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Booze Blog

Booze Blog

The Sin Eater's Tipple

Fancy a job as the parish Sin Eater? Yes, you have to soak up some sins but there are perks - bread, washed down with beer or wine. Sin eaters (usually poor and often beggars) were paid to stand over the corpse of someone who had died suddenly without confessing their sins. By consuming food and drink, a Sin Eater ingested the deceased’s sins permitting the soul to reach heaven. This tradition was widespread on the Wales-England border until the 19th century.
So all you Sin-Eaters - if you had a choice of beer or wine to drink whilst you were on the job what would it be? Mine would be Duvel. The first person to guess the significance of that choice will win a School of Booze t-shirt. Please email your answer to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®
School of Booze produces corporate entertainment and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® . We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!

Fancy a job as the parish Sin Eater? Yes, you have to soak up some sins but there are perks - bread, washed down with beer or wine.

Sin eaters (usually poor and often beggars) were paid to stand over the corpse of someone who had died suddenly without confessing their sins. By consuming food and drink, a Sin Eater ingested the deceased’s sins permitting the soul to reach heaven. This tradition was widespread on the Wales-England border until the 19th century. So all you Sin-Eaters - if you could choose what beer or wine to drink whilst you were on the job what would it be? Mine would be Duvel. The first person to guess the significance of that choice will win a School of Booze t-shirt. Please email your answer to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®


School of Booze produces corporate entertainment and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® . We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!

 

Madam Geneva

May I introduce you to Madam Geneva? Perhaps that is a daft question because you probably already know her. For anyone who has sipped a G & T is already well acquainted with this particular character. Madam Geneva is a 17th century nickname for Gin and derives from the French and Dutch words for juniper - genièvre and jenever.
Gin is a distilled grain based spirit (usually barley, rye or corn) flavoured with botanicals - predominantly juniper. Producers of gin often include coriander, orange peel, angelica and cinnamon in the mix. This explains the highly aromatic nature of gin. Nowadays there are several gin styles – the best known being London and Plymouth. London Dry Gin can be made anywhere (not just in the Big Smoke). Plymouth gin conversely must be produced in the Devon town and has an earthier, drier character than its London counterpart.
A Dutch physician is credited with inventing it in the mid 17th century as a medicine to treat ailments such as gout and gallstones. English troops became partial to gin when they were fighting in Holland during the Eighty Years War giving rise to the term ‘Dutch Courage’. After William of Orange ascended the English throne with his wife Mary in 1688 he encouraged the importation of gin from his native country and banned French wine and brandy imports. Low taxes on gin meant that it became cheaper than beer. Gin replaced beer as the traditional source of safe drinking water and this led to a period known as the Gin Epidemic when a significant proportion of city dwellers were permanently inebriated on very crude, harsh spirit sometimes flavoured with turpentine. By 1741 Londoners’ consumption of gin was 11 gallons per capita. Gin was responsible for such high mortality rates that it stabilised the growth of London's population. Take a look at William Hogarth’s drawing - Gin Lane for an apocalyptic vision of the chaos and destruction caused by Madam Geneva.
But then something unexpected happened – gin became respectable. Distillers in the mid 19th century began to refine the ingredients and London Dry Gin was born. We may joke about the ‘for medicinal purposes only’ excuse, but gin & tonic really was medicine for colonists in parts of the British Empire. Indian tonic water had been developed as a palatable way to swallow quinine – taken for its anti-malarial properties. Some genius realised that tonic water and gin tasted really good and lo - one of the world’s most popular cocktails was born. And what other cocktail glows in the dark? Try it at home – it’s true!

May I introduce you to Madam Geneva? Perhaps that is a daft question because you probably already know her. For anyone who has sipped a G & T is already well acquainted with this particular character. Madam Geneva is a 17th century nickname for Gin and derives from the French and Dutch words for juniper - genièvre and jenever.


