Japanese Whisky: General Knowledge

Whisky production in Japan began around 1870, but the first commercial production was in 1924 upon the opening of the country’s first distilleryYamazaki. Broadly speaking the style of Japanese whisky is more similar to that of Scotch whisky than IrishAmerican, or Canadian styles of whiskey, and thus the spelling typically follows the Scottish convention (omitting the letter “e”).

There are several companies producing whisky in Japan. Perhaps the two most well known are Suntory and Nikka. Both of these produce blended as well as single malt whiskies.

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Tasting Notes for the Current Wines by the Glass 4/11/13

Thanks to Cathy for putting this together for us!


Drusian, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene N.V., Italy     $11

Extra Dry Prosecco opens with frothy cream and floral tones of jasmine and honeysuckle. It tastes lively and fresh in the mouth thanks to its well-integrated acidity and its piquant effervescence.

Extra Dry, granny Smith apple and white flowers that turn creamy on the mid-palate and finish crisp and clean.

Scharffenberger Brut Rose, Anderson Valley 2009    $14

Sleek, with pinpoint focus, this offers raspberry and butter cookie aromas, with crisp, elegant citrus and cherry flavors marked by ginger and spice.”

Crisp, elegant citrus and cherry flavors marked by ginger and spice

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut Napa Valley     $22

Made from 100% Chardonnay rich, clean and elegant

A profile of green apple and tropical fruits are rounded out by flavors of brioche and stone fruit. Creamy minerality and mouthwatering acid drive the finish.

“The Davies family has long had a particular fondness for its Blanc de Blancs, ever since Nixon brought it to China in 1972 at the historic “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, China.

Blanc de Blancs (white from white) made from Chardonnay is the counterpart to the Blanc de Noirs (white from black), made from Pinot Noir. Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs gained international recognition in 1972 when then President Nixon served the wine

While this wine can be enjoyed by itself as an apéritif, it is also perfect with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes, ceviche and grilled sea bass. It is also delicious with lemon chicken and Thai curries. Serve with aged Gouda or other hard cheeses and as a counterpoint to soft triple creams.

Flavors of brioche and stone fruit, creamy minerality and mouthwatering acid drive the finish

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne  $25

Brut Premier is the embodiment of Louis Roederer style, combining all the fruitiness and freshness of youth with the vinosity of a fully mature wine. This is a structured and elegantly mature wine, with a lively attack and a smooth palate.

Grape: 56% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier, including 10% of reserve wines from three former harvests, aged in oak casks for 2-6 years.
Tasting notes: a golden colour with fine bubbles and a nose of fresh fruit and hawthorn. Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds. A pleasurable wine, deliciously smooth and mature

Choice of food: Brut Premier is excellent as an aperitif but also readily accompanies light entrées based on fish or shellfish.

Smooth, complex palate mingling flavours of white-fleshed fruit (apple and pear) with red berries (blackberries, raspberries, cherries) and notes of toast and almonds.

Niepoort Docil Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2011, Portugal    $9

Pale straw, fresh, ripe nose of peach, apricot and a hint of fresh herb

Bright and minerally in the mouth – flavors of ripe apple, lemon zest and ripe peach – as odd as that amalgam might seem. Really acid-driven and yet has a textural sweetness too.

Grape: Loureiro Portuguese white variety. Vinho Verde is produced from grapes which do not reach great doses of sugar. Vinho Verde does not require an aging process. Vinho Verde wines are now largely exported, and are the most exported Portuguese wines after the Port Wine.

Bright and minerally in the mouth – flavors of ripe apple, lemon zest and ripe peach. Acid-driven and yet has a textural sweetness too

Marisa Cuomo, Furore Bianco, Campania 2011, Italy $15

Hand-picked grapes are gently pressed and a cold maceration is used to obtain the finest fragrance of the fruit. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place in stainless steel for about 20/30 days.

Aging: 4 months in stainless steel

Tasting Notes: Bouquet: delicate, fruity nose, unmistakable perfumes of the Mediterranean coast

Taste: broad and balanced with light acidity that supports the freshness of the aromas

Grape: 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella

Falanghina is an ancient Italian white wine grape.

Costa D’Amalfi Furore Bianco DOC 2010 is a broad and balanced white wine with a slight dominance of acidic note in support of the freshness of the aromas. It’s ideal served with seafood pasta.

The grapes are harvested manually, arrive intact in the winery, and after de-stemming and crushing are subjected to pressing. The juice is fermented at a controlled temperature for about 20 days.

