Posts tagged ‘wine’

Party Cup Ridges are Measurement Markings

By Chad Upton | Editor

Now that college is back in session, it’s time to learn something really useful. Party cups aren’t just for playing beer pong and flippy cups; some people use them exclusively for serving drinks. They’re great for cash bars and beer pong for the same reason: the ridges can be used to measure servings.

Starting at the top, the lines are as follows:

  • First Line: 16 oz / Pint (beer)
  • Second Line: 14 ounces (mixed drink fill line)
  • Third Line: 5 ounces (wine / ice fill line for soda / beer pong fill line)
  • Fourth Line: 1 ounce (liquor)

Most of these measurements are pretty common serving sizes for various types of alcohol. For example, 1 oz of 100 proof liquor has about the same alcohol as 5 oz of wine and each are considered “1 drink”. For beer, 10 – 12 ounces is considered 1 drink, but a pint is a typical serving size no less. (more…)

September 8, 2012 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Syrah and Shiraz are the Same Grape

By Chad Upton | Editor

There are thousands of grape varieties out there. You’ll find a couple of them in the grocery store and another fraction of them in wine making.

Casual wine drinkers might be able to name a couple dozen grape varieties used for wine, but two of the most common are actually the same grape: Syrah and Shiraz.

Why have two names for the same thing?

(more…)

November 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Boxed Wine Isn’t Necessarily Bad Wine

By Chad Upton | Editor

Some people subscribe to the idea that “no wine is bad wine,” and while I agree with the sentiment, I disagree with the statement. Thankfully, bad wine is easy to avoid and award wining wine can be cheap too, especially if it’s in a box.

If you’re not familiar with boxed wine, it consists of a plastic membrane (full of wine) with a spout for dispensing. The “bag” is placed in a cardboard box so it stays vertical for proper dispensing; this also gives it a smaller footprint on the shelf or in the fridge.

This is a near perfect container for wine. Since wine spoils with exposure to air, the self collapsing nature of this package preserves the wine much longer and more conveniently than a glass bottle and a typical air sucking accessory.

Although boxed wine should be popular with those who drink a lot of wine, it’s also ideal for those who don’t because it lasts for weeks after opening.

I admit, there is some romance to a glass bottle, but boxed wine is a practical solution for every day drinking. Every-day-drinking sounds bad, but I hope you know what I mean, frequent drinking. Actually, that sounds worse. Drinking heavily every night. OK, now I’m just having fun with you.

The point is: if you’re shy of boxed wine, you shouldn’t be. There are a number of brands worth considering and although you may not have heard of them, they all appeared on almost every “Best Boxed Wine” list I could find.

They are:

  • From the Tank
  • Three Thieves
  • Black Box
  • Bota Box

Decent boxed wine can be had for as little as $12. Some of these wines have ratings of 90+ points from popular wine reviews — an excellent rating, especially considering the price. Because a 3L box is equivalent to 4 bottles of wine, even a $30 box would be a bargain for good wine.

Although Kristen and I don’t drink a lot of wine, we have a tradition: Wine in a Box Wednesday (WIBW)! For us, it’s like a mid-week TGIF. No matter how busy our week is, we always take time to enjoy a glass of wine.

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PS – Thanks to Mike and Christina for re-introducing us to boxed wine!

Sources: Slate, NY TimesEpicurious, Oprah? Yes, Oprah. :)

February 16, 2011 at 1:20 am 5 comments

How to Taste Defective Wine

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you order wine at a fine restaurant, it can be expensive. So, you don’t want to pay big bucks for a bad bottle.

At some restaurants, the wine waiter or sommelier will usually pour a small sample and pass you the cork. Both of these gestures are done for the same reason, but not everyone knows what to do.

Basically, this is your chance to determine if the wine is faulty. It’s not a matter of whether you like it or not, it’s about if the wine has spoiled. It is estimated that 5% of wine is defective, so you’ll come across a bottle sooner or later.

There are a few things that can caused a wine to spoil before it’s opened.

  1. Oxidation
  2. Heat
  3. Sulfur Dioxide
  4. Cork Taint

Some people smell the cork, but the idea is actually to feel the cork, to ensure that it is moist all the way around the bottom (the end that was inside the bottle). The cork, or a synthetic material with similar properties, is meant to protect the wine by sealing it from outside air. Wine should be stored on its side, so the cork stays moist and doesn’t dry out. If it dries out, the air tight seal can be broken and the wine can be ruined. (more…)

December 6, 2010 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

White Wine also Stains Teeth

By Kaye Nemec

We’ve long been told that coffee, marinara sauce and red wine will leave our teeth stained and in need of whitening. Dentists have warned us about letting these foods sit on our teeth for too long without brushing. But, it turns out we also need to be cautious when drinking white wine if we want our pearly whites shiny and bright.

It’s not just the color of red wine that affects our teeth, it is also the acidic nature of wine that helps stain and darken our teeth. In fact, red wine and white wine are equally acidic. The acids erode tooth enamel, which is there to protect your teeth.