Gin is a distilled grain based spirit (usually barley, rye or corn) flavoured with botanicals - predominantly juniper. Producers of gin often include coriander, orange peel, angelica and cinnamon in the mix. This explains the highly aromatic nature of gin. Nowadays there are several gin styles – the best known being London and Plymouth. London Dry Gin can be made anywhere (not just in the Big Smoke). Plymouth gin conversely must be produced in the Devon town and has an earthier, drier character than its London counterpart.


A Dutch physician is credited with inventing it in the mid 17th century as a medicine to treat ailments such as gout and gallstones. English troops became partial to gin when they were fighting in Holland during the Eighty Years War giving rise to the term ‘Dutch Courage’. After William of Orange ascended the English throne with his wife Mary in 1688 he encouraged the importation of gin from his native country and banned French wine and brandy imports. Low taxes on gin meant that it became cheaper than beer. Gin replaced beer as the traditional source of safe drinking water and this led to a period known as the Gin Epidemic when a significant proportion of city dwellers were permanently inebriated on very crude, harsh spirit sometimes flavoured with turpentine. By 1741 Londoners’ consumption of gin was 11 gallons per capita. Gin was responsible for such high mortality rates that it stabilised the growth of London's population. Take a look at William Hogarth’s drawing - Gin Lane for an apocalyptic vision of the chaos and destruction caused by Madam Geneva. One of the central characters is so sloshed that she does not notice her baby has fallen from her arms. No wonder gin had another nickname - Mother's Ruin.


But then something unexpected happened – gin became respectable. Distillers in the mid 19th century began to refine the ingredients and London Dry Gin was born. We may joke about the ‘for medicinal purposes only’ excuse, but gin & tonic really was medicine for colonists in parts of the British Empire. Indian tonic water had been developed as a palatable way to swallow quinine – taken for its anti-malarial properties. Some genius realised that tonic water and gin tasted really good and lo - one of the world’s most popular cocktails was born. And what other cocktail glows in the dark? Try it at home – it’s true!

 

Toast of the Town

Toast of the Town
Have you ever wondered why we toast companions with an alcoholic drink? Or why it’s called a toast? There are a couple of theories 1) it is the vestige of an ancient tradition in which wine, beer or blood was offered to the gods in exchange for a wish and long life; 2) in societies where being bumped off by poisoned wine was common it became a symbol of friendship for the host of a party to pour a drink from a shared pitcher and test it first – then proclaim ‘good health’ as other guests drank their share.
The word itself comes from the Latin term tostare which means ‘to roast’ and this refers to the Roman practice of dropping a piece of burnt toast into a jug of wine before sharing it. The charcoal reduced acidity and made the wine more palatable.
In Restoration England (1660), drinkers revived a Roman custom when toasting a woman that they must drink the same amount of glasses as there were letters in her name. The non-stop habit of toasting sometimes interrupted the actual drinking and conversation when multiple toasts were offered to anyone and everyone whether they were in the room or not leading to the term ‘toast of the town’.
So bottoms up, cheers, santé, to your health!

Have you ever wondered why we toast companions with an alcoholic drink? Or why it’s called a toast? There are a couple of theories:

1) it is the vestige of an ancient tradition in which wine, beer or blood was offered to the gods in exchange for a wish and long life;

2) in societies where being bumped off by poisoned wine was common it became a symbol of friendship for the host of a party to pour a drink from a shared pitcher and test it first – then proclaim ‘good health’ as other guests drank their share.

The word itself comes from the Latin term tostare which means ‘to roast’ and this refers to the Roman practice of dropping a piece of burnt toast into a jug of wine before sharing it. The charcoal reduced acidity and made the wine more palatable.


In Restoration England (1660), drinkers revived a Roman custom when toasting a woman that they must drink the same amount of glasses as there were letters in her name. The non-stop habit of toasting sometimes interrupted the actual drinking and conversation when multiple toasts were offered to anyone and everyone whether they were in the room or not leading to the term ‘toast of the town’.


So bottoms up, cheers, santé, to your health!

