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7 of the Best Alcohols From Around Europe

7 of the Best Alcohols From Around Europe

One of the features of European culture that attracts visitors the most is the fine food and drink. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, in particular, several regions in Europe are justifiably famous for their products. The expertise used in the creation of these drinks means that their taste and quality is unrivalled.

Scottish Whisky
Whisky has been distilled in Scotland for centuries, and nowadays various brands are exported all around the world. There are distilleries all over the country, most notably in the Highlands and Islands, which also serve as tourist attractions. Visitors can see how whisky is created, as well as getting a chance to taste a sample. Whisky will taste different according to how it has been produced and for how long it has been aged, but in general Scottish Whisky has a delicious, smoky flavour.

French Champagne
Only sparkling wine that originates from the Champagne region of northern France can truly be called champagne. Vineyards in the region have been fermenting sparkling wine for hundreds of years, and there are several types of grapes used to produce the variety of champagnes that are available today. Rosé, or pink, champagne is very popular, and any champagne labelled as cuvée is from a premium crop of grapes. The sweetness of champagne will affect its taste, and classification can range from ultra Brut with very little sugar, to Doux, which is very sweet.

Italian Wine
Italy is the largest wine producer in the world. The country is home to many vineyards, most notably in the Tuscany region where the soil and climate is perfect for growing grapes. Wine was extremely popular in ancient Roman times, and remains so with modern Italian drinkers. Today's vineyards use hundreds of different grape varieties to expertly produce a range of high quality wines, both white and red.

Spanish Sangria
Sangria is a sweet, wine based alcoholic drink that is usually served as a punch containing chopped fruits. It is drunk throughout Spain, and, because of that country's prevalence as a tourist destination, sangria is now extremely popular with people from around the world. At bars and restaurants throughout Spain sangria is served to tourists and locals alike in abundance.

Greek Ouzo
Ouzo is a world famous product of Greece, and many tourists take bottles of the alcoholic drink home as souvenirs. It is an aniseed flavoured drink that is traditionally served before meals. There are many places throughout Greece where ouzo is produced, with the island of Lesbos being one of the main contributors to the national output.

Czech Absinthe
Absinthe is believed to have originated in Switzerland however the Czech capital of Prague has become famous for the drink. There are many bars in the city catering to tourists with a thirst for this beverage with its extremely high alcohol content. Absinthe is a green spirit which has a famous history. It was thought of as being dangerous to drink in the early twentieth century, and was banned in several countries. Thankfully, present day absinthe is well regulated, and makes up an important part of the Czech Republic's tourism industry.

German Beer
The Germans love their beer so much that they devote festivals to it, the most famous of which is Oktoberfest. There are several brands native to the country, many of which are popular in foreign markets. A visitor to any German city such as Berlin or Munich will have a range of delicious beers to choose from, including pale and dark varieties. German beers differ in alcohol content, but they all come from breweries with a high level of brewing expertise.

No trip to these European countries would be complete without sampling the delicious local produce on offer. Indeed, there are many
European tour packages which specifically include visits to vineyards or alcohol festivals because of their key role in local culture. In many cases the techniques for creating these alcoholic drinks have been perfected over hundreds of years. The result is a selection of alcoholic drinks that are truly exceptional in their quality and taste.

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Pairing Beer with Food

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Choosing the correct beer to go with whatever food you are eating isn't always straightforward. This week, we're featuring a couple of charts you can use to help you with the proper pairing of beer with your food.

Click on each one to get a full size, printable version. Enjoy!

 

              

 

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Smirnoff paints São Paulo


NEWSFLASH: Smirnoff has hit Sao Paulo and has painted the town. What a great marketing campaign. It seems that the UK company Smirnoff (famous for their vodka brand) has painted Sao Paulo with paint that only shows up at night! Glow in the dark paint - great! Now if only their vodka glowed in the dark too!

Check the video - you don't want to miss it:

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How Much Should I Pay For A Good Bottle of Wine?

How Much Should I Pay For A Good Bottle of Wine?

You have been invited to dinner by your partner’s family and want to bring a bottle of wine.  You are giving a wine gift to your boss and want to make a good impression.  You have just made a fabulous meal for guests and want to enjoy a great bottle of wine.  In any of these situations, choosing the best wine is essential, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Sure, there are vintages that cost hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars, but there are also labels that sell for well under $20.  How much should you pay for a good bottle of wine?

