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              Beverage Plants and Beverages

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    Nonalcoholic Beverages With Caffeine     Coffee    Coffee Varieties   Coffee Cultivation    Coffee Production   Tea    Tea Cultivation   

 

     Tea Preparation    Tea Production & Consumption    Cocoa & Chocolate    Cocoa Cultivation    Cocoa Varieties    Cocoa & Chocolate Preparation

 

Cocoa Production & Consumption    Maté    Guarana    Khat    Cola    Cassine    Yoco    Misc. Nonalcoholic Beverages    Fruit Juice    Soda Water

 

    Alcoholic Beverages    Fermented Beverages    Wine    Principal Wine Varieties & Growing Areas    Germany    Italy    Hungary    Spain    Portugal  

 

   Madeira    Australia   Chile    United States    Beer    Malting Beer    Brewing Beer    Beer Varieties    Misc. Fermented Beverages    Root Beer    

 

    Sake    Palm Wine    Pulque    Chicha    Distilled Beverages    Whisky    Brandy    Rum    Gin    Liqueurs and Cordials    Aperitifs and Bitters

 

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                             Agave    Baobab    Coffee    Kola    Mammee Apple    Mescal    Tea    Tequila    Wine Palm

 

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          There has always been a search for beverages that are palatable and refreshing.  Thousands of plant species have been utilized throughout history, but very few of these have ever become of commercial importance.  They are divided into nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

 

Nonalcoholic Beverages With Caffeine

 

          Beverages with caffeine content are used worldwide for their stimulating and refreshing qualities.  Typically each ancient center of civilization had its own beverage plants.  Coffee that originated in regions adjacent to Southwestern Asia is now used by over half the world’s population.  Tea that is associated with Southeastern Asia is used by over half the world population.  Cocoa is a product of tropical America and which today serves as booth food and drink for many worldwide.  There are other less known beverages that are equally important.  These include maté, a principal drink in South America; cola, a favorite beverage and masticatory in Africa; haat, used in Arab countries; guarana, another South American drink that has higher caffeine content than any other beverages.

 

          Caffeine is an alkaloid with definite medicinal values.  It acts as a diuretic and nerve stimulant.  It is harmful in large quantities so it is present only in very small amounts, rarely over two percent, in beverages.  Especially children should avoid excessive quantities of such beverages.

 

Coffee

 

          Coffee is one of the most important beverage plants from a commercial viewpoint despite the fact that tea is in wider usage.  The coffee plant is believed to be native to Abyssinia and coffee surely had been used in that area since ancient times.  It was brought to Arabia in about the 16th Century and that area produced most of the crop for 200 years.  Coffee gradually was introduced elsewhere in the world tropics.  It reached Ceylon and Java by 1700, the West Indies in 1720 and Brazil in 1770 (Hill 1952).  Coffee began to be in general use about 1700.  From Arabia it spread to Egypt and Palestine and then to Constantinople.  It reached Venice in 1615, Paris in 1645 and London in 1650 (Hill 1952).  In both France and England coffee gained widespread popularity for a time and this led to the beginning of the famous coffeehouses, gathering places of the literary people of the day.

 

          <bot432>  Kona Coffee (Coffea arabica L.), [Abyssinia], Kona Coast, Hawaii

          <bot702>  Coffee tree with fruit (Coffea arabica ) [Ethiopia]

          <bot1206> -- Sketch of coffee plant with berries attached to stem   (Coffea arabica L.) (beverage) [Abyssinia]

 

 

Coffee Varieties

 

          Coffee is in the genus Coffea that contains over 25 species, only three of which are of commercial importance.

 

          Arabian Coffee, Coffea arabica, is the source of over 90 percent of the world’s supply.  The plant is native to Abyssinia where it occurs as a beautiful shrub or small tree, 15-20 ft in height.  The smooth evergreen leaves are borne in pairs.  The white, fragrant, star like flowers are clustered in the leaf axils.  The fruits, sometimes called “cherries,” are small fleshy berries that change in color from green through yellow to red or crimson.  The two greenish gray seeds are covered with a thin membrane, the silver skin, and are enclosed in a dry husk like parchment.  When only one seed develops the fruit is known as “pea berry,” and commands a higher price.  Coffee is definitely a tropical crop and requires a hot humid climate.  It is restricted to regions lying between 25 deg. North and 25 deg. South latitude.  It needs at least 50 in. of rainfall and does best with 75-120 in.  High humus content is desirable.  The plant is very susceptible to diseases.  There are over 18 kinds of Arabian coffee under cultivation.  One of them, Mocha Coffee, is a small-seeded variety that is grown in the Red Sea region and is highly prized.

 

          Congo Coffee, Coffea robusta, is a larger and more vigorous plant with thick leaves.  It bears very heavily and is much more hardy and thus is adapted to a wider range of climates.  It is native to the Congo region of Africa cut is also cultivated elsewhere.  It constitutes a great part of the coffee grown in Indonesia.  The quality of Congo coffee is inferior to that of Arabian coffee.

 

          Liberian Coffee, Coffea liberica, is native to the west coast of Africa.  The tree is much larger reaching a height of 40-50 ft and with fruits 1 in. in diameter.  The plant is more vigorous and les susceptible to disease.  This coffee is used primarily in blends for the flavor and aroma are inferior to the other two species.

