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Fwd: article: Cinco de Mayo is just one reason to taste tequila

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  • waljaco
    ... wrote: Cinco de Mayo is just one reason to taste tequila Thursday, April 28, 2005 By Johnna A. Pro, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Writing for the Food & Flavor
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2005
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      --- In BEVERAGE-RECIPE@yahoogroups.com, "Lavannda L" <lavannda@d...>
      Cinco de Mayo is just one reason to taste tequila
      Thursday, April 28, 2005

      By Johnna A. Pro, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

      Writing for the Food & Flavor pages isn't always
      as tantalizing as readers think. Sure, we get to
      nibble appealing appetizers and chocolate-filled
      cookies, but for every delectable dish, there are
      eating and drinking assignments that challenge
      the palate. Still, we forge ahead.

      Robin Rombach, Post-Gazette


      About that worm

      If your tequila has a worm in it, it's not
      tequila. It's Mezcal, a liquor also produced
      from the agave plant but distilled once and
      not regulated like tequila.

      Last week, we drank tequila.

      We chose tequila to christen this space dedicated
      to wine and spirits because of its surging
      popularity and because Cinco de Mayo is next week.

      Until recently, tequila got little respect in the
      United States, where it conjured an image of
      margaritas, worms, shot-drinking frat boys and
      George Carlin. ("One tequila. Two tequila. Three
      tequila. Floor!")

      But as Americans develop a thirst for Mexico's favorite
      liquor, tequila sales are climbing, with premium tequila
      seeing a 15.4 percent increase from 2003 to 2004, accor-
      ding to the Distilled Spirits Council, which tracks the
      market. Statewide, tequila sales climbed nearly 44 percent
      from 2000 through 2004 and show no sign of slowing down,
      according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

      In 2000, Pennsylvania consumers and liquor license holders
      spent $16.7 million on tequila. In 2004, sales totaled
      $28.1 million.

      "People are realizing that tequila today is not what it
      used to be," said Anamaria Cesena, of Jose Cuervo
      International. "We have tequila aged in oak barrels that
      can be sipped and savored, like cognac."

      Tequila will vary in taste, in part, depending on the
      aging process and on the amount of blue agave, a plant
      with sharp spiny leaves, and other spirits used in
      production. The minimum requirement is 51 percent agave.
      Better tequilas boast 100 percent blue agave.

      True tequila is produced only in five Mexican states,
      and 95 percent comes from Jalisco, where the soil is
      perfect for growing blue agave. The heart of the plant,
      or pina, is harvested every eight to 10 years to make

      "It's a ball of starch," Cesena says. "It's like a big
      unbaked potato."

      Tequila producers heat the agave -- Cuervo bakes it
      in adobe ovens for two days -- to convert the starch
      to sugar.

      At a mill, the agave is pressed, and the extracted
      juices, called honey water, are fermented, then double
      distilled, as required by law, producing crystal-clear

      Consumers will find four kinds of tequila on the market.
      White or silver, called blanco, not aged; rested, or
      reposado, aged 2 to 12 months; young tequila, or joven,
      a blend of reposado and blanco; and anejo, aged at least
      one year.

      For our tequila tasting, a merry group of 14 singles
      gathered around a buffet laden with Mexican-inspired
      dips and appetizers. We started by opening the good

      Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia ($94.59) is touted as
      the jewel of the Cuervo brand. It comes in a colorful
      wooden box and is hand-bottled and hand-labeled with
      a design that features a different Mexican artist each

      Our tasters agreed that it lives up to its marketing
      and price.

      "That's very smooth," said Colette Hucko, who summed
      up the group's reaction. "It doesn't bite you. You want
      to sip it to get the flavor."

      Not everyone wants to spend the night sipping tequila
      straight. With Dan Vitchoff cooking Jerk Chicken on
      the grill, Michael McCabe readying the patio and Larry
      Frediane playing DJ, Darci Saunders and Michelle Shuker
      were stationed at the blender to mix frozen margaritas.
      (By night's end, we used 25 pounds of crushed ice.)

      We use Cuervo Especial, known as Cuervo Gold ($18.99).
      It is the world's best-selling brand and makes a fine
      frozen margarita or a margarita on the rocks. We used
      a variety of margarita and sours mixes and two brands
      of triple sec. All of them made a tasty drink, so let
      personal preference guide your choice.

      Back at the tasting table, we open a bottle of Don Julio
      1942 ($123.19 by special order in Pennsylvania). The
      slender 15-inch bottle is reminiscent of an agave leaf.

      Dan, the grill guy, is a man who appreciates its
      caramel/toffee bouquet. He took one sip and proclaimed,
      "This deserves a snifter." We handed him one made of
      crystal before sending him back to the grill. He wasn't
      there long.

      No one could open Cuervo Tradicional ($24.99). Dan couldn't
      open it either. After a struggle that became progressively
      funny with each passing minute, he called for tools.
      A wrench did the trick.

      Tradicional has a pleasant aroma, but the tasters were disappointed.
      It's not as smooth as the more expensive
      tequila and ultimately ended up in the frozen margaritas.

      "It was more fun opening it than it was drinking it,"
      Dan decided.

      Later we learned from Cesana that there's a "torquing
      problem" that Cuervo is fixing so the bottles will be
      easier to open. She's not surprised to hear it wasn't
      our favorite.

      Tradicional is a best seller in Mexico, but it does have
      more of a peppery flavor. "Here in the United States, we
      have a sweeter palate."

      A final thought: Pennsylvania liquor stores carry tequila
      priced from $15 to more than $100. Several highly rated
      offerings cost between $25 and $50, so if you're looking
      for something to sip, we suggest you start there before
      moving to pricier brands. For descriptions visit

      The Perfect Margarita

      A quick survey of our favorite bartenders, Internet
      cocktail sites and cocktail recipe books reveals any
      number of ways to make a margarita. Among the most
      popular are those made with tequila, Cointreau and
      fresh lime juice.

      1 1/2 ounces premium tequila

      1 ounce Cointreau (orange liqueur)

      Fresh squeezed lime juice (use one-half to a whole lime)*


      1 lime wedge

      Moisten the edge of a margarita glass using the lime
      wedge and dip it in salt. F

      ill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the tequila,
      Cointreau and lime juice.

      Shake well.

      Strain the ice out and pour into the glass.

      Garnish with lime wedge.

      If you're making frozen margaritas, put all the
      ingredients in a blender and process until the
      ice is crushed.

      Many recipes substitute triple sec.


      or frozen margaritas, substitute a pre-made mix.

      We recommend Daily's Sweet & Sour Cocktail Mix
      because it foams up nicely and adds body.

      Plus it's made in Verona and versatile enough to
      use in other cocktails.


      (Post-Gazette staff writer Johnna A. Pro,
      who is now recovered from a night of tequila
      tasting, can be reached at 412-263-1574 or
      Get your free email from www.doramail.com with 30 Megs of disk space
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