Wine can be intimidating, especially if you see the prices that rare wines go for at auction.  Heidsieck’s 1907 champagne, for instance, was on a ship that went down in 1916.  The bottles were discovered by divers almost 80 years later.  The price tag on this champagne: $275,000.  Last year, three bottles of Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild 1869 were sold by Sotheby’s for $232,692; how would you like to pay $29,000 for a glass of wine?

Luckily, we don’t need to!  These vintages make prized possessions in a vault or wine cellar, but for people who actually want to enjoy their wine, there is a remarkable selection available at the local liquor store and even your grocery store.  You do not need to pay a fortune, even a very small fortune, to have a bottle worthy of a gift, of a family dinner, of a holiday, or of yourself! 

It may be a secret that high-end vinters may not want you to know, but a $20 bill can get you an excellent bottle of wine, and maybe two.  Try these:

  • Le Bombarde, Cannonau di Sardegna
  • Andezon, Cote du Rhone Syrah
  • Chateau de Bonhoste, Bordeaux Blanc
  • Marco Felluga, Pinot Grigio
  • Porca de Murca, Douro
  • 2008 Honig, Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2007 Columbia Crest H3, Merlot
  • 2007 Four Vines, Old Vine Cuvée, Zinfandel
  • Chateau la Mouliniere, Bordeaux
  • Chateau De Cedre Cahors Malbec 2007

Other brands that bear consideration include: Barefoot, Yellowtail, Kendall-Jackson, and Columbia Crest. You can also find endless lists of the best wines under $20 online; make a list of choices that intrigue and bring it with you to the liquor or grocery store.  You will see that you had a lot more options than you may have thought, even if your budget is tighter.

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Top 10 beers you want to enjoy this winter

Top 10 beers you want to enjoy this winter

When we talk about beers just one word comes from our mouth “Just bring it!” It happened once when I was sitting in bar watching Manchester United and Chelsea match in bar, one person asked me, “Its winter and you are having beer.” There are many people like him who think that beer can only serve as a summer quencher. But beer is a drink which can be consumed any time of the season. Let’s have a look at the top 10 favorite beers which I would like to taste this winter. Doesn't matter where you are from or where you are travelling just enjoy winter with these excellent beers.

Super Bock Stout:

This is one of the Portugal’s most famous black beers with a combination of chocolate malt, caramel malt and pale malt which makes every sip enjoyable. It has got the fruity taste and aroma. Try this beer once to enjoy sweet malt dry fruit and light caramel flavor.

Asahi:

Dry beer which comes from Japan fully fragmented as compared to other lager beer which makes it less sweet, brittle and much clean in taste.  Asahi contains mild grain flavors straw and grass, a little sweet start which becomes more bitter as we continue to sip.

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5 Apps for Craft Beer Lovers

5 Apps for Craft Beer Lovers

These days everyone is a craft beer lover—enjoying the lesser known brands from micro breweries, maybe dipping your lips in an organic beverage or two, and even taking the reins and attempting to brew your own beer.

But if you’re rather new to craft beer, there are an abundance of apps for your smart phone that can get rather overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The good news is that the following beer apps can help you discover your own love of craft beers…

1. DrinkedIn (Free – for iPhone & Android)

Drinkedin is like a social networking app for beer lovers and the online designation for lovers of all things alcoholic. This app is a fun version of the professional network with the similar name, but this one features a detailed listing of pubs and liquor establishments worldwide, as well as reviews from real beer lovers from folks all around the world.

2. Beer Cloud (Free – for iPhone & Android)

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Choosing Wine By Vintage

Choosing Wine By Vintage

Choosing Wine By Vintage

 

Vintages – When You Need to Know

Once wine geeks have got to grips with all of the basics, one of the first sets of details that they embark upon learning are the differences between vintages for a given region. No two years in any wine region will be identical and, in the more marginal climates, a wonderful summer can be followed by a washout. These differences can have a marked influence on the quality of the harvest. For example, Burgundy followed a pretty lousy 2004 with the show-stopping 2005 vintage and the resulting wines are hugely different in both flavour and ageing potential.

Of course, it is not the case that vintages are vitally important everywhere. In many ‘stable’ (and invariably hotter) climates the conditions will be close to identical year on year and this can be seen in the similarity between each vintage of a producer’s wines. So, know your region and then know your vintages - especially if you plan on keeping that case of wine for twenty years!

