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Alcohol Brand Drinks Technology What's New

Snoop Dogg’s First Foray Into Wine Is A Surprising Red

Snoop Dogg is no doubt a household name, one that’s synonymous with weed, women, and the West Coast. With his first foray into wine, Snoop may have yet another W under his belt. Expertly weaving his own vision while never forgetting to represent where he came from, Snoop has always been an unlikely face for many of his ventures beyond music, continually subverting our expectations. I suppose one could say gin & juice is to Snoop Doggy Dog as the new Cali Red is to Uncle Snoop, another evolution of possibilities. 

Collaborating with gangsta-adjacent wine brand 19 Crimes, Snoop Dogg brings their first ever California-bottled offering to fans. Sourced from NorCal’s Lodi region, Cali Red blends Petite Syrah 65%, Zinfandel 30%, and Merlot 5%. A complimentary crimson-concoction to Snoop’s canine cool. The blend also uses all-American oak, introducing a distinct smokiness that provides vanilla and chocolate. 

A look into the backstory of the brand reveals that 19 Crimes is based upon 18th century British convicts turned colonists that were exiled to Australia as punishment in place of death. The 19 Crimes were created during the Industrial Revolution as an answer to the growing overpopulation of Great Britain, which resulted in an increase of crime. With an antiquated legal system, grossly overwhelmed by criminal cases and crowded prisons, Britain declared exile to Australia as punishment. Most convicts never survived the trip. In actuality, there were a reported 200 crimes that could seal one’s fate to the land down under. 

Marrying the Northern California sweetness to Snoop’s South California smoothness creates the perfect red and blue compliment at just $12.99 a bottle. The wine also has an AR feature that allows you to scan the label, revealing a special message from Snoop. By downloading the “Living Wine Labels” app, users can hold their mobile devices over any Cali Red label and be greeted by words of wisdom, affirmations and of course, Snoop’s famously known swagger.

Snoop’s Cali Red is now available for purchase online.

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Alcohol Packaged Food

Cheez-It Wine Box Pairs White Cheddar Crackers With Rosé

Photo Courtesy of Cheez-It

Last year, Cheez-It launched a limited-edition Original Cheddar and House Wine Red Wine box that will let you snack on the iconic crackers while pairing it with some box wine. The collaboration sold out in minutes and fans were left eating crackers, and drinking wine in separate containers like veritable chumps.

Those fans need not worry, as the annual pairing is back with a White Cheddar twist.

This year, Cheez-It is launching a White Cheddar & House Wine Rosé box that you can order through Original House Wine. Pairing White Cheddar Cheez-Its (arguably the superior Cheez-It) with House Wine Rosé.

The limited-edition Cheez-It White Cheddar & House Wine Rosé will be available online for $29.99 at OriginalHouseWine.com, starting at 2 p.m. EST on July 23 and will be available while supplies last.

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Alcohol Restaurants

Wine Brand ‘Bev’ Donates 100% of Sales to Service Workers

 

Bev

Each day, more efforts are being made to combat the effects of the corona pandemic. With cities at a near standstill, somehow life must persist. To lower the risk of spreading the virus further, stay-at-home orders have been passed nationwide. Probably one of the most at risk are the many service workers helping on the local front lines — delivering mail, stocking grocery stores, and providing medical assistance amongst other things. Thankfully, businesses are coming together to support their local service workers.

Venice, California-based wine brand Bev has announced that they will be donating 100% of all sales, online and in-store, to help service workers affected by the Los Angeles dine-in closure mandate. Bev will also be matching the first $3k of donations to a GoFundMe supporting the initiative. To further boost their support efforts, Bev will be distributing in-house hand sanitizer free-of-charge to the elderly and homeless in Venice. The elder and homeless are the two highest at-risk communities without access to essential services. 

With over 72,387 eating and drinking establishments in the city, it’s important to have those willing to step up to help out. Fortunately, uncertain times breeds togetherness. You can support Bev’s Service Workers Relief Fund by donating to the GoFundMe or simply by making a purchase today.

