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Sips and tips

Briefs and news of note.

Published February 7, 2007


Spyke your beer

Say you are Anheuser-Busch and you want to punch up beer drinking to be as silly as Technicolor martinis with shots to match.

What to do? Invent beer boosters, syrupy alternative ales in fruity flavors, Day-Glo colors and 12 percent alcohol in cute little bottles that drinkers can dump into a mug of pale lager.

Why stop there when flavor chemists can do so much more? How about hot chocolate with a jalapeno finish, or lime, melon and mango, all fired up with a spicy edge of pepper and a punch of caffeine, ginseng and guarana? Zing!

They're called Spykes and, as demonstrated on the sidelines of Gasparilla, they turn any beer drinker into a mad scientist.

Purists beware. You may want to call the beer police. Our take, after Spyking some crisp Mexican Bohemia pilsner, is that chocolate is best and mango the cleanest of the fruity (watermelon too sweet).

Look for them at some liquor and convenience stores for $1 to $2 each.


Wine & marriage

Bart O'Brien, owner of O'Brien Cellars in Napa Valley, recently announced a new program to donate 20 percent of his winery's Equality Wine Store online sales to Equality California, an organization fighting to end the ban on same-sex marriage. The O'Brien 2004 Seduction ($35), a Bordeaux blend dubbed "round and voluptuous" by reviewer Catherine Fallis, is the O' Briens' signature bottling. For more information, go to



Rustico, Prosecco, Nino Franco, Valdobbiadene

Prosecco you may know is the grape that makes one of Italy's best wines. Valdobbiadene is the highlands region between Venice and the Alps, a fine place for pinot grigio and an exceptional spot for prosecco.

Nino Franco was one of the original top growers who wowed the guys at Harry's Bar in Venice last century and Robert Parker today.

The signature blend called rustico is a lush alternative to Champagne, creamy and pleasant, with a strong head and modest bubbles, toasty and rich, with hints of lemon and apricot. If a lemon Danish fresh from the oven could bubble, it would be Rustico.

Availability: $12-15 at better wine and liquor stores.

Chris Sherman, Times staff writer

[Last modified February 6, 2007, 12:29:46]

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