Use Electricity to Turn Cheap Wine into Decent Wine

New Scientist has an article entitled "How to make cheap wine taste like a fine vintage." They note that there are many who have claimed to create a magical process to turn base vinegar into liquid gold, but most of them have been fakes. In this case, there seems to be someone who has traded in magic for science. It looks to be something of an old-fashioned technique, as far as science fiction might go, though perhaps classical is a better term. Apparently a chemist from South China University of Technology in Guangzhou named Xin An Zeng came up with the technique, adapting it from a technique from the '80s for treating food. One of the interesting things about the technique is that it's been peer reviewed. Also, it's been subjected to blind taste tests. Also, it's been around for 10 years. I think it's just now being talked about because it wasn't published in a peer review journal until 2008. If I were more of a wine person, I'd plunk down the $31.50 to buy the article and see if I could recreate the setup that makes bad wine tasty. However, I am not, so I'll leave it for some wine geek to recreate. If you see a diy version, please let me know. I do love electricity mixing with food.

BaR2D2 Mobile Drink Station and Party Robot

Some of you may know that, during the day, I build robots. And while making a car that can drive itself on city streets is pretty cool, I have to admit that I kind of wish I had my own mobile drink serving/mixing robot. But, with the aid of Instructables, I can now build my own BaR2D2.* The build instructions are very complete. It wanders around a party, it has lots of clever, sound-activated lights, it serves drinks, it has cold beverage and ice storage. Oh, just watch the video: Via BoingBoing Gadgets. Preview photo by Kristie Stephens. *- And, of course, you can also build your own. They don't all necessarily have to go to me.

Brewing your own root beer

One of my favorite things to do is to make things that people don't normally think to make. If you only know of something as a bottle or a can in a grocery store, then it's entirely likely that you need to try making it at home at least once, to see what it really tastes like. One of the things I'd like to make is some root beer. Not particularly because I've always wanted to make my own root beer, but mostly because a) non-industrialized root beer is really quite tasty, and b) RS Brewing's blog, the Champagne of Blogs has a detailed step-by-step of how to make your own root beer. Woo! The great thing about this setup is that it does not involve a pre-made syrup, but rather has you make your own flavored water and carbonate it. The downside is that it does not involve yeast for the carbonation, so it's not entirely traditional. If you read down into the comments, you can see where some people suggest that yeast would be okay. Of course, it's a short step from this to making any kind of soda/cola/pop/whatever you want. Perhaps some tasty citrus-flavored concoction. Mmmm. via Make.

Fruit Sodas for Adults

I've been on a bit of a kick recently trying a bunch of fruit sodas. Well, citrus-flavored sodas, really. So I figured it was time to do something worthwhile with the kick and tell you, my loyal readers, what you can expect from these beverages.

GUS

This is the one that got me started on the citrus soda kick. There's a good local soup shop in town, and they have an excellent selection of beverages (including my favorite beer). I saw the Grown Up Soda and said, "Yeah, why not?" Was it a good idea? Hard to say for sure, but I'm enjoying myself, so we'll call it a win. GUS is not terribly sweet. There's a scale with soda water with a squeeze of lemon at 1, and Orange Crush as a 10. This rates a reasonable 5. Still plenty of flavor, but not watered down and disappointing. I've had the Dry Meyer Lemon and the Dry Valencia Orange. The Meyer Lemon was not all that exciting. It has a good lemon flavor, but it's a bit more subtle than I prefer my lemonade. I know, Meyer Lemons are more subtle than regular lemons, but it could have stood a bit more with that. The Valencia Orange has a great balance of flavor. It has a medium-strong orange taste without being cloying. Well worth the purchase. In my experience, GUS is the hardest to find of the brands reviewed today.

IZZE

IZZE is the second easiest-to-find of the sodas in this review. They are in Whole Foods and they are in Chipotle restaurants. Because of their relative fame, I have tried several of their ilk. There are two distinct lines of IZZE Sparkling Juice: the regular (IZZE) and the low calorie versions (IZZE ESQUE). Actually, there's a third version, IZZE FORTIFIED, but I've never tried it. The regular is a 7 on the sweetness scale, which is the highest I would go and still have an enjoyable beverage. And they are tasty. I even like their grapefruit cocktail, which manages to put a decent amount of sweet in there while still letting you know that, yes, it is definitely grapefruit. The ESQUE is a 3 on the sweetness scale, which is much too low. It tastes of lightly fruited water, and I just don't like that. I appreciate them not adding anything artificial etc, but it's just not enough for me. If I want to go with a lower calorie soda, I'll jump to the GUS, which looks to have a smaller serving size to make up for the lowered amount of juices and sugars.

San Pellegrino

San Pellegrino is my favorite of the citrus sodas. They lean toward the sweet side, around 7 much like the IZZE. The Aranciata is a bit better than the Limonata , but either are a good choice for your sparkly fruit drinking ways. The real star of the San Pellegrino lineup is the Chinotto . This is unlike anything I have ever had that wasn't also Italian. It's a brownish color, kind of like a Cola, but it's clearly fruit flavored. The thing is, it's a bitter, complex fruit. This is an acquired taste for sure. It is strange, and it is teeming with different flavors. If you think Dr. Pepper is great because it has so much more complexity than normal soda, then you live a sheltered life and probably aren't quite ready for the Chinnoto. Italians love the bitter, as those of you who have tried Italian Liqueur surely know. It's a rewarding drink to master, though, because it will wake up an otherwise boring process of drinking a carbonated beverage. Plus, you can really mess with your co-worker who likes stealing drinks from the fridge. Totally worth it.

Orangina

Orangina is the most famous of the fruit beverages. It has even appeared in the lyrics of a Broadway musical (commenters are welcome to guess which one). It has actual orange pulp in the bottle, and you are encouraged to shake it before drinking it, which adds that hint of danger to drinking a soda that you don't normally get, though nothing near the danger of the Cinnoto. Orangina is not overly sweet, falling around 6 on the scale. With a decent flavor, it's a fine drink to have for the citrus connoisseur.