The text to delivery phone number is: 323-289-6964 to place an order.

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Drinks Grocery News Products What's New

Costco Is Selling Egg Nog with a 13.9% ABV

Costco isn’t fooling anyone. While the gargantuan $10 pizza and bulk amounts of, well, everything are nice, the chain clearly excels at being the alcohol plug. Where else can you get a 48 pack of beer for $23? Well, nowhere, now that the chain discontinued their beer last fall. Thankfully it seems as if a new contestant has approached the arena— er, warehouse — with the introduction of their new Egg Nog Wine Cocktail.

As with everything at Costco, the drink only comes in one size (absurdly large) and one price (absurdly cheap). The Instagram account @costcobuys, who initially reported the discovery, says that the drink is available at their Costco in 1.5L bottles for only $9.

 

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Nine dollars! Now, granted this isn’t that premium stuff. At the end of the day, this is alcoholic eggnog that comes in a plastic bottle. But still! That’s a lot of… value… for your money.

The one concerning part of this is that, according to the label, it’s a “wine cocktail.” Usually, eggnog is paired with a dark liquor, like rum or brandy — never wine. 

This reddit thread throws a couple suggestions out, namely that this might be the result of state alcohol sales and taxes laws. From prior experience, and some preliminary reporting, this could be true. The new bottle seems to be a rebrand of the eggnog liqueur that Costco has sold for years, as the imaging, labeling, and wording of the bottle all remain the same. The only things that have changed is the switch to “wine cocktail” and a minor reduction in alcohol percentage, as the new one comes in at 13.9%.

Whatever the recipe may actually be, Costco is trying to make alcoholic eggnog easy, and holiday parties that much more palatable. Cheers to that.

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Alcohol Toasty

A Whole Festival Dedicated To Pinot Wine Finally Comes to the US

Festival culture has become a way of life for many. Whether its music festivals like Coachella and Governor’s Ball or food fests like Smorgasburg and the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue Invitational, there’s truly something for everyone… including red wine fans! Enter Pinot Palooza.

Just in time for California’s Crush (when wineries get their grapes crushed and their juice into tanks as quickly as possible), many of the world’s wine producers will come to showcase their pinot noirs on September 28th as the festival makes its U.S. debut at Downtown Los Angeles’ City Market Social House.

Not your typical wine tasting, festival goers will be able to taste over 100 wines from different regions, including Sonoma, Oregon, Australia, and New Zealand. For those who either don’t do wine, Pinot Palooza will also feature spirits, craft beer, and curated bites from some of the city’s chefs and restaurants.

Launched in 2012 in Australia, Pinot Palooza is the brainchild of REVEL. “Bringing Pinot Palooza to the U.S. has been on our wish list since the very beginning,” says Dan Sims, REVEL Founder/Creator. “To finally be in L.A. for the first time, and to welcome Angelenos to our big, noisy, pinot party is a dream come true.

“Our vision for the L.A. event is to showcase pinot noir from top U.S. producers alongside those made by our good mates in Australia and New Zealand, and to present all that to an American audience in way that celebrates what’s so special about the grape,” adds Sims. “The atmosphere we create helps to make wine more accessible, and it allows people to find what they like and get excited about the world of pinot.”

This year, the festival will tour six countries and thirteen cities across the globe and is gearing up to add New York and Shanghai to the tour in 2020.

Tickets for Pinot Palooza LA are on sale now through the event’s website. Ticket price includes unlimited tastings and a Pinot Palooza-branded red wine glass to take home.

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Features The Katchup

Everyday Foods That Are Commonly Faked And Mislabeled

Meet the food playing the food, disguised as another food.

If you’ve ever been skeptical about brands being a bit deceitful in the food they sell you, there’s good reason for it, as there’s a little something called “food fraud,” and it happens in the most unusual of instances.

Dr. Rosalee Hellberg, a food fraud expert, spoke in depth about mislabeled products on The Foodbeast Katchup Podcast, rattling off food after food that you’ve probably had in your kitchen cabinet.

