Any spirit labelled Tequila must be produced within Mexico. It is made from a plant called blue agave.
Fun fact: Out of 200 different Mexican species, Tequila must be made only from blue agave, which also must be grown in Mexico.
What is Pisco Sour
Throw together a fizzy something with a spirit, add a curl of lime and you got yourself a cocktail…. but you have cocktails, and then you have cocktails.
A perfectly balanced Lavender Pisco Sour, with Pisco Puro, organic lavender syrup, lime, egg white, lavender bitters… now that’s a cocktail! And it would do any bartender proud!
So what’s a Pisco?
Pisco is simply a grape brandy from Chile and Peru. And Pisco ‘Puro’ refers to a Pisco being made only from one grape variety rather than a blend.
And a Pisco Puro makes an amazing classic cocktail. But add a lavender twist and you got yourself a dream of a cocktail!
What is Vegan/Veg wine?
Although wine is made from grape juice, at times some wines are filtered using egg/milk or fish-derived products. If a wine is marked veg with the globally recognised green dot on the label, then it means that it hasn’t come in contact with any animal-derived product.
A wine that’s unfined & unfiltered is vegan. But if a wine is organic, it doesn’t guarantee it being vegan!
What is London dry gin?
Did you know that London dry gin doesn’t have to be made in London? It can be made anywhere in the world, because it actually refers to its production process & not where it is made!
Gin can be made anywhere in the world. By law, It’s a spirit that must be flavoured with juniper. But a lot of other botanicals could be added. Some of the common ones being coriander (dhania) seeds, citrus peel, etc.
What is distillation?
In spirits production, distillation simply means heating an alcoholic liquid to an extent where it is converted into vapours. These vapours are then condensed & collected as a new liquid. And voila! That’s known as the distilled spirit.
What is Port?
With the festive season approaching, you really must know what Port wine is, isn’t it? You’ll probably be adding it to your yummy Christmas cake!
Well Port is classified as a fortified wine, what this simply means is grape spirit is added to wine to increase its alcoholic strength. So the alcohol % would generally be around 17% to 20% abv. And yes, it must come from Portugal.
What is Sherry?
It is a white fortified wine from Spain. Yes, it’s white, not red or rose unlike most people believe it to be. And the sweetness level can differ so it can range from being very sweet to not sweet at all, based on which Sherry style it is!
What is cognac?
Cognac is distilled grape brandy which must be produced in the Cognac region in France. Yes, Cognac is the name of a French region, and must come from there. Whereas any spirit labelled grape brandy, can be produced anywhere in the world.
What is Riesling?
Riesling is the name of a white grape variety. Its home is Germany, but is also grown in many other parts of the world. Along with fruit aromas like apple, pear, or peach, you may also find some floral aromas too. It’s a very versatile grape, which can make wines ranging from being absolutely dry to lusciously sweet. The reason it is famously used to make sweet wines is because of its high natural acidity which helps to balance the sweetness in the wine. The way I usually explain this is, think about nimbu paani (lemon water), the acidity from the lemon juice balances the sugar added & hence it becomes such an enjoyable drink.
It’s the name of a black grape variety. Noir means black in french.
Red Wines made from this grape are generally dry, light bodied, low in tannins, have good acidity & resemble aromas of red fruits like s/b & cherries. Also reds from PN will not be blended with other grapes, it will be made only from PN coz the flavours of this grape are v subtle, & if u try to blend it with another grape variety, its aromas/flavs will be overpowered. It’s a very difficult & fussy grape to grow, & needs a lot of TLC from the grape grower & the winemaker & that’s the reason these wines are generally more expensive than most others.
Tequila vs agave spirits:
Blue agave grown in Mexico, is the name of a plant which is the raw material used to make tequila.
However for an agave spirit any of the hundreds of species of agave grown anywhere in the world may be used. And this will be labelled ‘agave spirit’ not tequila, since it’s not from Mexico and not made from the blue agave species.
Fun fact: Did you know most of the blue agave used to make tequila is grown around a town named tequila in mexico!
Wine vs Fortified wine:
A wine will have an alcoholic content between 8% to 15% on an average which is achieved as a result of fermentation. For eg. wines are commonly made from grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir.
A fortified wine will have an alcoholic content between 15 to 22% on an average and this is achieved by a combination of fermentation & grape spirit being added to the wine. Famous fortified wines would be port & sherry.
