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Crafting Better, Smarter, Stronger, Beverage Professionals

Master Bartender


What is a Beverage Specialist?

A Beverage Specialist is a beverage professional, whom is most knowledgable about a particular alcoholic or non alcoholic product.  For example, you may of heard of a Sommelier or a Cicceron.  Traditionally, a sommelier deals mostly with wines and Ciccerons deal mostly in beer.  Though, most sommeliers are specilized in many alcoholic beverages - Beverage Specialist is a term which may describe a person whom is not quite a Sommelier or a Cicceron but is on their way towards that goal.    

How to become a Beverage Specialist?

Anyone seeking to become educated in any type of information - must have the dedication and drive to learn.  For example, if you are looking to become a master of karate, you will need to develop discipline and have a drive to become emersed within the art of karate.  The exact same thing with Beverage.  If you wish to become a master of vodkas - you will need to become involved studying on the history of vodka, the regions involved in vodka production, the process of making vodka, the different styles of vodka, the difference in brands of vodkas, the tasting of vodkas, the serving methods of vodka, the mixology of vodka, the pairing of food and vodka, etc...  The knowledge of these various products and styles are ever changing and requires patientions and dedication.  Many people study for decades attempting to pass the Advanced Sommelier Exam from the Court of Masters.    

Tasting Alcoholic Beverages

There are three basic senses that every Beverage Professional needs to use: sight, smell, and taste.


Sight - The sight or the appearence of the product can tell a person many things about the product before them.  It can tell you many things about the product that you are about to taste.  For example, wine can be red, white, or rose in color.  And red wine can range in color from deep dark purple to brownish red.  The outer rim of the wine or the "robe" of the wine can offer the taster to ascertain if there is any rim variation.  Rim variation gives the taster an idea of the age of the wine.   


Smell - The smell or the "bouquet" of the product is used in judging characteristics and quality.  The bouquet of a product is the best indicator (other than the label) of its origin, contents, its quality, its age and its characteristics.  For example, a wine should always smell clean meaning that it doesn't smell like vinegar or decayed vegitables.     


Taste - The taste is the sensory impression of food or other substances on the tongue and is one of the five traditional senses.  Tasting the product allows the taster to get characteristics of the wine.  The tongue perceives five characteristics:

  • Sweetness - Tip of the tongue.

  • Sourness - Back sides of the tongue.

  • Saltiness - Front sides of the tongue.

  • Bitterness - Back of the tongue.

  • Savory - Entire mouth.

  • Texture - Weight and body is sensed on the center of the tongue.

  • Tanin - Tanins is sensed by a dryness around the gums and sides of the mouth.

Certain flavors can cause a persons tastes to be decieved.  For example, mint flavors may give off a false sense of cool, or spice may offer a false sense of heat.


Wine Tasting

Tasting Conditions

First things first: Make note of the circumstances surrounding your wine tasting experience that may affect your impressions of the win. For instance, a noisy or crowded room makes concentration difficult. Cooking smells, perfume and even pet odor can destroy your ability to get a clear sense of a wine’s aromas. A glass that is too small, the wrong shape, or smells of detergent or dust, can also affect the wine’s flavor.

The temperature of the wine will also have an impact on your impressions, as will the age of the wine and any residual flavors from whatever else you've been eating or drinking. You want to neutralize the tasting conditions as much as possible, so the wine has a fair chance to stand on its own. If a wine is served too cold, warm it with your hands by cupping the bowl. If a glass seems musty, give it a quick rinse with wine, not water, swirling it around to cover all the sides of the bowl. This is called conditioning the glass. Finally, if there are strong aromas nearby—especially perfume—walk as far away from them as you can and try to find some neutral air.


Evaluating by Sight

Once your tasting conditions are as close to neutral as possible, your next step is to examine the wine in your glass. It should be about one-third full. Loosely follow these steps to  evaluate the wine visually.

Straight Angle ViewFirst, look straight down into the glass, then hold the glass to the light, and finally, give it a tilt, so the wine rolls toward its edges. This will allow you to see the wine’s complete color range, not just the dark center.

Looking down, you get a sense of the depth of color, which gives a clue to the density and saturation of the wine. You will also learn to identify certain varietal grapes by color and scent. A deeply-saturated, purple-black color might well be Syrah or Zinfandel, while a lighter, pale brick shade would suggest Pinot Noir or Sangiovese.


