Author Archives: Jacki

Best Tasting Absinthe

Searching for best tasting absinthe can be a very tedious and expensive task if you decide to do it by tasting many different brands. This is simply because there are too many brands of absinthe world-wide. However, there are several signs that will narrow down the options regardless of the place where you live. This is of course provided that absinthe is legal in your country.

Natural ingredients

The top quality absinthe can easily be distinguished by ingredients it is made of. Simply search the label. If there are artificial colorings and flavors then absinthe is not of highest quality and it will almost surely not be the best tasting one. Best taste is usually associated with best quality and the truth is that top quality absinthe is always made of natural herbal ingredients.

Price

Always check out how much does the bottle cost. If the price is too low compared to other brands and there is no obvious reason for it then absinthe is of low quality. Again, low quality always means worse taste. So, avoid these brands or at least cheap variants of their product. Though, be careful as higher price does not always mean better quality. That is why you should check the label for ingredients too.

Color

Another easy way of distinguishing high quality absinthe is its color. Artificially colored absinthe will usually have different colors than one made of herbs. Most quality absinthe has green color. Though, beware the ones with bright-green color. Such color is a result of artificial coloring. Anyway, quality absinthe can also be clear, orange or red. It all depends on ingredients as they may differ from product to product. However, never decide which bottle to buy only by its color. This sign of quality should rather serve to rule out the obvious “cheaters” so that you will not have to spend too much time reading labels.

Alcohol content

Usually, the high quality absinthe has high alcohol content. You will want to aim for products with alcohol content of between 45-68% if you want the best tasting absinthe. But, even higher percentage of alcohol can be acceptable. Though, you will probably have to dilute it with water before drinking as such high alcohol content has unpleasant effect on taste. Anyway, many people mix even the weaker absinthe with water for better taste and to weaken the strong effect of alcohol.

Location

The place where you live is sadly also one of the factors important for quality and taste of absinthe. This drink is illegal in some countries. In other countries, it can only be sold if it does not contain certain ingredients.

Way of consumption

The way in which you prepare your absinthe drink can also hold a secret to getting the best taste. Maybe the original undiluted absinthe is not your cup of tea. Diluting it with water, sweetening it or following some of many possible drinking rituals may enhance the taste of your chosen brand. Though, quality plays an important role anyway.

To conclude, to find best tasting absinthe, you should look for quality. While price, color and alcohol content can help you rule out the lower quality absinthe, checking the label for ingredients will usually do the rest. Keep in mind that best tasting absinthe is made of natural herbal ingredients only. Any added colorings and artificial flavors are sing of lower quality. Apart from that, your location will influence choices of brands you have. It is also a good idea to find your own favorite way of drinking absinthe as it may enhance the taste for you even more.

Reference:
1. Absinthe
2. 10 Absinthes You Should Be Drinking | Serious Eats


Chinese Wines

Alcohol has been known to exist in China for over 5,000 years. In 1928, archaeologists discovered bronze vessels for wine in the Shandong province which dated back to the Shang dynasty. In 2003, an ancient tomb was discovered from the Shaanxi Province which also had wine vessels. And again, this past May, another wine vessel in a tomb was discovered. Archaeologists have also discovered written instructions from 4,000 years ago on the various methods for making alcohol.

China has two forms of alcohol to enjoy: Huangjiu or yellow alcohol and baijiu or clear alcohol.

Huangjiu

The yellow alcohol is a fermented beverage, usually made from wheat or rice, though sometimes with broomcorn millet as well. The alcohol content ranges, but is generally under 20%. Huangjiu is a general term used for all of the yellow alcohol in China. The Huangjiu are broken down into classifications based on the production method, the type of started used and the dryness of the beverage. 

Production Methods of Huangjiu

Hot rice method: Rice straight from the cooker is set outside to cool. Once it is warm, but not too cool, the processing will begin.

Cool rice method: Rice straight from the cooker is soaked with cold water in order to cool it. Then it is ready for processing.

Feeding rice method: Rice straight from the cooker is put into the fermenting mixture three times to make a sweeter wine.

Fortified method: This method makes the sweetest variety of wine because it used distilled wine to stop the fermenting process. 

Types of Starters

Small: This method is mostly used in the humid, tropical region because it produces the least amount of heat out of all the starters.

Large: This method is the most popular.

Red: This method is where the flavored and colored beverages fall into.

Dryness and Sweetness

Gan (dry): low heat and almost no sugar

Ban Gan (semi-dry): this version is the one that is the most exported. It has between 1% – 3% of sugar.

Ban Tian (semi-sweet): The difference in this one is that instead of water, it uses some dry wine for liquid instead of water. It has anywhere from 3%-10% of sugar. 

Tian (sweet): It is possible to make this wine all year long.

Nong Tian (extra sweet): Has more than 20% of sugar. 

While still in the huangjiu category, there are two more wines that are also fermented, but not part of this category. They are choujiu, which distinguishes itself because it is made from glutinous rice, and Qingke jiu, which is made from the highland barley of Tibet.

Moving on to the baijiu, or distilled category, the most famous one is known as Mao-tai. This is known as China’s national drink, just as sake is Japan’s drink. This drink is served at all diplomatic and state dinners and is saved for those special occasions, such as holidays. It is extremely expensive to acquire. Not only are the ingredients special – quality sorghum, a specific kind of yeast, and water from a specific spring – as this is what gives it that unique flavor. The production process is also lengthy: after going through over 5 distillations and fermentations, each, it is then aged for 3 years. But, supposedly, the wait and the expense are worth it. The beverage is as clear as water and goes down just as smooth.

Baijiu are classified based on fragrance. The fragrance categories are pretty self-explanatory, except for a few of them. The heaviest is the sauce fragrance, which has been said to be unappealing for the untrained nostril. For connoisseurs, however, the fragrance is quite lovely. The sauce category is followed by heavy, light, rice, honey, and layered. 

There are also many different types of baijiu, falling into either the flavored or unflavored category. The unflavored range from the cheapest variety which is great for the common man to those that have been double- or triple-distilled.

The flavored variety incorporates many different types of flowers, herbs, medicinal herbs, tea leaves and crystal sugars. 

Whatever your taste variety, whatever your wallet will allow, there is certainly a Chinese beverage or two for you to try. Cheers!

Reference:
1. Wine in China
2. Learn about Wine: China | Regions | Berry Bros. & Rudd