In the last few years a large number of non-alcholic beverages have hit the market. If you’re looking to join the Dry January craze, or like to have the N?A option from time to time throughout the year, here’s an extensive list of mocktails and Ready to Drink cocktail beverages compiled by the folks at VinePair. Not sure where to find the ones that strikes your style of beverage? Usually a quick “Where to Find…” search will generate results, and many websites have a Find Us pageAnother option is Amazon. I noticed they stock many of these, which could be on your doorstep in 24 hours!

I wish you well with your endeavor! 

Best Non-Alcoholic Cocktails and RTDs

Curious Elixirs

Curious Elixirs is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

Curious Elixirs offers four non alcoholic cocktails, each arriving in sleek bottles with minimalist branding. The drinks pay homage to well-known classics, including the Negroni, French 75, and Italian (Aperol) Spritz. Tasked with creating those drinks without the very distinctive flavors of ingredients like Campari, gin, and Champagne, the collection lands as a resounding success, closely mimicking the overall profile of each cocktail. Our pick of the bunch is the refreshing, light, and floral French 75.

Price: $40/ 4-pack 20 oz bottles

De Soi

De Soi is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

The newest frontier for celebrity endorsements, Katy Perry entered the non-alcoholic space in early 2022 when she launched her line of booze-free, sparkling aperitifs, De Soi. The brand offers three different flavors, available in shareable 750-milliliter bottles and single-serve 8-ounce cans. Made and infused with a broad selection of sweet, savory, and botanical ingredients, their profiles are heavy on flavor and aromas, but light and bubbly in texture. Seek out the reishi mushroom–based Champignon Dreams.

Price: $25/ 750 mL bottle or 4-pack 12 oz cans

Jeng

Jeng is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

Hemp-based Jeng is another producer that offers nonalcoholic takes on well-known cocktails. The brand’s Paloma arrives with subtle sweetness and enough complexity to match the traditional combination of tequila and grapefruit soda, while the Jeng & Tonic brims with zesty lime and bitter quinine notes. More than just fancy sodas, these are balanced, well-executed highballs that bring a splash of fun to booze-free occasions.

Price: $20/ 4-pack 8 oz cans

For Bitter For Worse

For Bitter For Worse is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands

The trio of large-format RTDs offered by this brand promises to challenge even the most adventurous of palates. The Negroni-adjacent Saskatoon finishes with a wave of bitterness, certain to please amaro lovers. The Old Fashioned-esque Smoky No. 56 evokes a sweet, savory, and smoky BBQ sauce. Eva’s Spritz proves to be the most “mainstream” in profile of the three, though the fruity and sparkling aperitif nevertheless arrives with its fair share of savory notes.

Price: $28/750 mL bottle or $22/4-pack 6.3 oz cans

Figlia

Figlia is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

Based out of New York and Los Angeles, Figlia was created in response to founder Lily Geiger’s father’s battle with alcoholism. Geiger’s core line, FIORE and FIORE Frizzante, launched in 2021. While the still version of FIORE comes in 750 milliliter bottles and Frizzante is sparkling and sold in 8 ounce cans, both products deliver the same ginger-forward flavor that mimics bitter Italian digestifs. While it won’t taste exactly like your favorite Campari cocktail, its approachable profile makes it a great entrypoint for those less familiar with aperitivo. Juicy and herbaceous, this is a formidable swap for the fancy soda lovers out there.

Price: $43/750 mL bottle or $36/6-pack 8 oz cans

Clever Mocktails

Clever Mocktails is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

From Montreal, Canada comes a line of mocktails so convincing, you’ll find yourself double- and triple-checking the ingredient list. With offerings spanning N/A gin, canned Mojitos, Gin & Tonics, and Mules, there’s a sip for every kind of drinker. Seek out the Mojito especially — its flavors of fresh mint and lime add balance to a cocktail that often verges on saccharine. The Pink Gin & Tonic, made with juniper, cardamom, and carrot juice, is also a worthy purchase.

Price: $39/12-pack 12 oz cans

Mockly

Mockly is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

From New Orleans-based mixologist Jesse Carr, Mockly seeks to achieve lightly effervescent, complex cocktails — no spirits required. Choose between the spicy El Diablo, made with Earl Grey, chili, and passionfruit, or go for the ginger-forward, wintry Love Bite, with notes of herbal tea, pomegranate, rosemary, and juicy citrus. These sips feature a slight vinegar-forward note that balances fruit-driven sweetness, making it especially appealing to those who enjoy ginger kombucha.

Price: $11/4-pack 250 mL cans

Ghia

Ghia is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

One of the better-known names in the N/A space, Ghia has captured the hearts of countless coastal millennials, sober or otherwise. The apéritif is comparable to your favorite craft amari, with ginger, herbs, and just a hint of sweetness. The mouthfeel of this offering also stands ahead of the pack; while some of its competitors lean on the watery side of things, Ghia has a full body and would mix beautifully into a cocktail. Its Le Spritz collection features the original Ghia Soda flavor alongside the newer Ghia Ginger and Lime & Salt flavors, all of which would make great beach bag or weekday lunch additions.

Price: $38/16.5 oz bottle or $60/12-pack 8 oz cans

Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Damrak Virgin 0.0

Damrak Virgin 0.0 is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

From an Amsterdam-based gin distiller, this non-alcoholic alternative opens with vibrant citrus aromas that all but dominate the nose. The palate continues in a similar zesty fashion but delivers an unexpectedly weighty texture, which does a good job of mimicking alcohol. Though there are faint whispers of botanicals, this remains a more straightforward, easygoing example of N/A gin — one that drinks very well with tonic or sparkling water.