Tasting Notes: Intense yellow color, aroma of fruit and especially citrus fruits. The flavor is complex and balanced with a slight predominance of freshness.

Complex, balanced, citrus fruits with a slight acidity

Domaine du Margalleau Vouvray Sec Vouvray, France 2011  $13

The Domaine du Margalleau 2011 sec has a beautiful perfume of honey and fresh, juicy lemon which lifts from the glass. The palate is rich, fresh, textured and has concentrated lemon and honey flavors with a stony edge. The finish is very long and perfumed.

Vouvray is a region in the Loire valley not far from Tours. This region is famous for it’s Chenin Blanc wines

Grape: Chenin Blanc

Palate is rich, fresh, textured and has concentrated lemon and honey flavors with a stony edge. The finish is very long and perfumed.

Craggy Range Te Muna Vineyard Martinborough 2011   $15

Our single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc wines provide a fascinating insight into these site derived differences. From Te Muna Road in Martinborough, the unique limestone soils produce wines that show a distinctive fine soft chalky texture and great elegance.

And in Marlborough, our Avery Vineyard yields grapes with great complexity in the lime, citrus blossom and passion fruit spectrum rather than the distinctive herbaceous and grapefruit notes typical of many Marlborough wines.

This smooth, silky white delivers pretty Key lime, Meyer lemon, passion fruit and melon notes that are elegant, balanced and delightfully tangy. all leading to the juicy finish. Grape: Sauvignon Blanc

Smooth, silky white delivers pretty Key lime, Meyer lemon, passion fruit and melon notes that are elegant, balanced and delightfully tangy

J.J. Christoffel, Riesling, Ürziger Würtzgarten, Kabinett Feinherb Mosel, Germany         2011 $15

How’s that for a tongue twister? Phonetically it’s ERTS-ih-ger VERTS-gar-ten.

Ripe sweet peach and crisp pear. Mineral backbone. Very flavorful, well balanced and not too sweet.

Ripe sweet peach and crisp pear. Nice mineral backbone and well balanced.

Grape: Riesling

Merryvale Chardonnay Carneros, 2010 (Oaky, buttery)     $18

Tasting Notes: Our 2010 Chardonnay Carneros displays expressive aromas of pear, papaya, citrus, nectarine, pineapple, toasty oak and spice.

The wine is medium weight with a round fleshy texture and a crisp sweet finish.

Production Notes: Hand sorted, whole-cluster pressed; 100% barrel fermented; with native yeast and malolactic fermentation; Barrel fermented and aged 11 months in French Oak (43% new)

Aromas: mineral/wet stone, tangerine, orange blossom, mango, papaya, fresh pineapple, baked apple and pear, vanilla

Great fruit concentration with tropical and hazelnut notes, lively acidity, crisp sweet refreshing long finish.

By the Sea, Monterey County, 2010    $20

Aging: 9 months in French Oak. 20% New

On the nose, tropical notes, hints of spearmint, white peach, and lychee.

On the palate ripened white peach, green apple, mango, and melon with a mineral accent on the finish.

2010 Chanin Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley             $24

ELEGANT: Vibrant, Citrus, Honey, Sea Salt

Chanin Wine Co. is dedicated to crafting wines from Santa Barbara County that reflect the individual vineyard in which they are grown — with a focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Gavin Chanin, who was named one of FORBES’ “30 under 30” in food and wine and a “winemaker to watch” by SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, began his winemaking career as a harvest intern at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, under the tutelage of winemakers Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist, working his way up to assistant winemaker at both labels.

The Bien Nacido Vineyard is one of the best in California and Chanin’s Chardonnay comes from vines dating back to the original 1973 plantings.  These old vines give the wine a unique mineral and nutty note. We were blown away by these wines from the Pursuit of Balance tasting in NYC.

The nose is dominated by classic chardonnay characteristics of citrus, very present stone fruit, honey blossom, and lemon rind. On the palate the fruit is reminiscent of citrus, baking spice, toasted almonds and ripe green apple.  This wine was aged for 16 months in barrel, giving it texture and natural richness. I use this traditional technique to make a lush and generous wine while keeping a high acidity and low alcohol. This makes it enjoyable on its own but also very food friendly.

The finish is long, and with intense minerality and refreshing acidity.

 Grape: Chardonnay

On the palate the fruit is reminiscent of citrus, baking spice, toasted almonds and ripe green apple.  Long finish with a refreshing acidity.


