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What’s The Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal?

Tequila and Mezcal are the two famous Mexican spirits that are made from the agave plant. With the rise of cocktail culture, both tequila and mezcal have found new popularity on bar shelves and cocktail lists.

Although you may feel there is no difference between them, there are some key differences between the two drinks, primarily in terms of the type of agave used, the production process and the region of Mexico where it is produced.

Tequila is Mezcal, but not all Mezcals are Tequilas.

Tequila is made in the Jalisco region of Mexico and Mezcal is usually produced in the Oaxaca region. While Tequila is made only from the blue Weber agave, the process involves steaming the heart of the agave plant in above-ground ovens and then distilling the liquid in copper pots. Mezcal, on the other hand, is made from more than 30 varieties of agave. Most mezcals are produced with agave espadin, the most commonly found variety of agave. Its signature smoky flavour comes from cooking the agave in underground pits, which are lined with hot rocks that burn for about 24 hours before the cooking process begins. This roasting caramelize the agave plants, which gives it a rich, flavourful, savoury and smoky taste.

Types of Tequila and Mezcal

Both tequila and mezcal are aged inside oak barrels after the distillation process is over. However, the aging categories of the two spirits are defined slightly differently.

Tequila comes in three varieties:

Blanco – Silver or Plato/Aged for 0-2 months

Reposado – Aged for 2-12 months

Anejo – Aged for 1-3 years

Mezcal is also divided into three categories by age:

Joven – Blanco or abacado/Aged for 0-2 months

Reposado – Aged for 2-12 months

Anejo – Aged for at least one year

Since Blanco has not been aged, it is clear and without the flavours that

aging would impart and can be bottled immediately.

Flavour 

Thanks to mezcal’s underground fire pit method, the spirit appears to have a more savoury, smokier profile than Tequila’s. Bear in mind that the longer any spirit spends aging in bottle, the better, more sophisticated the taste profile it will have.

Neat or Cocktail 

Both mezcal and tequila make fine solo sippers, although both are strong additions to a multitude of cocktail creations. Popular tequila drinks include the sunrise of tequila, the Paloma and, of course, the margarita. Experiment with exchanging tequila with Mezcal for a smokier, more robust variation on your favourite tequila-based drinks.

Price Point 

Just like any wine or spirit, Tequila and Mezcal too can be found in any price range across the spectrum. Because of its more industrial production process, it’s usually easier to find less costly tequila than Mezcal, although we don’t necessarily recommend going to the lowest rung on the ladder — that is, unless you’re searching for a Stick with a price range that you’re comfortable with. Grab a bottle of Tequila and Mezcal each and try, taste and compare them.

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All About Port Wines

Port is a sweet, rich red Portugal’s signature fortified wine made in the Douro Valley. It is often called a dessert wine but different styles can be drunk as aperitifs as well as digestifs because of its richness and sweetness.

How Is Port Made?

The process is the same as wine, except it has brandy added during fermentation. This gives it a higher alcohol content and high viscosity than traditional red wines, which makes them a perfect option for sipping and relaxing. Brandy also ceases the fermentation, ensuring the port retains the grapes natural sweetness. Port has a unique blend of grapes native to Portugal. Up to 52 varieties of grape are used to produce port wine. The presence of many types of grapes gives the port a wide variety of flavours. Port wine usually has strong berry flavours like raspberries, blackberries, and prunes. Nevertheless, some of the other popular flavours of the port include chocolate, dried fruit, cinnamon and nuts and as port ages, there is a wider range of flavours, including green peppercorn, hazelnuts, figs, almonds, and butterscotch.

Types of Port Wine

Rosé Port

It has much stronger berry flavours like strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry sauce. It has a delicious jammy note that gives it more sweetness than white port, but it’s not as rich as a tawny or ruby port.

Ruby Port

It is the least expensive style, aged for two or three years in vat before bottling and sold ready to drink. It does not improve if kept in a bottle.

Reserve Port

It is the next step up from Ruby and has deeper flavours of raspberries, blackberries, chocolate, and cinnamon. It is the kind of wine you want to enjoy slowly. It is aged for at least three years before release.

