Keep Calm and Make a Plan (for wine and spirits studies)

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As mentioned in last few posts, I have been bombarded lately by questions about the what, how, when, and even why of studying. I’ve written a lot about study techniques in the past, and last week I tackled the question where to find the time. This week I’d like to offer up some advice on how to plan your studies by taking your gigantic-goal-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow and breaking it down in manageable week-by-week and day-by-day goals.

In other words, this post is about how to create your study plan. Here’s my take on the subject:

Eyes on the prize: The first step is to establish your long-term goal. If you are seriously into the study of wine or spirits, your goal is likely to be a certification exam—but it certainly could be to get accepted into a certain school or program of study, to land a certain job, or just to increase your knowledge. It’s all good, and it’s up to you.

Establish your timeline: A goal needs to have an end date. As Harvey MacKay says, “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” Write the end date down and calculate how many days, weeks, and months are left between you and your goal.

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Gather your materials: Before you can complete your plan, you need to know what you are studying. If you are studying for the CSS, CSW, or any other intro- or intermediate-level wine or spirits certification, you will most likely have a text book (or books). If you do not have an assigned text (or pre-made list of sources), you will need to create your curriculum, starting with a list of topics, and then locate the resources (books, periodicals, websites) yourself.

Break it up: Take the number of weeks you have until your goal, and divide by half. This will be the length of your initial study plan with the goal of making it through a first reading of your material. Divide your study materials by the number of calculated weeks. If you have a text book, this should be fairly simple: week 1—pages 1 to 45, week 2—pages 46 to 89, and so on. If you have a list of topics, it could look something like this: week 1—red grapes, week 2—white grapes, week 3—Northern Rhône Valley, week 4—Southern Rhône Valley, and so on. Make a list of your study materials broken down by one-week increments and put a big red star on every fourth week.

Break it down: Take your first week’s study material and divide it more-or-less evenly over six days. For starters, it is best to do this one week at a time. Using a template like this generic weekly study planner like this can help, but plain old notebook paper will as well. At the top of the page, list what you need to cover for the week. Next, fill in your study goals for six days. The seventh day each week can be a free day, or a make-up day for those weeks when life goes wonky (and it will). Having weekly and daily goals will help keep you on track, create checkpoints for the material, and help you to organize your study materials ahead of time. This step is where the magic happens; a six-month journey through a 300-page text book is daunting; a daily goal to read and take notes on three specific pages is easy (easier)..

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Create your study blocks: Ideally, you should schedule one or two “long” study blocks each day (for 30 minutes to one hour) at the same time each day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening is ideal, but you are going to have to look at your available time during the week and create some study time. In addition, schedule at least three “short” (10-minute study) blocks each day. Click here for advice on how to find the time to study.  Note: it has always worked best for me to schedule in the specific time slots for each study block week-by-week. It’s one of my “things to do” every Sunday morning.

For the longer study blocks: You have three goals for the first half of your study plan: (1) read through the materials, (2) take notes on (or highlight) the materials, and (3) make flashcards or notecards from the materials. Your focus should be on discovering the material and grasping the “big picture” of the subject matter. Use your longer study blocks to progressively plow through the material—at least until you have covered the assigned pages/topics for the day. (At the end of this first half, you’ll create a new plan for the second half of your timeline that will include revision, repetition/memorization drills, critical thinking exercises, and practice tests).

For the shorter study blocks: Use the first short study block of the day to review your latest new reading material. Use the second to do some follow-up research on topics you are not clear on, or some background research to create context and deeper meaning/understanding of the material. Use the last one to go through your ever-growing stack of flashcards or note cards.

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Notes to yourself: As you complete your study blocks, jot down a quick note to yourself—just a few words—about what you covered on your study planner. For your longer study blocks, record what chapters, pages, or references you read or reviewed. For the short blocks make a quick note of what activity you completed (for instance; reviewed chapter 1, researched the Gironde River, studied flashcards from chapter 6).

The routine: Having a study block at the same time each day has a myriad of benefits: your schedule is easy to memorize, you can create a routine, and you will develop a positive habit.

Here’s the hard part: Stick to the schedule—there’s not much point in making a study plan if you don’t stick with it (so much easier said than done). However, as life has a tendency to get in the way of even the best of plans, give yourself a break. Remember those big red stars you placed on your schedule every four weeks? If you can make up any study lags or losses by the end of each four-week period, you should consider yourself a study schedule success story!

