Archives For Water
Articles about life and the things that bring all liquids together. Water flows without boundaries and this is where my mind follows.
You may know it from Tupac, Key & Peele, or Dr. Evil, but “pouring one out” is a lot older than you might think. It’s actually straight-up ancient.
Just a quick refresher for the uninitiated: pouring one out refers to “the act of pouring liquid (usually an alcoholic beverage) on the ground as a sign of reverence for friends or relatives that have passed away. In most cases, a 40 ounce bottle (see: forty) of liquor is used.” That’s Urban Dictionary’s definition. Funny thing is, it isn’t much different from
“I should make the point that the effect was demonstrated if you take pear juice before alcohol consumption. Once you have a hangover, there is no evidence that it will do you any good.”
While somm boner yields no Google results (wow?), the Oxford American English Dictionary might describe it as a phrase that’s “thrown around” in the “back of the house” in restaurants or at “staff trainings,” as a “playful dig” at fellow oenophiles who go “loco over a new liquid discovery” and can’t seem to “shut up about it.” And since somms are drinkers first and wine obsessives second, the source of their excitment can stray far from the first-growth Bordeaux and premier cru Champagnes you’d expect—anything from funky Belgian sours to vintage Chartreuse has the potential to be a somm’s liquid Viagra.
he decline has been long, steady and consistent. In recent years, when the figures have been released most media coverage has stated the percentage of school children who admit to having drunk alcohol – 39% according to the latest study – with headlines like "four in ten children boozing! Mass epidemic!" while deliberately avoiding telling you that this figure was, say, 61% in 2003 for example. The liars at Alcohol Concern would resort to using older data to artificially inflate the problem when more recent, freely available data showed the numbers were in sustained decline. The deliberate obfuscation around the issue even led to supposedly reputable newspapers writing headlines claiming that under age drinking was ‘soaring’ when they very data they were reporting on showed it was in fact falling, not rising.
I was thinking about this as I was tasting my freshly home roasted Costa Rican coffee this morning. Lemony acidity framed spicy caramel and chocolate notes. Lovely stuff. But what got me thinking is that back when I did some cupping in Minnesota to decide on new blends for my restaurant, there would be times that we would use the descriptor “winey” to imply a wine like quality in the particular brew before us. Often I thought of this as the smell you find in a glass the next day after a night of wine drinking. Not unpleasant but the smell that tells you the beverage previously in the glass was not beer or liquor but wine.
Conversely while working in the wine trade I often use “coffee” as a descriptor for wines that have a lot of toasted wood or that are on the earthy side. It’s a pretty common descriptor and according to the ever useful Mind Jogging list by Tom Stevenson at Wine-Pages.com, coffee aromas in wine are caused by:
Café (F) Kaffee (G) Caffe (I) Café (S)
A common oak-derived character (particularly but not exclusively when medium-toast oak chips have been used). Also part of the complexity of a fine quality, mature Champagne.
I guess my question for myself is: What kind of coffee? When I use descriptors that are in and of themselves complex, what am I really referring to? Green tea notes? What kind? How fresh?
Take Oolong as a descriptor. It’s such a diverse beverage, Oolong by itself is not enough to really say what I’m trying to convey. Are we talking a heavily oxidized version that is full of rich earthy aromas, or something a bit less oxidized with orchid blossoms pouring out of the glass? As for coffee, I recently had an Ethiopian roast that smelled strongly of blueberries, something that might be spot on for certain wines. Or are you talking about espresso? Drip? Dare I think maybe you mean instant? What is the “coffee profile” that relates the best to what is in my glass?
Equally so, “winey” doesn’t mean a lot to me. What are we talking? Red “winey”? White “winey”? Or maybe in the end I’m just being “whiney”.
As I explore more and more the complex world of liquid flavors, I realize that many people place certain beverages in a very limited flavor space. Claiming that their liquid of choice is more complex or diverse than another. I’m very quickly realizing it’s not that simple.
What words do you think are used to narrowly? Or do you even care?