 

Coffee Cultivation and Preparation

 

          Coffee can be grown in the tropics from sea level to an altitude of 6,000 ft. and thrives best at the higher elevations with 4,500 ft being optimum.  Under cultivation the plants are grown directly from seed, or seedlings are transplanted at 6-foot intervals.  Shading and continuous weeding are essential, and catch crops are often grown.  The plants begin to bear in their third year with the best yield obtained from the fifth year until about 30 years.

 

          The coffee berries are generally picked individually by hand when fully ripe, although in Arabia and parts of Brazil they are stripped off or allowed to fall to the ground.  After picking and sifting or winnowing to remove the debris, coffee is prepared for the market by either the dry or the wet procedure.  In the former the berries are spread out on drying floors and exposed to the sun with precautions taken to protect them from the rain.  The berries are constantly stirred so that they will dry uniformly.  Eventually the dried skin and pulp are cleaned off by machinery and the parchment is removed by pounding in a mortar or by mechanical means.  In the wet method the berries are run through a pulping machine that removes the skin and part of the pulp.  They are then placed in vats where the remainder of the pulp ferments and can be washed off.  They are finally dried by the sun or artificial heat.  The color of the finished product depends on the amount of moisture.  After drying the brittle parchment is cracked and removed by hulling machines and the silver skin is rubbed off in polishing machines.  The seeds or “coffee beans” are then gr4aded and packed in burlap bags for shipment.  Sometimes coffee is exported with the parchment still intact.  Eventually the beans are roasted in a process that results in a loss in weight but a gain in bulk and which is accompanied by many physiological changes.  The aroma, flavor and color develop during the roasting process.  No two varieties require the same amount of roasting and there are many differences in the temperature used and the duration of the process.  Before coffee is sold it is usually ground.  Trade coffee is often made up of different blends.  The roasted coffee beans contain 0.75-1.5 percent caffeine and a volatile, Caffeol, which is responsible for the aroma and flavor.  Glucose, dextrin, proteins and fatty oil are also present.  The oil tends to become rancid if coffee is stored unrefrigerated.

 

Coffee Production and Consumption

 

          Arabia first led in coffee production but was replaced in turn by the West Indies, java and Brazil.  Sri Lanka was an important producer from 1830-1875 when the industry was destroyed by blight.  Brazil then became the predominant producer with over 50 percent of the world’s supply.  This then diminished and other areas of the Western Hemisphere began to increase coffee acreage.  About 85 percent of the world’s coffee was being grown in the Western Hemisphere by the 21st Century.   Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti are most important.  Jamaica coffee with low acreage is probably the most expensive and of the best quality.  Central American coffees are milder in flavor and richer bodied.

 

          There are many ways of using coffee.  In Turkey coffee grounds mixed with sugar are consumed, and Turkish coffee is a thick and syrupy concoction.  In Sumatra coffee leaves are steeped and yield a wholesome and good-flavored beverage.  Coffee extract and soluble coffee as well as decaffeinated coffee are widely available.  Coffee is frequently adulterated, usually with chicory, the roasted and ground roots of the chicory plant.  In Europe coffee-containing chicory is often preferred to the pure product.  Substitutes for coffee have also been used, such as Postum and other cereal beverages that are made from roasted barley or wheat and which lack caffeine.

 

          The pulp and parchment waste products are used for fertilizer, fuel and in the manufacture of cafelite, a plastic material with good insulating properties.

 

Tea

 

          Tea, Camellia sinensis, native to Assam India and China, is the most popular caffeine beverage in the world.  It is prepared from the dried leaves.  In China it was originally valued only for medicinal properties, but since the 5th Century it has been the principal beverage.  The word “tea:” is from “te” that is used in one of the Chinese dialects in place of the more universal “cha.”  Tea arrived in Japan around 1,000 A.D.  It was known in Europe in the 16th Century but did not become widely used until the 17th Century (Hill 1952).  Although London is the great tea market of the world, the prominence of tea drinking in England came about only during the 19th Century.

 

          <bot628>  Tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Ktze] [China] plantation in central Uganda

 

Tea Cultivation

 

          The plant is a small tree but under cultivation it grows as a shrub, 3-4 ft. tall.  The leathery lanceolate leaves have a serrated margin and numerous oil glands.  The white or pinkish flowers are produced in the leaf axils and give rise to capsular fruits.  Constant pruning stimulates the vigorous development of new shoots, and these “flushes” are the source of the commercial product.

 

            Tea grows best under tropical or hot temperate regions.  The nature of the plant and the methods of cultivation vary with the locality.  Over 1,000 varieties are known.  The plant is propagated from seed or seedlings.  The yield may vary from 200-1,000 lbs. per acre and continues for over 50 years.  In Japan there are records of a single plant living for 200 years.  Tea can be grown from sea level to about 5,000 ft.  Often steep slopes and soil that is too poor for other types of agriculture are used.  In China there is much tea grown on small farms and is prepared for market by primitive methods.  In Sri Lanka tea is cultivated on large plantations and the most modern mechanical methods are used in its preparation.

 

          Tea leaves are picked by hand or with scissors and an expert can pick from 25-75 lbs. per day.  In China where growth stops during the winter only 3-4 pickings a year are possible.  In hotter climates, such as Sri Lanka, where growth continues throughout the year, as many as 25-30 pickings can be made.  The first picking is usually made when the plants are five years old.  The grade of tea depends on the age of the leaves.  In golden tips the youngest bud only is used; in orange pekoe the smallest leaf; in pekoe the second leaf; in pekoe-souchong the third leaf; in souchong the fourth leaf; and in congou the 5th and longest leaf is gathered.  The flavor and quality vary with the soil, climate, age of the leaf, time of picking and method of preparation.