Because red wine contains dark pigments that will stain your teeth, you get a two-for-one deal when drinking it. Not only will the acid rough up the surface of your teeth, but it will also clear an immediate path for the red pigments to settle in and stain. White wine, on the other hand, will simply make way for stains and is more dangerous if paired with or consumed in a diet that also contains red sauce, coffee or cola.

Apparently, citrus drinks like orange and grapefruit juice, sodas and energy drinks also contain enough acid to have the same, damaging effect on the enamel of teeth. Because coffee, sodas, juices and energy drinks have become so popular, whitening agents and toothpastes have also increased dramatically in popularity over the last few years. It seems that dentists agree, it is OK to use a toothpaste with a whitening agent in it; however, it is recommended that you do not brush your teeth immediately after drinking wine. As mentioned above, the acid in the wine will weaken the enamel on your teeth. The weakening process will last about an hour so if you brush before that hour is up you risk brushing away bits and pieces of your weakened enamel causing further damage.

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Sources: ToothMingle.com, NPR, DentalHealth.org

Photo: Danielle Bauer (cc)

November 24, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Alcohol Does Not Completely Burn Off in Cooking

By Chad Upton

Whether you marinade steaks in beer or use Vanilla extract in your baking, you’re probably left with more alcohol in your food than you realize.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can infuse wonderful flavors. And yes, Vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Actually, it’s mandated by law in the US.

In many cultures, alcohol and food go hand in hand. Fancy wine bars pair meals or selected cheese and chocolate with wine.

Before modern cough medicines, Doctors prescribed a tablespoon of brandy to calm children’s coughs. Even some existing cough medicines, such as NyQuil, contain alcohol (except the childrens remedy). Monks have been known to brew and drink beer since the middle ages.

The USDA’s Nutrition Data Lab used gas-liquid chromatography to determine how much alcohol remained in food after various cooking scenarios.

Cooking Method Alcohol Remaining
Flambé 75%
Left Overnight (no heat) 70%
baked 25 mins (alcohol not stirred in) 45%
baked 15 mins (alcohol stirred in) 40%
baked 30 mins (alcohol stirred in) 35%
baked 60 mins (alcohol stirred in) 25%
baked 90 mins (alcohol stirred in) 20%
baked 120 mins (alcohol stirred in) 10%
baked 150 mins (alcohol stirred in) 5%

Even after 2.5 hours, 5% of the alcohol remains. I don’t think it’s anything to be too alarmed about. Grandma’s have been serving cookies laced with Vanilla extract to children for many years and most of us turned out just fine. That said, it’s still pretty surprising.

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Sources: Wikipedia, O Chef , Trappist Beer, NyQuil

Photo: 5volt (cc)

July 26, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

ID is Not Required to Buy Cooking Wine

By Chad Upton

The laws and store policies around the products that require ID and the ones that don’t, are sometimes confusing.

I was in Target a while back and bought a can of compressed air to clean my dusty laptop. I was surprised when they asked for ID at the checkout.

Apparently some people like to get high from the propellant in canned air. It’s unfortunate, these are not recreational drugs, these are asphyxiates that displace the oxygen in the air, reducing the oxygen that reaches your brain and eventually causes death. The solution is to require ID for purchase, although even a 42 year old man died from “huffing” canned air.

Even when you’re using these products as intended, you should avoid inhaling the fumes and ensure adequate ventilation.

I was at Target a few weeks later, looking for ramekins to make Crème brûlée. I also needed a butane blowtorch to caramelize the top of the custard. It turns out that you can buy butane torches and fuel without ID. Thinking back to my teenage years, a blowtorch would have been much more fun than a can of air.

But, cooking wine has the most interesting story.

It ranges from 10%-13% alcohol and anybody can buy cooking wine at the grocery store. They even sell it in grocery stores in “dry” areas, where no alcoholic drinks are sold. In fact, Safeway requires ID to buy cough syrup, but not for cooking wine. Some cough syrup, such as NyQuil, contains alcohol. Other cough and cold medications contain a drug known as Dextromethorphan, which is a dissociative psychedelic drug.

My friend Molly told me about this cooking wine loophole and gave me a sample of the product. If you’ve ever tasted cooking wine on it’s own, you’ll understand why anyone is allowed to buy it. Nobody would ever consume it on its own, it’s simply awful.

Wine that is sold as “cooking wine” is usually grape or rice wine. It is then adulterated with salt, which makes it less suitable for cooking and even more undrinkable. If you’re making a recipe that calls for wine, use wine that you’d actually drink and use a wine that pairs well with the food you’re cooking.

Cooking wine has a lot of salt for coloring and as a preservative. Because cooking wine is consumed very slowly, the salt prevents acedic acid from forming and turning it into wine vinegar.

Oh, and if you’re going to make Crème brûlée, my friend Mike showed me that you should skip the butane and go with propane — it has a wider flame that heats more evenly, which gives much better results and in less time.

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Sources: Wikipedia (Cooking Wine, Difluoroethane, Dextromethorphan), MSDS, Cooking Wine Without ID (1, 2), Dry Counties, NyQuil

Photo: anitasarkeesian (cc)

July 20, 2010 at 5:00 am 13 comments

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