Ok, we don’t know if Elon Musk and his SpaceX project will be the first to try to plant a vineyard on Mars (his manned mission is planned for 2024), but we do know that scientists are already at work trying to figure out the Red Planet’s terroir and which grapes might grow best. Scientists from the Republic of Georgia specifically. As part of their so-called IX Millennium Project, the researchers are conducting experiments at Georgia’s state-owned “grape library” where 450 indigenous grape varieties and 350 foreign varieties are grown. That Georgia is heading up a project on the future of wine in space isn’t all that surprising. Grapes have grown in that country, part of the original cradle of grapevine domestication on Earth, for more than 8,000 years. And while it would be cool to drink a glass of Martian Wine with Space food, the research’s primary purposes are practical—like attempting to understand the effects of radiation on life-sustaining agriculture on other planets.
In the Good-to-Know-I-Guess Department, we’ve just learned that you can buy canned brains on Amazon (From Books to Brains, an amazing corporate success story!). And why would one need brains other than the ones inside one’s own head? It turns out that brains (pork brains specifically) are part of the historic dish called “eggs ‘n brains” which was popular in the American South up until the mid-20th century. According to Atlas Obscura, the dish probably originated among farmers, but soon spread to more urban areas, as well. Traditionally, fresh brains were used, but later, canned brains became common. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of food and wine pairing but this dish has stopped me in my tracks. What goes with brains? Beauty? Yeah, but that’s not a wine.
They drink alcohol and love spicy food. What attributes could be better in a best friend? And of course, it’s not your dog. The animal in question is a tree shrew, the only mammal (besides us) who likes habaneros, jalapenos, spicy Bloody Marys, you name it. If its furry forehead breaks out in a sweat, it’s just fine as far as a shrew is concerned. According to a report in Atlas Obscura, tree shrews are very closely related to humans but are smaller than primates so they are easier to study. In recent research, scientists discovered that tree shrews are similar to birds: neither are affected by capsaicinoids, the molecules that make chilis hot. So break out the Carolina Reapers and the Ghost Peppers—we think these guys can handle them.
Yeah, pretty clever to have figured out that cola spelled differently starts the word alcohol. And not a moment too soon, since Coca Cola has just released an alcopop—the company’s first alcoholic drink in 125 years, according to The Drinks Business. It’s lemon-flavored, lowish in alcohol, and sold only in Japan. Aimed at female drinkers (wow, now that’s a surprise), the alcopop is modelled on Japan’s “Chu-Hi” drinks which contain shōchū (a spirit usually distilled from sweet potatoes, barley, or rice), sparkling water, and fruit flavors. Coke says it’s not coming to the States. (But remember New Coke wasn’t supposed to happen either).
Well isn’t this brilliant. Just when flutes increasingly find themselves the object of Champagne-lovers’ dismay (even disdain), it’s beer to the rescue. The German Beer company Beck’s has just released beer in a can shaped like a flute. It’s not that far-fetched really. Historically, many traditional beer glasses were shaped like Champagne flutes, and both beverages derive some of their pleasure from bubbles. Curiously, one of the reasons the flute is in disfavor for Champagne is that it isn’t ideal for appreciating the wine’s aroma. (Because you can’t easily swirl the wine in a flute, volatile aromatic compounds aren’t easily released and the wine is rendered less “smellable.”) Leading us to wonder: are beer lovers less aromatically inclined?
I know this probably never happened to you, but others of us who drink wine have occasionally enjoyed ourselves a wee bit too much. That situation has given rise to a whole slew of morning-after remedies, including the charmingly named “hair of the dog.” Surely, not literal, right? Wrong. The expression originally referred to curing a rabid dog bite by placing hairs of the dog into the bite wound. This was just one example of the ancient medical theory similia similibus curantur (Latin for “like cures like”), which is the basic tenant of homeopathy. It tuns out that using alcohol as a remedy for too much alcohol is a pretty universal practice. So, whether you’re in Rome or Romania, Kenya or Korea, chances are someone will be able to provide just the right “dog hair” should you need it.
Ok all you English majors who love wine, this is for you. The next time you find yourself sniffing a wine that smells like a goat, you can oh-so-casually toss off one of the following which, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, are all synonyms for unpleasant odors. And yes, one of these bad smell words does mean “bad goaty” as opposed to “bad garlicky” which is also in this list: outstink, nidor, noisome, mephitic, alliaceous, stinkeroo, hircine, malodorous, reekingly, kakidrosis.
It’s called BIG POUR but maybe the wine should be called BIG BOOB. The label shows a blond woman—face obscured by shadow—whose right breast pokes out through a gauzy top, as if the breast itself was reaching for the wine glass. At first, I thought BIG POUR was a bra commercial (don’t over-think this). But then I realized it’s just another cheap-shot objectification of women—this time via a not-cheap cabernet blend ($90). What’s demoralizing is that it’s made by Kelly Fleming, a Napa Valley (female) vintner. Isn’t it #timesup for this sort of thing?
So, last week we asked what well-known woman was named an honorary Artichoke Queen? (I know, it’s a little left field…). Anyway, our favorite answer was Monica Lewinsky. But the right answer was Marilyn Monroe. In 1947 (some sources say 1948) Monroe was given the honorary title by the California town of Castroville, even though as a younger woman she never scored the artichoke crown (apparently, she wasn’t considered beautiful enough).
I’m sure the Champenoise weren’t too crazy about this… In 1919, the American Tobacco Company featured “Piper Heidsieck Chewing Tobacco,” as a way to entice people to chew more tobacco. The tobacco itself was high-quality white Burley tobacco picked ripe. According to the United States Tobacco Journal, “Piper” was unequalled for chewing, and the rare Burley leaf was made even more delicious by blending it to achieve a flavor like Piper Heidsieck Champagne. Apparently if you chewed “Piper” once, you’d never be satisfied with any other tobacco.