Wishing for Star Trek booze?

January 21st, 2009

Romulan Ale. From: startrek-gamers.com

Romulan Ale.

I admit without reservation that I am more a gourmand than a gourmet. I suppose that is a euphemistic way of saying that I can be a glutton at times. I’m not much of a Trekkie Trekker, either, but as I delve more into premium specialty spirits on top of my wine reviewing and drinking, I find myself wishing for synthenol.  .

When I tell my brother about the sensory attributes of a wine or other beverage I’m about to pour, he often jokingly asks: “Does it have delicious alcohol in it?“. It does, but it’s debatable if ethanol has flavor characteristics rather than the tactile sensation of “heat”.

So if ethanol has no “flavor”, but contributes mainly to the weight or the “mouthfeel” of a beverage and may alter a wine’s aromatics and flavor expression – according to some panel tastings – is it necessary to a quality beverage? Its presence makes it difficult to revel extensively in the beverage – whether I’m drinking a spirit, a beer or a wine. Such regular sensory explorations expose the stomach and liver to risk of damage.

There are some beverages which reveal nuance, complexity and beauty not only over the lifespan of a single glass but over that of the entire bottle. I love this. It keeps me coming back for another try.

I’ll stop short of indulging a metaphor of a romantic relationship in which I discover new charms of the drink. That might lead some to raise an eyebrow (or questions excessive indulgence), or at least accuse me of being a hackneyed writer. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoy each successive sip of a complex beverage. I just wish that I could enjoy more without the risk of paying the price. So I make moderation the rule.

The processes of fermentation and distillation produce and concentrate (respectively) the aromatic, flavor and textural complexities which intrigue and beguile. But the primary product of fermentation and distillation is alcohol, and the primary effect of alcohol is intoxication. The primary effect of excessive consumption, unfortunately, is disease. Pure and simple.

So my wish for a benign form of alcohol – while possibly Utopian – is a personal and private wish. I see no point in proselytizing about it to others. However, I can’t help but wonder: If it were possible to change the alcohol in wine, beer and spirits into synthenol without altering sensory characteristics of the beverage, would it be as controversial as the process of alcohol adjustment in wine?

 

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