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Choosing The Right Wine
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Wine And Beer

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When you compare the raw ingredients that go into wine and beer, you'll find that wine, on one hand, is made purely from grapes, water and yeast. Grapes are a fine source of sugars, fiber and chromium, but few of those things survive the fermentation and filtering process. Yeast has loads of complex B vitamins, but again, they do not appear in the final product due to filtering.

Beer, on the other hand, is made from grains, water and yeast. Grains commonly used are barley and wheat (with cheaper, mass-produced beers relying on corn and rice), both of which are loaded with a variety of vitamins that survive the fermentation and filtering process. And the vitamin value of the yeast is conserved in the hundreds of unfiltered beers that are on the market -- both on tap and in bottles.

Considering beer was first used as a homeopathic remedy back in the good old days of the Egyptian Pharaohs thousands of years ago, things haven't changed much. The only problem nowadays is the sad fact that several irresponsible people drink more than they should, and sobriety becomes a discarded word. Although I have listed the many good things about beer, there are also several negative aspects that I am obliged to caution you about: liver disease, obesity and alcoholism. Of course, these adverse reactions would not occur if beer were drunk in moderation. I, for one, am going to have a beer and think that over.

Wine is produced by the fermentation of fruit, typically grapes though a number of other fruits are also quite popular - such as plum, elderberry and blackcurrant. Non-grape wines are called fruit wine or country wine. Other products made from starch based materials, such as barley wine, rice wine, and sake, from other fermentable material such as honey (mead), or that are distilled, such as brandy, are not wines. Wine grapes mostly grow between the 30th and the 50th degree of latitude, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Grapes will sometimes grow beyond this range and minor amounts of wine are made in some very unexpected places (such as tropical Zimbabwe) but these are abberations.

Sherry is a fortified wine, made in Spain from three types of grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximnez, and Muscat (Moscatel). Sherry-style wines made in other countries often use other grape varieties. Sherry differs from other wines because of how it is treated after fermentation. It is first fortified with brandy and then if destined to be fino style a yeast called flor is allowed to grow on top. Oloroso style is fortified to a strength where the flor cannot grow. (In contrast, port wine is fortified to a higher percentage of alcohol than sherry, effectively preventing the growth of any yeast.)

When a six-pack of Bud Ice won't cut it, you need to bring wine, but how can you tell the good grape from the bad? There's so many wines to choose from and the last time you had anything opened with a cork was when you accidentally took communion. But don't worry. We've broken down tons of different wines so you'll know what to bring to any occasion. Hangovers sold separately. Class up your next party with stuff that doesn't come in cans. But don't go crazy—we still love those SPAM-and-jelly sandwiches.

When most people not named Pierre, Yves, or Frenchie walk into their local liquor store and peruse the wines, they don't know a bargain Burgundy from a budget Bordeaux. Until you get up into the fifty-dollar-a-bottle range, a wine’s vintage year just complicates matters. To choose a good wine, all you need to know is the grape.

Initially wine was distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make the wine easier for merchants to transport. It was also thought that wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was assessed by volume. The intent was to add the water removed by distillation back to the brandy shortly before consumption. It was discovered that after having been stored in wooden casks, the resulting product had improved over the original wine. There are three primary types of brandy. Grape brandy is the type that is meant if brandy is used by itself.

