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Thursday, January 31, 2008


Top 10 Wine And Chocolate Matches

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“Want to seduce someone this Valentine’s Day?” asks Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. “Just share a glass of wine (or three) with your sweetheart.”

“Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire,” she observes. “What other drink is described as both ‘voluptuous’ and ‘muscular’? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.”

The creamy flavors of chocolate go best with sweet, full-bodied, high-alcohol wines, MacLean notes. She suggests wines to complement 50 chocolate dishes in her online matching tool at Just click on “desserts” to find pairings for chocolate mud pie to chocolate cheesecake.

Natalie’s top 10 wine and chocolate matches:

1. Dark Chocolate and Banyuls, France
2. Chocolate-Covered Biscotti and Recioto Della Valpolicella, Italy
3. Chocolate-Orange Cake and Liqueur Muscat, Australia
4. Chocolate with Nuts and Tawny Port, Portugal
5. Milk Chocolate and Tokaji, Hungary
6. Bittersweet Chocolate and Amarone, Italy
7. Chocolate-Dipped Fruit and Icewine, Canada
8. Chocolate Ganache Truffles and Sauternes, France
9. Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and Framboise, California
10. Chocolate Hearts with Cream Filling and Cream Sherry, Spain

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Cancer Fighting Agent Found In Beer

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I knew there was a reason for me drinking beer. Short article from the United Press International about a German study. Read more below. ** Note ** Feed readers my have to visit the site to read the article.

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Brix Scale Calculations

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In beer making you usually hear of Original Gravities being 1.0 something and some winemakers will do the same. More common in winemaking is the Brix Scale. So, what is the Brix scale and why should I know it. Basically, it measures the sugar content of your juice and knowing that you can get an idea of how much alcohol your wine will produce. Here are a couple of definitions:
Brix scale from

A system of measurement, given in degrees, of the amount of sugar present in grape juice. Similar systems are used in different countries, eg. the Balling, Baumé and Oechsle scales, all providing sugar content measurements that can be used to approximate the final alcohol content of wine being produced. See also must weight.

Another definition from

Balling: The name of a density scale for measuring sugar content in water base solutions. Since grape juice is primarily sugar and water, the balling scale was used for a quick and easy "sugar analysis" of juice. The Balling scale contained a slight inaccuracy however, and it was corrected by Dr Brix. Today the Brix scale is in actual use, but the terms Balling and Brix often are used interchangeably.

The Balling (Brix) scale is simplicity itself: Each degree is equivalent to 1 percent of sugar in the juice. For example, grape juice which measures 15.5 degrees on the Balling or Brix scale contains about 15.5% sugar.

Now that you know the Brix of your juice, you can easily fiqure out how much alcohol your juice will make by using this formula:

Brix count x .575

So if your brix count is 23, take 23 x .575, which equals 13.23. Your wine should be slightly over 13% alcohol content whenever it is done fermenting.

Related articles:

Using Your Hydrometer - Part 1

Using Your Hydrometer - Part 2

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Jackies Abbey

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This recipe is taken from Victory Beer Recipes.

Makes 5 Gallons

12 pounds Alexanders pale malt extract

6 ounces crystal malt

4 ounces chocolate malt

1 3/4 ounces bullion hops 9% - 45 minutes

1/4 ounce Perle hops 7.4% - 45 minutes

1 teaspoon Irish moss - 15 minutes

3/4 Saaz hops 4.4% 10 minutes

3/4 ounce Hallertauer hops 3% - 10 minutes

1/4 ouce Saaz hops 4.4% - 1 minute

1/4 ounce Hallertauer hops 3% - 1 minute

Cultured Chimay yeast

3/4 cup corn sugar

Boiling time 60 minutes

Primary fermentation 15 days at 65 degrees

Pre-boil filtered water for 1 hour and steep grains at 175 degrees

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Using Your Hydrometer - Part 2

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Part 1 of Using Your Hydrometer deals with how to measure the sugar content of your must or wort. There are a couple of things you need to know to get an accurate measurement.

Most hydrometers are calibrated to give correct readings at 59-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures thin the liquid slightly and result in lower readings than you'd get at the correct temperature. At 70 degrees F., the reading will be 0.001 low. To correct it, add 0.001 to the reading. At 77 degrees F., add 0.002. At 84 degrees F., add 0.003. At 95 degrees F., add 0.005. At temperatures above 95 degrees F., you risk killing your yeast and losing your wine. If you can't remember all that just print out the chart below.