Dr. Hellberg and her team at Chapman University have dedicated their lives to researching fraudulent food, identifying the specific genes within different foods, and ultimately discovering sketchy practices within the industry.

While some companies have been publicly exposed and corrected the course, food fraud is easy to repeat, and has been a problem for hundreds of years.

Here are the foods, and some fraudulent examples that will leave you walking around the grocery store with constant doubt.

__________

Pepper


“Pepper is really interesting ’cause it has a really long history of fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Even dating back to Roman times, there are instances of… fraudulent pepper being sold.”

While you’d think pepper would get its act together over the last 600 years, fraudulent practices still occur today. From adding dirt, to dried juniper berries, pepper manufacturers still try to get that weight up on the cheap. If you ever feel your lemon-pepper shrimp tastes like dirt, now you know why.
__________

Honey

Honey is the third most faked food in the world, according to New York Times best selling book, Real Food, Fake Food.

Dr. Hellberg said that with honey, a lot of times, sugars will be mixed in, so you’re not actually getting the 100 percent honey that’s put on the label.

If you’re in the loop with bees being wiped out at a rapid pace, this one may or may not be that surprising to you.
__________

Wine


“With wine there’s a lot of possibilities for fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Some of the most common are mixing finished wines. You take one type of wine, another type of wine and mix them together.”

This one’s crazy because unless you’re a professional wine taster, how can you even tell they’re being mixed? Dr. Hellberg suggested the best we can do to avoid this, is to get to know the source, find their ethos, and go with wineries with good reputations. You can even ask if they’re actually doing anything to prevent wine fraud. While this form of fraud won’t hurt you, it might hurt your wallet if you’re paying for a premium wine and not actually getting it.

__________

Chocolate


“With chocolate, one of the main things I found was counterfeit chocolate,” Hellberg said. “People are taking substandard chocolate and putting it under a fake label of a chocolate brand that’s well recognized.”

One widely publicized occurrence of this type of mixing came from the Mast Brothers’ chocolate, which was accused of using melted chocolate from Valrhona chocolates, and selling them for $10 a pop. This type of chocolate fraud is common globally, according to Hellberg.
__________

Olives


“…In Italy, fraudsters were taking olives, and typically the substandard olives that are discolored, they were soaking them in a copper sulfate solution, which gives them a nice bright green color. Hellberg said. “They’re called, ‘Painted Olives.’ If you’re eating copper, you’re going to have some health problems.”

This happened in 2016, and Italian police seized 85,000 tons of those green olives. Believe it or not, this type of olive fraud is pretty common, so keep a close eye on your olives.
__________

Olive Oil

Like a few other things on this list, olive oils have been found to be mixed with lower quality olive oils. In 2016, it was reported that 80 percent of the Italian olive oil sold in markets is fraudulent.

“If you see something that’s out of wack, that doesn’t look right on the label, or the price doesn’t match, that’s usually a good indicator that it might be a fraudulent product,” Dr. Hellberg said.

While a lot of Italian olive oils are mislabeled, our own resident food scientist Constantine Spyrou argues that getting Spanish olive oils that are labeled “Italian” isn’t really a downgrade.
__________

Sushi


One of the most common forms of sushi fraud comes from the ol’ red snapper. It seems that every time researchers dig into the fish, regardless of year, or location, the fish has been faked.

It’s so bad, that you’ve probably never truly tasted real red snapper.

“Most of the time studies have found it’s not red snapper,” Dr. Hellberg said. “We actually just completed a study in my lab… and again, ‘red snapper’ was not red snapper.”

We can even take it one step further, as in 2017, a study showed that almost half the sushi in Los Angeles is mislabeled. From halibut to flounder, there’s a good chance Angelenos are not actually getting the sushi they ordered.

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Alcohol Drinks Theme Parks

Disney’s Sparkling Blue Wine Might Be Their Most Photogenic Drink Yet

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If the booze I drank at home were half as photogenic as the ones the Imagineers at Disney come up with, I’d probably post more photos. With wine on the mind, one of Disney World’s latest alcoholic innovations comes in the form of a Sparkling Blue Wine.