Go straight to the source

Want to imbibe your favorite beverage for nothing (or close to it)? Go straight to the source. The U.S. is littered with breweries, vineyards, and dis-tilleries that not only create delicious liquids but also let you sample them for free.
Deschutes Brewery Tour Bend, Oregon
The deal: Free tour and samples of beers like their flagship Black Butte Porter.
Sip tip: They only take 15 imbibers at a time, so beat the crowd.
Miller Brewery Tour Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The deal: Free tour with beer sampling for those over 21.
Sip tip: Knock back three free eight-ounce samples-just don't try to sneak more or security will toss you out while singing their slogan, "Great Beer, Great Responsibility."
Samuel Adams Brewery Tour Boston, Massachusetts
The deal: Free tour and beer sampling for those over 21.
Sip tip: Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are going on a Saturday, get there early. And thirsty. Check the Web site for hours.
Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn, New York
The deal: It's $8 for a weeknight tour of the place and samples of four of their tastiest treats. After the tour full pints go for $4 a piece.
Sip tip:
Don't behave the way we did (see photos below).
Dogfish Head Brewery Tour Milton, Delaware
The deal: Free tour and beer sampling for those over 21.
Sip tip: It's hipster a-go-go time at Dogfish Head, where almost every day is a carnival. Explore strange playthings like the Steampunk Treehouse or tour their Rehobeth Beach brewpub for food and live music on the weekends.
Bourbon Trail The great state of Kentucky
The deal: All these legendary distillers serve up brown glory gratis. 
Four Roses: Free sips of single-barrel, small-batch, and yellow label. 
Wild Turkey: Free tours with ladled out free booze. 
Woodford Reserve: Tour's $5, but you can skip the history lesson and walk in for a free --ounce tasting. 
Maker's Mark:
Free tours and tastings.
Jim Beam: Free distillery tour and tasting of two top-shelf samples. 
Heaven Hill Distilleries: Try the 10-year-old Evan Williams single-barrel (86.6 proof) and 18-year-old Elijah Craig single-barrel (90 proof) for free, or pay $25 for a behind-the-scenes warehouse tour.
Inwood Estate Vineyards Dallas, Texas
The deal: Pay $10 to taste five wines, $12 for eight.
Sip tip: Like everything else in Texas, the samples are big. You will get your money's worth. Yee-haw!
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour St. Louis, Missouri (also available in Fairfield, California; Fort Collins, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; and Merrimack, New Hampshire)
The deal: Free tour and beer sampling for those over 21. Sip tip: Sadly, they won't let you ride the Clydesdales at the home of Budweiser, but you can take their Beer-master Tour and get hammered as you drink right from the finishing tanks.
Coors Brewery Tour Golden, Colorado
The deal: Free tour with beer sampling for those over 21. 
Sip tip: Forget about tapping the Rockies; it's time to tap that keg. This Colorado-based sister company of Miller will get you happy. Turn the self-guided tour into a mad dash for the goods. Run through it, and waiting at the finish line are cold mugs of joy.
Balletto Santa Rosa, California
The deal: Five bucks for a sample of eight bottles.
Sip tip: The tasting room is lenient because of how small the winery is. Customers who buy a bottle get their fives back. Cheers to that!
Kendall-Jackson Wine Center Fulton, California
The deal: Free tasting for two with coupons (see kj.com). Otherwise it's $5 for a tasting of four wines, $15 for reserve.
Sip tip: The wine is delicious, but don't count on getting sauced at the tasting. Pour amount is described as "moderate." That pretentious wine dick from Sideways would not be pleased.

Grape brandies are arguably best drunk in a tulip shaped glass or a snifter, at cool room temperature. Often it is slightly warmed, by holding the glass in the cup of the palm or gently heating with a candle. However, heating it causes alcohol vapor to become very pungent so that the aromas are overpowered. Brandy, like whisky and red wine, exhibits more pleasant aromas and flavors at a lower temperature, e.g., 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit). In most homes, this would imply that the brandy should in fact rather be cooled for maximum enjoyment. Furthermore, alcohol (which makes up 40% of a typical brandy) becomes thin as it is heated, but more viscous when cooled leading to a fuller and smoother mouthfeel with less of a burning sensation. The European Union legally enforces Cognac as the exclusive name for brandy produced and distilled in the Cognac area of France, and Armagnac from the Gascony area of France, using traditional techniques.

The origins of brandy are unclear, and tied to the development of distillation. Concentrated alcoholic beverages were known in ancient Greece and Rome and may have a history going back to ancient Babylon. Brandy as it is known today first began to appear in the 12th century and became generally popular in the 14th century.

For many American consumers, wine was either “Burgundy” or “Chablis” before the renaissance that began in the 1960s. That is hard to credit today; and so, too, have we largely forgotten the fact that beer in the United States has also enjoyed a renaissance, perhaps even greater than that experienced by wine, and less commonly understood. “Pilsner,” the first golden beer, conquered the world so thoroughly that 50 years ago “modern” beer was a standard pilsner type in a can, a convenience product along with the sliced white bread and processed cheese. That’s all changed now.

The classic beer styles all originate from the northern part of central and Western Europe, but today those styles are brewed with skill around the world. All beers are brewed using a process based on a simple formula. Key to the process is malted grain, depending on the region traditionally barley, wheat or sometimes rye. Ale is the fastest growing beer category (thanks to thirsty swillers seeking hopped-up refreshment).

Pale Ale is amber-hued beer made from pale malts. It"-s at once fruity and slightly bitter, like your college roommate who liked to watch you sleep. Crisp, honey-hued brews with fruity flavors, these beers balance their hops with roasted malt flavors. They are best for all-day BBQs. There's Sierra Nevada Pale Ale it's not trying too hard and Burning River Pale Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Company).