Liquor or liqueur:
Any alcoholic spirit which undergoes distillation can be classified under liquor. So for eg. whisky, vodka, rum, gin, tequila all fall under the category of liquor since they all undergo distillation.
Whereas liqueurs are sweetened, flavoured spirits. Some well known examples of liqueurs would be Baileys, Cointreau, Kahlua, Sambuca and Amaretto.
Ice wine or spelt eiswein in Germany, is a wine that is made from frozen grapes. So these are made in some of the coldest wine-producing countries like Canada, Germany, Austria. The grapes are allowed to freeze on the vine (on the grape plant) after which the grapes are harvested and pressed. Ice wines are very sweet & very expensive!
Old world wines vs new world wines:
Old world wines are produced in old-world wine countries or regions mainly in Europe like France, Italy, Spain, Germany. On old world wines you will notice that the wine label carries the name of a region rather than the name of a grape variety.
New world wines are produced in new world wine countries/regions outside Europe, like Australia, NZ, Chile, South Africa, India. Here the name of the grape variety will be clearly mentioned on the wine label.
When whisky is matured in casks, a small amount of whisky evaporates through the wood and into the atmosphere. Each year, roughly 2% of the liquid leaves the casks in Scotland, which amounts to more than a whopping 2 crores of casks/barrels. Guess what that’s equivalent to?! 44 Olympic-sized swimming pools of Scotch each year. So do you think angels claim their share for other spirits too?
When a spirit is ageing in a cask or a barrel, some amount gets absorbed by the barrel due to the porosity of the wood. This is known as the devil’s cut!
So I guess, if angel’s claim their share then the devil demands it too!
Tequila 100% Agave:
At times (but not always) you may see ‘Tequila 100% agave’ written on certain Tequila bottles/labels. This basically means that all the fermented sugars come from blue agave, & can’t come from any other source. Generally, these tequilas are more expensive than others.
Whereas if only ‘tequila’ is mentioned on the label, a minimum of 51% of fermentable sugars must come from blue agave, rest can come from a non agave source.
Rum Styles: White rum:
There are diff styles of rum. One of them is white rum
Which is clear & colourless & generally doesn’t spend any time in oak barrels. Most of these rums have a light to medium intensity. However, there are some exceptions wherein the rum is aged in oak barrels & then undergoes filtration to remove any colour.
Wondering which rum could this be – the world-famous Bacardi! Sometimes this rum style is called the ‘Latin American style’ because the 1st rum that set this style was created by Bacardi in Cuba.
With summer almost here, let’s find out what a rose wine means! starting with the basics – pronunciation is rose & not rose wine.
A rose is a wine which is pink in colour, it could range from just a touch of pink to a very deep dark magenta rose. The common misconception is all roses are sweet wines, but most are not. Many roses have no sweetness & are dry wines. However, roses are generally easy drinking & refreshing & hence such a huge hit during summer.
Be it a picnic or a Sunday brunch, rose is a great option!
Premium dark rums are likely to spend a much longer time in oak barrels than golden rums, thus gaining a darker colour from extended ageing. These are likely to be very smooth & complex with flavours of sweet spice & dried fruits.
Cheaper dark rums however get all their colour from caramel & will lack intensity & complexity
Gold rum which is aka amber rum gets its colour & flavour from spending a long time ageing in oak barrels. These rums are generally quite rich & intense. At times, caramel may be added for colour consistency.
VSOP vs XO Cognac:
VSOP stands for ‘Very Superior Old Pale” on a cognac label which signifies that the youngest brandy in the blend is at least 4 yrs old. Whereas XO stands for Extra Old where the youngest brandy in the blend is at least 10 years old!
Reposado vs Añejo:
A tequila aged for a min of 2 months in oak barrels is called ‘reposado’. Whereas a tequila aged for a min of 1 year in oak barrels is called ‘Anejo.’ Generally these tequilas are aged in used bourbon whisky barrels.
Can wine be made from other fruits?
Wine is a result of fermentation for which sugar & yeast are required. so it can be made from any fruit as fruits contain sugar. If yeast is added to the fruit juice & if it’s allowed to ferment, you get wine! If you go up north in Himachal, you’ll see fruit wines made from apples, pears, etc etc all over. However the name of the fruit must precede the word ‘wine’ on the label if it’s made from anything other than grapes!
Blend vs single varietal wine
A wine which is made from more than 1 grape variety is known as a blended wine. Regions like Bordeaux, Southern Rhone, Rioja make world famous wines that are blends.
