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A. Saudi Champagne (a mix of fruit juice and soda water)

B. A no-vodka cocktail called Sex in the Desert (pomegranate syrup and tonic water)

C. Dealcoholized craft beer made from couscous, farro, and other ancient grains

D. No-alcohol sweet wine made from figs and dates

A.

According to drinks market analysts at IWSR, as Saudi Arabia becomes more international and initiates social and economic plans aimed at changing the perceptions of the country, it has taken a slightly different tact on the subject of alcoholic beverages. Such beverages are still strictly forbidden, but no-alcohol substitutes—that are sometimes similarly named—abound. The country is already a top ten market for no-alcohol beer and consumption of malt-based soft drinks is huge. There’s also a growing market for zero-alcohol wines and sparkling grape juice. One popular version of the latter is called “Saudi Champagne”—a mixture of fruit juices and soda water that many Saudis make at home.

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A. Switzerland

B. Ireland

C. Canada

D. Japan

B.

According to a report in Meininger’s Wine Business International, the Irish regretted their alcohol consumption from the previous day in more than a quarter of cases in which they’d over indulged and wished they had drunk less. Even so, the Irish do not have an exceptionally high frequency of alcohol abuse. Australians, Danes, Finns, Americans, the British, and Canadians all have higher rates of drunkenness.

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A. Muscat

B. Vermentino

C. Müller-Thurgau

D. Sauvignon Blanc

A.

Vermouth originated in Piedmont, Italy, in the 18th century. Historically, Muscat grapes were used as the base wine. The Muscat (Moscato) typically grown in Piedmont is known as Moscato Canelli or Moscato Bianco (white Muscat) and is the same as Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains in France. Because Muscat is a white grape, most Vermouth was originally white. Today, Vermouth is made in several countries and in addition to Muscat, the base wine can be made from any number of different varieties, from Catarratto grapes (Sicily), to Viura grapes (Spain), to Ugni Blanc (France), as well as other white and red varieties. Needless to say, the quality of the Vermouth is highly dependent on the quality of the base wine. Vermouth is also lightly fortified and infused with a (usually secret) blend of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of aromatic botanicals including spices, barks, roots, and bitter herbs. Several cocktails are dependent on fine Vermouth including Martinis, Manhattans, and Negronis.

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A. Petiole

B. Peduncle

C. Ampule

D. Tendril

C.

Ok, this one was difficult.  An ampule is a small, sealed vial used to preserve a sample. A, B, and D are different types of stems on a vine.  A petiole is the stem that connects a leaf to a vine.  The stem that connects a grape cluster to a vine is known as a peduncle.  And a tendril is the slender forked stem that coils around trellis wires, securing the vine’s long, leafy arms in an upright position.

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A. Caymus

B. Veuve Clicquot

C. Prisoner

D. Heitz

D.

Somm.ai recently ranked the top 50 wineries on steakhouse wine lists by placements. From first to number ten, the wineries were Duckhorn (with a whopping 3,497 placements) followed by Caymus, Cakebread, Orin Swift, Silver Oak, Veuve Clicquot, Prisoner, Jordan, Shafer, and Opus One.

Veuve Clicquot was the only Champagne to make the top ten. (Dom Perignon came in 20th). And Heitz came in 29th, although speaking personally, a bottle of Heitz “Martha’s Vineyard” and a ribeye sounds like heaven to your correspondent.

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A. Dirty Martini

B. Negroni Sbagliato

C. Gin Caipirinha

D. Aperol Spritz

D.

Well, I was voting for the Negroni Sbagliato (sweet vermouth, Campari, and Prosecco or sparkling wine), but the answer, my cocktail friends, is the Aperol Spritz. Aperol is a light, sweet, reddish, orange-colored Italian aperitif with orange and grapefruit flavors, and a subtle hint of bitter spices. An Aperol Spritz is Apero, Prosecco (or sparkling wine) and club soda.

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A. Once every three days

B. Once a week

C. Every other day

D. Every ten days

A.

According to a report on intoxication in Meininger’s Wine Business International, the average French person drinks an alcoholic beverage once every three days (132 days a year), followed in next rank order by New Zealanders (120 days a year), and the Dutch (112 days a year).  Yet given their quite respectable consumption, the French do not have a high frequency of alcohol abuse. In that, they fall 8th, after Australia, Denmark, Finland, USA, Great Britain, Canada, and Ireland.

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A. A type of sticky yeast that clumps together readily and is therefore easy to disgorge when making sparkling wine

B. The slang term for thin sticks of oak that are left over after American oak barrels are made

C. A sticky plant-based “tape” commonly used in grafting to bind a bud to a rootstock

D. The colloquial name for sweet and sweet fortified wines in Australia

D.