Another thing you need to know is that most hydrometers come with three scales. Specific Gravity, Balling and Brix are the ones that are usually on your hydrometer. Specific Gravity and Brix are the ones that are most used.
Sugar can be measured as ounces per gallon or as degrees Balling, or Brix. Ounces per gallon are measured on a numeric scale in which an S.G. of 1.046 equals 16 oz. (one pound) of sugar per U.S. gallon. Brix is measured as a percentage of sugar by which pure water has a Brix of 0 (or 0% sugar), an S.G. of 1.046 equals a Brix of 11.5 (11.5% sugar), and an S.G. of 1.095 equals a Brix of 22.5 (22.5% sugar). If you have a choice and want to simplify your life, buy a hydrometer that measures sugar by ounces per gallon .

Lastly, the real reason why we use a hydrometer is to make the perfect wine. Here's a guide to the amount of sugar that should be used.
Table wines are generally started at an S.G. of 1.090 or higher and fermented to dryness--0.990 to 1.000. Sweeter wines are started at a higher S.G. using a yeast that will die out at predictable point and stabilized at that time and at the desired sweetness to prevent die-hard yeast cells from re-populating the wine, or, more commonly, started at 1.090 or higher, fermented to dryness, stabilized, and sugar added back to the wine to sweeten it. The 1.090 specific gravity is a rather magical number. It produces an alcohol level of about 12.3%, a level that ensures the wine's preservation. I usually start at 1.095, or about 13% alcohol, because I know I will lose some volume in racking and add water to make it up, thereby diluting the wine and the percent alcohol by volume. In truth, a hair over 10% alcohol is all that's required to preserve grape wine. But some fruit wines actually require the 12% level for unrefrigerated preservation, so using 12% as a rule of thumb errs, if at all, on the side of safety.

That should cover everything you need to know about your hydrometer and how to use it.

Related Posts:

Using Your Hydrometer - Part 1

Brix Scale Calculations

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

This article was sponsored by: Buy Absinthe

I received an email about a few months ago describing a drink called “The Green Fairy.” Curious, I opened the email and it was about a liquor called Absinthe. Honestly, I have never heard about this drink and had no idea what it was. So, I thought that others may have not heard of this and thought I would share some info about it.

According to Wikipedia,

Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic (usually 68 to 80 percent) anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs including the flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium, also called Grand Wormwood or Absinth Wormwood. Absinthe is typically green (either naturally or with added color) or clear and is often referred to as la Fée Verte (’The Green Fairy’). Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a liquor or spirit. Absinthe is uncommon among spirits in that it is bottled at a high proof but consumed diluted with water to the strength of wine.

Tastewise, absinthe has a licorce taste similar to ouzo and there is a certain way that it is traditionally prepared. According to various sources the following is the way to prepare your drink:

Absinthe is drunk as a cocktail and has a ritualist preparation before drinking. Proper preparation consists of placing a sugar cube on a special slotted Absinthe Spoon, and slowly dripping cold water over the sugar into the Absinthe Glass. The oils of the anise and fennel do not mix with the water, but come out in the high alcohol content in the absinthe to form a colloidal solution with the cold water, and creating a beautiful cloudy effect called “louche”. “Louche” comes from the French word meaning turbulent, troubled and cloudy. The fragrances in the oils are also released in the “louche” and add to the enjoyment of the Absinthe Drink.

Sounds great, so what is the catch? And, why can’t if ind it at the local liquor store? Well it seems that the use of wormwood and the thujone that is produced in the distilling process makes it illegal to make in the USA.

So, how do you get a bottle of absinthe and is it legal?

Commercial Break —-> Buy Absinthe

According to various sources:

The rules specifically state that it is illegal to sell or manufacture Absinthe Alcohol in the United States. Although it is not illegal to drink or posses Absinthe in the U.S. So from those statements here is the deduction:

1. It is illegal to sell thujone containing Absinthe Liquor in the US for human consumption.
2. It is illegal for someone outside the US to sell thujone containing Absinthe to someone inside the US.
3. It is not illegal to purchase thujone containing Absinthe for personal use in the US.
4. It is not illegal to purchase thujone containing Absinthe for personal use outside the United States.
5. Thujone containing Absinthe Alcohol can be seized by US customs (if it is for human consumption).