You Say May, I Say November

It is interesting to note that a typical ‘wine year’ in the northern hemisphere will start in March and finish in November, just after the harvest, but it will be the opposite in the southern hemisphere with vine growth starting in September and finishing in May. This means that the vintage stated on a bottle in the northern hemisphere refers to the year in which both the harvest and vine growth happened; in the southern hemisphere, on the other hand, the vintage on the label is still the year of the harvest but much of the vine’s growing actually took place the year before.

The Weather isn’t Everything

A vintage’s characteristics will depend in majority on the weather conditions of that year. Was the summer unusually cold like 2007 in Bordeaux or scorching hot like 2003 in many parts of Europe? Did it rain much? What was the weather like during the critical stages of vine’s growth? These are some of the questions which need answering if you are to understand the quality of a vintage, but this information alone won’t be much help unless you relate them to a specific terroir and grape variety. For example, excessive rain will have less impact on a vineyard with gravel soil than one which is primarily clay. Similarly, Pinot Noir grapes have a thinner skin than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and are consequently more susceptible to disease and weather damage.

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Harvest-Time in Paso Robles

Harvest-Time in Paso Robles

Ever since Robert Parker named Paso Robles as the wine-growing region of California with the most potential to turn out great wines, the area has exploded with new wineries and tours. Fortunately, the wine-makers and denizens of the area have not yet taken their label as “The Next Napa” to heart. Paso (as the locals call it) remains unpretentious, unostentatious and completely committed to ensuring that their visitors not only enjoy a fantastic glass – or two – of wine, but also enjoy the atmosphere of their small town. Paso is the frat party of wine tasting and everyone's invited.

The best time to visit any wine-growing region is during the harvest, because the uninitiated can begin to understand the enveloping process that is required to craft a wine. Those winos who are already versed in the difficulties that winemakers face when creating wine know the fun of harvest-time and have probably already packed their empty wine cases in their cars' trunks. Paso is especially jubilant during harvest-time. This year, the Harvest Wine Weekend celebration will last from October 19 -21, which is when everything will be in full swing. Each vineyard's tasting room will not only have their full selection available, but they will also be conducting tours of the vineyard and demonstrating their wine-making process.

As visitors plan their weekend getaway to the Paso Robles area, the hotels and tours will become fuller, so it is essential to book ahead of time. Downtown Paso has a plethora of quaint bed and breakfasts and adorable inns above New World-style cafes to fulfill the romantic quotient of your trip. However, don't let this bucolic haven trick you, Paso also knows how to party. For instance, many of the wineries forego the staid, traditional tasting formula for something a little more... exotic. Take the Clauterie Winery, for example. Located on the eastern side of the 101 Freeway, this winery offers not only wine and cheese pairings; they also offer wine and wig pairings for the adventurous wine connoisseur. So, although their wine will not be challenging Chateau Lafite-Rothschild for a while yet, the vibe of the tasting room is completely unique – because most of the tasters look like cast-offs from RuPaul's Drag Race.

If Clauterie's wines are not quite up to snuff, never fear, because Paso is churning out some great selections that rival some of the best wines in the world. The new focus of this region is the varietals of France's Rhone Valley. However, Paso doesn't just attempt to recreate Chateauneauf-du-Pape – they conquer it. Paso's Rhone Valley blends are all dominating spice and ferocious fruit. Stop off at Zenaida Cellars to try their red blend and witness first-hand what can happen when Petite Sirah does Cabernet Sauvignon. Next, hit up Paso's staple vineyard, Justin Vineyard. When Justin's Isoceles blend was named one of the top ten wines of the world, the winemakers simply shrugged their shoulders and kept on churning out that delicious juice. Other highlights of Paso include Booker (for their Bordeaux-blend), Opolo (for the jammy, spicy Mountain Zinfandel) and Edward Sellers (for their unbelievable Syrah-based blends). All in all, Paso takes their wines seriously, but everything else is up for grabs.

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Whisky Infographics for Your Weekend

Whisky Infographics for Your Weekend
Whisky 101 information
whisky world day in numbers
international tartan day
US whiskey map

life of a cask
beer by the numbers

It's almost the weekend. With a week full of useless infographics hitting you daily, I thought I would share some useful infographics - after all, what's more useful than facts about whisky? (beers drinkers should check the end of this post as I threw one in for beer drinkers).

Many thanks to the people at DrinkedIn for posting these on Pinterest.

 

 

Let's start with the first one - entitled "Whisky 101" (or whiskey if you dare spell it that way)

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