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Better For You Than Wine
The Brew May Help
All Beers Are Brewed
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More Breweries And Brewpubs In Operation
Beer Became Big Business
Stuff That Doesn't Come In Cans
Wine Consumed Per Capita
Choosing The Right Wine
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Wine Goes Great With Everything
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Wine And Beer

Valley Brew

When you compare the raw ingredients that go into wine and beer, you'll find that wine, on one hand, is made purely from grapes, water and yeast. Grapes are a fine source of sugars, fiber and chromium, but few of those things survive the fermentation and filtering process. Yeast has loads of complex B vitamins, but again, they do not appear in the final product due to filtering.

Beer, on the other hand, is made from grains, water and yeast. Grains commonly used are barley and wheat (with cheaper, mass-produced beers relying on corn and rice), both of which are loaded with a variety of vitamins that survive the fermentation and filtering process. And the vitamin value of the yeast is conserved in the hundreds of unfiltered beers that are on the market -- both on tap and in bottles.

Considering beer was first used as a homeopathic remedy back in the good old days of the Egyptian Pharaohs thousands of years ago, things haven't changed much. The only problem nowadays is the sad fact that several irresponsible people drink more than they should, and sobriety becomes a discarded word.

Although there are many good things about beer, there are also several negative aspects that I am obliged to caution you about: liver disease, obesity and alcoholism. Of course, these adverse reactions would not occur if beer were drunk in moderation. I, for one, am going to have a beer and think that over.

Wine is produced by the fermentation of fruit, typically grapes though a number of other fruits are also quite popular - such as plum, elderberry and blackcurrant. Non-grape wines are called fruit wine or country wine. Other products made from starch based materials, such as barley wine, rice wine, and sake, from other fermentable material such as honey (mead), or that are distilled, such as brandy, are not wines. Wine grapes mostly grow between the 30th and the 50th degree of latitude, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Grapes will sometimes grow beyond this range and minor amounts of wine are made in some very unexpected places (such as tropical Zimbabwe) but these are abberations.

Sherry is a fortified wine, made in Spain from three types of grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Muscat (Moscatel). Sherry-style wines made in other countries often use other grape varieties. Sherry differs from other wines because of how it is treated after fermentation. It is first fortified with brandy and then if destined to be fino style a yeast called flor is allowed to grow on top. Oloroso style is fortified to a strength where the flor cannot grow. (In contrast, port wine is fortified to a higher percentage of alcohol than sherry, effectively preventing the growth of any yeast.)

When a six-pack of Bud Ice won't cut it, you need to bring wine, but how can you tell the good grape from the bad? There's so many wines to choose from and the last time you had anything opened with a cork was when you accidentally took communion. But don't worry. We've broken down tons of different wines so you'll know what to bring to any occasion. Hangovers sold separately. Class up your next party with stuff that doesn't come in cans. But don't go crazy—we still love those SPAM-and-jelly sandwiches.

Are you serious?

As anyone who's ever survived spring break knows, the four staple food groups - the crunchy group, the cheesy group, the foamy group and the inebriating group - are all covered by beer and nachos. But could you live on it forever? The answer isn't entirely encouraging. Your life would be cut by many years.

On the positive side, beer does have some useful properties. Beer is a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium and potassium (all of that sounds totally poisonous to us, but apparently they're good for you. Go, science!) Beer and tortilla chips also both contain carbohydrates, which are a great source of energy. The refried beans have fiber and the cheese is full of protein.

So far, so good - so what's the downside? Drinking heavily can lead to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis (there are about 100 more reasons why drinking is bad for you, which we dutifully acknowledge while staring shamefully at the ten empty whiskey bottles). Nachos tend to be high in saturated fat. And the refried beans are cooked in lard, which is loaded in fat, as is the cheese.

Dang. Not so good. Still not to be deterred (we really, really like beer and nachos) we wondered what we could do to make the diet survivable. Add guacamole and salsa to the nachos, add low-fat cheese (instead of, not as well as, regular cheese) and use baked chips instead of fried. And drink some 100% fruit juice on the side for extra nutrients.

So there you have it. The beer and nacho diet: totally adequate so long as you order all the sides and have a glass of OJ now and again. Don't thank us: it's want we do, guys. It's what we do.