Tawny Port

It gets its name and colour from extended ageing in wooden casks before bottling. Sometimes sold as 10, 20, 30 or 40 years old, it is a blend of many vintages. Tawny port is ready to drink once bottled and does not improve over time and has mellow flavours of caramel, cloves, cinnamon, hazelnut, fig, and prune.

Vintage Port

It is usually the most expensive Port. It is made in tiny quantities from the best grapes, and only in the very best years. It is aged for two years before being released but can improve for decades in the bottle.

White Port

It is usually a lighter type of port, made with white grapes. Popular flavours include citrus peel, roasted nuts, baked apple, and apricot.

Port and Food

Stronger cheeses like Stilton make great pair with port wine and richer cheeses, like washed-rind cheese and blue cheese, bring out the sweetness of the port wine. The flavours of the berry will complement the flavours of the cheese without overpowering it. The other nice way to pair your port wine with food is to serve it with smoked, salted, or roasted nuts. The nuttiness of port, particularly the tawny port, makes for a gorgeous combination of flavours. Any desserts made with chocolate and caramel will be a good option for pairing with the port.

Port is often served in very small glasses, but a wine glass is much better at capturing and enhancing the aromas so it is best to serve port in standard wine glasses.

Take small sips, and make sure to savour each one!

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What is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine that has been flavoured with a variety of herbs, botanicals, and spices, often including wormwood. The wine spiked with distilled alcohol to boost the ABV. The name Vermouth comes from the German word ‘Wermut’ meaning wormwood.

 History

For decades, Wormwood has been used as a medicinal herb. It was believed that an imbalance of the body’s four humors—blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm could be balanced with medicine. Wormwood was taken to refill the ‘yellow bile’ or ‘choleric’ humor that regulates traits such as ambition, leadership, restlessness, and irritability.

The core of the manufacturing of wormwood in the 1500s was Turin (Torino) and wines were frequently flavoured, not only with wormwood (which has a different herbal/flowering flavour) but with other forged herbs. At this stage, however, Vermouth was an unusual name for a drink, and there were no significant brands.

The creator of Vermouth – Carpano

In the late 1700s, a gentleman by the name of Luigi Marendazzo started a distillery and bar offering aromatized wines. His assistant who eventual became his successor – Antonio Benedetto Carpano concocted a new blend in 1786, which he called vermouth.

Made with white wine (with Moscato grapes) and a blend of 30 or more botanicals, the bar, and the Vermouth was extremely popular with women.

Giuseppe Bernardino Carpano, Carpano’s nephew when inherited the bar, he officially branded the beverage and the bar, which was located in the Piazza Castello. Soon it became a famous meeting point for both artists and politicians but sadly, the Piazza Castello was destroyed during World War II in 1943. However, even today the brand, Carpano still exists.

How is Vermouth Made?

Essentially, the vermouth must be 75% wine usually made from white grapes and the remaining part is a blend of sugar (or mistelle: grape juice plus alcohol), botanicals and alcohol. The blending of botanicals and the choice of wines varies according to the precise (and carefully protected) recipe of the producer.

Today’s top brands of Vermouth, such as Martini and Rossi or Dolin, were originally developed in the 1800s and their recipes are protected much like the recipe for Coca-Cola (which, by the way, is essentially a non-alcoholic derivative of Vermouth).

Basically, you take the wine, add the sugar or the mistelle (which is created by adding alcohol to the fresh grape juice), add the botanical distillate mixture, and then add the alcohol to bring the concoction to the accurate ABV. Vermouth varies from about 16–22 percent of ABV, with the majority between 18–20 percent of ABV.

Botanicals in Vermouth

The defining mechanism of vermouth is a botanical mix. All vermouths comprise of artemisia (bitter plant or root) which gives vermouth its intrinsic bitter taste. Botanicals are obtained either by maceration (by placing them in alcohol and water) or by distillation (distilling alcohol through a basket of herbs). Producers often use tons of components to make vermouth, and often quote it on labels such as: ‘a mixture of 30 botanicals.’

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