Side View

Viewing the wine through the side of the glass held in light shows you how clear it is.

A murky wine might be a wine with chemical or fermentation problems. On the other hand, it might just be a wine that was unfiltered or has some sediment due to be shaken up before being poured. A wine that looks clear and brilliant and shows some sparkle, is always a good sign.


Tilted View

Tilting the glass so the wine thins out toward the rim will provide clues to the wine’s age and weight.

If the color looks quite pale and watery near its edge, it suggests a rather thin, possibly insipid wine. If the color looks tawny or brown (for a white wine) or orange or rusty brick (for a red wine) it is either an older wine or a wine that has been oxidized and may be past its prime.



Finally, give the glass a good swirl. You can swirl it most easily by keeping it firmly on a flat surface; open air “freestyle” swirling is not recommended for beginners.

Notice if the wine forms “legs” or “tears” that run down the sides of the glass. Wines that have good legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not.


Evaluating by Sniff

Now that you’ve given the wine a good look, you’re ready to take a good sniff. Give the glass a swirl, but don’t bury your nose inside it. Instead, you want to hover over the top like a helicopter pilot surveying rush hour traffic. Take a series of quick, short sniffs, then step away and let the information filter through to your brain.

There are many guides to help you train your nose to identify key wine fragrances, both good and bad. There are potentially thousands of aroma components in a glass of good wine, so forget about finding them all. Naming all the fruits, flowers, herbs and other scents you can trowel out of the glass can be a fun game, but it’s not essential to enjoying and learning how to taste wine.  Once you’ve taken a few quick, short sniffs of the wine, try to look for the following aromas, which will help you better understand the wine’s characteristics.


Wine Flaws

First, you want to look for off-aromas that indicate a wine is spoiled. A wine that is corked will smell like a musty old attic and taste like a wet newspaper. This is a terminal, unfixable flaw.

A wine that has been bottled with a strong dose of SO2 will smell like burnt matches; this will blow off if you give it a bit of vigorous swirling.

A smell of vinegar indicates VA (volatile acidity); a nail polish smell is ethyl acetate.

Brettanomyces—an undesirable yeast that reeks of sweaty saddle scents. A little bit of “brett” gives red wines an earthy, leathery component; but too much obliterates all the flavors of fruit.

Learning to identify these common flaws is at least as important as reciting the names of all the fruits and flowers. And it will also help you to understand your own palate sensitivities and blind spots. Discovering what you recognize and enjoy is key to learning how to choose wine on your own.


Fruit Aromas

If there are no obvious off-aromas, look for fruit aromas. Wine is made from grapes, so it should smell like fresh fruit, unless it is very old, very sweet, or very cold.

You can learn to look for specific fruits and grapes, and many grapes will show a spectrum of possible fruit scents that help you to identify the growing conditions—cool climate, moderate or very warm—of the vineyard.


Flowers, Leaves, Herbs, Spices & Vegetables

Floral aromas are particularly common in cool climate white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and some Rhône varietals, including Viognier.

Some other grapes can be expected to carry herbal or grassy scents. Sauvignon Blanc is often strongly grassy, while Cabernet Sauvignon can be scented with herbs and hints of vegetation. Rhône reds often show delightful scents of Provençal herbs. Most people prefer that any herbal aromas are delicate. The best wine aromas are complex but also balanced, specific but also harmonious.

Another group of common wine aromas might be characterized as earthy. Scents of mushroom, damp earth, leather and rock can exist in many red wines. A mushroom smell can add nuance; it can also help you determine a possible grape or place of origin of the wine. Too much mushroom may just mean that the grapes failed to ripen sufficiently, or were from an inferior clone.

The scent of horse or tack room leather can be an accent, but too much can indicate brettanomyces.

Scents of earth, mineral and rock sometimes exist in the very finest white and red wines. These can be indications of “terroir”—the particular conditions of the vineyard that are expressed as specific scents and flavors in the finished wine.


Wine Barrel Aromas

If you smell toast, smoke, vanilla, chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts, or even caramel in a wine, you are most likely picking up scents from aging in new oak barrels.

Depending upon a multitude of factors, including the type of oak, the way the barrels were made, the age of the barrels, the level of char and the way the winemaker has mixed and matched them, barrels can impart a vast array of scents and flavors to finished wines. Think of the barrels as a winemaker’s color palette, to be used the way a painter uses tubes of paint.