Price: $25/ 700 mL bottle

Free Spirits

Free Spirits is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

Free Spirits offers three options aimed at providing direct alternatives to popular spirits. All finish with a fiery kick akin to fresh ginger and seemingly intended to recreate the “burn” of alcohol. The Spirit of Gin oozes lime oil on the nose and kicks in a peppery bite of juniper on the palate. The brand’s tequila alternative — aimed at reposado and añejo drinkers — matches sweet vanilla with rustic herbaceous notes, and is the best booze-free tequila imitation we tasted. The Spirit of Bourbon does a similarly fine job of delivering notes of corn, caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak that define America’s native spirit, while the Spirit of Milano offers a worthy alternative to your favorite Italian amaro.

Price: $37/ 750 mL bottle

Lyre’s

Lyre’s is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

Lyre’s leads the way in terms of the range of its portfolio, and many of the brand’s offerings represent the best non alcoholic versions of their intended spirits. Aperitif Rosso and Italian Orange prove worthy choices for aperitivo hour. So tasty are both when mixed in a spritz that even the most reluctant Dry January participant won’t be left craving booze. You might question what use you have for N/A Orange Sec or Amaretti; upon tasting, you’ll actively search for drinks to mix, given how enjoyable their profiles are. The Dry London Spirit is bold and juniper-forward, while the Dark Cane Spirit might just be the finest pick of the bunch, with intense aromas and an exceptionally balanced palate. It’s no wonder that this brand is already valued at over $350 million despite being around for less than four years.

Price: $36/ 700 mL bottle

New London Light

New London Light is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

From England’s Salcombe Distilling Co., this N/A spirit alternative brand offers expressions with convincing complexity. Where other nonalcoholic “gins” don’t stray too far from citrus in their profiles, New London Light’s three botanical-forward expressions showcase notes of pine, juniper, and fresh wafts of citrus pith. Combined with its rich texture, there’s no danger of New London Light getting lost in cocktails, whether highballs or stirred “spirit”-forward creations.

Price: $35/ 750 mL bottle

Seedlip

Seedlip is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

A pioneer of non-alcoholic spirits, Seedlip has so far made more inroads into the bar world than most other zero-proof brands. With three distilled herbal elixirs in its lineup, Seedlip aims not to mimic existing spirits but offers three different profiles for bartenders to work with: the citrusy “Grove,” herbal and savory “Garden,” and “Spice.” When tasted alongside other N/A spirits, the body of these options feels slightly thin but the flavors and aromas remain concentrated and intense.

Price: $32/ 700 mL bottle

Spiritless Kentucky 74

Spiritless Kentucky 74 is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

A bourbon alternative like no other, Kentucky 74 begins with an intense one-two punch of cherry candy and almond essence aromas. It enters the palate sweet, before complex flavors begin to unfold, each one cementing its case as a quality whiskey replacement. Spiritless suggests sipping the drink on its own or in a 50/50 split with your favorite bourbon. While this won’t be an option for those choosing to completely abstain, the experience is infinitely more enjoyable than watered-down bourbon, and allows drinkers a genuinely tasty way of cutting the proof and calories in their whiskey glass.

Price: $36/ 750 mL bottle

Aplós

Aplós is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

Made in collaboration with NYC-based bartender Lynnette Marrero, Aplós delivers herbal, adaptogenic spirits in chic, design-forward bottles. The brand offers two distinct options: Calme and Arise, meant to relax and energize, respectively. For our panel, the winner among the two was the hemp-infused Calme, with its grassy, basil-forward notes entwined with the brightness of grapefruit pith and fresh mint. Just try not to be put off by the color; both spirits appear opaque in the glass with a milky-white hue.

Price: $48/575 mL bottle

Wilfred’s

Wilfred’s is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

“Bittersweet Orange and Rosemary” reads the label description of this Aperol/Campari alternative, and the liquid inside sure lives up to the brief. Its bittersweet profile cries aperitivo, while the inclusion of rosemary adds distinctive personality and pairs wonderfully with its orange aromas and flavors. Ideal for spritzes, it also drinks wonderfully on the rocks with a large orange wedge (and a few dashes of bitters, if you’re not worried about adding a small amount of alcohol).

Price: $32/ 500 mL bottle

Three Spirit

Three Spirit is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks brands for 2023.

The landscape of brands offering buzz without the booze has expanded in recent years, but Three Spirit remains ahead of the pack on quality in that space. The brand’s three non-alcoholic “spirits” offer punchy, flavorful options for each stage of the night. The fruity “Livener” kicks off the party, while the bitter chocolate and cold-brew-leaning “Social Elixir” keeps things going. For the end of the evening, there’s “Nightcap,” which is bold, lusciously sweet, and finishes with a fiery kick. The latter can be nursed over a large chunk of ice, but don’t miss out on the brand’s extensive range of cocktail recipes.

Price: $39/ 500 mL bottle

On December 1st, 2022, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted French President Emmanuel Marcon and his wife Brigitte at the White House. Here are the wines that were served during the State Dinner. As you’ll see, they are all from California, but with a French flair

For the First Course

Maine Lobster with American caviar was served with 2018 Newton Unfiltered Napa Valley Chardonnay. 
Newton is owned by the French Luxury Goods Company, LVMH (Moët  Hennessy Louis Vuitton).

The Second Course – 

Calotte of beef with shallot marmalade was paired with 2019 Anakota Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Sonoma County brand is owned by Jackson Family Wines, but crafted by their business partner, Bordeaux winemaker Pierre Seillan.

The Third Course –

American artisanal cheeses, orange chiffon cake, roasted pairs, and creme fraishe ice cream, was accompanied by Roederer Estate Brut Rosé NV from the cool climate of Mendocino County. The French-owned Roederer Esate has been making wine Anderson Valley since 1988.

