It’s time for another edition of Booze News. This time around, I’ve collected a number of news items from across the drinking spectrum – beer, wine, and liquor. And for good measure, I’ve included a fifth item discussing a new book on fine dining. Plenty of info to keep you distracted from the decreasing amount of daylight.
Although Americans drink far more beer than wine, there aren’t many beer guides for introductory drinkers. According to Clay Risen, great books to help new beer drinkers are “few and far between — and, to put it as kindly as possible, not exactly aimed at the mainstream, non-beer-obsessed public.”
However, that’s about to change with the publication of the Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver. Although Risen spends most of his piece discussing the text’s omissions, he ultimately concludes that Oliver’s book, along with The Great American Ale Trail, by Christian DeBenedetti, are “similarly incomplete…yet still impressive in their overall depth and scope.”
Read Risen’s Atlantic article, The Problem With Guides to Beer Drinking: There Just Aren’t Enough
Whisky – especially from Scotland – is usually considered a high-end selection. Considering that fact, would you drink whisky from a can?
WTOP, Washington DC’s local news-radio station, asks just this question. Scottish Spirits will begin selling their canned whisky in the U.S. in December, and the can is “designed to maintain the liquor’s taste.” The single grain scotch whisky “is a blend of malt and grain, with honey, vanilla, apples, butterscotch and pears.” A 12-ounce can will cost five dollars.
Read the WTOP article, Canned Whisky? Would You Drink It?
And speaking of whisky, Buffalo Trace Distillery recently announced they will be releasing several Pappy Van Winkle expressions later this year. The ordinarily difficult-to-find bourbon is aged between 10 and 23 years and enjoys something of a cult following. And rightfully so: Pappy’s “23-year-old bourbon was the 2010 ‘Spirit of the Year’ from Wine and Spirits Magazine.”
Good luck finding your own bottle!
Read the Louisville Bizjournal article, Buffalo Trace to re-release Van Winkle bourbons
Many people – myself included – feel intimidated, confused, or overwhelmed when buying wine. What type is best? How much should I spend? Do the words affordable and everyday mean undrinkable? Can you get a nice bottle of wine for under five or six dollars?
Brian Palmer argues that less means more – less money means more taste, that is. “In 1995, 59 percent of the wine purchased in the United States sold for less than $3 per bottle…Europeans seem perfectly comfortable cracking open a 1-euro tetra-pak of wine for guests. Germans, for example, pay just $1.79 on average for a bottle of wine.”
Speaking plainly, Palmer asserts: “Wine is not art. There’s no reason to believe that aligning your tastes with those of a self-appointed elite will enrich your life, or make you more insightful or sensitive.” Modern technology and falling market share has resulted in a simple fact: higher prices do not reliably reflect quality.”
Read Palmer’s Slate article, Drink Cheap Wine
Finally, Adam Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, has written a new book focusing on food, culinary traditions, and familial bonds; a celebration of “the full, old-school arc of an archetypal French dinner, from that first sip of Champagne to the final jolt of caffeine.”
Titled The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, “Mr. Gopnik’s new book is largely about that myth and how it has influenced our conceptions of fine dining for roughly two centuries.”
Read the New York Times article, Adam Gopnik on the Days of Great French Dining
Read The Economist book review, The Meaning of food: Eat this book
Read a 2005 New Yorker interview with the author, Q. & A.: The Table Comes First