Secondary Aromas

Young white wines and young sparkling wines may have a scent very reminiscent of beer. This is from the yeast.

Some dessert wines smell strongly of honey; this is evidence of botrytis, often called noble rot, and is typical of the very greatest Sauternes.

Chardonnays that smell of buttered popcorn or caramel have most likely been put through a secondary, malolactic fermentation, which converts malic to lactic acids, softening the wines and opening up the aromas.

Older wines have more complex, less fruity aromas. A fully mature wine can offer an explosion of highly nuanced scents, beautifully co-mingled and virtually impossible to name. It is pure pleasure.

Nonetheless, the effort to put words to wine aromas helps you focus on, understand and retain your impressions of different wines. You want to build a memory bank of wine smells and their meanings. That is where the language of wine can add value to a wine tasting event. Learning to talk the talk, if not carried to extremes, helps to dispel some wine myths, such as the confusion surrounding descriptions on wine labels. Have you ever known anyone to ask why a winery added grapefruit to its Gewürztraminer and raspberries to its Zinfandel? The fact that these are simply descriptive terms is not always understood.


Evaluating by Taste

Take a sip, not a large swallow, of wine into your mouth and try sucking on it as if pulling it through a straw. Ignore the stares of those around you; this simply aerates the wine and circulates it throughout your mouth.

Again, you’ll encounter a wide range of fruit, flower, herb, mineral, barrel and other flavors, and if you’ve done your sniffing homework, most will follow right along where the aromas left off. Aside from simply identifying flavors, you are also using your taste buds to determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete.



A balanced wine should have its basic flavor components in good proportion. Our taste buds detect sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

Sweet (residual sugar) and sour (acidity) are obviously important components of wine. Saltiness is rarely encountered and bitterness should be more a feeling of astringency (from tannins) than actual bitter flavors.

Most dry wines will display a mix of flavors derived from the aromas, along with the tastes of the acids, tannins and alcohol, which cannot generally be detected simply by smell.

There is no single formula for all wines, but there should always be balance between the flavors. If a wine is too sour, too sugary, too astringent, too hot (alcoholic), too bitter, or too flabby (lack of acid) then it is not a well-balanced wine. If it is young, it is not likely to age well; if it is old, it may be falling apart or perhaps completely gone.



A harmonious wine has all of its flavors seamlessly integrated. It’s quite possible, especially in young wines, for all the components to be present in the wine in good proportion, but they stick out. They can be easily identified, but you can feel all the edges; they have not blended together. It’s a sign of very good winemaking when a young wine has already come together and presents its flavors harmoniously.



Complexity can mean many things. Your ability to detect and appreciate complexity in wine will become a good gauge of your overall progress in learning how to taste wine.

The simplest flavors to recognize—very ripe, jammy fruit and strong vanilla flavors from various oak treatments—are reminiscent of soft drinks. It is perfectly natural for new wine drinkers to relate to them first, because they are familiar and likeable. Some extremely successful wine brands have been formulated to offer these flavors in abundance. But they do not offer complexity.

Complex wines seem to dance in your mouth. They change, even as you’re tasting them. They are like good paintings; the more you look at them the more there is to see. In older wines, these complexities sometimes evolve into the realm of the sublime. The length of a wine, whether old or young, is one good indication of complexity. Simply note how long the flavors linger after you swallow. You might even try looking at your watch if you have a particularly interesting wine in your glass. Most beginning wine drinkers move on too quickly to the next sip when a really good wine is in the glass. Hold on! Let the wine finish its dance before you change partners.



A complete wine is balanced, harmonious, complex and evolved, with a lingering, satisfying finish. Such wines deserve extra attention, because they have more to offer, in terms of both pleasure and training, than any others you will taste.

Now that you understand the basic steps with our wine tasting tips, it’s time to experiment on your own. It can be quite helpful to build a wine journal of your adventures. Write complete tasting notes for wines you like and dislike. Noting the characteristics that each wine shares will be immensely helpful as you start learning how to choose wine on your own.

Beer Tasting

Formal beer tasting sessions, with a guide or a group of friends, are informative and fun. However, beer appreciation can also be a simple pastime. It can be as easy as taking the time to notice the flavors in every beer you drink. Here are a few general rules to keep in mind:

1. Make sure your beer isn’t too cold.

If a beer is very cold, it is a lot harder to taste. It’s a good idea to pull your beer out of the fridge 15 minutes early (or you can always take your time drinking it!)