The wines were served in Baccarat crystal, in keeping with the French theme. The dinner sounds divine!

Credit: Twitter/ POTUS

 

Additional guests were John Legende and Chrissie Teigen, Stephen Colbert, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jennifer Gardner. Esteemed guests were also in attendance,  LVMH owner Bernard Arnault and Hélène Marie Mercier Arnault, as well as Bouchaine winery owners Tatiana Copeland and Gerret Copeland. Sadly, I could  not attend as I had a prior engagement.     

–Article inspired by TheDrinksBusiness.com

I cheer on winemaker Adam Lee, founder of Siduri Wines and owner of Clarice Wine Company. When it comes to natural wine, clean wine, and now zero-sugar wine, there are a lot of misleading statements – about how better it tastes and how better it is for you. Adam couldn’t take it any longer and took one company on head-to-head. Make sure what you take what you hear in wine adversting with a grain of salt, or in this case, a grain (and more) of sugar.

From Vinography‘s Aldo Yarrow-

 

Today I’m publishing an article written by winemaker Adam Lee, founder of Siduri Wines and owner of the Clarice Wine Companywho shares my annoyance at the misleading, denigration marketing of most so-called clean wine companies.

In some recent columns here, Alder has very appropriately weighed in on the issues associated with the various claims put forth by several different wineries, such as Dry Farm Wines.

Recently the TTB has started to take notice of these claims as well, issuing guidelines for wineries who attempt to advertise their wines as “clean wines.”

While the TTB is putting producers on notice regarding these claims and advertisements, it seems obvious to me that this isn’t enough. I approached Alder with this column a couple of months ago but never got around to finishing it. Now, with the TTB sitting up and taking notice, I finally found the inspiration and Alder has been kind enough to allow me to publish it on Vinography.

If you are remotely connected to wine online, you will see their advertisements all over Facebook and Instagram…. wine brands claiming to offer wines with “zero sugar” and which are “keto-friendly”. Several wineries claim that their wines are different from the world of supposedly mass-produced wines which, according to them, contain loads of residual sugar and various other additives.

As both a commercial winemaker and an interested consumer, I decided to examine one such winery and see what I could determine about their claims.

Please forgive a brief amount of science, but I do think it is important to have some basic knowledge before going forward. For winemaking purposes, sugars fall into two categories, “fermentable” and “non-fermentable” sugars. During fermentation, yeast converts “fermentable” sugars into alcohol. Non-fermentable sugars remain behind.

What PURE the Winery Claims

PURE the Winery is one of the more prominent wineries that advertise their “zero sugar” wine on various social media sites. They claim to be “zero sugar” right on the front page of their website, and in much of their advertising (sometimes they seem to hedge their bets a little, by claiming it is “zero sugar per serving”). They also tie this in with claims the wines are, therefore, “keto-friendly.”

According to them, “A unique and natural fermentation technique ensures that all the sugars from the grapes are completely converted into alcohol.” They go on to explain why and how they make these wines:

“For this reason, we soon discovered that adults liked to enjoy a good wine, but at the same time often feel guilty consuming it. This is due to the number of calories and carbohydrates usually present in wine. To a larger extent, the caloric load is given by the non-fermented sugars, which have not been converted into alcohol during its fermentation. We soon discovered that these sugars are not necessary to give a good flavor to the wine. Thus, we started our journey create and to offer a wine with zero sugar. And we did it! By combining unique and traditional fermentation techniques, we found a way to naturally convert all sugars into alcohol. We got a wine without sugar and without carbohydrates and up to 50% fewer calories. With 10.5% alcohol and a fantastic uncomplicated taste.”

That’s not all, however. On the FAQ page of their website they explain what they do in the vineyard to make this possible:

“The grapes used to make PURE the Winery wines are carefully selected and picked at the right time. A grape contains sugars that can ferment into alcohol and sugars that cannot ferment into alcohol. The longer a grape ripens, the more of the second sugar, which cannot ferment into alcohol, is formed in the grape. When our grapes are picked, the sugars that can ferment to alcohol are at their peak and the sugars that cannot ferment to alcohol are not yet present in the grape. Our experienced winemakers combine unique and traditional fermentation techniques to convert all sugars into alcohol in a completely natural way.”

They also claim to be lower in alcohol, calories, and sulfites than other wines:

“But because there is no sugar in our wines, the sulfite content is relatively low compared to other wines.”

In its Facebook advertisements, PURE the Winery repeats its claims. They claim that “after the fermentation, there is no sugar left in our wines, not even residual sugars like in other wines.”  They once again mention that “we developed a yeast that ferments all the sugars into alcohol and leaves no residual sugars like other wines.” And they go one step further addressing anyone who happens to be on a Keto diet:

What the Authorities Require

The TTB (the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau – the organization that governs winery labeling and advertising) has issued guidance on when a winery can use “zero sugar” claims:

“If a serving of your alcohol beverage contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar, you may include a claim such as “Zero Sugar,” “No Sugar,” or “Sugar Free” on your label or in your advertisement. The label or advertisement must also include a statement of average analysis or a Serving Facts statement.”

HTTPS://WWW.TTB.GOV/IMAGES/NEWSLETTERS/ARCHIVES/2021/TTB-NEWSLETTER07092021.HTML

So, per the TTB, a wine doesn’t actually have to have zero sugar to be able to claim zero sugar – it just has to be low in sugar – below 0.5 grams per glass. With 5 glasses in a bottle that means that the wine needs to have less than 2.5 grams of sugar in a standard bottle and less than 3.38 grams of sugar in a liter. As a winemaker of what would be considered more traditional dry wines, we all believe that wines aren’t dry until they are below 2 grams per liter (and most wines are much lower than that). Thus, there’s every likelihood that a wine you pick up off the shelf is just as dry, if not drier, than a PURE the Winery offering. However, knowing that there are unfermentable sugars in wine leads us not to label the wines as zero sugar as that wouldn’t be honest. 