Available at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, the stunning blue beverage is a prime example of the decadence that can only come from the Mouse King himself.

The bubbling beverage is garnished with a white chocolate Minnie Mouse topper that’s covered in a luminous dust.

Super fancy.

What catches my attention most about this drink is how few bells and whistles it carries. It’s minimalistic, but exudes elegance from the two components it offers — the vibrant color and topper.

A pink version of the beverage is also available at Amorette’s, but that one kind of just looks like regular wine. Gimme that blue sparkle.

You can find the dazzling item at Disney Springs, located just outside of Walt Disney World in Florida.

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#foodbeast Alcohol Culture Drinks Features FOODBEAST

A Newbie’s Guide To Decoding Douchey Wine Speak

Tennis ball. Rubber hose. Firewood. Fresh almonds. Clearly I’m about to go on a Walmart run, right? Not so much. What I listed were actual tasting notes wine connoisseurs and Sommeliers have actually used to describe what they’re tasting and smelling in wines. And for many of those that are on the outside looking in, wine culture itself and the nuances within appreciating wine are about as oddball as thinking that whatever you’re about to drink smells of asphalt and tastes of burnt toast — then considering such as a good thing.

To help us unravel the madcap world of wines and the cryptic and confusing language that comes along with it, I spoke with Coly Den Haan, a certified Sommelier and owner of female-driven wine shop, Vinovore, in Los Angeles, California.

For Den Haan, appreciating wine doesn’t have to include all the pomp and pretentiousness that it’s infamous for. The fact that she’s describing wines in her shop as “funky and rad like your favorite character actor,” “horse butt,” and “like driving a raspberry-colored convertible Fiat through the Italian Alps with the top down and your top off,” should be enough to cement her stance. Trust, we’re in good hands, friends. A newbie such as myself had plenty to learn in taking the douchey-ness out of wine culture.


IS ALL THAT SWIRLING, SNORTING, AND SWISHING NECESSARY?

Den Haan admits all that obnoxious wine swishing and shoving of one’s nose into the glass is still a bit necessary when it comes to tasting wine. They’re tools, she insists, to “awaken the wine in your glass.”

“If you want to do it in a corner so you don’t look like an asshole, with all the big sniffs and snorting or whatever, do it in a closed room. If you take a minute, and just be like, ‘Oh I do get fruit. Oh what kind of fruit,” your brain, kind of associates with those aromatics. It just becomes more of a second nature. That’s how people start blind tasting because they’ve trained their brain and they can start deducing.

When you’re swirling, what you’re doing is adding oxygen to that wine. That wine has been sitting in a bottle for however long — a year, 5 years, 20 years — so when you let it out, think of it like, stretching its arms. All that really is doing is adding oxygen to the wine to let it open up. So you’re releasing it from its little cage, and you’re giving it fresh air to let it spread its wings.”

CONSIDER THE LEGS

A wine’s ‘legs’ are scrutinized by wine lovers to help tell if the booze they’re drinking is up to snuff. “Legs are the drippings that come down in a glass after you swirl. The reason that people evaluate legs is sometimes it gives you a hint on how much alcohol is in the wine, or the viscosity of the wine. So the slower the legs fall, and the closer they are together, it can give you the indication that there’s more alcohol, or it’s been aged longer.

However, Den Haan warns that a wine’s legs and also its price may not be the most reliable ways to gauge quality.

“This isn’t a reliable rule because there are so many things that can happen with the glass itself: What it was cleaned with, if there’s spots, whatever. For price, I always tell people that they don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a really good wine. I feel like, especially with California, people get into this trap and a lot of it is marketing. I won’t name specific brands, but the wine is good, though it’s not worth hundreds of dollars a bottle.”

