Category: Tasting Notes

Results from the 2018 East Meets West Wine Challenge

Do you want to help Make America Great Again? Drink more domestic wine. You have no excuse. Local wine abounds. Every state in the union makes wine: some with more success than others. After the most recent East Meets West Wine Competition, it’s clear that pretty much every state produces something uniquely delicious. And that is, after all, the goal of winemaking, whether you’re starting with Cabernet Franc, Carlos, Niagara, raspberries, or peaches. Now in its 47th year, the East Coast Wine Competition merged with the West Coast Wine Competition six years ago, under the direction of Debra del...

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Sidra: Traditional Spanish ciders are making in-roads stateside

The Asturians and Basques of northern Spain have a cider history stretching back thousands of years. Fermented unsulfited with wild yeasts and mostly local apple varieties, traditional Spanish ciders, sidras natural, are bright with acid and bottled still, dry, and unfiltered. Though production processes are largely the same, each cider house, or llagar, uses its own combination of apples—mostly sharps, with a small percentage containing higher tannin levels to give the sidra body. Malolactic fermentation is also an important component in the process, softening the acids and rounding out the flavors, which can range from fruity to funky. One...

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California Gin: A few fascinating gins that capture the magic of the Golden State

As the craft-everything movement continues to take root across the country, producers are drawing inspiration from their surroundings to create beverages that stand apart. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to focus on ingredients that reflect what’s unique about where you are. Gin, with its loose formulaic requirements, offers distillers a perfect opportunity to add local flair. In California, where “garden to glass” and “seed to sip” are hardwired mantras, this means traveling the state’s unique terrain, seeking out native spices and indigenous flora, and drawing inspiration from regional flavors. It also includes tapping into what...

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Inside Cider: Keeving Comes Stateside

The formula for making a fermented beverage is generally pretty straightforward: Yeast plus sugar plus time equals dry and drinkable (one hopes). If your goal is something sweet, whether a little or a lot, you can kill off or filter out the yeast then add back sugar, or, like the vins doux naturel of Southern France, add some high alcohol spirits partway through the process, arresting the fermentation so that some of the natural sugars are retained. Some 400 years ago, cidermakers in Europe discovered another way. Known as “keeving” in English, the basic technique seems relatively straightforward, but...

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The Flavor of Water: Craft producers find distinguishing flavors in an often-overlooked ingredient.

Water is key in both brewing and distilling, yet you rarely see it mentioned in marketing materials or on back-label copy. Instead, producers tout their use of “the finest organic Cascade hops,” “hand-picked Chardonnay grapes from the Napa Valley,” or some other prestigious-sounding ingredient. Most brewers and distillers use water that’s readily available to them, says Bill Owens, founder and president of the American Distilling Institute, because few have the time or resources to have their water analyzed in a lab to determine its mineral content. Some will manipulate the chemistry of their water, as brewers do when attempting...

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March/April 2018

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