Stickies are the affectionate name Australians give to their country’s famous sweet and sweet fortified wines. There are several types. The most sensational, rare, and insanely delicious are Australia’s sweet fortified Muscats and Topaques, made in Rutherglen, a tiny district (once known for gold mining) in the state of Victoria. The Muscats are made from the white grape Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains; the Topaques, from the white grape Muscadelle.  These wines have unreal, hard-to-describe flavors reminiscent of toffee, brown sugar, dates, figs, vanilla, molasses, mushrooms, honey and exotic spices. Next are Australian Port-style wines, now called Australian fortified tawnies, usually made with Shiraz, Grenache, and/or Mourvèdre. They surge with dramatic, voluptuous, nutty, caramelly, chocolate, espresso, brown sugar, citrus, and spice flavors. There are also sweet fortified wines known as aperas (Sherry-style wines), usually made using two Spanish grapes, Palomino and Pedro Ximénez,. Made in minute quantities, the best come pretty close to having the finesse, complexity, and flavor of true Spanish Sherry. And finally, Australia also makes sensational botrytised wines from grapes like Semillon and Riesling.

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A. The name of the racking system used to barrel-ferment Cabernet Sauvignon by rotating the barrels on mechanical arms

B. The compound that makes some wines taste peppery

C. The process of training vines in a round, wreath-like circle to prevent the clusters from being damaged by severe wind

D. A type of oak barrel with an especially deep bilge for lots of lees contact

B.

Rotundone (row-TON-dohn) is the compound that accounts for the peppery flavor often found in the Syrahs of France’s Rhône Valley and the Shirazes of Australia. The compound exists in black and white pepper, as well as in marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, and geranium.  It can also be found in grapes themselves and survives the fermentation process. Although most often associated with Syrah, rotundone can also occasionally be found in Pinot Noir, Gamay, Durif, Schioppettino and the white grape Grüner Veltliner, among others. The compound was discovered by the Australian Wine Research Institute in 2005.

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A. Rheingau (Germany)

B. Rías Baixas (Spain)

C. Vouvray (France)

D. Condrieu (France)

D.

The tiny village of Condrieu in the northern Rhône Valley of France sits at a curve in the Rhône River. The name comes from the French coin de ruisseau, “corner of the brook.” Condrieu is famous for its white wines, all of which are made from the grape variety Viognier.

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A. Bâttonage

B. Extended contact with yeast lees

C. Malolactic fermentation

D. Aging in new oak

C.

Buttery flavors in wine are the result of diacetyl, which is the organic compound that makes butter taste buttery. For its part, diacetyl is a by-product of malolactic fermentation, the process by which beneficial bacteria convert crisp malic acid in wine to softer-feeling lactic acid. Malolactic fermentation can happen naturally or be induced by the winemaker. It can also be prevented from happening (by the addition of sulphur dioxide). Malolactic fermentation is very common with Chardonnay, which in turn means that many Chardonnays have a buttery flavor. Red wine too goes through malolactic fermentation but other compounds in red wine (especially tannin) generally obscure any buttery flavor.

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A. A process for removing smoke taint from win

B. The name, on TikTok, for wine influencers

C. A collective name for new hybrids of grapes being developed

D. A new medication that prevents headaches and/or lowers their severity

C.

Ok this was a tough one; but stay with me because I think we’ll all be hearing more about (and drinking) PIWI in the future. According to a fascinating article about them in Meininger’s Wine Business International, PIWI stands for pilzwiderstandsfähige, a German term for fungus-resistant grape varieties. PIWI varieties are resistant to many of the most severe diseases that can affect a vine—phylloxera, Pierce’s Disease, and Powdery and Downey mildew for example. (Pierce’s Disease alone costs growers in California $100 million in vineyard losses every year). PIWIs are all hybrids (in this case, Vitis Vinifera varieties crossed with varieties that belongs to the North American species Vitis Arizonica). In the past, hybrids had a bad reputation for their somewhat off-putting flavor often characterized as “foxy.” But the new hybrids, grown in good terroirs at low yields, reportedly can produce delicious wines. (I have not yet tasted a PIWI wine). But here’s the reason I think they’ll be in our future and I’m excited to try them: PIWI varieties are not only disease resistant, they are hardier than vinifera varieties, and may be able to better withstand the chaos of climate change. These varieties are also environmentally friendly. They can be grown organically more easily than 100% vinifera varieties. Organic viticulture in turn means less or no spraying which means fewer trips into the vineyard with a tractor, so far less fuel use, and soils that are spared from being compacted by the tractor. The University of California at Davis is one of the research institutes working intently on the development of PIWI varieties. Wines made from PIWI varieties are currently being made and sold in Germany, France, and on the East Coast of the United States in Vermont, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

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A. Zinfandel tends to be planted in obscure places, and thus “escapes” frequent replanting

B. Zinfandel costs more to replant than other varieties

C. Many old Zinfandel vineyards were saved by the creation of white Zinfandel

D. Zinfandel grows in terroirs that are not conducive to growing other varieties, and thus the vineyards that exist tend to be left alone

C.