2. Always pour the beer into a glass.

This releases the aromas, as well as the CO2, and will make it a lot easier to taste the full flavor of the beer.

3. Relax and Enjoy:

Taking a moment to smell your beer and linger on your first sip will make every beer a rewarding experience.



Raise your glass, and take a moment to appreciate the appearance of the beer in front of you. Although color and clarity aren’t necessarily an indication of the beer’s quality, the look of any given beer was crafted intentionally and is an integral part of the drinking experience. The clarity of a beer can vary from brilliant to cloudy. Head can tell you a bit more about the beer. Beers that aren’t extreme in their alcohol content should have good head retention (the foam doesn’t collapse immediately). Head retention often indicates a well-crafted beer, made with quality ingredients. As you drink your beer, look for lace-like pattern (left by the foam) on the sides of your glass. This is known as Belgian lace and is another indication of good quality.



Smelling your beer is one of the most important steps in beer tasting. Our sense of smell informs the way we taste things, opening up a complexity of flavors to the palate. If the beer has no discernable aroma, agitate it by swirling it around in your glass. This will release some carbonation, which will carry the aroma up to your nose. It is always easiest to start with a general impression: how intense is the aroma? Is it sweet (malt aroma), sharp (hop aroma), or a balance of different notes? Flavor


The flavor of a beer should be a natural continuation of the aroma. There are a few added dimensions that will appear, most notably bitterness. Swirl the beer around in your mouth before swallowing it. Take a note of any flavors you taste, compare these flavors to other flavors you know. Does this beer remind you of anything?


Another component of flavor is mouthfeel. Mouthfeel refers to the texture and weight of the beer, as opposed to the actual taste. High alcohol beer can have a warming quality, not unlike hard alcohol, while bitter beers can sometimes be astringent. The weight, or body, of beer can also vary from being light and watery, to being full and heavy. Another interesting thing to notice is the carbonation level, since it varies between different beers. Ask yourself: is this carbonation level pleasant or distracting?



The final component of flavor is finish. Take a moment to pause between sips. Does the flavor of the beer linger, or is the finish short? The after-taste can be sweet or bitter, and can take on many flavors, either in succession or all at once. Also notice the intensity of the finish. The finish of a beer depends greatly on the style in which it is brewed. The most important thing to note is: do you want to take another sip?

General Impression

Having taken a few moments to appreciate the various aspects of the beer in front of you, it is always a good idea to summarize your impressions of the beer. Were the flavors really lively and well balanced, or did they fall flat? Did the beer have a very fresh quality to it, or do you suspect that it was stale? Finally, take a moment to decide how much you liked the beer. Just because it was very flavorful and fresh, doesn’t mean that it was to your taste! Feel free to take more notes and share your impressions with friends.

Spirits Tasting

The glass

The type of glass that you use will help your cause massively. It is best to use one that has a narrow opening as this will channel and concentrate the aromas of the whisky towards your nostrils. This type of glass is called a snifter, but a similar shaped wine or brandy glass would work just as well. Some come with an additional glass plate (as seen above) that is placed over the top of the glass and this plate helps to trap the aromas. Glasses such as tumblers or those with a wide rim should be avoided for tasting purposes, as the aromas dissipate too quickly. These should be used for drinking the whisky on its own, with ice or when less analysis is needed.


The nose

This is the sensation and aromas that you pick up from the whisky before tasting it. Important characteristics can be found and should give an indication as to what the whisky will taste like. Pour a reasonable amount of whisky into the glass and swirl it around for a short time, so as to allow oxygen to get to the liquid and evaporation to begin. This is important as the whisky has been trapped in a cask or a bottle for all of its life until this point and needs a little time to express itself and start to show its true characteristics.

Once you have swirled allow the spirit to settle so that your first sensations will not be full of alcohol. Take a note of the color while you are waiting during this short time - holding it against a white background is a good tip. Now put your nose to the glass and breathe in, letting the aromas circulate around your nostrils. Repeat this three or four times and think about what the aromas remind you of – are they light, fresh, heavy, rich, fruity, floral, spicy, smoky etc. You will often find that your first sniff will be full of alcohol and that you may not pick up much. However, the second, third and fourth sniffs should reveal more each time as your nostrils get used to the high strength of the spirit. From this, try to predict what the taste of the whisky will be like.