Do you have any ideas for creating a study plan? Let us know!

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

The Timewarp: How to Find the Time (for Wine and Spirits Study)

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Where to find the time?

I’ve been bombarded by “how, when, and why to study” questions lately. I’ve written a lot about how to study in the past, but would like to tackle the never-ending question of “where to find the time in a busy, stressed-out, hacked-up world” today. I am sure that none of these suggestions are ground-breaking (or time-warping), but these tactics have worked—at different stages of life—for me and many of my students, and maybe one or two will work for you!

Be dressed and ready to go (early): Whatever your deadlines are for the day—leave for work at 8:00 am, be ready to go to dinner at 7:00 pm, have the housework done for the day by 8:00 pm so you can watch Grey’s Anatomy in peace—try to be primped, dressed, and ready-to-go early, and use that time to study. In the morning, you might be able to make this happen so that you have a half an hour of “found” time. Later in the day, the goal might be five or ten minutes of spare study time. Whatever the time frame, it’s a perfect excuse to fit in a few minutes of no-stress study time.

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Show up early: Whenever you have an interview, an appointment, a lunch date, or even a dentist appointment, get there early and you will have a beautiful block of stress-free study time. Plant yourself as close to your appointment as you can be—in a coffee shop, the building lobby, or even in your car—and hit the books (or flashcards).

Stay late: At the end of your shift, stay after work for a half hour or so and study. If you have an office, just shut the door and pretend that you are not there. If you don’t have an office, consider using your desk, the building lobby, an employee break room, a coffee shop, or just go sit in your car. If you work nine-to-five, this half hour of “found study time” might have the added benefit of easing the crush of the evening rush hour. One caveat: this might not be the best idea for those of you who work the late-night shift.

Brush it up: Every brushes their teeth (let’s hope) in the morning and again at night (and most likely a time or two in between—I am talking to you, popcorn and cotton candy eaters—but that’s a different story). Why not tack on an extra five or ten minutes to your morning and/or evening routine, and schedule one of your shorter study sessions for right after your brush your teeth? You’ve already carved out these segments of the day as personal time, so it’s an established habit—no behavior modification necessary.

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Skip it: First things first: there is no way I am skipping Grey’s Anatomy. However…we all know that an hour a day (or even a half hour) of study time can lead to big results. If you really can’t find that kind of time in your schedule, consider swapping out one hour or half hour of activity a day. Skip the first half hour of Morning Joe. Skip the 6 pm news. Skip the re-run of Family Feud you watch before dinner (I know, that one’s tough). Cut your Candy Crush time in half. Cut your social media time down by 40%.

Everybody get up: Get up a half hour earlier than you need to, make a fast cup of coffee or tea, and make studying the first project of each day before the rest of the world even knows you are awake.

Use that drive time: It is easy to study if you find yourself on public transportation—just dive right in to your books, notes, or flashcards. However, if you drive yourself, you need to be more creative. Consider making short recordings of yourself—read from your study guide or textbooks, read from your notes, or recite short lists of information (regions of Chile, styles of Champagne, lists of approved grape varieties [for instance]). You can even make verbal quizzes for yourself (ask a question, wait ten seconds, read the answer). This study technique has all kinds of active learning benefits built right in. Of course, many people use drive time to listen to their favorite podcasts or radio programs; this is a great idea made all the better if you can find one that is applicable to your current studies.

If you have any time-warping ideas of your own, help us all out by letting us in on your secrets in the comments!

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

(Un-study Techniques) The Big Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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This post is the second in our series on Un-study Techniques, or How to learn about wine when you just can’t stand to study any longer. Click here for: our first post, titled “How to Succeed at Wine Studies without Really Trying”.

An un-study technique is an activity that will help you learn about what you need to know, but will NOT force you to crack open a book or flip over a flash card. An un-study technique is something you can do to help you learn about wine—in those times and situations when you are tired, unmotivated, or just plain sick of studying. We’ve all been there.

