NATIONAL VODKA DAY!
National Vodka Day
Celebrated Annually on October 4th
“The Water of Life”
The Art of Tasting Vodka: How to Distinguish the Subtleties
Wine tastings, beer flights, even sipping-style tequilas are common, but most people don’t think of slowly savoring vodka. But, contrary to what your frat brothers told you, vodka is not tasteless or odorless. There are distinct differences between varieties of this gluten-free spirit and, if you want to notice them (and you do!), you need to learn how to truly taste vodka.
If you’re anxious about sitting down to a big glass of room temperature vodka, set yourself up for success. Though some purists argue that vodka should be consumed at room temperature, it does go down more easily when it’s cold. Place your bottle of vodka in the freezer overnight or for a few hours before sipping. The alcohol content will keep it from freezing solid and the chill will take the edge off your sip.
You could also try drinking it on the rocks, but vodka is basically nature’s anti-freeze. Those ice cubes will turn to water almost as soon as the vodka hits them. Ice is for amateurs, and so are mixers.
Vodka has a reputation for being an excellent neutral base for mixed drinks, but to really enjoy vodka, you need to learn to appreciate it neat. No ice. No water. No vermouth. No tonic. Definitely no Red Bull.
Get a nice glass and set it in your freezer for about an hour. Pour only two or three ounces of chilled vodka into your chilled glass. A little goes a long way. Then let the vodka warm up slightly as you hold the glass in your hand. If vodka is too cold, it will freeze your taste buds and you will not get an adequate tasting. If it is too warm, the flavor mix becomes too complex and the dominant flavor less discernible. Spirits should be tasted slowly, but greedily.
As you sip, pay attention to the smell, sight, taste and heat.
Smell. Smell the vodka as you briefly swirl it about in your glass, much like you’d do with wine. A bad vodka will smell somewhat medicinal while a good vodka will have a creamy, sweet or grainy odor. Avoid swirling, as the motion will predominantly evolve alcohol, which will then overpower any other aromas that are present. Try breathing in through the nose with your mouth open to deal with some of the heat from the alcohol.
Sight. Hold the vodka glass up to the light and look at the liquid’s clarity, texture and luminescence. A fine vodka will have a thick and creamy texture when frozen; it may also have a bluish or yellowish tint.
Taste. A good vodka should taste soft, creamy and smooth—not hard, watery and rough.
Heat. The heat of a vodka is the burn on the tongue or back of the throat when you drink vodka neat. Less expensive brands tend to burn in the mouth and throat, while premium brands tend to be more smooth and subtle.
It may take a few sips before you start noticing the subtle flavors but, in time, you’ll pick up on them—and then you’ll never want to mask them with mixers again!