Tag Archives: wine

Evolving Tastes in Alcohol

For years, I preferred drinking beer. I still like beer. I probably drink it more than any other alcohol. However, I tend to drink maybe once a month, and that’s all.

Once I came to Japan, I started expanding my alcohol experience. Very early on (my fourth day in Japan), I was introduced to sake. Nihonshu, to be exact. And it was a kind of sake called Hakkaizan. That’s a pretty high quality, somewhat expensive sake that tastes great. Sake goes down smoothly, and is too easy to get drunk on. However, I never felt a hangover. It affects me quickly, but wears off quickly.

I’ve tried various kinds of wine, but I find them to be hit or miss. I’ve found I prefer white wine, and sparkling is good.

But in the past couple of years, I’ve found I’ve been attracted to Smirnoff Ice. And lately, it’s been available in more than just the basic lemon flavour, now there’s orange, grape, green apple, and my new favourite, brisk lemonade. I’m drinking it now, in fact.

Vodka, my new favourite alcohol. At least, I’m drinking the beer-level alcohol content vodka.

Do you have preferences for alcohol?

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Beer, wine, and sake and how they affect me

I’m not a big drinker.  I occasionally like a drink, but I never feel like I need a drink.  However, I have developed my own preferences for different kinds of alcoholic beverages.  So, I started thinking about how three different drinks affect me.  They all have alcohol in them, but I react differently to each one.

Beer

This is the staple alcoholic drink of many countries, including my home country of Canada and my adopted country of Japan.  When people go out drinking, most will drink beer.  Beer in Japan is very similar to beer in Canada.  I would describe it mainly as a lager type beer.  With an average alcohol content of 5 to 5.5%, this beverage has the lowest level of alcohol of these three.

I like beer, but I find that the last bit in the glass is so bitter that it makes me shudder a bit.  I don’t do well with strong bitterness.  But the more I drink, the easier it gets.  It takes a lot of beer to really affect me.  A glass does very little.  I start to feel it after 2 glasses, but after 4 or 5, I have trouble walking completely straight.  The alcohol in beer sneaks up on me.  It slowly affects me, and it slowly goes away.  It leaves me with an unpleasant aftertaste.  But I still like beer.

Wine

I’m not a big wine drinker.  In fact, I can count the number of times I’ve had wine on one hand.  My first experience with wine wasn’t very positive.  I just didn’t like the taste.  I had wine tonight.  It was decent.  It was like dry, alcoholic grape juice.  It wasn’t so fruity, but it was quite dry.  What I drank was a red Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina with a 13.5% alcohol content.  I only drank 2 glasses, and when I was finished, I still didn’t feel the alcohol.

So, how does wine’s alcohol affect me?  It takes a while for it to show itself.  About 50 minutes after starting to drink it, I could finally feel it a bit.  Since I had only 2 glasses, it wasn’t really much.  I felt a little lightheaded, and the feeling kept growing for about half an hour.  It seems like wine’s alcohol has a delayed reaction for me.  Within an hour, I felt nothing from the alcohol.

Sake

Japanese rice wine, or sake/nihonshu, is my biggest alcoholic love.  I absolutely love this stuff!  Hakkaizan from Niigata prefecture is my favourite at the moment.  With an alcohol content of 15%, this has the highest level of alcohol of the three drinks.  It also tastes the best, in my opinion.  While beer’s bitterness makes it a bit unpleasant for me, and tonight’s experience with wine was similar, sake goes down so smooth.

It is very easy to drink, yet it is the strongest.  Even if I drink it slowly, the alcohol goes to my head very quickly.  Even the dry sake is easy to drink.  I don’t feel that it’s bitter, which is a bonus.  The alcohol affects me quickly, but I recover very quickly, and I don’t feel the alcohol within a couple of hours.  Although it has a higher alcohol content than beer, its effect is much shorter for me.  And I don’t have any kind of bad aftertaste.  It seems that sake is the perfect alcoholic drink for me.

Conclusion

While beer is the cheapest, and I drink it the most, it isn’t my favourite.  I think my level of satisfaction with the flavour is on par with wine.  Sake wins in all aspects other than price.  It is the best tasting, the easiest to recover from, and the most satisfying experience.

Of course, alcohol affects different people differently.  I’ve noticed that many Japanese people can’t handle alcohol very well, and this has a good explanation.  Most Asian people have an enzyme that prevents the efficient metabolisation of alcohol in their bodies, so it makes them drunk faster.  I have 3 or 4 drinks with little effect on me, while many Japanese people turn red-faced with only one drink.  This is known as Asian flush reaction.  It’s amazing how most people in Japan can’t handle alcohol well, yet it’s very common to go drinking with colleagues and bosses every week. But some people have such low alcohol tolerance that they can’t drink alcohol at all.  It makes them feel sick with just a little bit to drink.

As I said before, I don’t have much experience with wine, but I am interested in trying different kinds.  What’s your favourite kind of alcohol?