body" and "long legs".
Speaking of wine blogs, Wine Library has a video blog about wine. Not sure about the spit bucket thing on camera tho... (thx, erik)
The Pour is a wine blog by the NY Times wine guy, Eric Asimov. Asimov joins Frank Bruni on the food and bev blogging front for the Times. The Pour includes a list of links to other wine blogs and resources as well. Nicely done.
Why do journalists drink so much Tab? Futhermore, if, as conservatives would like us to believe, the political and cultural tempo of the country is being dictated by the pulse of the liberal media and they all guzzle fantastic amounts of Tab, why is Tab not more popular?
Waiter Rant on how to order wine without looking like an asshole. "When I see someone [smell the cork] I know I'm dealing with a complete amateur. Guess what you're gonna smell? Cork!"
USASODA.com has tons of images of old soda cans. They're a little hard to find, but there's good stuff if you dig around a little bit.
Pepsi's market cap surpassed Coca-Cola's last week for the first time ever. The secret to their success? Diversifying into other snacks (Frito-Lay) and beverages (Tropicana and Gatorade).
The SF Chronicle has a list of the top 100 wines of 2005.
Update: This list covers only wines from CA, WA, OR, and ID, not from the whole US or world. (thx, rich)
Meg recaps our daytrip to the Mekong Delta. If you go, partake not of the rice and banana wines. Holy antifreeze, Batman!
For our first lunch in Saigon, we met up with Graham from Noodlepie, a Saigon-centric food blog. We cabbed it from our hotel to Quan Co Tam - Banh Canh Trang Bang to have one of his favorite Vietnamese dishes, banh trang phoi suong (literally "rice pancake exposed in the dew (at night)"). Here's the outlay:
It's a simple dish; just boiled pork wrapped in thin rice paper with an assortment of herbs, pickled onions & carrots, cucumber, and raw bean sprouts. As you can see from the photo (or the much better photos that Graham took on a previous trip), the plate of herbs that they give you is quite impressive and varied; one smelled like lemon, another like fish. All wrapped up and dipped in fish sauce, it's delicious and simple.
Afterwards we headed to the market, Graham for dinner fixings and us for some browsing around. Before we parted, he treated us to a sugarcane & lemon drink (mia da) and a pennywort smoothie (not as bad as I'd thought for something that tasted like salad through a straw). Thanks for the nice lunch, Graham!
Red Bull was originally a Thai energy drink. I've seen the original in the stores here, along with several competing brands.
Some fun images of advertising painted on fingernails. That's some seriously intricate work...love the soda pop nails.
Any Starbucks in the US (and 22 other countries) is supposed to sell you a cup of fair trade coffee if you ask them to. The Starbucks Challenge is motivating people to take them up on their offer. You can track people's progress or join in the fun yourself.
Interview with Sidney Frank, the guy who brought Jagermeister to the US in a big way and sold his Grey Goose vodka brand to Bacardi for more than $2 billion.
Pairing wine with fast food. How about a 2003 Pinot with your Kentucky Fried Chicken or a nice Cabernet to go with your Taco Bell Burrito Supreme? Need more pairings for fast food? Try here, here, or here.
I'm in luck because it would take more than 260 cans of Pepsi to ingest enough caffeine to kill me. How much of your favorite beverage can you drink before suffering death by caffeine?
A company called Enologix uses spectroscopy and chromotography to predict wine scores with a high level of accuracy. Critic Robert Parker introduced wine scoring (here's his perfect score list) but some say that his dominance is not such a good thing.
So, you wanna go into the wine business.... Well, listen up kid, here's some good advice from someone who's been there.
Tom Standage says bottled water is "bad to the last drop". It's more expensive than gasoline, doesn't taste any better, and isn't any safer.
Steven Shapin reviews Tom Standage's A History of the World in 6 Glasses, a "social life of beverages". Standage is one of my favorite technology/culture writers; he wrote about the telegraph in The Victorian Internet.
The NY Times picks some good bottles of wine for under $10. For those of you who want to move up from the Two Buck Chuck a little.
Coke is using 500,000 liters of water/day in India despite water shortages. Coke is threatening to sue a photographer who put up a billboard critical of that water usage.
Greg Allen keeps winning free Diet Coke but is having trouble redeeming the prizes. "Coke put me in this situation where I feel like a wronged, government-cheese-stealing welfare queen, whose resentment builds with the fresh taunt of each unredeemable winning lid I find".
Steve makes prison wine out of moldy bread, ketchup, grape juice, raisins, garbage bags, and tube socks. "It's hard to believe this started out as a bag of fruit snacks and grape juice. Yet somehow these ingredients went from sweet and child-like to harsh and alcoholic quicker than Lindsay Lohan."
Coffee in Paris sucks?. I don't drink coffee myself (vile, vile stuff), but I've never heard anything bad about the coffee in Paris, aside from the complaint of some Americans that you can rarely get it to go.
This review of Per Se mentions their non-alcoholic wine pairings. "With each course, we were given a beverage - ranging from grape juice to steamed milk - which complimented the tastes in the dish. Libby's 'Red Rice and Beans' was completed by a lime margarita. My foie gras with a gossamer grape juice that was finer than most wines."