Whereas wines made from 1 grape variety are known as varietal or single varietal wines. Old world regions like Rhone, Alsace, & many new world regions like Napa valley, Marlborough, Barossa valley produce very well known varietal wines.
What does ‘Eau-de-Vie’ mean?
Starting with the basics, pronunciation is eau de vie which is a French term that means water of life. Simply put it refers to a fruit brandy which is unaged & distilled. Well known examples of Eau de Vie are poire williams made from pears or kirsch (keersh) made from cherries.
A digestif is a beverage served at the end of a meal to aid in digestion, These beverages typically have a higher alcohol content, more sugar, and a more robust flavour profile than aperitifs. Common examples of digestifs include port, sherry, grappa, cognac, and limoncello. Digestifs are typically served at room temperature.
In addition, certain liqueurs such as Frangelico, Bénédictine, and Fernet-Branca are usually consumed only as digestifs often accompanied by dessert or offered separately.
Aperitif : Aperi-teef
An apéritif is a refreshing alcoholic drink that is typically served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Apéritifs are very common in Europe, particularly in France where it’s called aperitif and in Italy where it’s called ‘aperitivo’. Some well-known examples of aperitifs are Aperol Spritz, Negroni, Gin and Tonic, and dry still or sparkling wine, all of which are typically served chilled.
Armagnac vs Cognac:
Armagnac is a type of grape brandy that originates from the Armagnac region of France. Interestingly, the production of Armagnac permits the use of up to 10 grape varieties, while Cognac is limited to just 6, Additionally, while all Cognacs must undergo barrel ageing, Blanche Armagnac is unique in that it remains unaged. Also, while there is no vintage Cognac, vintage Armagnac is made from a single year of distillation.
What’s orange wine?
No, orange wine is not made from oranges. It’s a type of white wine made from white grapes so the term can be misleading. The grape juice is left in contact with the skins of white grapes during fermentation. The duration of skin contact can range from a few days to a few years!
This colour deepens over time due to oxygen contact, similar to how an apple slice turns brownish when exposed to air. The resulting wine is orange or amber in colour, partly due to exposure to oxygen. Wondering how oxygen affects this, same logic as a cut apple turns brownish when left outside for a while!
How does red wine get its colour?
A red wine gets its colour from the skin of the black grapes, so no artificial colours are added to make red wines. During the fermentation process, the grape skins are left in contact with the juice, allowing the colour to be extracted.
Can white wine be made from black grapes?
White wine can be made from both white & black grapes. It is possible to make white, red and a rose wine from black grapes. In contrast, white grapes are limited to producing white wine only.
Vodka – Did you know?
If a vodka is made from anything other than potatoes or cereal, then the raw materials used must be mentioned on the label. Hence when you see the bottle of Ciroc vodka, you see grapes mentioned on the label.
Coffee vs Coffey!
While coffee spelt with 2 ees is a drink made from roasted coffee beans, coffey with a y refers to a still that distilled spirits. A coffey still is commonly known as a column still and remember it doesn’t churn out cappuccinos.
Single Grain whisky!
Single grain whiskies are not limited to being produced solely from malted barley. They have the flexibility to incorporate other grains such as wheat, corn, or rye, regardless of whether they are malted or unmalted. Consequently, single grain whiskies often possess a lighter body and are characterised by sweeter flavours rather than smoky aromas. Single grain whiskies are distilled in column stills.
Whisky- 3 fun facts
- The word whisky means ‘water of life’ in the Gaelic language
- The shape of the still in which whisky is distilled, could indicate the flavour of the whisky.
- Before any whisky undergoes maturation in casks, it is completely colourless!
What does ‘Single’ in Single Malt Whisky mean/refer to?
The term ‘single’ on a Single Malt Whisky simply means that the whisky is the product of a single distillery.
“Super Tuscan” is the term used to describe Tuscany’s red wines that push the boundaries with the inclusion of non-indigenous grape varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, resulting in bold and unique expressions.
What is Barolo?
Barolo is the name of a red wine made from the black grape
It is produced in the Piedmont region of Italy.
Barolo is known as the King of wines & is one of the most famous wines of Italy.
What is GSM?
GSM stands for grenache, syrah & mourvedre -which is the name of 3 black grapes, popularly used together in many red wine blends. Ever tasted a GSM blend?
Why to swirl a wine glass?
