Sunday, December 30, 2012
I've been off from work the past week hanging out at home with my family and enjoying the break by trying some beers, wines and punches that I've been waiting for special occasions to open/make. Some of these have been duds, unfortunately, others have been amazing -- top 10 drinks of all time. I'm not going to go through detailed tasting notes for all of these (mostly because I didn't take them for some of these -- was enjoying food & drink & company). Let's get started -- For Christmas, I got a bottle of St. George Absinthe Verte, one of my favorite booze bottles. It's intensely fennel flavored -- like Greek ouzo -- and has lots of herbal notes that make themselves apparent as you let this spirit open up with a bit of ice and water. I could drink a little of this every night and be very happy. For Christmas, I made a bourbon pecan molasses glazed ham, and popped a Bluxome St. Winery Russian River Pinot Noire that I bought from the SF-based winery. This is one I didn't take notes on -- too busy cooking and entertaining -- but essentially I liked it because it didn't taste like a typical RRV PN. Those, in my mind, are dense, dark-fruit driven wines, lots of cola notes, that aren't as ethereal as what a Burgundy can be. This bottle was a perfect complement to the ham -- it stood up to the sticky sweet glaze without overwhelming it. I really enjoyed this bottle -- I'm remembering cranberry and cherry notes, a very light wine but totally enjoyable. Before I popped that bottle, I did create a punch from a recipe from Charles Dickens, via David Wondrich. This was the first warm punch I've made -- the others have been iced and drunk in the summer time. The punch is a combination of rum from the west indies, brandy (I was cheap and went with Korbel VSOP instead of Cognac, which costs tons more), sugar, water and lemons. Overall, everyone liked this, it felt warming and poured from the crock pot hot, but my impression was that the lemon and alcohol were the biggest components coming through. Like any warm alcoholic beverage, you're going to taste the alcohol instead of the other flavors it might have (on the other end, ice diminishes its taste). As this punch cooled, my affection for it grew. Next time, I think I'll make it the same way (I liked how lighting the whole bowl on fire for a few minutes drew out the oil from the lemon peels) and just let it naturally cool down and serve it that way with a big block of ice. Finally, on the beer side of things I went to Beer Revolution with my brother in Oakland and tried a bunch of odd and exciting things. My favorite by far was the Labyrinth Black Ale by Uinta Brewing Company. Weighing it at 13.2 percent ABV, this is a massive imperial stout, but it's so sweet and intense, it definitely stood out from the 6 glasses we shared. Lots of coffee notes, black licorice, molasses and dark chocolate. I've seen this beer for sale for about $13 at Whole Foods, and plan on picking up a few bottles to save. Would be perfect on a really cold day, or with BBQ (maybe super bowl party pairing?) or even just with desert. Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday drinks as much as I did!
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