So, basicially you can purchase it outside of the USA and have it shipped here. The sponsor of this article has the following info on ordering absinthe for USA delivery:

Is it possible to buy absinthe in the USA?

Only online!!! It is illegal in the USA to buy, make or sell any kind of food or drink containing any level of Thujone. Modern Absinthe, or any spirit containing Thujone is therefore illegal in the USA. Mere possession isn’t. Several American makers offer a spirit similar to absinthe but without the wormwood. Unfortunately, the quality is poor and the taste is awful.The only option for American consumers is to order absinthe online and have it shipped as a gift and marked as “not for human consumption”. We at buy-absinthe-alcohol always place the marking“not for human consumption” on each bottle sent to the USA.

Sounds interesting and may be worth checking out.

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Using Your Hydrometer - Part 1

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The hydrometer is a simple instrument that measures the weight--or gravity--of a liquid in relation to the weight of water. Because the relation of the gravity to water is specified, the resulting measure is called a specific gravity. A hydrometer will float higher in a heavy liquid, such as one with a quantity of sugar dissolved in it, and lower in a light liquid, such as water or alcohol. In truth, the average winemaker has no interest in the specific gravity of a must per se, but has a very keen interest in the amount of sugar dissolved in it, for yeast converts sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. By knowing how much sugar one started with and ended with, one can easily calculate the resulting alcohol.

There are many variants of the hydrometer. Some have only one scale, some two and some three. The typical hydrometer measures three things: specific gravity (S.G.), potential alcohol (P.A.), and sugar.

How To Use The Hydrometer

It's really pretty easy to use the hydrometer; just follow these simple steps:

1. Sanitize the hydrometer, wine thief, and test jar.

2. Place test cylinder on flat surface.

3. Draw a sample of "clean" must or wine with the wine thief - avoid testing samples that contain solid particles, since this will affect the readings.

4. Fill the test jar with enough liquid to just float the hydrometer - about 80% full.

5. Gently lower the hydrometer into the test jar; spin the hydrometer as you release it, so no bubbles stick to the bottom of the hydrometer (this can also affect readings).

6. Making sure the hydrometer isn't touching the sides of the test jar and is floating freely, take a reading across the bottom of the meniscus (see diagram to the left). Meniscus is a fancy word for the curved surface of the liquid.

7. Be sure to take good records of your readings!

That's it! Pretty simple, huh. There are a couple other things that we need to knew about the hydrometer, which will be covered next week.

Related Posts:

Using Your Hydrometer - Part 2

Brix Scale Calculations

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History Of American Beer

Friday, January 04, 2008

Nice short video about the history of beer in the United States. Note: Feed readers will have to visit the site to view the video.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Barley Wine is a very intense and complex beverage with alcohol content equal to most wines. It is not for the faint of heart. It has a hearty, sweet malt flavor which is offset by a strong and bitter flavoring from the hops for balance. Because of the preserving qualities of alcohol, this is the best beer for storing over a long period of time. The color ranges from copper to medium brown. The strong scent of malt, hops, and even the alcohol are evident. You can even feel the warmth of the alcohol as you swallow. The bitterness ranges from medium to the highest of all beer types.

Barley wine or Barleywine is a style of strong ale originating in England in the nineteenth century (derived from the March or October beers of the 18th century) but now brewed worldwide. The term was originally coined around 1900 by Bass to refer to their No. 1 Ale. It is the strongest member of the bitter family of styles.

A barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.120. It is called a barley wine because it can be as strong as wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is in fact a beer. In the United States barley wines are required for this reason to be called "barley wine-style ales." This is taken by some to imply that they are not truly barley wines; in fact it only means that they, like any barley wines, are not truly wines.

Its natural sweetness is usually balanced with a degree of hoppy bitterness.

This beer is meant for slow sipping and savoring of its fruity, high-alcohol and well-aged character. It is brewed most often to celebrate events. Because they contain a lot of hops and have a high alcohol content, some barley wines are aged for years, much like wines.

Most barley wines range in color from ambers to deep reddish-browns.

Style statistics

* Original gravities: 1.090-1.120;
* Alcohol: 8.5-29 percent;
* Bitterness: 50-100 IBU (International Bitterness Units);
* Color: 24-48 EBC (European Brewery Convention)

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