Now, a little less guzzling and a little more sipping is in order for the next round. Since we know beer isn't everyone's cup of tea, (though, we're not exactly sure why) we thought to bring a few wines and liquors to the table.
After a sampling of the season's finest, the panelists moved onto the hard stuff. While not everyone managed a coherent thought once 25 beers had gone down the hatch, some pros stuck it out and gave the next round of drinks some (mostly) constructive thought.
Let the swirling, chasing and shooting commence...
Tucked away in Tulsa's East Village District is Girouard Vines, an urban winery that was founded in 2007. Girouard's Tulsa Deco Label consists of wines that pay tribute to T-Town's Art Deco history. Like the architecture, Girouard constructs ornate and intricate offerings that serve as representations of the city. Five wines were decorated with honors in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition -- touted as "the largest competition of American wines in the world."
UTW got a taste of Streamline Cabernet Franc, 2009, the sixth in the series. Released Oct. 1, this cab was surprisingly sweeter than expected and easy to drink. The finish was light and one of our panelists may have over-indulged in this particular delight. "Sweet" with a touch of "dry" -- nicely done Deco dudes.
This month, Girouard will release Bliss Late Harvest Chardonnay, 2009. This offering caught our panel by surprise as it is a far cry from a traditional chardonnay. A dessert wine, Bliss presented with an extremely sweet aroma and flavor -- exuding honey and apples -- and was generally termed "interesting." A captivating offer, Bliss is worth the try but should probably be consumed in small quantities.
Sledgehammer Zinfandel, 2009, is the final wine in our rack this year. Just as the name infers, this selection is not a mamby-pamby, sniff-deeply, sip-lightly wine. Produced from grapes in Red Hills Lake County, Calif., the fruit was overpowered by the alcohol -- a strong flavor that hit a couple of our panelists over the head. The finish was "slight but not bitter."
Here's To You
A twist on a classic chest-hair-growing, man-making favorite -- the first liquor for review is Seagram's 7 Stone Cherry. If whiskey weren't a little bitter and hard to swallow, it wouldn't be whiskey. One whiskey advocate on the panel gave the 71 proof Seagram's fruitier ferment high marks while the other panelists -- the weaker ones, of course -- referred to the American Blended Whiskey as "cough syrup."
Once the initial sting died down, the flavors of citrus and cherry rose to the top. While the seamen at Seagram's do know their whiskey, there probably aren't many that would enjoy pairing it with fruit. If you're up to the challenge, it is probably best to couple this with soda.
VeeV Acai Spirit is self-touted as "a better way to drink." VeeV relies on the acai berry, grown and harvested in the Brazilian rainforest, to pack this liqueur full of antioxidants. Made with acai, prickly pear and acerola cherry, VeeV gives a fruity kick with a thick, slow pour.
The sweet cordial is still light enough that one panelist suggested it be "incorporated in place of vodka in drinks like a Cosmo."
Bringing the panel to a close -- in fitting, uppity and good-etiquette form -- we popped open a bottle of Patron XO Café. While some may find the good etiquette in the tequila, others can look to the coffee as an after dinner drink -- both flavors presented equally strong, so take your pick for good manner purposes.
At 70 proof, Patron didn't shy away from the heavy hit behind a bitter coffee flavor. Alone, the liqueur was a bit strong and difficult to stomach but when paired with its' complimentary ingredient -- coffee -- it served as a delightfully robust ending to the day of drinking.
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