This week we offer an un-study technique we call “The Big Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” Here’s how it works:

For starters, choose a wine-related (or wine-adjacent) place or thing—not a wine, winery, or an appellation—but rather something like a mountain, river, monument, city, statue, or village. This can be approached one of two ways: either start with something that is of particular interest to you, or go random and throw a dart. Here are a few ideas for your first topic:

  • The Hill of Hermitage
  • The Riddoch Highway
  • Lake Garda
  • Santa María la Real de Irache (the Monastery of Irache)
  • Mount Aconcagua
  • The Abbey of Sant’Antimo
  • The Cathedral of Reims

If none of these float your boat, we have more. Click here for a pdf of: The Big Picture is worth a Thousand Word – Suggested Topics

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Once you’ve chosen your place-or-thing, do a Google Image search and find an image that you just love (and, ideally, peaks your curiosity or wanderlust). Print out the picture (or just leave it on your computer screen) and go for it—do some research, and find out everything you can about your chosen mountain-river-monument-city-village-building-statue-or whatever. Be on the lookout for something fun, humorous, or just plain fascinating about the topic. What you’re doing is building some meaningful context that will help in the next step…which is, of course, studying the wines of the place.

The point of this exercise is that your newly-found contextual knowledge—besides the fact that it is engaging and will undoubtedly make you a more fascinating companion—is that it is likely to allow you to more easily understand and recall the need-to-know details about wines of the area. And yes, that’s the next step…study the wines of the area! Ideally, your new-found background knowledge will spike your curiosity and help you break through that “can’t stand to study” rut you’ve temporarily fallen into.

Be advised: this study technique is likely to result in you heading out the door to find a bottle of said wine—that is, if you didn’t purchase one in advance. Just don’t forget to record your tasting notes before the bottle is gone.

Stay tuned for more un-study techniques in the coming weeks and months, and as always, enjoy your (un) studies!

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

 

(Un-study Techniques) How to Succeed at Wine Studies without Really Trying

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Sub-title: Un-study Techniques, or How to learn about wine when you just can’t stand to study any longer.

We’ve all been there. No matter how passionate, engaged, and delighted we are to get to study wine,  take a wine class, or attempt a wine certification…there are times when we JUST CAN’T STAND IT ANY LONGER. And yet that class, that presentation, or that exam is on the near horizon.

What’s a wine student to do?

Here’s an idea: use what I call un-study techniques—an admittedly goofy term for an activity that will help you learn about what you need to know, but will NOT force you to highlight your text book or flip over a flash card.

I have lots of these little un-study techniques that I share with my classes and on my webinars all the time, but for today I’ll just introduce two of them. More to come soon, I promise.

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Un-study Technique—Plan a trip: Everyone knows one of the absolute best ways to learn about the wine of a certain region is to travel. To see the vines, feel the dirt between your fingers, fall in love with a winemaker in a dark, dusty cellar—you’ll never forget it.

But…even if you can’t make that trip to Tuscany this weekend, you can still plan a trip. To make this an effective un-study technique, choose a specific wine region. Plan how you will get there, where you’ll stay, where you will eat, and the wineries you will visit. Pretend you are driving and plot out your map, making sure you learn the important details that can help you in your wine studies later—such as how many miles/kilometers it is from one place to the next, and what vineyards are located on the valley floor, as opposed to up the hillsides. Choose a local restaurant to dine in and (via the magic of the interwebs) check out the menu and the wine list (paying particular attention to the local wines they have have on offer).

I know this sounds a little silly, but there have been many Monday evenings in my life when I couldn’t get the gumption to crack a book…but I learned a lot by plotting my fantasy trip through Bolgheri courtesy of google and their maps

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Un-study Technique—Write one multiple choice question: That’s right…just one. Here’s the secret about writing multiple choice questions…it is not easy. But that’s what makes it a perfect un-study technique. Here’s what to do: pick a topic and write a question as well as the correct answer. The question—known as the question stem—should be a direct question, written as a complete sentence, and should be grammatically correct.

Next: do some deep-dive research on your question-and-correct-answer to make sure that is always correct. For instance: consider this question : Which of the following types of wine is produced using 100% Gamay? Is the correct answer Beaujolais? (No, Beaujolais AOC may contain up to 15% white grapes, and may also be white.) Is the correct answer Moulin-à-Vent? (No…while Beaujolais Cru is only produced as a red wine, it is also allowed to contain up to 15% white grapes— Chardonnay, Aligoté, and/or Melon de Bourgogne, to be precise). So perhaps this question should be re-written as follows: Which of the following types of wine is mostly likely to be produced using 100% Gamay? Using this as the question, Beaujolais or Moulin-à-Vent could be a correct answer.

