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The Beverage Alcohol Report
Vol 1.5 – September 2005

Oh Honey - It’s Mead!
September is National Honey Month and in celebration of this I encourage all of you to drink some mead. And mead of course, is honey wine. Mead has roots in almost all cultures throughout history from the Nordic folk to Greek myths, the Hindu gods as well as the Roman and British royalties.  One legend has it that mead fell from heaven in a dew-like substance and was collected by the honey bees from flowers.  It was considered sacred. Mead also tends to be associated with romance and victory and thus drunk on special occasions such as weddings, honeymoons and in September.

There is some debate as to whether mead is in the wine or the beer family. It has the alcohol content of wine but lacks tannins, water, acids, nutrients, etc. that come from grapes and need to be added to mead.

There are several versions of mead on the market.  The two most noted are the “traditional and the varietal honey”.  These are both made strictly from honey, either a blend or from one flower source. There are also meads which contain the addition of apples, grapes or other fruits and fruit juices.   You can also find a braggot or bracket with the addition of malt resulting in a mixture of mead and ale. This is more on the beer side.

River’s Edge Wine Cellar carries Chaucer’s Mead for about $12.

What Liana’s been tasting
Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Noir 2001; Michigan; $18 - Award-winning wine from Leelanau Peninsula and worth the $18.  The subtle oak and classic flavors of this Pinot Noir makes it a great choice with everything from fish to stews

Ricasoli 1141 Chianti Classico 2000; Tuscany Italy; :$15 - Although pleasant, this wine does need food to help it bring out its full potential.  Great with hearty foods, grilled or roasted meats.

Lacryma Christi Rosso ; Campania, Italy; $24 - One of my classic favorites. This red wine is intense with ruby color and red berry aromas and flavors. Although yummy, maybe not worth $24 but still a good buy.

Palandri Shiraz 2001; Western Australia; $17 - Aged in American Oak, this red has wonderfully soft tannins that round the vanilla, blackberry and spicy peppers to create a complex wine.  A superb selection!

J-Bird’s Easy Veal Parmesan
Every man has his special dish that he makes to impress the lady in his life.  My husband, Jonathon, or more affectionately the J-Bird, impressed me a few years ago with this simple version of veal Parmesan.   It is quick and easy but nonetheless tasty and remains one of our favorite staples.

1  package of 4 breaded veal cutlets
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1  8 0z package of mozzarella cheese
Olive oil

Fry the cutlets in olive oil until slightly brown.
Arrange in baking dish and cover with grated mozzarella cheese.  Pour over entire jar of spaghetti sauce (we like a cheesy version).  Bake at 350’ for 30 minutes. Serve with salad, garlic bread and of course Chianti. 

What’s on the Label?
Winery - who made the wine
Wine Name - given by Winery or Region
Variety - type of grape (s) used
Vintage - year of harvest
Alcohol percentage - how much is contained
Place of Origin - where grapes were grown and/or wine was made; could be appellation, region or more specific location
Import Company - if imported
Contact Information - of winery, import company
Misc. info - bottling date, vineyard characteristics, winemaking techniques, winemaker’s notes, food pairing suggestions
Logos or gimmicks - Winery or series specific, collector’s label of art or style of bottle

Look - The Sense of Sight
I believe that when we taste or more fittingly, drink wine, we use all of our senses.  The first sense that we use is that of our sight. At birth, this is the least developed of all the senses but by 8 months of age, our sight is equivalent to that of an adult.  Looking at the wine takes on a couple of different issues.  First we look at the label – to verify that is what we want to be drinking. Next, we examine the cork for damage, mold or bottling information. The wine itself is looked at with a great eye – looking for clarity of the product and the presence of particles such as crystals or dust. These can indicate how well the wine was fined and filtered. Psychologically, the color and overall look of the wine will be an indicator of what you can expect – or at least should be. If we see deep red almost purple we think the wine will be full or if the wine looks almost white and watery, we will tend to assume it will be bland. For the true connoisseur, the color could indicate the age or variety.  The next time couple of times you open a bottle of wine, take some time to truly look at the wine and see what you notice.  Take note of what you see and how it affects the taste. Remember to use clear glasses and a neutral backdrop.

October issue – sense of smell.

The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) is published on a monthly basis compliments of Liana Bennett.  It 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! 



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