Jan 31, 201308:37 AM
All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans
Bar Bites and Short Pours
ElaEva, stock.xchng, 2009
It’s an Amusing Little Hops
In an effort to, well, I’m not quite sure, some craft brewers have been experimenting with wine grapes and wine grape juice, putting these products into their brews.
Beer-wine hybrids are touted as the next great thing by no one, but that does not stop brave brewmasters and fermenters from trying to make it all work.
Alllagash, a Maine craft beer brewer, first started the noble quest in 2006. They added crushed Chardonnay grapes to their mash used to make Victoria ale. A second effort, Victor, incorporated Cabernet Franc grapes. Does the Victor/Victoria pairing ring any bells in your movie-loving mind? Crossdressing, indeed.
Others have gone down the same path, with Dogfish Head even incorporating Viognier grapes inoculated with the fungus botrytis, famed for producing wines possessing the Noble Rot quality. While this relatively artificial means of emulating the epic wines of the Graves region in Bordeaux may make for good storytelling, keep in mind the result will be added to beer so subtlety may not be achieved at any rate.
Now the Big Boys have turned their attentions, and you know what that means. Miller Coors Brewing label, Blue Moon, has introduced Vintage Blonde, a blend of beer and Chardonnay grapes, sold in a 750 ml. bottle, the same package as wine.
Ruined a Good Name
The end of an era was predictable from the start, and was even wrong back then, but it was very cool while it lasted.
Two-Buck Chuck was a phenomenon. Around New Orleans we were not full participants as we only saw a little here and a little there, yet we were very aware Two-Buck Chuck was out there. Whenever one of us went to Atlanta or to California, bottles were certain to be shipped or carried back. Wonderful party conversation starters.
Okay, so the price has now shot up to $2.49 a bottle from the $1.99 price of the original offering. And with that, some consumers are quite unhappy.
“Inflation Chuck,” Matt Tucker huffed. Lisa Garrett, never one to hold her opinions back, came forth with, “Upchuck.”
Still Lots of Partying Going On
As we head into the vortex of Super Bowl, knowing that we will come out the other side right into the path of the onrushing Carnival Season, let’s review what we know so far.
Comparing U.S. sales figures, 2012 against 2011, it seems the number of wine bottles ordered in restaurants and bars is down nationally 13 percent. That’s quite a decrease. The number of wines ordered by the glass is up 4 percent. Those percentages are not analogous because far more wines by the glass in raw numbers are sold then the raw numbers of bottles sold.
But the point is that more of you are ordering glasses rather than bottles while dining or in bars. It’s an important trend, if it holds, and it probably will. The interpretation is that the American wine-drinking public is: 1) concerned about drinking larger quantities of alcohol then getting behind the wheel; and 2) quite comfortable ordering wines with which they may not be familiar but want to know more.
To point 1, this tracks with the consumer experiences in Europe and Australia. Stiffer enforcement of DWI laws has led to less drinking away from home, either in restaurants or in bars. The total consumption of wine and spirits is not down in real measurement, but the consumption out of the home is.
To point 2, this continues to be evidence of Americans becoming more secure in their product knowledge when ordering wine away from home. That is a good sign of the maturing of the American wine industry and its patrons.
Happy Super Bowl Weekend
It was my thought this week with the Happy Hour column that maybe the from-all-sides bombardment of Super Bowl news could use a little break.
If you have questions about what to serve for the Super Bowl by way of adult beverages, or as we head into Carnival, what works, please check out last week’s column. I think you will find some items there, just in case you missed it.