 

What a Corker!

What a Corker!
When a wine is described as being corked, does this mean:
a) there are bits of cork floating around in it
b) the cork is infected with a fungus which is affecting the taste of the wine
c) You’ve drunk all the wine and the bottle is empty – damn!
If you answered b – fungus, well done - pour yourself a glass of vino and read on.
For most people knowing if a wine is corked is tricky but here is a guide. A corked wine often smells of mould, mushrooms, damp cardboard, and even smelly socks and you don’t even need to swirl it round in the glass to release those pungent aromas! It is caused when the cork is infected by a fungus that releases a chemical called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, more commonly known as TCA. It’s this compound that affects the enjoyment of the wine. Up to 5% of all bottles are spoiled by TCA. Consequently the wine industry tried to avoid this problem by using screw caps and plastic corks.
There is another issue with the increasing move away from cork. If demand is reduced, then what will happen to all the cork oak forests in the Iberian Peninsula? Over half the cork in the world is produced by trees in Spain and Portugal and those woodlands are on major migration routes providing safe habitat for birds travelling to and from Africa. Cork is sourced from the bark of the trees and harvested only once every nine years - so the trees are not are not felled to produce wine closures.
The superstar of cork is Portugal’s record breaking Whistler Tree. At 14 metres high and with a circumference of more than 4 metres it is the world’s largest and most productive cork oak tree. Named for the dozens of songbirds trilling in its canopy it has been producing the finest quality wine corks since 1820. In its last harvest the Whistler Tree produced over one ton of raw cork - enough for 100,000 wine bottles. That is really something - the average cork oak produces material for a mere 4,000 bottles.
I don’t know about you, but I am always disappointed when I go to open a bottle and it is sealed with a screw cap or a nasty synthetic plug. Struggling to remove the cork and resorting to the nearest beefy man or woman to finish pulling it out is part of the fun. And what about those song birds? They can’t live in plastic trees!
Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®
School of Booze produces corporate entertainment and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® . We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!

When a wine is described as being corked, does this mean:


a) there are bits of cork floating around in it


b) the cork is infected with a fungus which is affecting the taste of the wine


c) You’ve drunk all the wine and the bottle is empty – damn!


If you answered b – fungus, well done - pour yourself a glass of vino and read on.


For most people knowing if a wine is corked is tricky but here is a guide. A corked wine often smells of mould, mushrooms, damp cardboard, and even smelly socks and you don’t even need to swirl it round in the glass to release those pungent aromas! It is caused when the cork is infected by a fungus that releases a chemical called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, more commonly known as TCA. It’s this compound that affects the enjoyment of the wine. Up to 5% of all bottles are spoiled by TCA. Consequently the wine industry tries to avoid this problem by using screw caps and plastic corks.

There is another issue with the increasing move away from cork. If demand is reduced, then what will happen to all the cork oak forests in the Iberian Peninsula? Over half the cork in the world is produced by trees in Spain and Portugal and those woodlands are on major migration routes providing safe habitat for birds travelling to and from Africa. Cork is sourced from the bark of the trees and harvested only once every nine years - so the trees are not are not felled to produce wine closures.

The superstar of cork is Portugal’s record breaking Whistler Tree. At 14 metres high and with a circumference of more than 4 metres it is the world’s largest and most productive cork oak tree. Named for the dozens of songbirds trilling in its canopy it has been producing the finest quality wine corks since 1820. In its last harvest the Whistler Tree produced over one ton of raw cork - enough for 100,000 wine bottles. That is really something - the average cork oak produces material for a mere 4,000 bottles.

I don’t know about you, but I am always disappointed when I go to open a bottle and it is sealed with a screw cap or a nasty synthetic plug. Struggling to remove the cork and resorting to the nearest beefy man or woman to finish pulling it out is part of the fun. And what about those song birds? They can’t live in plastic trees!


Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®


School of Booze produces corporate entertainment and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® . We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!

