Punch: “Whiskey Woman,” Meet “Vodka Bitch”

From “Skinny Bitch” vodka cocktails to “Bitch” brand vodka, the trope is as insidious as its “cool girl” counterpart. Why can’t we get rid of it?

In Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, protagonist Esther Greenwood visits a bar and tries to conceal her lack of drinking expertise by ordering a plain vodka, which she’s never had. “I’d seen a vodka ad once, just a glass full of vodka standing in the middle of a snowdrift in a blue light, and the vodka looked clear and pure as water,” says Greenwood. In her telling, vodka is dreamy, refined. Its clarity connotes cleanliness; its lack of color renders its potency alchemical. “I began to think vodka was my drink at last,” she says. “It didn’t taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallower’s sword and made me feel powerful and godlike.”

Fast-forward 60 years, and vodka’s reputation for cleaner-than-clean tastelessness no longer connotes alchemical power in the popular imagination. It’s come to stand, instead, for an inherent blandness and lack of sophistication, which is reflected upon the person ordering it. The spirit was long proscribed from craft cocktail bars due to its lack of “character,” and while some have loosened their dogma and brought vodka—and the drinks it originally rode in on—back to their shelves, others have held firm. The inherent versatility of vodka is still often seen not as an advantage, but as a trick the spirit plays on philistine palates. And who are these uncultured drinkers, who turn away from the smokiness of mezcal or the spiciness of rye in favor of the universally palatable vodka? Who else but women, of course—at least according to the stereotype. READ MORE

Eater: Wings, Sweat, and Tears

For stars like Kevin Hart, Idris Elba, and Lorde, eating spicy wings is the key to relatability

According to Kevin Hart, “your clothes are a clear virsitation of who you are.” That’s the closest I could translate from his interview on First We Feast’s Hot Ones in 2016, after host Sean Evans asks him how he approaches fashion in his comedy shows. By this point, Hart has just eaten his ninth chicken wing, this one coated in Mad Dog 357 hot sauce, which clocks in at about 357,000 Scoville units. His eyes have turned glassy, and his quick, snappy demeanor has shifted as though his blood has been replaced with molasses. He thinks his tongue has stopped working.

This is exactly how Hot Ones — “the show with hot questions and even hotter wings” — is supposed to work. If you’ve never seen the hit YouTube show, now in its 17th season, the premise is deceptively simple. All celebrities have to do is eat 10 hot wings, each doused in a progressively hotter sauce, while Evans eats along with them and asks them questions. The result, typically, is celebrities losing their minds, sweating, crying, coughing, chugging milk, cursing out their agents, and barely able to hear the last few questions Evans asks. READ MORE

Decanter: Ukrainian wine, hanging in the balance

The long-term impact on the Ukrainian wine industry is unclear.

Since February 24th 2022 the world has quickly learned a great deal more about Europe’s second-largest country, Ukraine.

Most notably will be our profound admiration for the Ukrainians’ continued resistance to the invading Russian Army. This is but one item on a long list that includes such things as Ukraine being one of the world’s top exporters of wheat, barley and sunflower seeds. However, many people are also now learning that Ukraine not only has a thriving winemaking sector, but also a rapidly-growing wine-consuming public. READ MORE

North Bay Business Journal: Sonoma County’s Vintage Wine Estates acquires cannabis brands as part of alternative beverage effort

Vintage Wine Estates is taking a big further step into adult beverages other than wine with the acquisition of two cannabis-infused drink brands, plans to launch a third, and the hiring of a top executive from a major North Coast cannabis products company to oversee the effort.

The Santa Rosa-based group of West Coast wines announced Thursday that it acquired the intellectual property for Gem + Jane from CannaCraft, also based in Santa Rosa. It’s a women-focused sparkling water infused with botanicals and THC, the hallucinogenic component of cannabis.

Vintage also hired Tracey Mason, CannaCraft’s former chief strategy and innovation officer, to lead a new portfolio of alternative beverages.

Called NexDrinx, the portfolio will be led by ACE Cider, originally a Sebastopol-made brand that Vintage acquired in November. That purchase was part of a string of acquisitions since its initial public offering in early June of last year that set up Vintage with a larger direct-to-consumer presence than it already had with Windsor Vineyards and positioned the company with a production hub for the East Coast. READ MORE

SevenFifty Daily: What You Need to Know About Chianti Classico’s UGAs

Last June, Chianti Classico made headlines when the Consorzio’s members voted to approve 11 Unitá Geografiche Aggiuntive (UGA), or additional geographic units, which divide the classic Tuscan region into smaller, more terroir-specific production zones. The UGAs await approval by the Ministry of Agriculture—Giovanni Manetti, the president of Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and the owner of Fontodi, notes that they hope this will come sometime this year, which would allow the 2020 vintage to carry UGA labeling—but already producers are preparing to use these new monikers on their Gran Selezione bottlings.