Domaine Charles Audoin, Marsannay, 2011                                    $13

Style: Rose

Grape Type: Pinot Noir

Origin: France

Region: Burgundy

Appellation: Cote de Nuits

Musky cherry and floral aromas, with notes of anise and candied orange in the background.  Fleshy and a touch warm, offering pungent red fruit flavors and showing an open-knit character.  Closes with good punch and breadth and a hint of smokiness.

Pungent red fruit flavors, balanced with a hint of smokiness.

Red Wine

Potel-Aviron Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes, France  2010    $15

91 points Wine Spectator

Well-knit, with a core of mineral and spice, and notes of blackberry, grilled plum, tar, dried floral and herb. Fine-grained tannins show on the fresh, fine-grained tannins graphite-tinged finish.

Grape: Gamay grape is largely confined to Beaujolais

Mineral and spice, and notes of blackberry, grilled plum, tar, dried floral and herb

Oakwild Ranch Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley 2010               $17

An inviting Pinot that opens with aromas of cinnamon, cloves and wild cherry. The delicate balance of red cherry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a bright acidity create a wine that is both complex and pleasantly smooth.

Grape: Pinot Noir

Delicate balance of red cherry and plum flavors, soft tannins and a bright acidity

Domaine Michel Sarrazin, La Perrière Mercurey, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise 2010                    $23

A stunning, lush and very tempting Burgundy with plenty of character and charm. Long, sweet and lush, with good spice and body.

Grape: Pinot Noir

Long, sweet and lush, with good spice and body.

Domaine la Millière Tres Vieilles Vignes Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2011 Châteauneuf du Pape                          $13

It exhibits a dark ruby/purple color as well as a surprisingly supple style, full body, and pure cassis and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of Provencal herbs/garrigue, lavender and dusty, loamy soil note

Grape: 90% very-old-vine Grenache, 5% Syrah and 5% Cinsault; 100% tank-made.

Full body, and pure cassis and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of Provencal herbs

Keenan Winery, Merlot, Napa Valley 2009     $17

Keenan has purchased Merlot grapes from the Napa Carneros district for many years. The “Carneros” is the southern region of Napa closest to the San Pablo Bay and is known for producing high quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Merlot grown in the Carneros tends to be very fruity and soft with distinctive spicy nuances.

Keenan began purchasing Merlot from the Carneros to blend with the estate Merlot grown on Spring Mountain. The two wines are a great match; the Carneros Merlot softens the dense, powerful wines produced from the estate grown fruit. But, in 1999 we were so happy with the quality and distinctiveness of our Carneros Merlot, we decided to bottle a small amount on its own. We continue to bottle a few hundred cases of Carneros Merlot most years.

The 2009 Carneros Merlot shows jammy blackberry and raspberry aromas. Nuances of spice and cocoa emerge as the wine opens up. Silky mouth-feel and well-balanced structure allow it to show wonderfully with a variety of well seasoned dishes.

Big Merlot. Dark, plummy, with a silky mouth-feel, well balanced and structured

Lang & Reed 2010 Cabernet Franc North Coast, Saint Helena, CA   $15

The 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc has a bright, clear violet blue color. The aromas display firm red berry, gentle lavender and licorice overtones. The palate provides a supple counter to the bright aromas yet shows a slightly huskier structure than most recent past vintages. firm tannins

Palate provides a supple counter to the bright aromas of red berry, gentle lavender and licorice, yet shows a slightly huskier structure than most recent past vintages. firm tannins

2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles     $18

The JUSTIN Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles in California is a delicious cabernet with a nice, rounded finish.

It is smooth and supple, making this an excellent cabernet wine to pair with food.

The Paso Robles region is land locked, creating a hot climate suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon.

The JUSTIN cabernet has loads of ripe black and red fruits on both the nose and the palate. I love the hints of vanilla on the nose and the kick of herbs and spices on the finish. There is a nice balance of acidity and structure, making this is an easy drinking cabernet. It is a perfect wine for a nice dinner at home or for your spring and summer time barbecues.

The JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with the following foods:

~ Juicy Hamburger ~ Stews ~ Braised Meats ~ Grilled Steak ~Roasted Eggplant
~ Barbecue Ribs

Tasting Notes

Aroma:Bold black fruit – cassis nose, sweet vanilla note from American oak

Palate: Dry and mouth filling, raspberry and blackberry flavors. Plush, round and dense, with modest tannins and a long, generous finish

2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine, Napa Valley                                    $12

Winemaker Notes: If there is any wine of the 2011 releases that accurately demonstrates the poised, claret-like, character of the 2011 vintage it is the 2011 Sonoma Valley Old-Vine.