India Pale Ale (IPA) is a pale ale with significantly more hops. This style was created out of necessity: Brits added extra hops to help preserve the beer during overseas trips to India. Double IPA is an even more hoppedup IPA. Easy, people! IPAs have a bolder flavor than regular pale ales, with effusive hops aromatics. They're good for sipping and with spicy dishes. It is best for tempering that scorching Indian or Thai dish you just ordered. There's Lagunitas IPA it has a quality hops flavor, but not over the top and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Despite its color, Brown Ale is is one of the sweetest ales. Made from chocolate and/or caramel malts. Yum-O. If well-balanced, brown ales can go great with the summer heat. They possess some caramelized flavors that meld nicely with steak, lamb, and burgers. It is best for a meat-tastic blowout. There's Goose Island Nut Brown Ale which is nutty in a good way, not an 'attic twin' nutty and Newcastle Brown. Ale.

Farmhouse Ale (a.k.a. Saison) is a bubbly, straw-hued, medieval-born Belgian pale ale that"-s sweet and low in alcohol. The original summer beer. The champagne of beers. (Sorry, Miller High Life.) They're golden-colored, dry, refreshing, and strong. They are best for washing down eggs benedict at a hangover-killing brunch. There's Duvel which is a delicious gulp of 8.5 percent alcohol, you can't feel your hands, but that's good and Saison Dupont.

Summer Ale was invented fairly recently by marketers, so flavors can vary. Still, most summer ales have a bold taste but are refreshing enough for all-day outdoor drinking. They are best for poolside party sessions. There's Samuel Adams Summer Ale it has a crisp flavor and light feel, it bites, but it hurts so good, and Goose Island Summertime Ale.

Belgian Wheat Ales are hazy, yeast-heavy ales that are easy on the palate. Skip the orange slice, as wheat ales are already lightly spiced with orange peel and coriander. They are best for a dinner of lobster, shrimp, and other tasty sea creatures. There's St. Bernardus Witbier and Ommegang Witte.

Imperial Stout uses dark, roasted malt. The flavor starts with coffee but finishes with tart blueberry. Pilsner is the world"-s first golden beer, pils is made with pale malt and noble hops, which have all the hop aroma but less bitterness. Tripel is a golden brew which has three times as many pale malts as an average ale. It was born out of the monasteries of Belgium. Praise Jesus!

Hefeweizen (Wheat Beer), wheat beers are crisp, smooth, and slightly tart. Note: Don"-t add an orange wedge. It makes you look like a girl, plus hints of citrus are already there. Dunkelweizen is Hefe"-s darker cousin, this wheat beer has hints of banana and toffee. Dessert! Oktoberfest, also known as MÃ-rzen, this red, sugary Bavarian beer is brewed with a mix of Vienna and Munich malts that give it a fruity nose and toffeelike flavor. And a hand job when it needs five bucks.

Sure, Portland, Oregon still produces great suds (Widmer, Hopworks)""and, yes, you P-town natives are so cool because you all can telemark ski""but the crown of Best Beer Town has been swiped from you guys and smuggled back east to the scrappy and beer-soaked City of Brotherly Love.

There are dozens of beer makers in and around Philadelphia that are crushing national and international taste-test contests like the Great American Beer Festival and Beer World Cup. Translation: Philly is producing big-flavored craft beers that are super drinkable. The notables: Victory, Iron Hill, Sly Fox, Stoudts, Nodding Head, and Triumph. Sit and spin, Portland!

This beer festival, Philly Beer Week, isn"-t some piddly two-tent deal. The early-June drunkfest is a true citywide brew blowout featuring free home-brew classes and, of course, millions of homegrown kegs to the head. A source, some toothless guy at the Philly bus station, tells that the teachers"- union had the school year shortened so they could booze up at Beer Week. The Constitution was hatched while dudes in wigs knocked back beer in Philadelphia taverns. It was America"-s first beer town. Ben Franklin said that, "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy."-

The popularity of Genesee Cream Ale Rochester, NY, like pubic Afros, peaked in the "-70s. Even 24-hour brewing couldn"-t keep it on shelves. Sales have since slowed, but it"-s still a favorite in Philadelphia and at Buffalo, NY"-s Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo wing.

In the "-60s, eight out of every 10 beers served in Rhode Island was a "-Gansett. But in "-81, the one-time official beer of the Red Sox fell under Pabst"-s control and was brewed limitedly out of Indiana. Today, Narragansett Providence, RI is back in the hands of Rhode Islanders.

Everyone knows about microbrews, and, with the exception of certain misconceptions involving raspberries, they're great. But not if you want to drink more than two, and certainly not if you're buying. For reasonable, dependable brews - especially if you're faced with the beer drinking responsibilities that accompany watching sports, playing poker, hanging out or doing almost anything else after 5 p.m. Mass-market beers are on-sale-everywhere, all unpretentious, all for regular guys.

Lyle Kula. Picking Grapes. . September 1997.

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