 

Tea Preparation

 

          Preparation of tea from the fresh leaves generally is as follows:  The leaves are first exposed to the sun or heated in shallow trays until they become soft and pliable.  Then they are rolled by hand or by machine.  This curls the leaves and removes some of the sap.  Finally the curled and twisted leaves are completely dried in the sun, over fires or in a current of hot air.  In the final product, called green tea, the dried leaves are dull green with an even texture and quality.  In making black tea, the leaves are fermented after rolling by covering them and keeping them warm.  This causes them to lose their green color and changes their flavor.  After fermentation the leaves are dried in the usual manner.  Sometimes the way tea is shipped after fermentation alters its flavor.  Some of the highest quality teas have had their flavor created during long voyages at sea.

 

          Both green and black tea is produced in China.  In Japan mostly green tea is produced and in India and Sri Lanka chiefly black tea is made.  In Taiwan the oolong tea is produced.  This is only partially fermented and is intermediate between black and green tea, with the color of the former and the flavor of the latter.  The various pekoes, souchongs and congous are black teas, while gunpowder tea and hyson tea are the most important grades of green tea.

 

          Drying the leaves with fragrant flowers, such as jasmine, and then sifting out the dried flowers prepare scented teas.  Brick tea is made by steaming the coarser leaves, twigs and even dust for a few minutes and then pressing them into molds, sometimes with the addition of a small amount of rice paste.  Brick tea is exported from China to Russia and Tibet.  Where tea is grown on large plantations and prepared in factories it can be packed directly for export.  Tea is usually shipped in light boxes lined with foil to protect the tea from air and moisture.  The tea that finally reaches the market is usually a blend of several different varieties.  Blending is a delicate procedure and reserved for the experts.

 

          Tea contains 2-5 percent Theine, an alkaloid identical with caffeine, and a volatile oil and considerable tannin (13-18 percent).  When an infusion is made with hot water, the alkaloid and the oil dissolve out and the resulting beverage has a stimulating effect and a characteristic taste and aroma.  If the leaves are steeped for a longer period the tannin dissolves and the liquid becomes bitter and loses its beneficial qualities.

 

Tea Production & Consumption

 

          China was the original exporter of tea, but Java began to export it in 1826, India in 1830, Taiwan in 1860 and Sri Lanka in 1890.  By the 21st Century China and India together produced most of the world’s tea.  A small amount is produced in East Africa, Central and South America.  Great Britain imports the most tea, but the use is gradually spreading to other countries as the beneficial qualities of tea are recognized.

 

Cocoa & Chocolate

 

          Both chocolate and cocoa are prepared from seeds of the cacao or cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao that is native to the lowlands of tropical America.  Hill (1952) stated that the cultivation and use of cocoa are so ancient that it is improbable that there were any more wild trees.  Cocoa is grown throughout tropical South and Central America, in the West Indies, West Africa and a few other areas.  The beverage was first presented in 1526 in Europe after the 1519 voyage of Cortez.  Chocolate was widely used by Amerindians in the Mexico to South America region.  It is the most nutritious of all beverages. (Also please see Further Details)

 

Cocoa Cultivation

 

          Cocoa is a wholly tropical crop that is grown primarily within 20 degrees of the equator.  It requires special environmental conditions.  For example, it is sensitive to drought and wind and requires shelter from direct rays of the sun and the wind.  Catch crops and permanent shade trees are usually grown with cocoa.  A deep rich alluvial soil with abundant moisture and suitable drainage is necessary.  The plant does not grow well above 2,500 ft. and is injured by temperatures below 60 deg. Fahrenheit.  The crop is raised from seed or transplanted seedlings with the individual plants in rows at 4-5 ft. intervals.

 

          The tree is small, from 15-25 ft. tall, with numerous branches.  The shiny leaves are ovate in outline and frequently one foot in length.  The flowers and frutis are borne on short stalks directly on the trunk and larger branches.  The trees begin to bear when 4-5 years of age, reaching full bearing during the age of 12-50 years.  The plants produce flowers and fruit throughout the year so that several crops are possible each year.  The fruits are pod like capsules 6-9 in. long and 3-4 in thick, with tapering ends.  They contain a mucilaginous pulp and usually from 40-60 seeds.  The sweet pulp is especially delicious with a coconut pineapple flavor.  The fruits ripen in about four months and their color changes from green to reddish purple or yellow.

 

Cocoa Varieties

 

          There are numerous varieties of cocoa cultivated.  The most important of these are the Criollo and Forastero.  In the Criollo type the fruit is soft and thin skinned, with a rough surface and pointed ends.  The seeds are plump, pale in color, and whitish within.  They are the finest beans for flavoring.  The Forastero varieties are hybrids that are hardier and more resistant and have hard thick-shelled pods with seeds of a pale to deep purple color.  Most of the commercial crop is from this type.

 

Cocoa & Chocolate Preparation

 

          To prepare the cocoa seeds for market the mature pods are carefully cut off with special knives and are then split open.  The pulp and seeds are scooped out, cured, and usually fermented.  Sometimes they are merely dried in the sun, but their flavor is enhanced if fermentation is allowed to take place.  This process may be done by piling the seeds in mounds for several days and then spreading them out to dry.  Specially constructed vats or houses are used that afford protection from rain and allow the liquids from the disintegrating pulp to run off.  The seeds in these “sweating boxes” are constantly stirred.  During fermentation, which takes about a week, the beans become brownish red in color, lose their bitter taste and develop an aroma.  They are then washed and dried and polished by machines to remove any remaining dry pulp.