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The next step is to come up with the three incorrect answers, known as the distractors. The more similar the distractors are to each other and the correct answer, the more difficult the question is. Using the question discussed above (Which of the following types of wine is mostly likely to be produced using 100% Gamay?), you could craft a relatively easy question using the following three distractors: Saint-Joseph, Rosé des Riceys, and Musigny. However…and here’s where the “un-study” technique really kicks in…don’t just assume that these appellations do not produce Gamay-based wine. Research it, find out everything they are allowed to produce, and if indeed they are not at all likely to make a wine produced using Gamay, go ahead and use it as one of your distractor.

The following three distractors would make for a more difficult question: Crémant de Bourgogne, Chinon, and Irancy. Can you figure out why?

When writing your questions, make sure to take and keep your notes (after all, you are un-studying), and keep a file of your questions to test yourself with later.

Stay tuned for more un-study techniques in the coming weeks and months, and as always, enjoy your (un) studies!

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

Bergamot: Vermouth, Rosolio, and Crème Liqueur

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A while back I posted an article about Bergamot—a citrus fruit begat of a lemon and a bitter orange, best-known for its intensely fruity-floral aroma and its use in Earl Grey tea. In this post, the story of Bergamot is continued as I discuss its not-too-common but always-welcome use in aromatized wines and flavored spirits…all of them delicious!

Vermouth—Vermouth is an aromatized wine flavored with the Artemisia (wormwood) herb, and most versions contain dozens of other botanical flavorings as well—often including cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, marjoram, chamomile, coriander, juniper berries, and ginger—but only rarely including bergamot. I researched dozens of vermouth websites, and while I found quite a few that admitted to the use of citrus fruit and citrus peels (particularly bitter oranges or Seville oranges), I only located a few that featured bergamot in their (publicized) formulas. Among these were Contratto Vermouth Bianco and Cocchi Savoy Dry Vermouth.

Contratto Vermouth Bianco discloses 28 of its 50 botanical ingredients—one of which is “bergamot orange”—the other 22 remain a secret. Its flavor is bright and balanced, just very-slightly bitter, with lots of green herb flavors and a citrus zing. I highly recommend its use in a 20th Century Cocktail (link via the Skurnik website).

And then there’s the Cocchi Savoy Dry Vermouth. Cocchi (along with Contratto) is one of the original brands of Italian Vermouth, and the company makes a wide range of wines, spirits, and aromatized wines—including an impressive range of vermouth and vermouth-related products. The Cocchi Savoy Dry Vermouth is a bit special—and not just because it is the only product that I could find on the website with a claim-to-bergamot-fame. This is a special-edition product; previously only available at the Savoy Hotel in London (these days, it’s also available for purchase online but with a “limited availability” advisory). This vermouth was crafted according to a recipe from the 1970’s and formulated specifically for use in the Savoy Hotel’s Dry Martini recipe. On its own, it has a unique herbal-and-citrus flavor. As for the martini, it’s a pretty specific recipe—and it might be worth the trip to London.

Old-fashioned Bergamot Liqueur—Briottet Crème de Bergamote: Liqueurs and cordials flavored with bergamot (fruit, peels, and/or oils) were popular in Italy and France during the 1800s, but few such products are produced today. As a matter of fact, you would be hard-pressed to even find mention of one in a modern liquor store or food-wine-and-spirits publication. However…Maison Briottet, a family-owned business founded in 1836 in the French city of Dijon, has kept bergamot spirits alive for the last hundred-or-so-years with a recipe for Crème de Bergamote. The firm, perhaps best-known for their Crème de Cassis de Dijon, produces a wide range of brandies, spirits, and liqueurs. The current managing directors, Vincent and Claire (representing the sixth generation), are also committed to the production of the bergamot liqueur beloved by Edmond Briottet, their great-great-grandfather.

According to the company website, Briottet Crème de Bergamote is flavored using just the zest of the bergamot fruit. This lends a “fresh somewhat lemony taste” that is also somewhat spicy and smooth. They recommend drinking it after dinner over ice, and suggest that it also makes an excellent flavoring for cakes, cookies, and other desserts.

Apparently, homemade bergamot liqueur is also a thing, and it is quite easy to find a do-it-yourself recipe online (I particularly liked this one, via the “Grow the Planet” blog).