When most people not named Pierre, Yves, or Frenchie walk into their local liquor store and peruse the wines, they don't know a bargain Burgundy from a budget Bordeaux. Until you get up into the fifty-dollar-a-bottle range, a wine’s vintage year just complicates matters. To choose a good wine, all you need to know is the grape.

Initially wine was distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make the wine easier for merchants to transport. It was also thought that wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was assessed by volume. The intent was to add the water removed by distillation back to the brandy shortly before consumption. It was discovered that after having been stored in wooden casks, the resulting product had improved over the original wine. There are three primary types of brandy. Grape brandy is the type that is meant if brandy is used by itself.

Grape brandies are arguably best drunk in a tulip shaped glass or a snifter, at cool room temperature. Often it is slightly warmed, by holding the glass in the cup of the palm or gently heating with a candle. However, heating it causes alcohol vapor to become very pungent so that the aromas are overpowered.

Brandy, like whisky and red wine, exhibits more pleasant aromas and flavors at a lower temperature, e.g., 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit). In most homes, this would imply that the brandy should in fact rather be cooled for maximum enjoyment.

Furthermore, alcohol (which makes up 40% of a typical brandy) becomes thin as it is heated, but more viscous when cooled leading to a fuller and smoother mouthfeel with less of a burning sensation. The European Union legally enforces Cognac as the exclusive name for brandy produced and distilled in the Cognac area of France, and Armagnac from the Gascony area of France, using traditional techniques.

The origins of brandy are unclear, and tied to the development of distillation. Concentrated alcoholic beverages were known in ancient Greece and Rome and may have a history going back to ancient Babylon. Brandy as it is known today first began to appear in the 12th century and became generally popular in the 14th century.

For many American consumers, wine was either “Burgundy” or “Chablis” before the renaissance that began in the 1960s. That is hard to credit today; and so, too, have we largely forgotten the fact that beer in the United States has also enjoyed a renaissance, perhaps even greater than that experienced by wine, and less commonly understood. “Pilsner,” the first golden beer, conquered the world so thoroughly that 50 years ago “modern” beer was a standard pilsner type in a can, a convenience product along with the sliced white bread and processed cheese. That’s all changed now.

The classic beer styles all originate from the northern part of central and Western Europe, but today those styles are brewed with skill around the world. All beers are brewed using a process based on a simple formula. Key to the process is malted grain, depending on the region traditionally barley, wheat or sometimes rye. Ale is the fastest growing beer category (thanks to thirsty swillers seeking hopped-up refreshment).

Everyone knows about microbrews, and, with the exception of certain misconceptions involving raspberries, they're great. But not if you want to drink more than two, and certainly not if you're buying. For reasonable, dependable brews - especially if you're faced with the beer drinking responsibilities that accompany watching sports, playing poker, hanging out or doing almost anything else after 5 p.m. Mass-market beers are on-sale-everywhere, all unpretentious, all for regular guys.

Want to imbibe your favorite beverage for nothing (or close to it)? Go straight to the source. The U.S. is littered with breweries, vineyards, and distilleries that not only create delicious liquids but also let you sample them for free. Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, New York, Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware, Bourbon Trail in The great state of Kentucky, Inwood Estate Vineyards in Dallas, Texas, Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri (also available in Fairfield, California; Fort Collins, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; and Merrimack, New Hampshire), Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado, Balletto in Santa Rosa, California, and the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Fulton, California, all have sampling for those over 21.

Lyle Kula. Picking Grapes. Maxim [Print + Kindle] . September 1997.

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Beer May Have Invented By Accident | The Truest Alcohol Enthusiasts | A Heady Mix Of Beer, Baseball, And Fun | Beer-Drinking Effect | Better For You Than Wine | The Brew May Help | All Beers Are Brewed | Shiner Brewing Association | More Breweries And Brewpubs In Operation | Beer Became Big Business | Stuff That Doesn't Come In Cans | Wine Consumed Per Capita | Choosing The Right Wine | Daily Dose Of Fruits | In America Madeira Was Esteemed Above All Other Wine | Wine Goes Great With Everything
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