 

          Commercial cocoa and chocolate are prepared from the processed seeds or “beans” in European and American factories.  The beans are first cleaned to remove any impurities and are then sorted.  They are next roasted at a temperature of 257-284 deg. Fahrenheit in iron drums.  This develops the flavor, increases the fat and protein content and decreases the amount of tannin.  The shells become dry and brittle and the seeds are now easy to grind.  The beans are now passed between corrugated rollers that break the shells into small fragments.  These are removed in a winnowing machine.  The seeds or “nibs” are finally ground to an oily paste, constituting the “liquor” or bitter chocolate, which is the beginning point for further processing.

 

          When cooled and hardened the “liquor” is the bitter chocolate of commerce.  Adding sugar and various spices or other aromatic substances make sweet chocolate.  Milk chocolate contains milk as well as sugar and spices.  Removing about two-thirds of the fatty oil in hydraulic presses and powdering the residue make Cocoa.

 

          Cocoa Butter is the fatty oil present.  The cocoa shells are used for beverage purposes, for adulterating cocoa and chocolate, for fertilizer and for livestock feed.

 

Cocoa Production & Consumption

 

          West Africa has led in the production of cocoa since the middle of the 20th Century with over 64 percent of the total output.  The Gold Coast, Nigeria and St. Thomas are the leading countries.  Less than 30 percent of the world crop is produced in the Western Hemisphere, principally in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic.  Asia and the Pacific Islands produce a very small amount.

 

          Cocoa is not only a beverage but also a food.  The seeds contain less than one percent of an alkaloid, Theobromine, which with a few traces of caffeine is responsible for the stimulating properties.  They also contain 30-50 percent of a fatty oil, 15 percent starch and 15 perecent protein.  A volatile oil develops during the roasting process.

 

Maté

 

          Yerba Maté, or Paraguay Tea, is next to coffee, tea and cocoa in importance.  It is obtained from the leaves of various species of holly, principally Ilex paraguariensis.  These plants grow wild in the mountains of southern brazil, Paraguay and Argentina and they are also cultivated to some extent.  The use of maté in South America dates to antiquity.  Originating with the Amerindians it was adopted by the first European colonists and today is the universal beverage.  The plants are evergreen shrubs or small trees.  The oval leaves are 4-5 in. long with serrated margins and resemble tealeaves.  Maté can readily be grown from seed and the first crop is ready within a year, but the best yield is obtained from older plants.

 

          To harvest the small leafy branches are carefully cut and toasted over fires.  They are then beaten with sticks to break off the leaves, which are dried in ovens.  They are finally threshed and sifted.  The leaves like tea contain up to 0.5 percent theine, a volatile oil and some tannin.  Maté is greenish in color, has an agreeable aroma and is slightly bitter though it is much less astringent than tea.  It has valuable restorative and stimulating properties.  The beverage is usually prepared in a gourd or cup by pouring boiling water on the leaves, often with sugar and lemon.  It is then sucked through a bombilla or hollow tube of silver, brass or straw with a perforated bowl that serves as a strainer.  Maté is the universal drink of millions in South America but has not been popular in other parts of the world.  A process of double toasting produces a brownish beverage with a tangier flavor, especially for the North American trade.  Maté is also used to some extent in the preparation of soft drinks.

 

Guarana

 

          This is one of the more stimulating of all caffeine beverages as it contains three times as much caffeine as coffee.  It is prepared from the seeds of Paullinia cupana, a large woody climber of the Amazon region.  The seeds are round with water and cassava flour and the resulting paste is molded into brown sausage-shaped cylinders or other forms.  These are dried in smoke where they become very hard.  These can be kept for many years.  For use it is grated and added to either hot or cold water.  One half teaspoon of the reddish brown guarana in a cupful of water is equivalent to 2-3 cups of strong coffee.  Guarana contains some tannin and a volatile oil and is bitter and astringent with a bittersweet taste.  The beverage is widely used in Brazil especially in the Mato Grosso where the plant is cultivated to some extent.

 

Khat

 

          Catha edulis is a shrub that grows wild in Abyssinia and is cultivated in other parts of Northeastern Africa.  The dark-green leaves are used in Arabia to yield khat, a principal beverage.  The leaves and buds contain an alkaloid similar to caffeine and are used dried or are chewed fresh for their stimulating effect.  The flavor is excellent and the product is worth introducing to other areas.

 

Cola (or Kola)

 

          The seeds of Cola nitida are the Cola Nuts of Africa.  Inhabitants of Africa and elsewhere use it for beverage purposes.  The drink is prepared by powdering the seeds when desired and boiling some of the powder in water for several minutes.  Cola contains 2 percent caffeine as well as other ingredients and is thus invigorating.  The seeds are imported worldwide for use in various soft drinks.

 

          <bot751>  Kola Nut (Cola nitida Schott & Endlicher) (seeds a stimulant; relieve fatigue) [W. Africa]

 

Cassine

 

          This is a tea like beverage obtained from a holly, Ilex vomitoria.  The plant is a tall compact shrub or small tree with small oval, evergreen leaves and tough branches.  It grows in sandy soil of the coastal plain from Virginia to Mexico where it is often found in dense thickets.  The Amerindian inhabitants of this region were the first to use cassine as a beverage.  They prepared an infusion of fresh or dried leaves, which was known as yaupon or black drink.  This was used medicinally as a spring tonic and emetic, and also played a role in religious rites.  It was sometimes fermented.  Although the use of cassine was first reported from Florida as early as 1562 and was used to some extent by the early European settlers, it never became popular.  Some attention has been directed to the beverage as a basis for soft drinks.  The leaves and shoots are picked and dried in the sun on trays or are roasted in ovens.  Twigs and older leaves are sometimes steamed, dried and ground.  Casseine is prepared by boiling or making an infusion.  The beverage is dark colored with a very sharp, bitter taste and tea like odor.  It contains tannin, caffeine and essential oils.