The palate

The flavor of the whisky on your palate should be the most rewarding and enjoyable part of the whole process. The most important thing is not to drink the whisky too fast (like a shot of cheap Tequila), rather to savor it in your mouth to get the maximum flavor and benefit. Different parts of your tongue and mouth respond to different flavors and stimuli, so pass the whisky over all areas of your mouth to gain maximum effect.

Upon swallowing, there will be an alcoholic burn, which is one of the main things that puts a lot of people off drinking whisky. It is important to let this pass as it is now that any whisky will reveal its true characteristics. Try to identify obvious flavors that are present and repeat, trying to identify something new each time. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers and everyone's taste buds are different so don't worry if you get a flavor that someone else doesn't or vice versa.


The finish

The finish is the after taste that comes once you have swallowed the whisky. Some people say that the complexity of the finish in whisky is what differentiates it from all other spirits. Once you get passed the alcoholic burn, then numerous flavors can reveal themselves, some of which can be extremely subtle. The list can be extensive but again try an relate the flavors and sensations to things that you have tasted in the past. Also, ask yourself whether the flavors remain for a short, medium or long time. This is called the length of finish.


Should I add water or ice?

A common question and one that only you can answer. It is all down to personal taste. Always try whisky in its natural state first and then add water as this can release further flavors and complexity, especially in higher alcohol level or cask strength whiskies. Try to think of it as the same as if you tried to drink orange squash or cordial without diluting it. It is far more pleasant with water in some cases and how much water you add is up to you, dependent on your taste. Ice is different as it drops the temperature sof the whisky and inhibits some of the characteristics from emerging.



Gingo or Daigingo: Drink chilled, around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but don't drink it cold, which will kill the delicate aroma and taste (like drinking white wine too cold).


Namazake should be served in the 41-50 degree range, to bring out its crisp, fresh taste.  

Junmai or Honjozo: These are perfect served room temperature or warm -- kan. What is warm? Body temperature (98 degrees) up to 110 degrees. (Perfect with hot pot, by the way.)

  • White Wines are best served around 44 – 57 °F. (zesty whites on the cool side and oak-aged whites on the warm side)

  • Red Wines are best served slightly below room temperature from 53-69 °F (light red wines like Pinot Noir taste better at the cooler end of the spectrum)


12 Standard Steps to Serving Wine:

  1. Present the bottle to the host with the label exposed to the host.  State the name of the wine, and vintage and producer: when appropriate.

  2. Cut the capsule, or the foil at the bottom lip of the bottle. This is the tradition because foils were previously made out of lead. Also, this method tends to reduce stray drips when pouring at the table.

  3. Wipe the neck of the bottle.

  4. Insert corkscrew.  Poke the cork slightly off center. You want the radial diameter of the worm (the ‘worm’ is the curlycue part of a wine opener) to be centered so that it’s less likely to tear the cork.It takes about seven turns to insert the worm into the best spot, although wine openers vary. Basically, the corkscrew should be inserted into the cork about one turn less than all the way in. Some fine wines have long corks and you can go all the way in.

  5. Lever the cork out.

  6. Remove the cork from the bottle and present the cork to the guest on a small plate or tray.

  7. Wipe the neck of the bottle.

  8. Pour around one ounce of the wine into the hosts glass.  This is for the right of the guest to taste the wine.  

  9. When the host accepts the wine.  You should serve the other guests in a clockwise direction.

  10.  Top the hosts glass off.

  11. Return the bottle to the bottle chiller or place the bottle directly in front of the host with the label facing him or her.

  12. Top up any glasses as required.


Champagne and Sparkling wines should be chilled to around 45 F.  With the cork of the bottle pointed away from everyone, neatly cut the foil underneath the wired cage.  Remove the foil and place a towel over the top of the bottle.  While the bottle is tilled at a 45 degrees loosen the wired cage by untwisting the wire.  Remove the wired cage but always keep one thumb on the top of the cork.  With one hand on top of the bottle, the other hand should be placed underneath the bottle slowly rotating the bottle.  The cork should never be yanked out. 


While, pouring champagne remember to use the towel to rid the lip of the bottle of any bothersome drops they may interfere with the guest.  Pour continuous pours into the champagne flute.  Only a thin, single steam should enter into the glass.  Pour slowly so that the bubbles do not cause the glass to over fill.  

