New years usually begin with a bang and then head off into a whimpering mess. You need look no further than 2016 to prove that observation. More than any year I can remember, it seems we are all together in being quite happy that this year is over, done and behind us.
But we cannot just walk away without taking something of value from 2016. In that spirit (Pun. Get it?), allow me to offer a few items that are going to lop over from last year to 2017, and maybe beyond. It won’t hurt you to be aware of these trends and maybe even put in a little extra study and lab time.
Bubbles – Sometimes Not From the Usual Places
There always seems to be bells going off somewhere signaling re-invigoration, a new beginning of a movement or a product. Several years ago, prosecco, sparkling wine from the northeastern part of Italy, sprang to life after decades of moribund sales. Even today, there is no stopping this ongoing phenomenon.
If you are not familiar with DOCG, the Italian designation for an authentic wine from a particular place that is of exquisite quality, when it comes to prosecco, you should become acquainted. You are going to hear a lot about such wines from this region. Prosecco was only the harbinger of a wave.
Interestingly, and likely because of price, Champagne sales have not exactly progressed in lock-step but other sparkling wines made like Champagne – methode traditionelle – from just about every area of France, most known as Cremant, have grabbed the drinking public’s fancy. Then there are sparkling wines from America and the cava wines from Spain, all on a roll. As soon as production hits a critical mass, sparkling wines from England (yes, you read that correctly) will be gracing our retail shelves and wine lists in fine restaurants. The stuff is relatively new and shows great promise.
Bourbon not from Kentucky
Just as we are enjoying a lot of sparkling wine that is not from Champagne, so too are we seeing, and I hope you are trying, a lot of whiskey not from Kentucky’s Bourbon Country. As you well know, only Champagne can come from the Champagne region in the northeast of France. Bourbon is in the same situation in that bourbon from Kentucky is really the definition of the spirit, but created-the-same-way-just-not-in-the-usual-place whiskey is becoming more common.
There is even a bourbon whisky, LA1, being distilled in Louisiana and it has a lot going for it. But it is not alone in the market. Kentucky has placed a lot of rules on what can be called Kentucky Bourbon, but that does not mean bourbon from another place made with slight variations to the Kentucky regulations cannot be very good. Keep in mind that the basis for the Kentucky product was in fact that stuff from Scotland. And so the world keeps spinning around.
Pabst & Richarz from Munich; Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey from Gardiner, New York; Lidl UK Western Gold; FEW from Illinois; Tin Cup from Colorado; High West American Prairie from Utah; Balcones Baby Blue from Texas; Journeyman Featherbone from Michigan; Big Bottom from Oregon… well, you get the idea.
Only the US produces bourbon, while many countries produce whiskey, including the US. Bourbon is made from 51 percent or more corn. The remaining grain ingredients can be rye, malted barley and/or wheat.
Whiskey, on the other hand can be all of those grains blended, with the addition of malted rye and malted barley. Tennessee whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. Irish whiskey makes use of unmalted peat, while Japanese whiskey dries the malted barley in kilns with a little peat.
Kentucky bourbons are in great demand and so you will likely see more whiskies from other places that are very good and do not have to adhere to the regulations that tightly define Kentucky bourbon.
While orange wine may refer to a wine made from oranges, or a wine made from grapes into which orange peels have been added to the must (the fermenting mass of grape juice, skins, seeds, maybe some piece of the vine, and yeast), mostly today the term orange wine is used to refer to a dry white wine made with some extended skin contact.
This process is the exact opposite of the making of rosé wines where the grape juice is moved quickly away from skin contact, in orange wine the juice is left in contact intentionally with the skins to extract more of the color, the tannins and the phenols that are contained in the skin.
Orange wine seems to be a craze and since there does not seem to be another one at the moment, here it is. What many orange wine drinkers have not quite figured out is that they are drinking white wine, and as soon as that realization sets in, the orange wine craze will be gone, or at least diminished to a few folks who still hang on to their White Zinfandel and Windows XP OS.
The thing about trends is that they come, they go, and yet there are those true-believers left in their wake who won’t move along. The residual effects of a trend in society lingers. Orange wine will travel the same path so expect to come across it for a long time to come. Passionate discoverers will not let go and they will proselytize you until you relent. Be strong.
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored, at www.wgso.com. Also check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life" every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcasted episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/