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Leftovers and Hangovers

You look about the house. The best stemware got nicked (that could mean chipped, stolen, or both!). The marble counter is red-wine stained. The wood furniture is white stained from dripping glasses. Your belt is tight, your budget tighter. It’s enough to drive you to drink or dip into the dark chocolate.

Wait. Wasn’t that how you arrived at this depressing moment?

December overindulgence and entertaining in has January consequences on you and your home. Pantry shelves, beer haunts and wine cellars have morphed into dens of iniquity.

The first week of January may see you craving a few greens and green tea.

Come the second week January most of us are right back at the food trough. The news is not all bad. Two steps back from the trench and three toward calisthenics ought to rid you of the gathering girth tout de suite.

Every January issue of every lifestyle magazine offers tips on tipping the scales in your favor with their calorie cutting recipes and exercise regimes. But they say little about booze—except forget it. Must we abstain for a month? We can. I guess. Some imbibers go for February. (Think about it). Due to my wining/dining vocation I go for AFDs (Alcohol Free Days). I reach for water instead of wine with my (low fat) meal when not out and about.

Even then I skip beer, the aperitif, the reception bubble or the reception period, dessert drinks and night-cap (aka beer for me).

Adapted (OK—pretty much cribbed) from an article called “The Booze You Choose,” here’s an eye opener (no—not a Bloody Mary/Caesar—but since we’re mentioning it, a decent choice, calorie-wise) into a few boozy bevvies to keep in mind when you belly up to the bar over the next weeks.

PS. Skip the peanuts and the bits-and-bites.

Pint of beer next to plate with bread

Beer has 140-150 calories, zero fat.

Beer: 140-150 calories, zero fat. Light beer can save you around 40 to 50 calories per 12 ounces.

Manhattan: 128 calories, zero fat Made with bourbon, vermouth and bitters.

Martini:(classic with gin and white vermouth)
150 calories, zero fat. My favourites. Take them on the rocks for easy sipping.

Scotch: 130 calories (40 per cent ABV) Consider stretching the drink with a splash of water (brings forth the spirit’s esthers anyway) or club soda

Wine: 120 to 150 calories per 6 oz. A 750 ml. bottle works out to about four six-ounce glasses. Whether you’re drinking Chateau Petrus in a French villa or Boone’s Farm in an El Camino, the calories per glass are the same. (Writer’s note: dry wines and (yes!) German wines provide slightly fewer calories per glass.

Brandy Alexander: 179 calories, two grams fat. Pass entirely for a snifter of brandy.

Glass of white wine

Yum!

Rum & Coke: 180 calories, zero fat Diet Coke will save you about 60 calories.

Screwdriver: 184 calories, zero fat. At least this one’s got the nutritional benefit of orange juice.

Irish Cream: 240 calories, 10.5 grams fat Forget it or substitute for three nights’ worth of dessert

Pina Colada: 253-347 calories, three to 11 grams fat. Pina coladas are one of the worst drinks—all calories and saturated fat.

Margarita: 340 calories, zero fat Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, (unless you are a woman) but you know the truth: It’s your own damn fault. On hot days, grab a Tecate but keep the Jimmy buffet CD.

Wine and Your Nose

Wine experts say that savoring wine’s aroma is one of the most important steps in tasting. You perceive about 80% of the subtle tastes of wine via your taste of smell.

But what if you aren’t getting much aroma from your wine? Heidi Yorkshire author of excellent books on wine, including Simply Wine and Wine Savvy, tells us there are several explanations.

  1. The wine is too cold. If you take white wine straight from the refrigerator, allow it to warm up a bit before tasting.
  2. The wine is too warm. If you’re smelling alcohol fumes rather than fruit, your wine is too warm. This is often a problem with red wine. Put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool off.
  3. The wine isn’t very aromatic. Some wines — those that are poorly made — simply don’t have much smell.
  4. The wine is spoiled. If your wine smells dull or flat. Or, if you smell mildew or a sherry-like odor, chances are the wine is spoiled. Tell your server or, if you’re at home, cork the bottle and take it back to where you purchased it.

A Wine Lexicon

If you’re relatively new to wine and wine tasting, all the terms can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming. Here’s a primer on wine terms that can help.

White wine and a glass of ice water

A dry wine is one that does not taste sweet.

  • Acidity: When you think about acidity, consider the taste of lemon juice. Acidity is what gives wine its zing or zest. Wines with too much acidity are tart or sour. All wines have some acidity, but it’s usually stronger in whites than reds, and in dry wines.
  • Aroma or bouquet: This is the smell of wine. When wine people talk about bouquet, they’re usually referring to the smell or aroma of older wines.
  • Body: The feeling of “weight” or fullness of a wine in your mouth. Wine expert and author Heidi Yorkshire suggests comparing it to the “weight” of milk: skim milk is light-bodied; whole milk is medium-bodied; heavy cream is full-bodied.
  • Crispness: This is a term wine tasters use to describe wines with high acidity.
  • Dry: A dry wine is one that does not taste sweet.
  • Finish: This is the taste of wine as you swallow it.
  • Flavor intensity: The strength of a wine’s flavor.
  • Fruity, fruitiness: Wines that suggest fruits. Often wines have subtle aromas that suggest apple or pear (white wines) or raspberries or cherries (red wines).
  • Off-Dry: A slightly sweet wine that can still be enjoyed with a savory meal.
  • “Oaky”: Wines that display the smoky, toast-like flavors of oak.
  • Soft: Wines that feel smooth rather than crisp in the mouth.
  • Sweet: Wines that taste sweet, usually considered dessert wines. Sweet wines are often drunk with dessert, cheeses, or alone at the end of a meal.
  • Tannin: Tannin is a substance found in grapes, oak, and tea leaves and it’scrucial to the complexity and distinct flavor of wines, particularly red wines. A tannic wine (or a strong cup of black tea) can cause the mouth to pucker. People often describe a tannic wine as a red wine that is firm and leaves the mouth feeling dry. A young tannic wine may be undrinkable; however, with age, that same wine may become a masterpiece.

Wine Buying Tip: Many people say they don’t like “dry” wines. What they often really mean is they don’t like astringent tannic wines. Dry refers only to the sweetness of a wine. If you want a wine without much tannin, call it soft or smooth. Your wine seller will know what you’re talking about.

For more, check out Experiencing Wine for Dummies

— by Juie Pegg



Julie Pegg, Wine & Spirits Editor, Canada

Julie Pegg has been writing about food, wine, and spirits for 15 years. She was a product consultant for 14 of her 24 years working for the British Columbia Liquor Board in Vancouver. She still keeps her hand in (and elbow firmly bent) at Dundarave Wine Cellars in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Julie is also a keen amateur cook who loves culinary travel. Farmers’ markets and wine shops are always her first stop. Julie is RFT’s Senior Wine & Spirits Editor, Canada.