As the majority of wine’s enjoyment stems from its aromas, gently swirling the wine can facilitate aeration, which may enhance the release of those aromas. Additionally, the introduction of oxygen through swirling can help dissipate undesired aromas, such as those caused by sulfites, which can resemble the scent of a burnt match or rotten eggs. By giving the wine a gentle swirl, these undesirable odours often tend to fade away.
3 Fun facts about Vodka
- The term “Vodka” comes from the Russian word Voda, which means “water.”
- Vodka can be distilled from any agricultural product with fermentable sugars, so grains like wheat, corn, rye among others. potatoes or even grapes.
- Vodka is gluten free & has no carbs. so if you’re on a keto diet, & wondering what your tipple should be, go ahead & pour yourself a guilt free vodka
Rum vs Rhum:
Wondering if it’s 2 different spirits or just 2 different ways to spell it? Well the ‘H’ here makes all the difference. Rum is a distilled spirit made from the by-products of sugarcane, most commonly molasses. Rhum which is the short form for rhum agricole must be distilled from fresh sugarcane juice. It’s usually produced in the French speaking Caribbean countries.
Islay: Why are most Islay whiskies peated?
Is pronounced as ‘-eye-la’ & 1 word aptly describes the predominant whisky style here: ‘peat’! Due to the abundance of peat bogs in the area, it continues to be the preferred and popular choice for fuel in malt barley production over coal. Some popular peated malts are Laphroaig, Lagavulin & Ardbeg.
17th April – World Malbec Day
Malbec is the name of a black grape variety. Although Malbec originated in France, it found a new home in Argentina, where it has been cultivated with great success. Malbec is known by several other names, including Côt, Auxerrois, and Pressac, depending on where it is grown.
and Malbec wines tend to have a deep purple colour. These wines are typically dry and medium-bodied, with moderate levels of tannins and acidity. Their fruity flavours can range from red to black fruits.
Seltzer vs Club Soda!
Seltzer is just plain water, carbonated with added carbon dioxide.
Club soda is also water that’s carbonated with carbon dioxide but has minerals added to it. Hence Seltzer tastes more neutral compared to club soda,
Which is why it’s common to find flavoured seltzers.
Origin of the word ‘peg’?
The word “peg” is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, where miners were given a small bottle of brandy to help them relax after a long, cold day of work. The miners eagerly awaited their small glass of brandy, which they began to refer to as their “precious evening glass.” Over time, this term evolved into the word “peg,” which is used in India until today. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Heads, hearts & tails!
No, I am not referring to a card game, but spirits. Did u know that every spirit when distilled is divided into 3 parts. Heads, hearts & tails. And it’s the heart that’s used to make the final spirit! Trust me, i’m not making this up/ may sound a bit nerdy/geeky but interesting right? Wine legs are the droplets of wine that form on the inside of a wine glass. Wines that are high in alcohol and sweet wines tend to have more visible wine legs. However, they are not an indication of wine quality. Other names for wine legs are wine tears or even church windows!
Ideal temperature to drink wine?
Most white & rose wines can be served between 7 to 12C, while reds between 12 to 18. Sparkling wines & sweet or dessert wines need to be served the coldest to enjoy them the most at around 7 to 12C.
Does wine go bad/expire?
Although wines don’t have an expiry date, they can taste stale/ become too old /go bad, if kept for too long, despite the bottle being unopened or sealed. the overall quality of the wine which largely depends on the quality of the grape & the storage conditions dictate how long a bottle of wine can be kept locked up! Most wines produced globally are meant to be drunk fresh & young within a year or 2. And if these wines are stored for too long, then the freshness & fruitiness of the wines is lost.
How long does an open wine bottle last?
Typically, white, red, and rose wines can remain drinkable for 2 to five days after opening, provided they are stored correctly. If there is wine left in the bottle, it’s essential to seal it tightly with the screw cap or cork. Storing the open bottle in the fridge, unless you have a wine chiller, can help preserve its freshness for a few extra days. By following these steps, you can prolong the life of your open wine and enjoy it to the fullest.
How/where to hold a wine glass?
Show them! Point out diff parts of the glass; bowl, stem, base. You can hold it either at the stem or at the base. This holds true for white, red, rose or even a sparkling wine. Holding the wine glass by the bowl will warm up the wine due to body temperature. So next time you are sipping on wine, remember holding it the right way!
How much wine to fill in a wine glass?
