Italy has a long tradition of making spirits and liqueurs. However, you might not know it as Italy isn't famed for their spirits or liqueurs. In fact, when you think of Italy and spirits, you probably think of Grappa. But, there is definitely more to Italian spirits than Grappa. One of them is called noisette, which are liqueurs that are made by soaking nuts in alcohol and then distilling part of the infusion again. Similar liqueurs are also made with rose, fruits and other florals.
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Today, in the heyday of the cocktail renaissance, there is probably more adored spirit than the Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. This liqueur is it's baby brother and while the two share the same DNA with the use of the sour marasca cherry, they are very different. The Luxardo Cherry Liqueur is similar to a cherry brandy. The juice of the marasca cherries are fermented and then aged in oak barrels, which gives the Cherry Liqueur a very different flavor profile than the Luxardo Maraschino.
Quattro Mani is the brainchild of Domaine Select Wine Estates. It is an offering of second label wines from some of Italy and Slovenia's best winemakers. The 2010 Quattro Mani Barbera is made by Danilo Droco, one of Piedmont's greatest winemakers. Not only is the Quatro Mani Barbera a zippy little wine, it's also a great price at $8.99 a bottle. In fact, it's one of the best wines priced under $10 that I have tried.
I bet you didn't know that cocktails are being made from Artichokes. Over the last few years, Amari (bitter liqueurs) has swept the cocktail world! One its rising stars is Cynar, an Amaro from Italy made from artichokes with a few other herbs and plants thrown into the mix.
There is a long tradition in Italy of families and the church producing their own special liqueurs through both distillation and infusion. This tradition is alive and well in Italy today but not as widespread as it was 100 or 500 years ago. If you are treated to a limoncello in many restaurants in Italy at the end of your meal, it's likely that the proprietor devised the secret recipe himself or it had been passed down through the generations.
Campari is a bitter spirit that is made from over 60 herbs and spices. If you try hard, you can pick out a few. For me, the easiest one to spot is the quinine, which is one of the herbs that gives Campari its bitter quality. Campari has been produced in Italy since 1860 and like Coca Cola, allegedly only one person knows the recipe.
With the holidays upon us, it makes me think of Christmas and my wish lists of yore. It also makes me ponder how my adult would look. I thought about it and thought about. As an avowed oenophile, I decided that my adult wish list would be filled with amazing wines from around the world. The only drawback to my wishlist is that you might only get them if Santa has a very good year.
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With much fanfare, Wine Spectator announced their top 100 wines of 2011. Not surprisingly, the list was dominated by American, Italian and French selections, as well as representations from a number of other countries, such as Spain, South Africa and Australia. The majority of wines were in the $50 to $100 range with the top price topping out at $175 and the lowest at $9.
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