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Does Absinthe Make The Heart Grow Fonder?


Please drink responsibly. If this
happens when you drink Absinthe,
you’ve probably had too much.

Absinthe. The Green Fairy. La Fée Verte. Probably no other drink has a more magical, mysterious, and myth-laden history. For many, the word conjures images of French cafes filled with tragically brilliant artists and poets like Toulouse Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine. An excellent example of the mythology that has evolved around Absinthe is the devastating toll it took on Edgar Allan Poe. The reason that this is such a great example is that in spite of the fact that Poe is widely referenced in relation to the drink, according to the Virtual Absinthe Museum, he never touched the stuff, never once mentioned it in volumes of writing and personal letters, and may in fact not even have known what it was! Such is the stuff of Absinthe legend and Green Fairy tales. This kind of rumour and legend likely evolved from a combination of ignorance, intoxication, and prohibition. While many drug-like qualities are historically attributed to Absinthe, actual research reveals that most of its hallucinogenic and psychotropic effects are probably imagined, and some of the 19th century medical descriptions of visions, seizures, and emotional disturbances are typical of simple alcoholic withdrawal. The substance that is supposedly responsible for the secondary effects of Absinthe is Thujone, which is the principle active ingredient in Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium), the key herb that gives Absinthe its distinctive character. Interestingly, Chartreuse, Benedictine, Bitters, and Vermouth also contain small amounts of Thujone. In fact, Vermouth takes its name from the German “wermut” which means “wormwood”. The secondary effects of Absinthe remain contested by the subjective experience of many, but if you’re interested in exploring them yourself, there’s good news for you. In spite of strict controls on the amount of Thujone allowed in Absinthe since it was legalized in the US several years ago, research has shown that the Absinthe of a hundred years ago contained much less than was suspected, so you’re probably drinking a similar or perhaps even more potent concoction in that regard. Regardless of all this talk of secondary effects, a well-made Absinthe is a delight to drink, and a satisfying ritual as well, with the whole sugar cube and spoon routine. And regarding what makes a fine Absinthe? This is also hotly debated. We’ve learned that the only person more demanding than a wine enthusiast is a beer enthusiast, and the only person more demanding than a beer enthusiast is an Absinthe enthusiast! We’ll let you decide for yourself, we have  about a half-dozen Absinthe varieties  in stock, and would be happy to add more to our selection if there’s demand. Let us know in the comments if we’re missing any essentials. (more…)

Posted By:Admin January 23, 2011

A New Ann Arbor Wine Club

A New Ann Arbor Wine ClubHistorically, a club was something used to clobber your opponent with. More recently, they became something that Groucho Marx didn’t want any part of if they were willing to accept members like himself. What we’re planning bears no relationship to either; we’re thinking more along the lines of the more common dictionary definition, i.e.: “a group of persons organized for a social, literary, athletic, political, or other purpose“, or “an organization that offers its subscribers certain benefits, as discounts, bonuses, or interest, in return for regular purchases or payments“. Ann Arbor already has a few well-organized wine clubs and tasting events, but we think there may be room for one more. Our regular wine customers know the benefits of getting to know us a little better, mainly the tremendous savings you can receive just by building a friendship. So we want to extend this idea to as many of our customers as are interested. We’re still working out venues, membership levels, and the specifics of upcoming events, and that’s where we’d like your help. What would YOU like to see in a wine club? We’re hoping to make our events something a little more interesting than just dressed up product pitches, so we hope to bring in interesting presenters, and make these events FUN. And while we’re at it, offer people a place to get to know other local wine enthusiasts,  give our members first looks at new arrivals, and offer some great pricing year ’round for a very reasonable member fee. So here’s your chance to chime in. What would YOU like to see in a wine club? We’ll be back soon with details on the first event, which as of this writing looks like it will feature Champagne and gifts from Christian Dior. Yes, Christian Dior and Main Party! Perhaps an unexpected combination, but we have more up our sleeves. Feel free to let us know in the comments what YOU’D like to see though.

Posted By:Admin January 16, 2011

We’re Pleased To Mead You


Many fine meads are still bottled in
ceramic, as they have been for centuries

If you’re a connoisseur of fine drink, you may know that one of the newest hip beverage trends is mead. Which is interesting, because mead is probably also the oldest hip beverage trend, with the earliest archaeological evidence for the production of mead suggesting it was first made in China around 7000 BC. According to Wikipedia, the word mead is derived from the Old English “medu”, from the Proto-Germanic meduz. Many languages have a similar name for the brew – the Slavic “med” or “miod”, the Polish “miód”, the Welsh “medd”, or Sanskrit “madhu” – but almost universally the word means “honey” or “drinkable honey” as in the case of the Polish “miód pitny”. For most of us the word “mead” conjures images of Viking conquests or medeival banquets with men wearing chain mail sitting around a rough wooden table with a leg of mutton in one hand and a huge mug of frothy, thick sustenance in the other. Or that peculiar couple at the office that’s always going to renaissance festivals. This reputation is rapidly changing though, as more people begin to explore the complex history and remarkable variety of mead making methods. And in spite of the explosive growth of mead making (over 100 new meaderies in the US in the last decade) you may have trouble finding a genuine “expert”; the rarity of quality mead due to alcoholic beverage regulations, combined with its multitudinous regional styles and long history, and now the boom of new mead making, makes it hard for a single individual to really stay abreast of both the complex history and current trends in mead. So we won’t play the expert here, we’ll just let you know what we have in stock and provide links to the producers’ sites. That is, if we can find an English version; many of the finest meads are from Poland or Denmark. Below is what we have on hand as of this writing. (more…)

Posted By:Admin January 2, 2011

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