The late ripening Stellwagen Vineyard once again was included into this cuvee to lend its dark fruit, and Casa Santinamaria, another vineyard originally slated for vineyard designation, was included for its beautiful spice. The remainder of the wine is composed of Zinfandel from the terraced Los Chamizal Vineyard, some younger vine fruit from Rossi Ranch in Kenwood, a few barrels of Monte Rosso Zinfandel, and a dollop of old-vine Carignane and Mourvedre from my Bedrock Vineyard. This is old-school Zin- bright, focused, and energetic. Like previous releases of this wine, I would expect it will reward a year or so of short-term aging.

Black cherries and some earthiness on the nose. Bright red fruit on the palate, finishes crisply

Sake: General Knowledge


This article is about the beverage. For other uses, see Sake (disambiguation).

Sake (/ˈsɑːk/ or /ˈsɑːki/)[1][2] is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin that is made from fermented rice. It may also be spelled saké.

In the Japanese language, the word sake refers to Japanese liquor, while the beverage called sake in English is termed nihonshu (日本酒, “Japanese liquor”).

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Beer: General Knowledge


This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For other uses, see Beer (disambiguation).
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  Schlenkerla Rauchbier being poured from a cask

Beer is an alcoholic beverage produced by the saccharification of starch and fermentation of the resulting sugar. The starch and saccharification enzymes are often derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat.[1] Most beer is also flavoured with hops, which add bitterness and act as a natural preservative, though other flavourings such as herbs or fruit may occasionally be included. The preparation of beer is called brewing.

Beer is the world’s most widely consumed[2] alcoholic beverage; it is the third-most popular drink overall, after water and tea.[3] It is thought by some to be the oldest fermented beverage.[4][5][6][7]

Some of humanity’s earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer: the Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating beer and beer parlours,[8] and “The Hymn to Ninkasi“, a prayer to the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, served as both a prayer and as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people.[9][10] Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.

The strength of beer is usually around 4% to 6% alcohol by volume (abv) although it may vary between 0.5% (de-alcoholized) and 20%, with some breweries creating examples of 40% abv and above in recent years.

Beer forms part of the culture of beer-drinking nations and is associated with social traditions such as beer festivals, as well as a rich pub culture involving activities like pub crawling and pub games such as bar billiards.

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Mezcal: General Knowledge


  Various views of a bottle of mezcal. The worm can be seen in the middle image, at the bottom of the bottle.

Mezcal, or mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agaveAgave americana) native to Mexico. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli[meʃ’kalːi] metl [met͡ɬ] and ixcalli [iʃ’kalːi] which means “oven-cooked agave”.[1]

The maguey grows in many parts of Mexico, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca.[2] There is a saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink: “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” (“for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well”).[3][4]

It is unclear whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest.[5] The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, also made from the maguey plant. Soon the conquistadors began experimenting with the maguey plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal.[6]

Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the maguey plant, called the “piña”, much the same way it was 200 years ago, in most places.[3][7] In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight and has a strong smoky flavor.[7] Though mezcal is not as popular as tequila (a mezcal made specifically from the blue agave in select regions of the country), Mexico does export the product, mostly to Japan and the United States, and exports are growing.[8]

Despite the similar name, mezcal does not contain mescaline or other psychedelic substances.[9]

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Tequila: General Knowledge


This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For other uses, see Tequila (disambiguation).
  Tequilas of various styles

Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: [teˈkila]) is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 kilometres (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

The blue volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year.[1] Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.[2]

Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of GuanajuatoMichoacánNayarit, and Tamaulipas.[3] Mexico is granted international right to the word “tequila”.[citation needed] The United States officially recognizes that spirits called “tequila” can only be produced in Mexico, although by agreement bulk amounts can be shipped to be bottled in the U.S.[4]

Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but can be produced between 31–55% alcohol content (62–110 proof).[5]

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Gin: General Knowledge


This article is about the alcoholic beverage.For other uses, see Gin (disambiguation).
  A selection of bottled gins offered at a liquor store

Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest beginnings in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved over the course of a millennium from a herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Today, the gin category is one of the most popular and widely distributed range of spirits, and is represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.[1][2]

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