The New Liqueur-on-the-Block—Italicus Rosolio di BergamottoItalicus is a fairly new product, launched by Giuseppe Gallo—a mixologist and all-things-spirits expert based in Italy—in 2016. However, the concept is old; and harkens back to a 15th Century Italian aperitivo flavored with rose petals known as rosolio. Rosolio was once very popular with the Royal House of Savoy, and produced all over Italy. However, with the passing of the generations (along with the rise and fall of nations), rosolio fell out of favor as vermouth and other types of bitters and amari grew in popularity. When crafting his Italicus liqueur, Gallo used the rosolio liqueurs of the past as his inspiration, but chose to make a less-sweet, more-complex beverage using bergamot and other flavorings.

The production of this amazing liqueur includes a step traditionally known as sfumatura, a slow process used to extract essential oils from citrus peels. The oil of bergamot is then macerated in Italian neutral spirits along with chamomile, yellow roses, cedro lemon (citron), gentian root, lavender, and other botanicals.

To my taste, Italicus falls somewhere on the liqueur-style-scale between the sweet-floral-cotton candy-yumminess of Saint Germain and the bracing-yet-delicious experience of a crisp, white vermouth. If I had to describe it I would start by saying that is has aromas of citrus (but is it lemon or lime), roses (both fresh and dry), fresh green herbs, and lavender. This is followed by crisp, refreshing flavors of ripe citrus (lemon and lime again, but also bitter orange)—bitter but balanced, and finally a clean, floral-scented, and lingering finish.

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This liqueur is amazing on its own (over ice with a lemon twist) and is equally appealing in a simple spritz (with Prosecco or Champagne) or a Negroni Bianco (an amazing-sounding cocktail made with Italicus, gin, and dry vermouth). I also invented my own martini-like drink aligned to my personal liquor cabinet and taste involving a 2:1 combo of Potocki Polish Vodka and Italicus, shaken, strained, and served up with a twist of lemon (I’m still working on the name…maybe I’ll call it a Bergamartini or a Martinicus).

And then there’s this: I’m very impressed with Square One Organic Bergamot-flavored vodka. I’ll just let the creators of this heavenly spirit tell you all about it.

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

 

Bergamot, Beverages, and Sweet Delights

Bergamot oranges

If you are a fan of Earl Grey Tea, the candy/confection known as Turkish Delight,or any number of dry, white vermouths…you might be a fan of Bergamot Oil. Bergamot oil is derived from the rind of Citrus bergamia fruit, otherwise known as bergamot, or the bergamot orange.

It is believed that bergamot is a hybrid of a type of lemon crossed with the bitter (Seville) orange. The resulting fruit may have been named after the city of Bergamo in Lombardy (Italy), where it was historically sold. Another theory states that it was named after the Turkish words bey armudu (“prince’s pear) or bey armut (“prince of pears”). The fruit itself has greenish-yellowish skin (depending on ripeness) and bitter pulp that also appears as a mix of yellow and green. The plant itself is an evergreen tree that can reach a height of about 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 m) with dark, fleshy leaves. It blooms with highly aromatic, white flowers in the spring.

Calabria highlighted in the map of Italy

Calabria—the province of Reggio di Calabria to be precise—is the leading area for the production of oil of bergamot. The area, located on the very tip of the toe of Italy’s “boot,” grows 90% of all the bergamot oranges in the world, and the region has protected geographical indication status for its bergamot oil: Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria – olio essenziale PGI. These days, bergamot is also grown in France, Argentina, Morocco, Turkey, Brazil, and parts of Africa.

The aroma of Bergamot oil is often described using the following terms: lemony, citrus, grapefruit, floral, or spicy (nutmeg-cinnamon-anise). The flavor of the fruit itself is described as citric and acidic (but not quite as sour as a lemon), and bitter (somewhere between a grapefruit and a lime).

Earl Grey tea, as it has been known since the 1830s, was originally a type of black tea flavored with bergamot oil. (These days, there are versions made with many types of tea including green tea, oolong tea, and an herbal variation based on Rooibos). The name of the tea goes back to Charles Grey—the second Earl Grey, also known as Viscount Howick—who served as the Prime Minister of the UK from 1830 to 1834.

