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The Beverage Alcohol Report
Vol 2.10 – October 2005, Liana Bennett

The Land Down Under
Australia has a landmass that is larger than the United States with one of the most diverse climates. The array of soils and the long history of winemakers helps to make Australia one incredible wine producing country.

Australia’s vineyards are located in its hot zones.  Grapes are grown on the cool margins of the hot climate areas.  The country is broken into 103 geographical indications that include zones, regions and subregions.  Barossa Valley and Connawarra regions are, among others, found in South Australia.  New South Wales’ best-known region is Hunter Valley, while Victoria is home to the Yarra Valley.  Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland round out Australia’s states or wine zones. 

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation oversee the Geographical Indications with specific regulations for each region.  As a whole, the country follows the rule that 85% of the wine must be from the variety stated on the label and if there is more than one variety, then they must be listed in order of quantity.

Although Australia has no native varieties it is famous for its Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon; and rightfully so.  Time and time again, Australian winemakers produce these wines with skill and perfection.  These varietals become full, elegant, rich and ripe in the hands of an Aussie.  Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Merlot and Grenache are also widely grown and vinified throughout the continent.  Australian wines are made from single varietals with most of them being blends from more than one region.  Australian winemakers are also known as innovators with the different varietals they blend together.  Australia has a great range of quality wines that are sure to please any crowd.    

Crème vs Cream
Did you know that a crème liqueur has no cream in its ingredients?  Crème, in this insistence, does not mean milk, but refers to the syrupy consistency of the liquid.  These liqueurs have so much sugar added to the mix that the liquid becomes thick and creamy in texture.  That means, that these drinks are sweet.

The most common flavors in the crème category are cacao (chocolate), menthe (mint), banane (banana), cassis (black currant) and cerise (cherry).  Most of the crème liqueur products come in clear liquids and also a colored version.  For example, crème de menthe comes in clear and in green. There is no taste difference between the two, but one adds color to your drink or recipe.  Crème liqueurs run about 25% in alcohol. 

A cream liqueur is one that is made with a flavored base and dairy cream.  These are easy drinking liqueurs that can be served on their own, on the rocks, with milk or in coffee.  Unlike crème liqueurs, cream liqueur has a short shelf life and should be kept in the fridge after opening.  The product choice is limited but includes Baileys and Saint Brendan’s that use Irish Whiskey and Amarula that uses distilled marual fruit juice as its base.  From time to time, some liqueurs will come out with a cream version edition.  A couple of years ago, Grand Marnier had a special edition Grand Marnier Cream. 

Both crème and cream liqueurs can be wonderful in cocktails, with milk or other mixes (only crème liqueurs) or in cooking, especially baked goods like tortes or cookies.  I found a couple of recipes on the web for making your own Bailey’s Irish Cream.  I did not try any of them but from the looks of them I am choosing not to share them with you.  But, just for your information, it can be done and you are more than welcome to google such a recipe.

Be Thankful for These Wines
Just this past week I gave Gramma a call to find out what this year’s plans are for the family Thanksgiving dinner.  And although they aren’t set yet, it is time I begin to look for a selection of wines that will suit everyone’s tastes as well as compliment all the dishes from the turkey right down to the pumpkin pie and everything in between.  If you are in the same place, here are a few suggestions:

Graceland Cellars Chardonnay 2002
($10) - This California Chard is a medium bodied wine with floral tones and hints of citrus.  The label only is worth bringing the bottle.  They also have a Merlot (not a bad choice either), a Cab Sauv and a Sauv Blanc.

Finca La Linda Viognier ($10) - A great choice from Argentina that is medium bodied and slightly oaked.  Nice choice that is not a Chard.

Martin and Ray Angeline Chardonnay 2003 ($10) - A California selection that is creamy, honeyed and hinted with oak. 

St. Julian White ($8) - A serving suggestion for those who need something not too dry.  This Michigan wine is a  lighter Chardonnay.

La Chasse du Pape Cotes Du Rhone Prestige 2001
($9) - This deep purple wine is full of spice and red fruits.  Definitely lives up to the name “Prestige”.

Fire Station Red Shiraz 2002 ($15) - This wine is made from Shiraz, Carignane and Petite Syrah.  Round tannins, red berries and smooth finish. Yum. yum, yum.

Wente Syrah 2002 ($14) - Full bodied with soft tannins and plums.  Nice smooth, easy drinking.

Folie A Deux Menage a Trois 2004 ($10) - Touch of sweetness that is reminiscent of strawberries.  Will go well with those candied yams and cranberry sauce.

The Little Penguin White Shiraz
($8) - Australia Rose with a sweetness that is crisp and clean.  It looks absolutely pretty in the bottle too! 

The Morning After

We all agree that drinking in moderation is the responsible thing to do.  However, let’s be honest and admit that from time to time we have had one, two or even three too many.  For just a moment, put aside the fact you have no memory of singing, “Sweet Home Alabama”, at the Karaoke Bar, where your shoes are or how you got home.  The real problem at hand is the incredible headache, the nausea, the sensitivity to light and sound and the overall feeling like someone ran you over with a MAC truck. 

Hangovers are officially called veisalgia, meaning “uneasiness following debauchery” and “pain”.  Germans refer to it as a katzenjammer or “cat’s wailing” while the French call it gueule de bois or “wood mouth”.  Each is pretty much right on the money. 

A hangover is caused by primarily two things; the first is lack of water which causes dehydration and the second is a poisoning of the body from toxic acetaldehyde produced from the alcohol.  There are natural components in wine and other alcohol beverages that if drunk in large quantities will poison the body.  These are congeners and are found in higher amounts in darker drinks like red wine.  There is a rumor that lighter drinks like vodka contain less of these poisons, thus reducing the risk of hangovers.  (I am not convinced and anyone who been to an open bar at a cousin’s wedding can relate - think screwdrivers.)

There are as many so-called remedies for hangovers as there are cocktails but the best cure for hangovers is water, rest and time.  Vitamin B can also help to restore balance in the body.  One of the classic roadside cures for hangovers is the good old fashioned Bloody Mary.  One of the reasons for this is that the tomato juice is full of nutrients to help replenish those you have lost.  Prevention, like most other things in life, is the best option to avoid a hangover. That is drink moderately, drink water in between drinks and eat while drinking. But just in case you forget to do this, don’t make breakfast plans.

Wines in Michigan
If you have a long weekend head to one of Michigan’s 43 wineries to celebrate October Wine Month.  I am sure you will find much celebrating this year as the harvest reports are in and it looks like a stellar year.  Michigan was lucky enough to have one of the hottest summers on record.  This in turn helped our grapes to grow both in quantity and quality.  The grapes are ripe and full of sugar and flavor.  My guess - there won’t be one bad bottle of 2005 Michigan Wine. 

The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) is published on a monthly basis compliments of Liana Bennett. Its main purpose is to further the knowledge, appreciation and general enjoyment of all alcoholic beverages. Your comments, questions and tasting stories can be sent to [email protected]  Please feel free to share this e-newsletter with your friends or forward their email address to Liana to be added to the list. Thank you and of course, I hope you have enjoyed The BAR and have learned something new! -

Liana Bennett holds a Bachelors of Home Economics from the University of British Columbia and a Masters of Foodservice Management from Michigan State University.  She has worked in several capacities in the both the hospitality and beverage alcohol industries. Currently she is spending her time writing and teaching classes.  She now resides in Michigan with her husband, three children and their dog.



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