Despite the TTB’s latitude in this area, the Agency did, back in 2004, promise to look at advertisements regarding caloric content and sugars in wine and make judgments as to their veracity, especially when it comes to health-related claims. Basically, they say that you can’t mislead consumers.

What Did I Discover about PURE the Winery?

I ordered a selection of Pure the Winery wines through their website. The wines were the PURE Sparking White Wine, PURE Sparkling Rosé Wine, the PURE White Wine, and the PURE Red Wine. I took the bottles and delivered them, unopened, directly to ETS Laboratories. ETS is an accredited lab, independently owned and operated since 1978.

Here were the results for these “zero sugar” wines:

PURE Sparkling White Wine:     glucose + fructose: 0.5 grams per liter
Total sugar: 1.5 grams per liter

PURE Sparkling Rosé Wine:        glucose + fructose: 0.4 grams per liter
Total sugar: 1.4 grams per liter

PURE White Wine:                        glucose + fructose: 0.3 grams per liter
Total sugar: 1.3 grams per liter

PURE Red Wine:                           glucose + fructose: 0.4 grams per liter
Total sugar: 2.5 grams per liter

From these numbers, it is obvious that the wines do not truly have “zero sugar.” These numbers certainly are below the TTB requirement for advertising a wine as “zero sugar” but they also are not significantly different from most of the wines I’ve made over the past 27 years.

What is also clear is that the claim PURE the Winery somehow developed “a yeast that ferments all the sugars into alcohol” and didn’t pick at a time when unfermentable sugars were not yet present in the grapes is categorically false. Basically, while the label is technically compliant, the wine’s advertising is clearly not true and is misleading.

One other notable falsity about the wines that could be gleaned from the ETS report. First, the reported low alcohol levels are truly that low. Second, PURE’s claim that the wines are lower in sulfite isn’t accurate. The Sparkling White, Sparkling Rosé, and the White Wine all came in between 98 and 111ppm Total Sulfur Dioxide. From my 27 years of winemaking, I’d say that not only are those numbers not “low” but they are actually rather high. Only the Pure Red Wine could be considered “low” at 29ppm Total Sulfur Dioxide.

Last, the “keto-friendly” claims bear some consideration too. While my understanding is that sugar is part of a keto diet (up to 50 grams per day I’m told), it’s pretty misleading to throw the “zero sugar” claim around and direct it to keto diets—it basically is telling people living a keto lifestyle that there are “zero” sugars to attribute to this product, which is clearly not the case.

What Conclusions Can We Draw From All This?

It seems clear that there are target consumers for wines being sold as “zero sugar,” “low calories,” and “low sulfites.” PURE the Winery is just one such company making these claims online. The TTB allows the wines to be labeled “zero sugar” even when they have some sugar in them – and this loophole has led to an explosion of wineries making this claim and legally labeling their wines thusly.

However, both on their website and in their advertisements, PURE the Winery takes their claims further and makes claims that clearly are not true, based on independent lab results. They seem to be counting on a combination of consumer desire and lack of knowledge, along with no real TTB enforcement, to sell their wines. And they seem untroubled by making patently false claims, “like we pick before the nonfermentable sugars develop” and “we have a special yeast that converts everything”. They also seem untroubled by hiding behind technical compliance and telling people with specific dietary needs (keto) that there are zero sugars in their wines when the presence of any sugar is something of material importance to those consumers.

This type of misleading advertising does a disservice to consumers and to other wineries. We can only hope that the TTB follows through on its promise to crack down on misleading advertising in the wine business.

Haven’t decided on the wines you’re going to serve this year? Here’s a list from VinePair that will help get your juices flowing, so to speak. It features some California favorites and thought provoking international brands.

Whatever wine you choose, I hope it accompanies a safe and
lively family or friends get-together.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Click the image for the list.

Wines for Thanksgiving

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I find it fascinating when a Roman shipwreck of the past delivers its forgotten bounty through modern discovery.  This story further emphasizes the wine trade between ancient civilizations.  A previous discovery is included in this article as well. – Jeff

As reported by VinePair

A Roman shipwreck dating back nearly 2,000 years has been discovered off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Through an operation led by the environmental protection agency ARPA Sicilia, in partnership with the Superintendency of the Sea (SopMare), researchers are working to uncover the history of the ill-fated ship.

Soon after its discovery, a high-tech remotely operated vessel dove 92 meters (302 feet) below the Mediterranean Sea to explore more. There, the robot found a “large cargo of amphorae” in and around the shipwreck, according to a statement from ARPA.

Typically made with a slim neck and handles, ceramic amphorae were favored by the Romans for transporting wine and other food products across the empire with ease and efficiency.

“The Mediterranean continually gives us precious elements for the reconstruction of our history linked to maritime trade, the types of boats, the transport carried out,’’ Valeria Li Vigni, expedition leader from SopMare, said in the statement. “Now we will know more about life onboard and the relationships between coastal populations.’’

This isn’t the first such high-profile amphorae discovery

In 2013, researchers uncovered a Bronze Age shipwreck carrying between 6,000 – 8,000 amphorae. It was the fourth-largest cargo to be found in the Mediterranean and solidified historical presumptions about the wine trade between ancient civilizations.

Roman Shipwreck Laden with Wine Amphorae

photo: IONIAN AQUARIUM

Archeologists continue to uncover historical evidence along ancient Rome’s vast trade route, from remnants of Middle Eastern spices to chipped Grecian vases. The catch: these items must be located and taken in by authorities before they make it onto the black market. 

updated: AUGUST 4, 2021

 

For a similar story see Century Old Wine And Champagne Discovered.