In California, one of the ironic (and lucky) twists of fate was how the creation of semi-sweet, bargain-priced white Zinfandel in 1972 saved thousands of acres of precious old Zinfandel vines from being torn out. Invented (reportedly by accident) by Bob Trinchero, owner of Sutter Home winery, white Zinfandel became so popular that by the 1980s, it was outselling every other type of wine in the US. For its part, Zinfandel (old and young) was the most planted red grape in California until 1998 when Cabernet Sauvignon superseded it. Now it’s number three.

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A. China

B. Spain

C. France

D. Italy

B.

Spain. In fact, with 2.38 million acres planted with grapevines, Spain has about 20% more vineyard land than the next most vine-covered country, France—with its 1.98 million acres. Many of the vines in Spain are old, low-yielding, and widely spaced to help compensate for the extremely dry climate. China comes in third with 1.94 million acres planted, beating out Italy which comes in fourth with 1.77 million acres planted.

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A. A southern Italian grape variety said to have been a favorite of Julius Caesar, and recently rescued from near extinction

B. The modern practice of growing grapevines up trees, named after a Greek viticulturist who revived the ancient technique

C. A type of crushed rocky soil prevalent in Georgia, Armenia, and other places in eastern Europe that were early domestication sites for wine

D. The original name for Cabernet Franc

D.

Achéria is the oldest name for, and most primitive clone of, Cabernet Franc.  Although widely assumed to have originated in Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc (Achéria) is native to the Basque Country of northern Spain. From there it spread over the Pyrenees to the Gironde (the area around Bordeaux), where it encountered Sauvignon Blanc (which, for its part, had moved south from the Loire Valley). In the Gironde, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc had a nice moment in Nature and gave birth to Cabernet Sauvignon.

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A. Greece

B. Australia

C. Argentina

D. Italy

B.

When, in the late 1800s, phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards of Europe, plus many in the Americas, parts of Australia side-stepped the pest. In particular, the state of South Australia was one of the few places that never had (and still doesn’t have) phylloxera thanks to strict quarantine laws that were put in place in the 1890s. As a result, South Australia is now home to many of the oldest vineyards in the world—vineyards which possess the original genetic plant material of Europe’s grapevines. Just two examples from the Barossa Valley include the Old Garden Vineyard (owned by the Hewitson family) which includes the world’s oldest Mourvèdre, planted in 1853. And vines in Penfold’s Kalimna “Block 42,” planted in 1888, are thought to be the world’s oldest producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines.

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A. Diamond Creek “Lake Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 1987

B. Opus One 1985

C. Heitz “Martha’s Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 1973

D. Colgin “Herb Lamb” 1990

A.

Diamond Creek’s 1987 “Lake Vineyard” Cabernet (only 75 cases were made) was the first wine in the Napa Valley to cost $100. Opus One 1985 was released at a price of $55 per bottle. Heitz 1973 “Martha’s Vineyard” Cabernet cost $13.50 when it was released. And Colgin “Herb Lamb” 1990 doesn’t exist; the first vintage of Colgin “Herb Lamb” was in 1992 and was $39 per bottle. As an aside, the first Napa Valley wine to cost more than $1,000 was the 2014 Screaming Eagle.

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A. Exclusive by houses who grow their own grapes and buy from growers

B. Exclusively by houses and independent growers

C. By houses, growers, and co-operatives

D. By houses and negotiants

C.

Champagne wines are made by houses, growers, and co-operatives. There are 370 houses, 16,200 growers, and 130 cooperatives. Of these, 4,300 produce Champagne and 1,800 export it around the world.

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A. A sommelier for cider

B. A stick-like device used for stirring the lees in a barrel

C. The French name for the paddle used in Burgundy for “punching down” Pinot Noir

D. A device used (in biodynamic viticulture) to clean cow horns before they are buried

A.

Interest in fine cider is growing exponentially each year. There are now certified pommeliers (cider sommeliers) in the UK, US, Norway, and Italy.

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A. Germany

B. Czech Republic

C. China

D. United States

B.

This was a tough one! According to World Population Review, as of 2020 (the latest figures available), on a per capita basis, the Czech Republic took the lead with 48 gallons (182 liters) per person. (The Czech Republic was where pilsners were invented.) In fact, in 2020, beer was cheaper than bottled water in the Czech Republic. The next three countries (in rank order) were Austria, Poland, and Romania. Germany came in 5th. The US ranked 17th, and China, 25th.