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The flavored tea, gifted to the Earl, was supposedly created specifically to meld with the water of the area. It became wildly popular—Lady Grey loved to serve it at social and political gatherings—and has been produced in various incarnations ever since.

Earl Grey tea has made its way into a number of drinks and cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) over the years. One long-lost (but not quite forgotten) tradition is known as a Moseley Tea Service (named after a suburb of South Birmingham). When your order a Moseley Tea Service, you get a drink made with a cup of Earl Grey tea (prepared however you like it) fortified a shot (or two) of gin.

A more recent innovation—a drink known variously as the London Fog, Manchester Fog, or Earl Grey Tea Latte—was invented in the early 2000s in Vancouver, BC (and imitated all over the world these days). The drink is made using a very strong potion of Earl Grey tea (such as one tea bag to ½ cup of hot water steeped for two to four minutes), steamed milk, and vanilla syrup. (Beware of the commercial use of the term “London Fog” as there are quite a few trademarks and copyrights lingering about.)

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Bergamot is widely used in aromatized wines and liqueurs as a bittering and/or flavoring agent. Such products include Cocchi Dry Vermouth, Briottet Crème de Bergamot, and the new-liqueur-on-the-block, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto. These products are so interesting that they warrant their very own blog post.

Hard candy corner: The area around the French city of Nancy (in the Grand Est Region) produces a hard candy flavored with oil of Bergamot. These candies, which have PGI protection, are known as Bergamotes de Nancy PGI.

In addition to its culinary uses, bergamot oil is also quite useful within the realms of herbal medicine and aromatherapy. According to the dō Terra website, it has “both calming and uplifting abilities” and can “dissipate anxious feelings while simultaneously providing cleansing and purifying benefits.” (But be careful…it can cause the skin to be ultra-sensitive to sunlight.) The plants themselves have highly fragrant roots that can act as an insect repellant.

Confusion corner: A flowering, aromatic herb formally known as Monarda didyma also goes by the name Bergamot (in addition to scarlet beebalm and Oswego tea). The aroma of Monarda didyma is said to be familiar to Citrus bergamia, but there is no familial link between the two species.

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net

 

Blast from the Past: Appellation d’Origine Réglementée par Decret

If you google-search images of old-timey French spirits such as eau-de-vie, various forms of Marc, and old bottles of Cognac, you are likely to come across the label term “Appellation d’Origine Réglementée par Decret.” I have always wondered about this term, but not quite enough to embark on a search for its true meaning. I assumed it was yet another archaic term used sometime and somewhere in the long and ever-evolving history wine and spirits. So be it.

Until…I started coming across the term used on contemporary bottles. For example, while trying to find a bottle of Marc de Bourgogne for sale in my area, I came across dozens of pictures of bottles labeled, as I would expect, with the term Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (AOC). However, I found an equal amount labeled with the term Appellation d’Origine Réglementée par Decret (AOR). Dozens of google-searches and late-night perusals of reference books later, I still was not quite sure what the Appellation d’Origine Réglementée par Decret stood for.

Lately, I have been able to—at least—put a dent in the mystery. Here’s the story, as well as I can tell it:

As we all know, the regulation of certain wines, foods, and spirits were written into the laws and regulations of France by the early 1900’s. According to a 146-page document published by the Comité National des Appellations d’Origine des Vins et Eaux-de-Vie (1946), by the 1940’s a slew of appellations were in effect, including a long list of wine regions that were classified as Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (AOC).

This same document confirms classified status for several dozen distilled spirits as Appellation d’Origine Réglementée par Decret (AOR)—“appellation regulated by decree.”  These spirits include Cognac, eight different versions of Calvados, several versions of Marc, and a long list of regional Eaux-de-vie.

According to another dug-up document—this one authored by the Commission Nationale des Boissons Spiritueuses and titled Abrogation des Appellations d’Origine réglementées et simples—by the early 2000’s, many of the AOR decrees had been repealed, and some had been replaced by AOCs.

However, many of the original AOR designations remain “on the books” and are still in use. These include (at last count) 27 versions of eaux-de-vie, Marc d’Auvergne, Marc de Lorraine, and Mirabelle de Lorraine.

The moral of this story is: you may indeed stumble across a bottle of French brandy that bears the label term AOR—don’t freak out…its not a typo, and its not a fake. It’s a piece of history.

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas… missjane@prodigy.net