My first response to seeing this post about the Mighty Wine Fight is, when can we adopt this wild, amusing activity in Sonoma and Napa? Here’s what’s happening in La Rioja –

Each year between the 27th and 30th of June, thousands of thirsty locals and a handful of lucky (wine addicted) tourists climb a mountain in La Rioja, Spain, and throw the sweet red liquid all over each other. This is St Peter’s Feast Day, though you’d be lucky to find a local who could tell you so, and the event is known around these parts as La Batalla del Vino de Haro – or better known by us guiris as the Wine Fight.

Mighty Wine FightWhen It Begins

The madness of the annual wine fight starts the night before, on the evening of the 28th of June. This is by far the biggest party that the quaint town of Haro sees. As the night unfolds, the whole town gathers on the streets, from children to grandparents, who all party the night away in the town’s cobbled streets, buzzing bars and picturesque Spanish squares.

As If That Isn’t Enough

After a few hours of frolicking and fun, the fight descends down the mountain and moves into the town of Haro, where the only fight is done with traditional dances – the kind that can only be induced by hours of red wine pouring down one’s throat.
Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Don’t miss your chance to take part in the Wine Fight, also known as the Batalla del Vino en Haro.

For the history and more news click here.

 

This is the 11th year the UK publication Drinks International has presented a list of the world’s most admired wine brands. 

Drinks International editor Martin Green said: “The Most Admired Wine Brands 2021 highlights the most iconic, exciting and innovative producers in the world.

The brands were chosen by an academy made up of the world’s leading wine experts, including buyers, sommeliers, wholesalers, bar owners, Masters of Wine, writers and educators from 48 different countries.

European brands featured 29 times on the list, led by France with 11 brands, Spain with eight and Italy with six. Needless to say, this is a global list so don’t be put off by the fact that only four wine producers in the U.S. made the list.  Those four should be quite proud. What is astonishing are the highly respected French Chateaus that landed behind two of the North American brands.

THE LIST

Ranking

Brand

Country

1

Familia Torres Spain

2

Catena Argentina

3

Vega Sicilia Spain

4

Henschke Australia

5

Concha y Toro Chile

6

Penfolds Australia

7

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti France

8

CVNE Spain

9

Antinori Italy

10

Château Musar Lebanon

11

E. Guigal France

12

Château Lafite France

13

Errazuriz Chile

14

Felton Road New Zealand

15

Villa Maria New Zealand

16

Yalumba Australia

17

Planeta Italy

18

Château Cheval Blanc France

19

M. Chapoutier France

20

Château d’Yquem France

21

Ridge USA

22

Symington Portugal

23

Château Petrus France

24

Frescobaldi Italy

25

Château Palmer France

26

Gaja Italy

27

Montes Chile

28

Cono Sur Chile

29

Jackson Family Wines USA

30

Craggy Range New Zealand

31

Château Margaux France

32

Campo Viejo Spain

33

Château Haut-Brion France

34

Nederburg South Africa

35

Château Mouton-Rothschild France

36

Bruce Jack South Africa

37

Bodegas Abadal Spain

38

Esporão Portugal

39

Gallo Family Vineyards USA

40

Sassicaia Italy

41

Louis Latour France

42

McGuigan Australia

43

Ramón Bilbao Spain

44

Oyster Bay New Zealand

45

Royal Tokaji Hungary

46

Beringer USA

47

Raventós Cordoníu Spain

48

Santa Rita Chile

49

Tignanello Italy

50

La Rioja Alta Spain

You can read The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands 2021 magazine here to learn more about the brands featured on the list.

If a bottle of Petrus was aged in space for one year would it taste differently than one on Earth?

This month, researchers at the Institute for Wine and Vine Research in Bordeaux analyzed 320 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines and 12 bottles of wine that returned to Earth in January after travelling aboard the International Space Station for a calendar year.

Until now, the identity of the bottles remained a secret. According to The Associated Press, Space Cargo Unlimited, which is spearheading the experiment, revealed on Wednesday that the bottles are from Château Pétrus — one of the most expensive wine estates in the world. More specifically, bottles of the Bordeaux estate’s 2000 vintage were selected for the mission. At the time of writing, the going rate for one such bottle (that hasn’t been aged in space) is between $6,500 to $7,000.

The experiment is a result of long-term efforts to make plants on Earth more resilient to climate change and disease by exposing them to the stresses of space’s atmosphere and studying the ways in which they adapt. Researchers also hoped to further understand the aging process of wine.

According to Dr. Michael Lebert, a biologist at Friedrich-Alexander-University in Germany, the findings could help scientists discover a way to artificially age fine vintages.

During a blind tasting of the wines in March, 12 connoisseurs appraised samples of the space wines alongside a bottle from the same vintage that was cellar-aged on Earth for a year. Wine expert and Decanter’s Bordeaux taster Jane Anson remarked that the wine from Earth tasted “a little younger than the one that had been to space.” As for the space wine, Anson claimed “the tannins had softened, [and] the side of floral aromatics came out.” She added that perhaps it tasted two to three years older than its counterpart.

Other panelists noted that the wine had flavors akin to burnt orange, cured leather, or a campfire. As a whole, panelists seemed pleased with the extraterrestrial vino.

Why would the wines taste different? Lebert explained that on Earth, the phenomenon of convection mixes oxygen around, resulting in a stable oxygen concentration that affects all chemical reactions, such as oxidation. Ultimately, “oxidizing substances change the taste [of wine],” he said. In space, this convection doesn’t occur.

Furthermore, the lack of gravity in space “creates tremendous stress on any living species,” Nicolas Gaume, CEO and founder of Space Cargo Unlimited, told The Associated Press.

