Wine in France, Beer in England, and Whisky in Scotland… The Studies of a Devolping Alcoholic?

That is just a joke in the title, though I don’t mean to make light of a crippling disease, but I do have a curious affinity for alcoholic beverages. And after that last post, I could really use a drink.

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O Château, in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Very slick wine bar, most notably of the company owned by Olivier Magny, whose book “Into Wine” is essential reading for wine novices and even established lovers (for the purposes of reaffirmation).
The Mont Brouilly of Beaujolais, one of the few regions of  Gamay (a grape varietal). Delicious light bodied stuff, low in tannins, plenty of subtle notes of spices, dark berries, flowers like lilacs/violets, and stone/chalk
The Mont Brouilly of Beaujolais, one of the few regions of Gamay (a grape varietal). Delicious light bodied stuff, low in tannins, plenty of subtle notes of spices, dark berries, flowers like lilacs/violets, and stone/chalk

It’s one of the ways I introduce myself. Hi, my name’s Abigail, you will soon find out that I have a more than casual interest in alcohol. Now, I must make a distinction: it’s perfectly plausible and acceptable to prefer to taste versus drink, or to taste more often than one drinks. My interest stems simply from enjoying the sensory experience and the challenge it presents: trying to identify recognizable scents and flavors, assessing the texture, the acidity or sweetness, attempting to form a catalog of scents, tastes, and similarities between different types of drinks. I approach every glass of wine, spirit, or beer with a sense of excitable curiosity.

Crate Brewery: a very cool place. Located in Hackney Wick (London), in an industrial complex, right on a canal, that serves fresh pizza with their fresh, house-made beer... very enjoyable atmosphere, would be a great place to go with a large group.
Crate Brewery: a very cool place. Located in Hackney Wick (London), in an industrial complex, right on a canal, that serves fresh, stone-baked pizza with their fresh, house-made beer… very enjoyable atmosphere, would be a great place to go with a large group.

It’s about engaging a little bit deeper with something that can be, usually is, consumed without much consideration. It’s a cool thing us humans have created, and I like to treat it as such, rather than as a means to cognitive abandon.

3384 bottles of whiskey accumulated by Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz, now residing in Edinburgh at the Scotch Whisky Experience
3384 bottles of whiskey accumulated by Brazilian businessman Claive Vidiz, now residing in Edinburgh at the Scotch Whisky Experience
228L bottle of Famous Grouse blended whisky, we were assured that it's not just colored water ;)
228L bottle of Famous Grouse blended whisky, we were assured that it’s not just colored water 😉

I have the most comprehensive knowledge of wine, but I am hardly discriminatory. So here’s a list of some online and published resources, and some recommendations of what’s worth trying in the market today:

Column to refer to for recommendations and beer info

Blog for wine news, basic info, & tasting notes

Beer Bible, the food pairing version

Introductory wine book

Oxford Companions to Wine & Beer (Spirits is to be composed?)

Stylish blog for mixed drinks, this girl’s totally crashing the Boy’s Club!

Don’t really have any resources for spirits… I basically browse the shelves for new bottles and order those straight at the bar. That way I can figure out what they’re like without having to commit to a $40+ bottle.

Baxter Pamola Xtra Pale Ale – Portland, ME

The beer industry’s weird, I get that the market trend, across all industries, is to release products a bit before their designated season, but it’s just plain wrong to crack open pumpkin beers, autumn ales, and oktoberfests in early August. Even as we hit September, it’s still an average of 80 degrees F outside I want nothing to do with spiced things and dark brews. This pale ale is the welcomed relief, it’s cool/crisp/light, and is capable of refreshing in the lingering hot and sticky weather.

Foolproof Backyahd – Pawtucket, RI

Here’s a completely approachable IPA (India Pale Ale). The most predominant feature of IPA’s is the hop concentration. I personally have a low tolerance for their flavor, which is why I like the Backyahd it’s all subtle and balanced.

Caol Ila (Single Malt Scotch Whisky)

My journey with single malt Scotch whisky has just started and I would like it to be known that it was Caol Ila’s 12 year that sent me down that long, dark road. It is so featured here, in a little narration of one of my nights in London, the perfect example of how square I am. This is probably an introductory level option, so it worked excellently for me.

Portobello Road Gin (…)

Discovered this gin at the Old Ship Inn in London after a day of train > airplane > train travel, and I just really needed a drink. Served in the classic gin & tonic variation, it was delectable and I will definitely be referring to it again. Although I am not sure of it’s availability in the U.S. Plymouth Gin, of the Black Friar’s Distillery is a good option for affordability and I last purchased Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (although that might not be the most authentic?), which was very nice as well. Not going to mention Hendrick’s, everyone seems to love it but I get some kind of chemical taste that doesn’t vibe well with me.

Chartreuse (Liqueur)

Why not throw a liqueur into the mix! This stuff is powerful, I really like it’s medicinal quality. I would insist on pouring a bit to linger over after dinner.

Commanderie de Peyrassol – Provence, [southern] France (Rosé [undisclosed grapes])

It’s worth it to throw one rosé into the mix. Commanderie de Peyrassol was my favorite of this season. It’s really light, and has subtle floral notes that do not appear instantly. I really admired it’s delicacy.

La Collina Lunaris Secco Malvasia Dell’Emilia – Reggio Emilia, [northern] Italy (Malvasia)

I am easily excited by bubbly, all bubbly. I do not discriminate, so long as it’s delicious. And this stuff, well wow, it was delicious. It’s rich and yeasty, there are fruity flavors of apples and pears, but it stays dry and there are notes of fermentation that are perfectly subtle without being off-putting. Provided you’re not surrounded by pretentious/ill-informed company, this is a great wine (around $20) to celebrate the everyday.