October 2019: The Best of the beverage industry.
As we do every month, we have rounded up a selection of the best of the news from the world of drinks: a warning about plastic in tea bags, a 1.5 million dollar bottle of whisky, the news that water is less rehydrating than milk, that the Emirates have the most lavish wine cellar, and that auto-brewery syndrome exists ...
Would You Like Another Cup of Plastic?
While the (American) man who invented the tea bag at the beginning of the last century may have been thinking, above all, of being helpful, of making life easier, it must be acknowledged that tea, with its countless beneficial properties, deserves much better than a careless infusion, a trivialization within the ritual.
A return to the good old days of the teapot, or the stainless steel infuser and the tinplate square box that goes with it, has more going for it than an Amish belief that everything the slightest bit modern is the invention of the Prince of Darkness. In this case, it is a potential public health issue. Given that the fish in our seas have great difficulty in digesting plastic, there’s good reason to believe that swallowing billions of minuscule particles of the stuff several times a day might cast serious doubt on our likelihood of making it to fifty without coming away from a doctor’s appointment with a long face because he’s just told you the party’s over.
What About Coffee Pods?
Alongside the research on tea, it’s interesting to look at research on its greatest rival, coffee. Or maybe not ... Aside, perhaps, from environmental issues, to tackle which large-scale recycling programmes are being rolled-out (especially by Nespresso), aluminium in coffee pods is not, at the moment, a cause for concern when it comes to the health of their millions of consumers. However, there is something in the bean roasting process that might raise legitimate worries.
Furan is categorized as a potential carcinogen in high doses. This molecule is found in all high-temperature food-preparation processes: cereals, baby food, toast ... the molecules contained in coffee pods, assuming moderate consumption of this beverage, have not been considered by science to be harmful to the liver. Hopefully this will reassure the fortunate owners of “Nespresso” machines, languorously sipping their drinks like George Clooney.
1.5-Million-Dollar Whisky: Is It Really Worth It?
Let’s just say that, at that price, the fortunate tasters of the Macallan vintage are unlikely to run into each other in any old English or Scottish pub. David Robertson, whisky expert, has been lucky enough to have had a sneaky sip of the nectar, which he described as an intense experience, an explosion of multiple flavours. However, he has seen, or rather drunk, better ... It remains to be seen whether the buyer of the precious beverage, which sold for more than £1.45 million will be downhearted enough about this to down his asset.
Are You Really Thirsty? Drink milk!
A recent scientific study shows that water is possibly not the most hydrating drink known to humankind. Still water finds itself in tenth place in a slightly disconcerting ranking, where competing for the rehydration top prize were coffee, tea, fruit juice, energy drinks, some fizzy drinks, and milk. Milk is well known among nomads the world over. Living, as they do, in extreme and rather rough conditions, they are perhaps the example of folk wisdom to follow, particularly in anything do with the art of using our resources in a world inclined more towards overconsumption and waste.
The Whisky of Rage
What should have been considered from the outset as a new taste experience has swiftly been transformed into a bad buzz of collective disgust. “This is a sick joke,” “Oh my God!” “It’s an abomination,” came the cries of certain malt purists. This new form of packaging was, however, wrapped up in the best of intentions on the part of Glenlivet, the two-hundred-year-old Scottish distillery. A skilfully prepared cocktail, presented in a playful yet practical way: no more need to bring out all the barman’s “gear,” you just put the Glenlivet pod in your mouth, and, like acid drops wrapped in unleavened bread that explode on your palate, it should offer you a unique taste experience. The video tutorial may have presented the “thing” in its best light ... To no avail, the anger and incomprehension of whisky-lovers is still palpable, but the firm won’t drop it, persisting in its belief that the digital uproar will be only fleeting.
So, one to watch and to try, in order to form your own opinion, as there’s nothing worse than passing up new experiences because of mass preconceptions.
The World’s Most Lavish Wine Cellar Belongs to Emirates Airways
Some years ago now, the Dubai airline launched a dynamic long-term investment strategy, to the sum of half a billion dollars, in the wine market. Indeed, in addition to the excellence of its fine wines, most of these vintages will only be ready to drink a decade from now. And it’s France that the Persian Gulf state has chosen to age its collection of more than 1.5 million bottles of wine. The team of experts appointed by the Emirates airline is taking the fulfilment of its mission very seriously, approaching the most prestigious châteaux and vineyards to choose and secure the wines served aboard the fleet’s craft. “For us, wine is an experience.”
Knowing that Omar Khayyam sang the praises of “life’s liquor,” unto its very dregs, this initiative is not surprising, even if popular subculture leads us to believe that the Muslim Arab world has no kind of experience in this field.
Auto-Brewery Syndrome: How to Get Drunk Without Touching a Drop of Alcohol
It used to be the subject of medical controversy, never definitively proved ... Today, it is a scientific fact: auto-brewery syndrome exists! You can cultivate your own inebriation and spend a few days in the drunk tank without, for all that, having consumed a single drop of alcohol! A fermentation vat or a pocket of beer secreted within your intestines is something that could actually happen if your organism one day suddenly sets up as a traditional brewery. The effect, far from being fun, would be a serious handicap in terms of physical health and social behaviour.
Are Humans the Only Species Prone to Alcoholism?
Not a bit of it. Nature has often shown that our worst faults can be found in the animal kingdom, which we look down upon with that – all too human – condescension. Ptilocercus lowii, the pen-tailed treeshrew, spends its time imbibing the fermented nectar of palm trees. And it seems this rodent isn’t the only one to pub-crawl its way around the natural bars of the Malaysian jungle: there is a whole cohort of inveterate tipplers, including a multitude of inebriated insects, hoards of boozed-up bats, a regiment of razzled rats, a quadroon of plastered primates propping up the palm bars (OK, in that case, we know we share some common ancestry). In any case, that makes quite a bunch of alcoholics at the foot of the wine tree, and not a one to pull any of the others out of their drunkenness, not one to provide a good example of sobriety; even the spider is unsteady on its eight pins!
All of which leads to a social question of some importance in this time of great coercive resolutions: is alcohol consumption natural?
Toast (or Drown) Your Brexit with Champagne
Brexit is an entirely British issue – or almost. But you can’t have a big celebration without champagne. Should we then consider the event that is shaking Europe with joy and crack open a gold-laced vintage magnum? For a Britisher, again, it all depends on his or her point of view ... for the rest of Europe though, owing rather a lot of its freedoms to the fighting spirit of Britain and its historical intransigence in the face of the chimeras of National Socialism and the deadly upheaval of Herr Hitler, the great “pop” (made in France) of the flying cork will reverberate long and loud, like an obscene and sickening bout of gastric disorder.