 

Yoco

 

          Yoco, Paullinia yoco, is an important beverage plant among Amerindians in southern Colombia and adjacent Peru and Ecuador.  Unlike other caffeine containing species it is the bark that is the source.  The caffeine content is usually 3-4 percent but may reach 6 percent.  Extractions of the bark are made in cold water.  The stimulating and hunger-allaying properties of yoco are pronounced.  The Amerindians had become very dependent on this plant that gained an important place in their economy.  A scarcity of wild plants often led to the desertion of otherwise excellent village sites.

 

Misc. Nonalcoholic Beverages

 

          There are a large number of soft drink beverages in use worldwide that all have a high sugar content and are good sources of energy. 

 

Fruit Juice

 

          This is the simplest kind of soft drinks that consists of the extracted juice alone or with sugar and water added.  Although fresh juice is readily obtainable synthetic flavors have been very common commercial products.  The most common types of fruit drinks are lemonade, orangeade, etc.  Orange juice, grapefruit juice, tomato juice and pineapple juice are very popular.  Sherbets made from strawberries, raspberries, etc. were more common at earlier times.  Grape juice is made by expressing the fresh fruit and heating the liquid to extract the color and to pasteurize it and thus prevent fermentation.  Sweet cider, the expressed juice of apples, and perry, obtained from pears, have been widely used.  These juices contain wild yeasts and will ferment after 24 hours or so unless they are pasteurized or otherwise treated so as to kill the yeast organisms.  Many tropical fruits are used for beverage purposes (Hill 1952).

 

Soda Water

 

          This drink consists of water charged with carbon dioxide and mixed with syrup composed of sugar and various natural or artificial flavorings.  Bottled soda, common known as pop, is widely used.

 

          A great quantity of bottled soft drinks are available chief among which are malt beverages, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer and the cola beverages.  The malt beverages are made from malted barley, or other grains, before fermentation has started or progressed very far.  They include the “near beers,” that have an alcoholic content of less than 0.5 percent.  Ginger ale consists of acidulated sugar, water and carbon dioxide flavored with ginger and capsicum.  Sarsaparilla and root beer are similar, but the flavor is due to sarsaparilla, wintergreen and other aromatics.  The cola beverages contain cola obtained from cola nuts that has high caffeine content.

 

Alcoholic Beverages

 

          Alcoholic beverages have been a part of the human diet from the earliest history.  Alcohol has often been used in connection with religious or other ceremonies.  The various inebriating beverages cause cerebral excitation but may be followed by depression if taken in excess.  They fall naturally into two classes:  (1) the fermented beverages where the alcohol is formed by the fermentation of sugar present either naturally in the source or produced by the transformation of starch and (2) the distilled beverages that are obtained by distillation of some alcoholic liquor.  By the 21st Century the health benefits of using moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages became apparent to the medical profession.  Wine especially has been found to prolong longevity and reduce risks of some diseases such as cancer and arteriosclerosis.

 

Fermented Beverages

 

Wine

 

          Wine is the most important and the oldest of the fermented beverages.  It has been since at least 4,000 B.C. and its antiquity is evidenced by the fact that that the word for wine is the same in many languages.  It is produced by the conversion of sugar that occurs in fruits or other parts of plants, into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  This process of alcoholic fermentation occurs through the agency of wild yeasts that are present on the skins of the fruit.  Wine is usually understood to mean the fermented juice of the grape, but specific fruit, such as blackberries, currants, etc. may be the source.

 

          Grapes have been cultivated for making wine for centuries in many parts of the world.  By the 21st Century the industry was most prominent in Southern and Central Europe, the United States, Australia and South America.  The wine grape, Vitis vinifera, and its varieties are the principal source.  Growing grapes requires knowledge of the best environmental conditions and many other factors to be successful.  It is an art that requires skill and experience.  Generally wines can be classified as beverage wines or fine wines.  The former, frequently called vin ordinaire, comprise over 95 percent of all wines and are used virtually as a food, predominantly in the regions where they are produced.  They are inexpensive and constitute the backbone of the wine industry.  Fine wines are the familiar commercial types that enter world trade.  They are more carefully prepared and more expensive.  The finest grades are produced in the older vine-growing regions that have years of experience behind them.

 

          Wines vary in their characteristics.  The alcoholic content varies from 7-16 percent.  It is not possible to produce a wine naturally with a higher content because the yeast is killed under such conditions and further fermentation is precluded.  The sugar content of the grapes varies from 12-18 percent.  Fermentation of the fruits or the juice is carried on in vats, usually with the addition of selected yeasts.  The preferred temperature is 68 deg. Fahrenheit.  The agreeable aroma and flavor are due to various aromatic principles present in the fruit.  The characteristic bouquet develops only after the wine has been aged for period that varies from 2-5 years to several decades.  Clarification is at times required.