Pour and show! Pouring too much wine into your glass can make it challenging to swirl and release the wine’s aromas. Wine is meant to be savoured and sipped slowly, not gulped down or chugged like other beverages. Overfilling the glass can lead to the wine becoming warm, which can detract from the drinking experience towards the end. To fully enjoy your wine, pour it in moderation and allow enough room for swirling and sipping.
What does ‘reserve’ on a wine label mean?
In countries such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and India, the term “reserve” may be used as a marketing tool without any legal or definitive meaning. It could imply that it’s the best wine in the producer’s portfolio/ the wine is the producer’s finest offering, has undergone extra ageing, or is simply labelled as such to attract buyers. However, in countries like Italy (Riserva) or Spain (Reserva), the wine must undergo minimum ageing to qualify to use this term on their wine labels.
Have you ever tasted a wine labelled as “reserve”? Was it a genuine product or just a marketing ploy?
Do you watch Masterchef & go gaga over the food? Then you must have heard of the Barossa Valley, which is home to not just wonderful produce but to some spectacular wineries too…. And one of the most prominent of these is Penfolds.
Their wines are extraordinary and I was awestruck about how they came about! So here’s a glimpse of Penfolds’ background and history….
Penfolds is one of Australia’s oldest wineries & by 1907 it became South Australia’s largest.
Penfolds’ journey began way way back in 1844 when their fortified wines were made only for the founder, Dr. Christopher Penfolds’ patients, as he strongly believed in the medicinal benefits of wine. As demand for the wines increased, so did Dr. Penfold’s medical reputation, after which the running of the winery was left to Mary Penfold, his wife.
A lot of growth and innovation in the winery also happened with Max Schubert.
Max Schubert joined as a messenger boy; he grew to become the 1st Chief Winemaker of Penfolds. The very famous ‘Grange’ series was his baby, which wouldn’t be here today, if it wasn’t for his perseverance. Max was also the man behind Penfolds’ re-corking clinics. If your Penfolds wine is 15 years or older, they offer a free service of re-corking the wine.
In the 1960s, Penfolds started the tradition of the now famous ‘bin wines’, the name of which stems from ‘batch identification numbers’ which simply means the storage place of the wine in the cellar before being sold. Some bin wines became famous & today the nostalgia remains as a way of paying homage to the past.
The history of this iconic company is fascinating, & the wines even more so. As Penfolds rightly says: from “1844 to Evermore!”
Château Haut Brion
Château Haut-Brion. It’s a legend.
Situated on the Left Bank of Bordeaux in the Pessac Léognan commune, which is in the
Graves district, the iconic Château Haut-Brion estate is known to produce one of the most historic and legendary wines in the world… the Haut-Brion. It’s a Bordeaux from the Left Bank.
And of the five first growths or Premières Grand Crus Classés, (which in themselves are exclusive enough,) the Haut Brion is the only wine with the Pessac-Léognan appellation. It is the stuff of legends praised by British King Charles II, Thomas Jefferson among many others.
Unlike most of the Left Bank appellations which are famous for its reds, the Haut Brion is known for producing very high-quality whites as well. For the reds, it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon along with its famous blending partner Merlot, in addition to some Cabernet Franc. The whites are a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
A wine that has graced royal tables for hundreds of years, the Haut Brion is as classy & elegant as it gets.
Age of whisky
The age of a whisky is determined by the number of years it spends in oak casks. Also, the whisky gets its age based on the youngest whisky in the barrel. So for eg. If a whisky label says 15 yrs old, the youngest whisky is 15 yrs old, but it could also have whiskies which are 16, 17, or 20 yrs old too. Isn’t that fascinating?
What’s a punt? AKA Dimple or a Kick-up
Punts don’t contribute to the quality of wine but they could be helpful during wine service.
Punts for Champagne and sparkling wines are deeper because they strengthen the glass that needs to withstand high pressure.
A bottle with a punt is more expensive since it requires more glass. It is cheaper to produce a bottle without the punt. However, a punt is no indicator of the quality of the wine, but rather the winemaker’s visual preference.
A simple term that is viewed as being very complicated by many! It’s the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight which gives wine grapes their distinctive character. As a result of this, the wine has certain distinctive aromas or flavours which are associated with a specific region or vineyard. Let me simplify this even further, the oranges from Nagpur or the alphonso mangoes from Devgad have a very unique/distinctive taste & flavour from oranges or mangoes grown elsewhere & this is due to the terroir that they are grown in!