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The Beverage Alcohol Report
Vol 2.3 – March 2005

Home Grown Dessert Wines
Michigan’s wineries make some very tasty and noteworthy wines. But if I had to pick one vino category that the Great Lakes State does best, I would have to choose dessert wines. These include sweet wines, fortified wines and sparkling wines. The sweet wines are made from grapes left on the vine later than fall harvest. These grapes become concentrated with sugar and the longer they are left on the vine, the more sweet the wines. Late harvest and ice wine fall into these wines. Ice wine grapes are left until they are completely frozen. The wineries in the northern part of the State make some delicious late harvest choices and Chateau Chantal’s Riesling 2002 Ice Wine is also a great choice.  Serve it one ounce, chilled in a brandy snifter.

The fortified wines include Black Star Farms Sirius Pear Dessert Wine. It is made in a port-like style with pear brandy.  Impeccably Peach is another fortified fruit wine that comes from Fenn Valley Winery in the southwest. It is a peach wine with added peach brandy.  Great with vanilla ice cream and peach pie. And of course, St. Julian’s awarding-winning Solera Cream Sherry can stand up to any of Spain’s products.  The vanilla and nut tones are the perfect compliment to any pecan pie.

St. Julian also makes fruit-flavored sparkling wines that are tasty with pies. For fresh fruit desserts, try Fizz from L. Mawby’s winery.  This demi-sec sparkling wine will marry well with a bowl of strawberries and chocolate.

Michigan wouldn’t be Michigan without cherries and cherry wine.  Chateau Fontaine’s semi-sweet Cherry Wine is one of the better bottles out there.
For more information on wineries and the wines produced in Michigan, go to

What to Serve with Easter Dinner
Clos du Bois Pinot Noir 2001 - $18 - The fruity aromas, the silky smooth mouthfeel and the touch of spice in the finish in this California wine will go nicely with a roasted leg of lamb.

Castelvero Barbera 2003 - $10 - For those who like a heavier red, this Italian pick will do as it is light enough to serve with a ham but not too overpowering. 

Remy Pannier Vouvray 2003 - $10 - This Loire Valley favorite is medium bodied and full on the palate with flavors of pears, apples and melons. At 100% Chenin Blanc, this wine is a great choice with a roast turkey.

Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2002 - $15 - Serve this Alsace white if you are serving ham. The elegance and body will definitely hold up.

Santa Rita 120 Chardonnay 2004 - $7 - Although this Chard from Chile is a little on the tart side, it is still good for the price.

The Beer Aisle
Beer is a fermented beverage that uses grain as its sugar source where wine uses grapes.   The fermentation in beer is caused by one of two yeasts - bottom or top fermenting.  Bottom fermenting yeast is used in the production of lagers.  The yeast particles settle to the bottom of the tank and the beer results in a crisp clean taste. It takes about two weeks to ferment lagers.  Most of the popular brands here in the US are lagers - Budweiser, Miller, Coors and Molson. On the other hand, ales are fermented with top fermenting yeasts.  These yeasts take only a week to work and produce higher alcohol concentrations. Yeasts used for ales cannot ferment some of the sugars in the grains resulting in sweeter beers.   Here in the States, a “real ale” is hard to come by but there are several types of ale we enjoy (see below). All beers fall under either the category of either lager or ale.

Lagers -
Pilsners are golden in color and aged in wood barrels. It is the palest and lightest tasting of all lagers - Labatt’s Blue.

Ales -
Stouts use roasted barley to obtain their black color and sharp taste. They come in various sweetness levels and alcohol percentages. Guinness is a stout.

Porter is a heavy beer that is also made from roasted barley.  It has a less hoppy taste than ale but with a touch of sweetness. Kalamazoo’s Bell’s Brewery is a Porter.

Pale Ale has high alcohol content with a strong hoppy taste - think Bass Pale Ale.

India Pale Ale is a premium pale ale.  Alexander Keith’s is an IPA.

Brown Ale has chocolate and nut in the flavors.  Try Pete’s Wicked Ale or Newcastle.

Light beers are beers with fewer calories than the “regular” version. The look and feel of light beers often resemble pilsners as they are tend to watery tasting.

Draft or keg beer is any beer served in the “cask” it is conditioned (the term for aging beer) in. It is not filtered or pasteurized and thus has a fuller flavor but shorter shelf life than bottled beer.

Easter Appetizer - Baked Brie
 Try this Baked Brie recipe and serve with fruit chutney and a semi-dry Riesling.

2 - 4oz. packages of crescent roll dough
1 - 8oz. wheel of Brie Cheese
1 egg, beaten
Work the dough into a circle and  completely wrap it  around the cheese wheel.  Brush the dough with the beaten egg to help seal the wrap. Bake for 10 minutes at 375’.

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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