Oddly enough, the vine snippets in space grew faster than those on Earth, despite environmental challenges like limited light and water supply. While Lebert asserted that this discovery could lead to winemaking in space, Christophe Chateau of the Bordeaux Winemakers’ Council predicts that it will be more than a decade before we see practical applications of this.

Who knows, in a few years, maybe we will all be sipping on wine that has been through a space odyssey. Let’s hope it’s otherworldly.

Story compliments of VinePair.com
Written by Kelly Tesoriero

Yes, Coca-Cola is related to wine. You might even say the world’s favorite cola owes its existence to wine.

In the mid 1800s ”tonic” wines were introduced. In 1863, a Parisian chemist, Angelo Mariani, combined wine with coca, short for cocaethylene (a drug made by mixing cocaine and alcohol – whew!). He sold it under the name “Vin Mariani” and the tonic drink became extremely popular.

Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, and even Queen Victoria were among the millions who indulged in the tonic beverage.  Even the chief rabbi of France is quoted to have said, “Praise be to Mariani’s wine!

Witnessing the commercial success, Dr. John Pemberton of Columbus, George, created his own version. He called it Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, and produced it in Atlanta. In 1885, local temperance legislation forced John Pemberton to produce a non-alcoholic version. He removed the cocaine, pepped it up with caffeine-rich kola nuts,  replaced the wine with non-alcoholic syrup and Coca-Cola was born.

 

Where was the first successful American winery located? The answer is Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the mid-1830s, Nicholas Longworth planted a vineyard of Catawba on the Mount Adams hillside and began making a sparkling wine from the grapes using the traditional method used in Champagne.

From the 1830s through the 1850s, Longworth’s still and sparkling Catawba were being distributed from California to Europe where it received numerous press accolades. In the 1850s, a journalist from The Illustrated London News noted that the still white Catawba compared favorably to the hock wines of the Rhine and the sparkling Catawba “transcends the Champagnes of France”.

Another who was impressed was the famous Ohio poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was inspired to write Ode to Catawba Wine, which begins: “Very good in its way/ Is the Verzenay,/ Or the Sillery soft and creamy;/ But Catawba wine/ Has a taste more divine,/ More dulcet, delicious and dreamy.” (source-Wine Spectator)

At it’s peak, Longworth’s winery was producing 100,000 bottles a year with distribution to Europe and across the U.S. Unfortunately, by the 1860s, black rot and downy mildew struck heavily in the Ohio Vineyards. Little by little this prompted many up and coming winemakers to move to the Fingerlakes region in New York, which continues to thrive to this day.

Missouri also had a large wine region in the mid to late 1800s and was second only to California in wine production by the end of the century.

(source-Wikipedia)

nicholas longworth

Nicholas Longworth

Maybe this is why we love wine so much.

According to a story on NPR’s The Salt, studies by Yale Neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd show the flavor of wine “engages more of our brain than any other human behavior.” That includes such challenging tasks as hitting a baseball or solving a complex math problem. The simple act of sipping wine involves a multifaceted interplay as molecules in wine stimulate thousands of taste and odor receptors, sending a flavor signal to the brain that triggers massive cognitive computation involving pattern recognition, memory, value judgment, emotion and of course, pleasure. I don’t know about you but that made me thirsty.

Taste + odor receptors + flavor signals + cognitive brain computation = Pleasure!

In Greek Mythology Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, wine, winemaking, grape cultivation, fertility, ritual madness, theater, and religious ecstasy. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theater. He may have been worshiped as early as 1500 BC.

Dionysus

Marble statue of Dionysus on display in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

To the Romans the god of wine was known a Bacchus. He was also the Roman god of good-cheer, hilarity, ecstasy, mirth and revels. It was written that Roman festivals thrown in the name of Bacchus, Bacchanalia, got a bit out of hand becoming scandalous, extremely colorful ecstatic events. Viewing them as a religious cult the Roman Senate prohibited the festivals. It is believed that thousands of revelers were jailed and even put to death.

Bacchus

Michaelangelo’s Bacchus on display at Bargello, Florence, Italy

You can find all kinds of paintings and sculptures based on both Gods of Wine and Bacchanalia in museums, libraries and Google Images. Be warned, they can be graphic…enticingly so.

Young Dionysus

 

 

 

Blame it on Climate Change

Following last week’s heatwave in France that scorched many vineyards, Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur have approved to allow seven heartier grape varieties to be planted in the tightly controlled region.

The varieties are Arinarnoa, a Tannat/Cabernet Sauvignon cross; Touriga Nacional, one of Portugal’s finest; Marselan and Castets, an older Bordeaux variety from the past;  and three whites, Alvarinho, Petit Manseng and Liliorila.

A Sign of the TimesBordeaux to allow seven new grape varieties

For the full story in Meininger’s Wine Business International click here.

 

In the past I’ve reported that grape growing and winemaking goes back approximately 6,000 years. But how many of those grapes enjoyed by the ancients still exist? Here’s new research presented by SmithsonianMag.com about ancient grape DNA & the history of wine.

Grape seeds dating back to medieval and Roman periods share many similarities with the wine grapes we enjoy today

Vin jaune, literally “yellow wine,” is not your typical French white. The rare wine is made in the Jura region of eastern France. It matures under a veil of yeast in a barrel for at least six years, during which time it develops a golden color and an intense, nutty aroma that apparently pairs well with Comté cheese. It also attracts hardcore wine enthusiasts. A 244-year-old bottle of the yellow stuff sold at auction last year for $121,000.

Now vin jaune has a new distinction. Scientists discovered that people have historically enjoyed the grape variety so much that it’s been cultivated for at least 900 years.