VARIETALS AND TANNING MAKE THE HAPPY JUICE

Varietal is the grape. There’s tens of thousands of different varietals in the world. Cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, these are all grapes. Tannin is what is found in the skin of the grapes. So, what most people don’t realize is that for all grapes, the juice inside is clear. It runs yellowish-clear. What gives the color is the skins and what gives a lot of the texture and aroma is the tannin, the skins. Tannin is only found in the skins and gives that sensation that dries your mouth. So imagine that back of your jaw feeling, that’s dry, really tannic, like chewy sometimes. The bigger the tannic wine, it almost feels like you’re chewing on a piece of stem or wood. For the most part, white wines don’t have tannins because they’re not made with skins. There are few exceptions with skin contact whites, like orange wine, which is kind of a buzzword right now. That would be white wine with skin contact.”

Take note, though, that a wine’s tannic characteristics aren’t the end all, be all when it comes to determining its flavor and personality.

“The counterpart of tannins is acid. So where acid makes your mouth water, tannin dries it up. So, you know, especially with red wine you want that balance. If you have a wine that has a lot of tannins but not enough acid, it’s going to be way too dry. You need that ideal juiciness to dry ratio.”

ALL WINE IS DRY (Except Dessert Wine)

It’s the hardest thing to explain without sounding like a jerk. People come into the shop and they’re like, “Oh, I want a dry rosé.” If I was an asshole, I’d be like, “Um, all rosés are dry.” But, that’s not really the right way to say it. All normal wine is dry unless it’s dessert. What people are confused about is fruitiness, usually. I used rosé as an example because that’s the biggest thing right now.”

IS PAIRING WINE ROCKET SCIENCE?

For the average person looking to get into wine, pairing them with whatever meal you’re having can be a bit intimidating. Sure, there’s the perceived common knowledge of whites go with seafood and vegetables, and reds go well with meat. However, Coly breaks it down with a little more nuance for us.

“So there are some simple rules you can follow that can help you navigate and pair your food. One that I always like to say is, you can match the cuisine region with the region of the wine. Italy, France, Spain are very easy to do because the wines are there. They’ve been made there for hundreds and hundreds of years to go with that local, indigenous food. Beyond that, you kind of want to match and contrast. So you sometimes want to match flavor profiles, and then have some sort of contrasting element to compliment it, or kind of add some third taste, so to speak. For instance, if you have something really fatty, you’ll want to contrast it with a lot of acid, since you’re going to need that acid to clean up the fat. But if you have something that’s really fruity, with a really earthy dish, I do not suggest that. That’s where you want to kind of align your taste.”

In simpler terms, she states, “Really the food is the main star when you’re pairing. Wine is kind of just the co-star. So, the wine really helps you to cleanse your palate after each bite. That’s why the wine is there. So if it’s doing more or less, it’s not really doing its job.”

 

TENNIS BALL? REALLY?

“Have you ever smelled a wine where it literally smells like you opened a can of tennis balls? They exist, and it’s crazy and that’s the kind of thing that, yes, I feel like people are very pretentious about in the wine world in general.”

When you hear off the wall sensory notes of “musty blanket” or “new car smell” to describe the aromas and flavors of various wines, does it come off as obnoxious? Or are they just using reference points? Den Haan helps us understand the logic behind such wacky options.

“You know it’s kind of like an umbrella effect. As you learn to taste wine, you start categorizing main categories of what you’re smelling: I smell fruit, I smell minerals. Then from there, what kinds of fruit: Oh, pineapple. Tropical fruit. What kind of tropical fruit? Pineapple, mango, papaya. Essentially, these descriptions are just reference points. So the more you start pulling stuff out of this glass, the crazier and wilder it can get, which I think is fun. Whatever you’re finding in there, there are no rules and that’s what makes it fun. It can come off as pretentious, but it really shouldn’t be because wine is wild and crazy.”

RELAX, ENJOY. IT AIN’T THAT SERIOUS

For many daunted by the world of wine and are apprehensive about dipping their toes into the culture, it’s vital to keep in mind that it all really shouldn’t be taken so seriously. It’s just wine, after all, and Coly insists that it should be a fun experience overall.

“It’s supposed to be fun! It’s fucking fine, you know. Jesus, you’re not saving any lives with this shit. You don’t have to be an expert or even care that much about wine to enjoy it. You just have to appreciate your wine and go to your party and have your dinner and go to the pool and whatever.”