 

          Red wines are from grapes with colored skins and derive their own color from the pigments and other substances present in the skin.  White wines are made from white grapes, or expressed juice.  In the dry wines or sour wines, the sugar is almost entirely fermented.  In sweet wines fermentation is stopped before all the sugar is converted and at least one percent is still present.  In sparkling wines the wine is bottled before fermentation is complete so that carbon dioxide is produced within the bottle.  About 90 percent of the world’s wines are such natural or table wines.  Fortified wines are wines that have a higher alcoholic content due to the addition of brandy or alcohol.

 

Principal Wine Varieties & Growing Areas

 

France

 

          This is the main wine-consuming and wine-producing country of the world with millions of acres devoted to vineyards.  However, the industry is mostly localized.  The region around Bordeaux in the valleys of the Garonne and Gironde produces most of the wine.  This district is the most outstanding single wine-growing area in the world and is famous not only for the quantity but for the quality of its wines.  Here are the most famous vineyards and some of the finest wines in great variety are produced.  Among these are the Medocs, renowned red wines or clarets; Graves, dry wines with both red and white varieties; and the white sauternes and Barsacs that are sweeter and richer.  The Bordeaux wines include regional wines consisting of blends from several vineyards as well as the finest grades that are bottled by individual châteaux and bear their names.

 

          Burgundy wines are produced in the hilly country of the Côte d’Or in east central France.  These red and whtie wines are drier and have more body and flavor than the Bordeaux wines.  Both still and sparkling wines are made.

 

          Champagnes are grown in the vicinity of Reims and Epernay.  Black and red grapes are used and the manufacture involves a series of elaborate processes that extend over a period of 6-7 years.  Because of the popularity of champagnes there are many imitations , which are made by charging light wines with carbon dioxide.

 

          Other types of wines are produced in the valleys of the Loire and Rhone and in Alsace and Touraine.

 

Germany

 

          The Rhine valley is famous for its vineyards where all available space on the hillsides is devoted to grapes.  The dry Rhine wintes, often called hock, are light colored with a rich flavor and fine bouquet.  Other similar wines are produced in the valleys of the Moselle, Nekar and Main.  There are some sweet Rhine wines.

 

Italy

 

          Chianti, Asti and other Italian wines have long been known, even prior to the days of Horace who sang the praises of Falernian wine.  Although today Italy ranks second to France in wine production, only a few of its products have gained world fame.  The principal wine producing regions are Piedmont, Tuscany and the country from Naples southward.  Sicily is noted for its Marsala, a sherry-like fortified wine.

 

Hungary

 

          Tokay is the wine of Hungary, a golden yellow wine with a sweet rich flavor and rare bouquet.  It is more of a liqueur than a wine as it has a soft oily taste.  True Tokay is expensive and there is a limited supply.  There are, of course, many imitations and adulterations. 

 

Spain

 

           Spain is noted for its sherry, a dry wine, usually fortified with brandy and having an alcoholic content of 15-24 percent.  Commercial sherries are blended and several different grades are on the market.  Malaga, another Spanish wine, is rich and sweet.

 

Portugal

 

          Port is the main wine of Portugal.  it is heavy and sweet due to the presence of considerable unfermented sugar.  new port is deep purplish red.  After aging in casks this wine loses some of its color and takes on a tawny color.

 

Madeira

 

          This is a fortified white wine made from grapes that are grown on the island of Madeira.  It is stirred in glass-lined tanks and then heated which improves its quality.  In earlier times this wine was shipped on long sea voyages that produced the desired result.

 

Australia

 

          European type grapes are grown in the Murray Valley of South east of Australia near Adelaide.  The wines made from these grapes are of excellent and rival California in their quality. 

 

Chile

 

          The Chilean wine district is located west of Santiago in a coastal area that resembles the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California.  The European type grapes that are grown are the same as those in California and the wine that is produced is of excellent quality.  It is distinctive but competitive with the finest California wines produced.

 

United States

 

          Grapes that are grown in the United States, especially in California, yield wines of a distinctive nature and excellence.  These domestic wines are competitive with the best European types.  The main wine growing states are California that produces about 90 percent of the commercial output, New York, Ohio and Virginia.  Other states such as Florida, Texas and Rhode Island produce small quantities of rather unimpressive wines.  Wines that are made from grapes grown in the Eastern and Middle Western states are known primarily as native or “American:” wines, although some European varieties are also grown.  California wines are made from European grapes grown on the West Coast and resemble European wines more closely.

 

Beer

 

          To make beers it is first necessary to change the source starch into sugar by adding malt or yeast.  The art of brewing alcoholic beverages from cereals is ancient.  Millet was probably the first to be used and it is still fermented in India and parts of Africa.  Rye, rice and maize have been used to some extent, but barley has always been the main source.  Barley “wine” was made in ancient Egypt and Rome.  Beer was popular during the Middle Ages.  For centuries the monasteries were the principal source of supply.  Beer was a popular beverage in England as early as the 13th Century.  It was often home brewed and was a dark muddy liquid with a high alcohol content.  The lighter German beers began to replace it in the early 19th Century.  The commercial manufacture of beer involves the two distinct processes of molting and brewing.