Researchers conducted DNA tests on 28 samples of grape seeds dug out of waterlogged wells, dumps and ditches at archaeological sites across France. The results, published today in the journal Nature Plants, show strong connections between modern wine grapes and those used as far back as the Roman period.

To propagate grapevines, farmers often use cuttings from a preferred plant to grow new, genetically identical vines. The practice means that, theoretically, the DNA of an ancient grape and a modern grape of the same variety should be the same. Though many wine varieties we know and love allegedly have ancient pedigrees, it’s hard to know whether the pinot noir or syrah we drink today is really the same type of wine that filled the cups of French monks or Roman magistrates.

Nathan Wales, of the University of York, and colleagues study DNA from archaeological plant remains to learn more about ancient agricultural practices. The researchers decided to look more closely at ancient grapes so they could compare the genetic information to a growing body of reference data for different varieties of modern and wild grapes.

Ancient Grape DNA & The History of WineWaterlogged Roman grape seeds like these were genetically tested to investigate grape varieties in the past. (Laurent Bouby / CNRS / ISEM)

Wales and his colleagues were able to sequence the entire nuclear genome of 28 grape seeds. One seed, pulled from a medieval cesspit in the remains of a monastery in Orléans, central France, was a perfect match with the modern savagnin blanc grape.

Not to be confused with the better-known sauvignon blanc, savagnin blanc is a white wine produced today in eastern France and parts of Germany. The same grape is also used to make vin jaune. The seed found in Orléans dates to 1050 to 1200 AD, several hundred years before savagnin blanc is even mentioned in historic texts.

“What that means is that this variety has been around for at least 900 years,” Wales says. “Genetically, it’s identical. It has been maintained through cuttings. We didn’t previously know how long different varieties were maintained.”

The researchers also found archaeological samples dating to the Roman period that were very close to modern grape varieties.

“We didn’t find [another] perfect match, but we can see that winemakers have maintained certain varieties for hundreds of years,” Wales says. “That gives us a new insight into the cultural relevance of wine and how long certain traditions can be maintained.”

For example, the team found genetically identical seeds dating to the second century in Roman wells at the sites of Horbourg-Wihr in eastern France and La Lesse-Espagnac in southern France. These seeds were just one generation removed from Mondeuse Blanche, a white grape grown today in the Savoy region. The connection means there was just one reproductive cycle in this grape lineage over the past 1,800 years.

Ancient Grape DNA & the History of Wine

The researchers also found that the Romans grew grape varieties in southern France that are closely related to the grape varieties grown today in the Swiss Alps to produce the white wines arvine, amigne and humagne blanc. The findings offer scientific evidence to support tales from folklore which hold the Romans indeed brought amigne to Switzerland.

The wine industry has a clear interest in assembling DNA data for grapes. Genetic testing helps root out misnomers and put to bed longstanding wine mysteries. For example, DNA tests of zinfandel show that this American favorite is genetically identical to Italian primitivo and that both are also identical to an obscure Croatian grape called crljenak kaštelanski. (For more details on this topic click to my post Carole Meredith Solves the Zinfandel Mystery)

Ancient Grape DNA & the History of Wine

The DNA data of ancient grapes is harder to come by, so the researchers collaborate with archaeologists in France working to excavate sites like monasteries, farms and Roman settlements where there is evidence of grape cultivation and winemaking. When the archaeologists find grape seeds, they freeze the organic material as soon as possible to preserve the DNA.

“This is a phenomenal dataset that they’ve been able to put together,” says Logan Kistler, curator of archaeobotany and archaeogenomics at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who wasn’t involved in the study. “You can sequence all the genomes in the world, but unless you know what questions to ask, it just might not make sense. They were able to ask specific questions and get really cool, ‘smoking gun’ answers.”

It’s hard to know what the ancient and medieval wines would have tasted like, even if the grapes were genetically identical or similar to modern grape varieties. A host of environmental conditions can affect the final product, and winemakers have historically added other ingredients, like pine resin, to wine.

Wales and his colleagues also found some grape seeds that were not closely connected to any known varieties. Would it be possible for future scientists to resurrect a lost grape? “It’s ethically less complicated than bringing back the mammoth,” Wales says, “but I think you’d still have to have a good reason to do so.”

For now, we will just have to imagine what the wine of ancient emperors and abbots tasted like, perhaps while enjoying something of similar, if more modern, stock.

This story is by Megan Gannon

Compliments of SMITHSONIAN.COM 

Header photo by Jeff Davis

To get to the other coast? He’d be the first to do so? Madness? There could be a number of reasons, but it happened. Which leads me to wonder, why didn’t I hear about the wine barrel boat on the news? This is a major feat!

The Story

On May 2, French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin became the first (known) person to cross the Atlantic without the aid of sail, motor, or human power. His vessel of choice? A giant, three-meter long “wine” barrel.

Savin’s voyage was sponsored by a number of French tonnelleries (coopers, barrel makers), along with other companies. The 72-year-old set off from the Canary Islands on December 26, 2018, and spent 127 days crossing the ocean in his craft Le Vagabond. The 3,125-nautical-mile voyage took slightly longer than expected after strong winds delayed progress as he crossed the west meridian and entered the Carribean.

For the final leg of his journey, Savin was aided by a Dutch oil tanker, which took him to the island of Saint Eustatius. Following two days’ rest, a tug boat then towed him to the shore of the French Carribean island Martinique, where Savin was met by his partner Josyane, and Dr. Pierre Galzot, the man who helped him organize the voyage.

During calm days, Savin passed the time reading, fishing, and playing the mandolin. He also enjoyed the occasional glass of Sauternes.