Breaking regions down into more specific subzones is becoming increasingly common, both in Italy and around the world, and while Chianti Classico is often considered to be a smaller, more specific region of the broader Chianti denomination, this traditional heart of the region is set apart with its own DOCG. Many of Chianti Classico’s producers believe that the UGAs will better communicate the wines’ specificities of origin to the consumer. READ MORE

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

Jancis Robinson: Digital drinking – NFTs and wine

Would you swap my bottle of 1982 Ch Lafite with yours? Even though they are the same wine, their provenance might be very different – for all you know, my Singaporean cellar is a sweltering cupboard in my kitchen. (You’d be right about that, which is why my wine racks remain tragically empty.)

The point is that these two (imaginary) bottles of Lafite are non-fungible; their different histories mean they do not have identical, interchangeable value.

Non-fungibility is the core property of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Each token confers ownership of a specific asset. These assets are often digital (such as a piece of artwork, ie a jpeg file) but increasingly tokens are twinned with physical assets such as wine bottles. NFTs exist on blockchains, which are an open and immutable ledger of transactions on the internet. A blockchain can be thought of as a shared spreadsheet that anyone can access, and on which new entries can be created but never edited, creating an indelible public record of successive ownership.

This is a bit like saying that Prädikatswein is an indelible public record of different sugar levels in German Riesling. There is much more to it than that, of course, but understanding the basic concepts allows us to explore how NFTs can apply to the world of wine. READ MORE

Dame Wine: Wine Grape Growers’ Old Vines In Chile Boosted After Devastating Earthquake

Waking from sleep with an increased heartbeat and overall sense of panic, the woman would often relive her typical nightmare of finding herself falling in various situations, although this time, the nightmare involved her riding a bus that fell off a cliff during an earthquake and that terrifying slow-motion moment of being in midair overwhelmed with frightening thoughts that at any second she would crash to the ground with shards of metal and glass flying everywhere. But she was able to set up a ritual of drinking warm water while sitting on her couch planting her feet firmly on the ground, saying to herself, “I am home, I am safe and the ground is stable,” and it instantly quelled her nerves. READ MORE

Science & Wine: Characterization on the impact of different clarifiers on the white wine colloids using AF4-UV-MALS-dRI

Clarification in wines is a widely known and used process for the removal of undesirable substances which improves the clarity and stability of wines. For this process, processing aids called clarifiers are used. These clarifiers usually were mineral particles (clay), adsorbing the turbid and unstable material in the wine.

Currently there is plenty of interest in studying new types of clarifiers that may offer advantages on the organoleptic properties of the wine by being more selective in the removal and by adding less impurities to the wine.

Therefore, it is a need to develop new technologies that allow evaluating the removal character of these novel agents in relation to the colloidal and macromolecular properties of the wine.

Studies have recently been published on the use of Asymmetrical Flow Field-Flow Fractionation (AF4) for the characterization of colloids and macromolecules in wines[1]–[4] . However, these studies focused primarily on the ability of this technique to separate colloidal and macromolecular particles followed by an identification and quantification of the species that made up these larger complex compounds (See figure 1 for the illustrative process of the AF4 separation according to the diffusion coefficient of the analytes). READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Is this Chinese critic the next Robert Parker for China?

The rise of Robert Parker in 1980s as the formidable American wine critic once said himself is that he was “at the right time and right place”. That being the global wine consumer market’s tectonic shift from Europe to the US, which has since become the world’s biggest wine consumer.

His straight-talking style of wine reviews using a 100-point numerical system, effective and engaging, are quickly welcomed by disenchanted American wine drinkers and spread beyond its borders. For a long time, his lone palate dictates consumers’ buying choices and even wineries’ wine styles. Parker’s praise can send wine shelves empty, and wines with less forgiving reviews would crush under the weight of his opinions.

Much can be said about his legacy. Detractors bemoan his influence over ripe, jammy, high-octane wine style but there’s no question that Parker remained truthful – even to a fault- to his own palate through and through, and for 4 decades empowered American wine consumers. READ MORE

Young Gun of Wine: The New Wave on the Limestone Coast

The Limestone Coast is a catch-all wine zone that captures half a dozen wine regions at the southern tip of South Australia, from the rugged coast of the Southern Ocean to where it nestles up against the Victorian border. It’s a zone of diversity, from maritime to continental climates, and from classic regions – like Coonawarra – to those that are just beginning to find their identity amongst wine drinkers – like Mount Gambier. But it’s also a zone that has firmly established connections, from the ancient seabeds that generated the limestone underpinnings to a laid-back lifestyle where community comes first. READ MORE

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!



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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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