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Alcohol-free in the big leagues

by archyde

PWhy do you drink wine? If your first instinct is to answer: “Because there is alcohol in it”, sorry to weigh you down, but I am afraid that you have a problem with alcohol. If you think, on the other hand: “Because I like the taste”, it is already more reassuring. Either way, the following might be of interest to you.

More precisely, what are we looking for when we choose to drink a spritz rather than a cider, a whiskey rather than a rum, a pastis rather than a gin and tonic, an IPA beer rather than a stout? They don’t send the same social message, don’t show the same state of mind. And, of course, they have their own aromatic palette, their taste balance (more or less sweet, bitter, acid), their texture (in terms of viscosity, fat, dryness on the cheeks but also the heat they emerge), a more or less marked presence on the palate. In fact, there is a fabulous sensory diversity in the world of alcohols, whether they come from fermentation or distillation, from a terroir or from a cocktail-style blend. And this is precisely what makes it its strength, which is difficult to match in the world of soft drinks.

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Humans didn’t invent alcoholic beverages just for the purpose of getting drunk (although, let’s be honest, that must have been a big part of it, and it’s not just the prerogative of human beings, since we have already observed monkeys, elephants and hedgehogs cocking themselves on fermented fruits or dolphins taking drugs on fugu). Alcohol also helps preserve food, protect it from bacteria and prevent infections.

Beyond Sparkling Water and Iced Tea

But, in the case that concerns us, alcohol has two other virtues: being both a vector and a creator of aromas. A vector, because ethanol fixes and transports aromatic molecules more efficiently to our olfactory mucous membranes, while intensifying their perception. A creator, because the fermentation and distillation processes allow the emergence of flavors that do not exist naturally in the fruit or the plant. A grape does not smell of violets, cocoa, honey or quince, but wine does. Similarly, the aromas of smoke, caramel, vanilla, cherry, etc., that can be smelled in a glass of whiskey are not originally found in an ear of wheat.

“I want to extend the pleasure of living together around an aperitif as well as a nightcap” – Augustin Laborde, from the beverage cellar Le Paon qui boit

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