 

Some Like It Hot

School of Booze has been challenged to find the best alcohol to match with Sushi and Sashimi. Luckily this was not a tricky task because S of B recently came across a perfect partner - vodka flavoured with Wasabi. It is incredible. If you are used to Wasabi paste lifting the hairs off your head, this vodka will not do that. But it is still packed with a punch and will clear the most blocked of noses! The original and best version of this vodka is made in New Zealand by Namada Wasabi Spirit . It has a clean character and ultra smooth mouthfeel with the peppery flavour of Wasabi developing immediately - absolute perfection with Sushi and very moreish.

The problem is that Wasabi vodka is quite hard to track down so in its absence, the following beers and wines match well with fishy Japanese food. Crisp lagers such as Asahi and Sapporo; sake; Champagne; and clean, fresh, fruity white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and un-oaked Chardonnay. Kanpai!

Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®
School of Booze produces corporate entertaining and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® . We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!
Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®

School of Booze produces corporate entertaining and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® . We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!

 

Chocohol

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Wednesday, 21 July 2010 16:52

School of Booze’s definition of rapture is chocolate washed down with beer, wine and whisky.  The trick is to complement the chocolate with the flavours in the drink. But not all chocolate is equal so avoid cheap sweet-shop brands that are full of milk, fat and sugar and choose instead chocolate with a high cocoa content such as Divine. Not only is Divine divine, it’s Fairtrade too – so even better!  Try Divine Dark (70% cocoa) with Belgian fruit beers such as Kriek or Frambozen (those words are Flemish for cherry and raspberry respectively) - sour sweet beers with a refreshing tang.  Paired with dark chocolate the fruitiness is enhanced, and the sour undertone cuts through the mouth coating nature of chocolate. 

Divine’s Coffee chocolate with Fuller’s London Porter, or O’Hanlon’s Original Port Stout is bliss.  These beers have coffee and chocolate flavours because they contain dark roasted malts.

School of Booze recently discovered a fantastic new product called Brix.  It is high quality chocolate specifically blended to be eaten with wine and comes as a slab of chocolate in an elegant box.  The idea is to substitute cheese after dinner with a brick of chocolate that sits on a board.  Diners cleave off hunks of chocolate with a knife and prepare to enter nirvana as they match it with wine. Brix comes in three types – Milk (40% cocoa) to be savoured with Pinot Noir, Port, Reisling, Ice Wine, or Rosé; Medium Dark (60% cocoa) perfect with Merlot, Shiraz, Zinfandel, and Madeira; and Extra Dark (70% cocoa) that matches beautifully with Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Malbec. Cocoa contains tannins and so does wine – together they enhance the fruit tones of each other.  The chocolate opens up the palate so the taste sensations of the wine are increased.   Brix is available in selected delicatessens and if you cannot find it in shops This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to purchase a brick –cost £7.99 + P&P. South African wine Diemersfontein Pinotage  has distinct mocha coffee, dark chocolate, and blackcurrant undertones.  Matched with a bar of Divine Dark Chocolate & Raspberry is unforgettable. 


So that’s the beer and wine – what about spirits and liqueurs?  Extra dark chocolate with Armagnac and Scotch such as The Dalmore are perfect partners; whereas a smoky whisky such as Laphroaig is sublime with a quality milk chocolate. Dark aged rum sipped with a 70% cocoa chocolate can make a person sigh with pleasure. Chambord and Bailey’s Irish Cream are naturals with very dark chocolate.


Don’t take my word for it though – chocolate matching is too tasty to merely read about – it needs practice. And ignore the ‘makes perfect’ bit of the adage ‘practice makes perfect’ – just keep practicing! 

Jane Peyton, Principal School of Booze – Think While You Drink ®

 

School of Booze produces corporate entertaining and private group events including beer tasting, beer and food matching, wine tasting, whisky tasting, cider tasting, chocolate and alcohol tasting, Operalicious ® .  We work mainly in London but are happy to travel to where our clients invite us!

 

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