 

Malting Beer

 

          In malting the starch present in the grains are converted into sugar.  An enzyme, diastase, which is produced during the process of germination, accomplishes this.  Barley is used almost universally for malting.  Sometimes maize is also added.  Only large, fresh, perfect and light colored grains are used that are free from chaff and other impurities.  The barley is first steeped in water for 1-4 days.  During this time the grains absorb their own weight of the water.  The grains are then placed in piles or layers 6 in. deep until germination is started.  Next they are spread out on the malting floor at a temperature of 50-60 deg. Fahrenheit, and are constantly turned or stirred.  When the required amount of germination has occurred, the shoots are about one-third the length of the grain.  The germinated barley is then kiln dried for 12 hours, which prevents any further germination and resultant loss of sugar.  The color of the dried produce, known as malt, is dependent on the amount of heat.

 

Brewing Beer

 

          The malt is crushed or coarsely ground in a roller mill and mixed with water that is heated to 170 deg. Fahrenheit.  Sometimes unmalted cereals are added.  The sugar dissolves out and the infusion or wort is drawn off.  This process of mashing is repeated several times.  The residue is fed to livestock.  The word is then boiled with hops for two hours.  The hops impart the bitter flavor and tonic properties and improve storage by preventing bacterial action.  The liquid is then cooled rapidly and yeast is added to bring about the fermentation of the sugar.  An optimum temperature is required for enzyme action to occur and care must be taken to prevent the process from continuing too long as acetic acid might form.  It is usually stopped before fermentation is complete and the yeast is removed.  The beer is then drained off and strained and allowed to cool in casks.  A slow fermentation continues, increasing the alcohol content and forming the carbon dioxide that is responsible for the foaming of beer.  Beer contains 3-8 percent alcohol.  Its nutritive properties are due to the presence of sugar, dextrin and various proteins and phosphates.

 

Beer Varieties

 

          Heavy and light beers result from differences in temperature during the brewing process.  Lager beer is a term that should be restricted to beer that has been aged for some time.  Bock beer is a very strong dark beer, usually made in the springtime from the first of the new malt and hops.  The German weiz bier does not contain hops.

 

          Ale used to mean any kind of malt beverage, and this usage continued until hops began to be used.  Now the difference between beer and ale is due to differences in the temperature during fermentation.  Ale is brewed by “top fermentation” at higher temperatures, around 58 deg. Fahrenheit, while beer is brewed by “bottom fermentation” with temperatures averaging 40 deg. Fahrenheit.  The alcohol content of ale is 4-7 percent while that of beer is 3-5 percent.

 

          Porter was first brewed in 1722. It is a dark-brown beer with a slightly burned taste and is made from inferior grades of malt.  The color is frequently heightened by the addition of caramel or licorice.  Porter is stored for 6-8 weeks before it is used.  Stout is similar, but much heavier.  It is stored for at least a year before it is used.

 

          Beer is usually made from pale or amber colored malt, ale from brown, and porter and stout from black malt.

 

Misc Fermented Beverages

 

Hard Cider

 

          Fresh apple juice begins to ferment within 24 hours and gradually increases in alcohol content until it becomes hard cider.  While some production of hard cider may be used for beverage purposes, a greater proportion is allowed to undergo acetic acid fermentation and become vinegar.  Cider and other fruit vinegars are made on a commercial scale.  Pare juice, or perry, is similarly often fermented.

 

Root Beer

 

          This consists of an infusion of different kinds of roots, barks and herbs among them sarsaparilla, wintergreen and ginger, with the addition of sugar and yeast.  Fermentation begins and the beverage becomes charged with carbon dioxide.  Root beer may also consist of an alcoholic extract of various aromatics and bitters.  Nonalcoholic root beer is commonly made.  Spruce beer is an infusion of the leaves and twigs of the spruce, and birch beer is obtained from the bark of the black birch.

 

Mead

 

          This is a fermented beverage of antiquity and it is still used in Africa and to a lesser extent elsewhere.  It is fermented from honey and water and has a wine like flavor.  The Scandinavians introduced Mead into England and the beverage played an important part in the 30-day nuptial ceremonies of Scandinavia.  Because of this the duration of these ceremonies was referred to as the “honeymoon.”

 

Sake

 

          This beverage of Japan and China that dates back to before 600 B.C. is prepared by fermenting rice.  There are no hops used.  Sake contains more alcohol than beer or wine.  Sake may be used either heated or cold, the former being preferable.

 

Palm Wine

 

          The inflorescences of many species of palms provide a juice that is often fermented.  The sugary exudation is also a local source of sugar.  Herodotus in 420 B.C. referred to Palm wine or toddy.  The natives of tropical regions of both hemispheres have prepared it.  The most important palm species utilized for this purpose are Raphia vinifera, Elaeis guineensis, Borassus flabellifer, Arenga pinnata, Phoenix dactylifera and Cocos nucifera.  Distilled date palm wine is Arrack.

 

          <bot319>  Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis ), Central Chile

          <bot321>  Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis ), Central Chile

 

Pulque

 

          Fermented juice of maguey, Agave alrovirens, and other agaves was used in Pre-Columbian Mexico as a beverage.  The juice is obtained by making incisions in the flower stalk or by removing the central cone of leaves and allowing the sap to collect in the cavity.  When distilled this produces Mescal.

 

          <bot221>  Mescal (Agave sp.), Kofa Mts., southwestern Arizona

          <bot222>  Mescal (Agave sp.), Kofa Mts., southwestern Arizona

          <bot288>  Local Mescal (Agave sp.), San Gabriel Mts., foothills, California

 

Tequila

 

          This is the fermented and distilled juice of Agave tequilana of Mexico.  The procedure is similar to that for mescal but the quality is much higher.  The finest grades of tequila are expensive because the old processes are utilized in its manufacture.  Many inferior substitutes are on the market that is derived primarily from sugarcane.