Acetic:  A vinegar-like smell and/or taste caused by acetic acid.

Acidity:  A critical element of wine, it is essential for freshness, flavor and aging.  The term generally applies to the citric, malic, tartaric and lactic acids in wine and is essential to balance contrasting elements.

Aftertaste:  Some make a distinction between a wine’s “finish” and its aftertaste.  The aftertaste is simply the taste sensation that remains after swallowing.

Aggressive:  A somewhat negative connotation relating to a harshness of taste (sometimes caused by excessive acid).

Aroma:  The scent a wine derives from its grape variety (as opposed to scents that result from the wine making process).

Astringent:  A result of tannin content (and sometimes high acid), it is the aspirin like, tea like quality that causes a dry, puckering sensation in the mouth.

Balance:  A good wine is said to “well balanced.”  The reference is to the symbiotic interrelationship and desired harmony between the major components of a wine – fruit, sugar, acidity, flavors, tannins, alcohol and oak aging.

Barrel-Fermented:  Wine that is fermented in small barrels rather than large tanks.

Body:  Light-bodied, medium bodied, full-bodied; the term takes into account a wine’s density and viscosity with reference to the impression of fullness or weight on the palate.

Bouquet:  As opposed to aroma (the scent of the grape), bouquet refers to the scent a wine acquires with aging in oak and in the bottle.

Buttery:  Usually associated with chardonnay, it denotes the rich, creamy-vanilla flavor derived from the wine’s contact with new oak.

Caramel:  Does not refer to the candy, but to the taste of the caramelized sugar.

Character:  Complimentary term for wine indicating distinction and individuality, not entirely unlike its usage with reference to personages of high stature and prestige.

Chewy:  Lots and lots of tannin in a wine, but also enough flavor to sustain it.

Clean:  A positive trait indicating a simple, direct flavor without serious flaws.

Closed:  Qualities in a wine that have yet to present themselves.  Often, complex wines that are closed, “open up” once poured or decanted.

Complexed:  A critical aspect of fine wine, it refers to a variety and range of aromas and bouquets and multiple layers of flavor.

Creamy:  A rich, smooth texture (often a quality if fine chardonnay or champagne).

Crisp:  A positive attribute denoting a white wine’s sharp, zesty acidity.

Depth:  Full-flavored, multi-dimensional taste.

Distinctive:  A unique and unmistakable impression of style.

Earthy:  A vegetative, damp earth smell.

Elegant:  Wine export Hugh Johnson’s definition is perhaps the best, “As of a woman, unmistakable but undefinable.”

Finesse:  Delicacy and refinement in structure and texture.

Finish:  The residual flavors and aroma of a wine on the palate after swallowing

Firm:  Assertive, but not unbalanced, acidity particularly in wines requiring more aging.

Flabby:  A great descriptive word for a wine without enough acidity.

Fleshy:  Flavorful and soft, generally with relatively little tannin.

Floral:  No mystery here, a taste and aroma of fresh tannin.

Freshness:  A spritely aromatic quality, often floral or fruit like.

Fruit:  Even though the actual flavor may be of blackcurrants, apples, etc., the term refers to the amount of grape in the wine.

Hot:  A relatively high alcohol content resulting in a taste that is peppery.

Jammy:  A cooked, or stewed, sweetish quality.

Lean:  Generally, not enough fruit and/or too much acidity, although not always a term of derision.

Legs:  Swirl wine in a glass and then observe the liquid running down the inside of the bowl, these are the “legs” and are a good measure of the wine’s body.

Length:  Generally, this term is used as a qualifier for a wine’s finish, which is either long or short or medium.

Malolactic:  A secondary fermentation occurring in most red and some white wines used to convert the grape’s primary malic acid into a softer lactic acid.

Mellow:  A soft, but well-balanced wine.

Meritage:  A red or white wine made from blended classic Boreaux grapes (the word itself is a condensation of Merlot and Heritage).

Must:  Grape juice and/or crushed grapes before or during fermentation.

Nose:  A wine’s aroma.

Oaky:  Wines aged in oak take on a bit of the barrel’s taste and smell.

Plummy:  Often a quality of big, ripe red wines.

Residual Sugar:  The amount of sugar not converted to alcohol during fermentation that indicates a wine’s relative sweetness.

Soft:  A term characterizing texture and referring to the amount of, and relationship between a wines acid and tannin.