A Brief Celebration

In January, to celebrate his birthday, the Frenchman savored a special meal that would make many of his compatriots proud: foie gras washed down with a bottle of St. Emilion. Some might argue that Sauternes would have been the better pairing here, but it sounds like a great birthday meal, regardless.

 

photo: Jean-Jacques Savin /Facebook.com

For other images visit The Times.

Story Compliments of Tim McKirdy @Vinepair.com

Just off the southwest coast of Britain, 100 meters below sea level, lies a First World War merchant ship holding an extremely rare and valuable cargo.

Codenamed “Mercury,” the ship has laid on the seabed undisturbed for over a century, according to luxury adventure tourism company Cookson Adventures. Torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1918, Mercury was making her way to the U.K. from Bordeaux, carrying a precious cargo of Champagne, brandy, fine wine, and Benedictine.

The ship’s location was only discovered recently, and a team of divers has just completed an initial exploration of part of the vessel. According to Cornwall Live, the dive revealed “hundreds of intact bottles of vintage alcohol including Champagne, wine, and brandy.”

Though they’ve spent more than a century underwater, wine experts believe the darkness and constant cool temperatures will have helped preserve the cargo, and the wine should be drinkable upon its return to the surface.

That’s incredible news but it gets better…if you have enough $$$

Cookson Adventures is partnering with a team of marine scientists and wine experts to salvage the historical artifacts, and they’re allowing (paying) members of the public to join them for the adventure.

The next stage of the expedition will see submarines and remotely-operated underwater vehicles dive to the seabed to complete a further survey of the area and recover a few bottles.

Cookson Adventures hasn’t disclosed how much this is all going to cost, but private chefs and helicopter rides don’t come cheap. On the other hand, century-old Champagne…

The story is courtesy of Cornwall Live, and VinePair.com. Written by McKirdy  Photo by Cookson Adventures.

Drinking with your dog

I saw a post recently that said “If I’m by myself enjoying wine and my dog is with me, does it mean I’m not drinking alone?” Well, get some Cat and Dog Wine and the answer is a definitive “No.”

Apollo Peak is making Cat and Dog wine with names such as Catbernet, Pinot Meow, MosCato, CharDognay, Malbark & ZinfanTail. It doesn’t contain alcohol but the cat wine does contain cat nip. Which means your feline can now join you with a tingly buzz.

I know you animal lovers enjoy pampering your loved ones so this is certainly something to consider if you don’t like to drink alone. It also makes for an hilarious gift for those feline and canine loving friends of yours. You can find them at apollopeak.com.

The post photo is compliments of Pinterest. The Cat photo comes from Apollo Peak. 

Drinking with your cat

Drinking with your dogDrinking with your dog

 

Saint Junipero Serra

In early America the indigenous grapes on the east coast didn’t make good wine. As a result, the early colonists imported European vitis vinifera vines, like Cabernet Sauvignon. They were so determined to make wine a 1619 Virginia law required every male in Jamestown to plant and tend at least 10 vines. However, the lack of experience, new vine diseases, and that troublesome Phylloxera pest led to the experiment ending in failure. Interest in winemaking faded and cider, beer and whiskey became a favorite.

But, alas, the first wine appeared in California less than a hundred years later.  Roman Catholic priest, now a Saint, Junípero Serra and his padres brought wine and the vines to San Diego California in 1769. The grape brought is known to us as the Mission Grape. It is a varietal of the desired vitis vinifera that the colonists found to be a challenge to grow. Spanish Missionaries used the grapes for making sacramental, table, and fortified wines. It was the only grape grown in California until the 1830s when European settlers in Los Angeles added some classic European varietals to their vineyards.

Saint Junipero Serra

Saint Junipero Serra

Madeira Wine, which hails from a Portuguese island off the African coast, has a rich history here in the United States.

When it came time to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, this is the wine that filled the Founding Fathers’ glasses, and it is believed that George Washington celebrated the British leaving New York City with the fortified wine.

Workers at the Liberty Hall Museum in New Jersey recently discovered three cases of the stuff dating from 1796 — too young to be the wine that Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams raised for their toast, but old enough that they might have sipped it a few years later.

There was a time you could find it prominently displayed on the top shelf of any reputable drinks shop, it was that popular. That’s not the case anymore. Aside from the competition of Port and the growing dessert wine category, the other reason is there’s not a lot of Madeira wine produced. Vineyard land is not plentiful on Madeira, about 500 hectares in total cling to the steep mountainsides, astonishingly just enough to provide raw material to eight producers. To me, that makes it a very good reason to have some on hand to raise your guest’s eyebrows. But don’t let its reputation for sweetness steer you wrong. Drier Madeira, like a sherry, is pretty versatile and might surprise you.

 

Madeira Wine

If you listen to my radio show or podcasts you’ve heard me mention wine regions as AVAs. American Viticultural Areas are federally designated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the TTB).

Would you believe the first official wine region designated as an AVA was in Missouri?  Yep, on June 20th, 1980. The Augusta AVA encompasses 15 square miles around the city of Augusta near the intersection of St. Charles County, Warren County and Franklin County. I find this of particular interest as I grew up outside of St. Louis, about 45 minutes from Augusta.

What prompted that decision?

In 1859, Georg and Friedrich Muench founded one of the earliest wineries in the area, Mount Pleasant Winery. Flooding in the Missouri River valley caused the river to change course in 1872, drying up the area’s riverboat landing leaving behind a distinct soil type between the town and the river. You guessed it, that made for ideal conditions to grow grapes for wine.

America's first official wine region

You may be surprised to hear that Missouri also had some of the earliest winemaking successes, dating back to 1837. By 1848 winemakers there produced 10,000 US gallons per year, expanding to 100,000 US gallons per year by 1856.

In case you’re wondering, Napa Valley received the second AVA distinction just eight months later.

 

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