 

          <bot889>  Tequila Plants in West-central Mexico

          <bot794>  Agave tequilana (Tequila var.) (beverage; fiber) [Cent. Mexico] (ex. Riverside, CA)

 

Chicha

 

          A common and ancient beverage among the natives of Bolivia, Peru and other Andean areas.  Chicha is prepared from maize by a process of salivation that converts the starch into sugar followed by a period of fermentation.  Similar maize beverages have been made in Mexico and Central America.

 

Misc.

 

          Other plants whose juices are fermented for use as beverages include bananas, sugar cane, yucca, cassava, sorghum, sweet potato, algaroba, pineapple and cactus.

 

Distilled Beverages

 

Whisky

 

          This is distilled from a fermented mash of malted or unmalted cereals or potatoes.  After several distillations of the mash a product known as “low wines” is produced.  Further distillations yield the “high wines.”  A mixture of high wines and water is straight whiskey.  At first this is harsh and not very palatable due to the presence of from 20-40 volatile ingredients, such as fusel oil and various esters and aldehydes.  it must be aged to allow mellowing to occur and the volatiles to disappear.  The highest-grade bonded whiskies are aged in charred oak barrels for at least four years and frequently longer.  Whiskey is colorless at first, the color developing during the aging process. Whiskey that contains 50 percent alcohol by volume is referred to as 100 proof.  That which contains only 45 percent alcohol is 90 proof.  A continued distillation of the high wines finally results in the neutralization or elimination of all the volatile substances and yields the so-called neutral spirits.  These are used in blended whiskies, in making cordials and for other purposes.  They are made mainly from maize in the United States and from potatoes in Germany.

 

          American straight whiskies are made from maize or rye. the former constituting the famous “corn” or moonshine of the South.  About two-thirds of the commercial whisky is Bourbon, made principally from maize.  Most of the remainder is made from rye.  Bourbon was originally made only in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  Canadian whiskey is a blend of various straight whiskies with neutral spirits.

 

          Scotch whiskey deploys only barley malt.  The typical flavor is due to the smoke of the peat fires that re used in drying the malt.  Irish whiskey is made from malt, or a mixture of malt and unmalted grains of barley, oats and maize.  Vodka is made from fermented wheat mash.  it is not aged but is bottled immediately after distillation.

 

Brandy

 

          Originally true brandy was distilled only from wine, but the term has come to include distillations of the fermented juice of different kinds of fruits.  The highest quality brandy is from the Charente district of France.  Brandy from this region is called Cognac.  Other French brandies are called Armagnac or eau de vie.  The best grades are made from white wines.  Brandy is a clear colorless liquid and remains that way when kept in glass.  The brown color develops after storage in oak casks.  Brandy is sometimes artificially colored with caramel.  The alcohol content is 65-70 percent.

 

          Fruit brandies are usually made from apricots, peaches, cherries, plums and blackberries, and they are often used as cordials.  Apple brandy is known as Applejack.

 

Rum

 

          Rum is distilled from the unrefined products of sugar cane, mainly the juice and molasses.  It is of American origin and is one of the oldest and most widely known of distilled beverages.  The flavor and aroma are due to various aromatic substances that improve on aging.  The color is most often due to caramel.  Rum was important to the economic and social life of the American colonies from 1687, especially in New England.  Today a great quantity of rum is distilled in the West Indies.  Rum is usually about 40 percent alcohol.

 

Gin

 

          Gin is distilled from fermented malt or raw grain mash.  The best grades are from barley malt and rye.  Several distillations are required.  Gin was discovered in Holland and both Holland and England produce the best grades.  However, the methods of distillation differ somewhat.  The flavor of gin is due to oil of juniper.  Other aromatic essential oils are sometimes used for flavoring, such as in orange gin and sloe gin.  There are many imitations that are made by adding essential oils to grain alcohol.

 

Liqueurs and Cordials

 

          Alcohol that is flavored with various essential oils and to which sugar is added constitute the liqueurs and cordials.  They are prepared by the addition of the flavoring material to neutral spirits or brandy or by the distillation of fermented fruits.  Most of these contain no harmful ingredients other than alcohol, but some, as in the case of absinthe, do have deleterious effects and their use is prohibited in many countries.

 

          Liqueurs often contain various oils and cordials are carefully blended using secret formulas.  The monasteries of France have been famous for manufacturing liqueurs.  Benedictine has been made since 665 A.D. Chartreuse is also made in the monasteries.  Maraschino is distilled from bruised marasca cherries grown in Dalmatia and sweetened and flavored with cordials.  Curaçao is distilled from the dried rind of bitter oranges steeped in alcohol and water, with a later addition of sugar and rum.  Kirshwasser, or black cherry brandy, is distilled from fruits after which sugar and alcohol are added.

 

            The essential oils that are often used in the preparation of liqueurs include anise and coriander (anisette), caraway (kümmel), peppermint (créme de menthe), bitter almonds (créme de noyau), and clove.

 

Aperitifs and Bitters

 

          Some alcohol preparations are used for appetizing and tonic properties.  Vermouth is a light bitter wine that is slightly fortified and sweetened and flavored with an infusion of several bitter and aromatic herbs.  It is made primarily in Italy and France.  French Vermouth is dry while Italian Vermouth is either dry or sweet.

 

          Steeping certain herbs with bitter principles in water or alcohol makes Bitters.  The infusion is strained and alcohol is added.  Angostura Bitters contain quinine and some aromatics, and Orange Bitters are some examples.