Spicy:  Includes a myriad of fruit and spice flavors including cloves, mint, pepper, cinnamon and many, many others.

Steely:  A clean, acidic, almost metallic taste in wine.

Stewed:  Like overly cooked fruit from which aroma has dissipated.

Tannin:  Derived from the skins, stalks and seeds of grapes, as well as the oak barrels used for aging, it accounts for a wine’s astringency and is an essential element for aging.

Terroir:  A French word reflecting the expression of the earth, or particular vineyard site, in the finished wine.

Toasty:  Not a charred or burnt sensation but rather reminiscent of fresh toast.

Vegetal: Like wet straw, mushrooms or compost.

Vineyard Designated:  Indicates that at least 95% of the grapes used to make the wine came from the named vineyard.

Vintage:  If a vintage date is used on a label, it means that at least 95% of the wine must be from grapes grown in that year.


High quality vodka should be served neat, from the freezer.  Vodka should be served in either, a frozen vodka sipping glass, a brandy snifter, or a sherry copita glass.  Pour one and a half ounces into each glass.  Today, more and more people sip their vodka, while traditionally it was downed in a single gulp.  Traditionally, vodka is served with caviar or smoked salmon.



Vodka is Unique in the fact that it is able to adapt to all types of cuisine.  However, it is most popular with caviar.  Also, Vodka is extremely good with smoked salmon and several types of shellfish, especially oysters.


High quality sipping rums should be served in brandy snifters, at room temperature.  Pour one and a half ounces.  Rum makes a good accompaniment to a fine cigar.


Gin can be served in several manners.  Gin can be served neat at room temperature in a sherry copita or a shot glass.  Mostly gin is served shaken with ice and poured into a glass with ice or a martini glass. 



An eloquent liquor like gin, is very popular with highly flavored sausage, seafood with citrus sauces and Duck pates.  Gin is also popular with all types of salsa weather it be Mexican to Asian.  


When serving a single malt scotch, one should serve it neat, in a brandy snifter.  Only one and a half ounces of scotch should be poured.  On the other hand, when serving “single barrel” bourbon use a straight edged rocks glass.  Once again serve it neat and pour one and a half ounces.  Whiskeys can be served on the rocks or in mixes, however some find whiskeys to be more satisfying in a brandy snifter.       



Bourbons are traditionally served with smoked meats like ham.  Bourbons are very popular with chutneys, stone fruit and fruit desserts.  Scotch is also very good with smoked foods especially with smoked seafood.  Scotch also goes very well with beef carpaccio and cured sausage.


When serving any type of brandy or cognac serve it into a brandy snifter neat, they can be served on the rocks but not necessary.



Fine brandy and cognac’s go very well with Foie Gras, meat pates, and earthy- well aged cheeses.

100 % agave tequila should be served either at room temperature or chilled from the refridgerator or freezer.  They should be served in brandy snifters or martini glasses.  Pour an ounce and a half for the conasuier.  For those looking for the party style or tequila, rub a lime wheel on the edge of a shot glass and dash salt, so it sticks to the side.  Pour a ounce and a fourth into the glass and place a lime opposite of the lime.



Tequila believe it or not, is a great complement to several cuisines.  Tequila goes very well with smoked seafood, shrimp, scallops, and most Indian cuisines.

Sweetness: From the germinated, or “malted,” barley which is the only grain Used in producing malt in Scotch.

Dryness:  From the peat which is used as the primary fuel to dry the germinated barley, to stop the germination process.  Particles of the peat rise and mingle with the grain, thus imparting this flavor unique to Scotch Whiskey.

Smokey:  From the dense, pungent smoke which is the characteristic of burning peat.

Body: Related to the “mouthfeel,” indicating product character, used with qualifying terms.  Full-bodied, lacking body, ect.

Clean: Free from off – notes from any source.

Fresh: Opposite of flat, the product is the ideal condition.

Hard: Opposite of soft, sensation of metallic, flinty astringency.

Heavy: A high total intensity of aroma and flavor.

Light: A lack of intensity of aroma and flavor, delicate

Rich: A high total intensity of character.

Robust: Dominant characteristics are maintained throughout the taste, robust is freferable to heavy.

Smooth: Lacking harshness, enabling swallowing without any hot or burning sensations.

Soft: The alcoholic pungency, metallic or flinty notes are suppressed.


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