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A San Francisco Company Is Making Wine ... Without Grapes

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Wine has been around for around 9000 years, and with 895 million gallons sold in 2014 in the U.S. alone, it’s safe to say the process is working pretty well for everyone.

Mardonn Chua and Alec Lee beg to differ. Last year, Smithsonian reports, the pair were wine tasting in the Napa Valley when a bottle of (much heralded and relatively pricey) Chateau Montelena chardonnay got them thinking: Is there a way to replicate the flavor of wine at a fraction of the cost?

That’s what they’re trying to do with the San Francisco-based start-up, Ava Winery. Their winemaking process takes the grapes out of the equation entirely, using a mix of amino acids, acids, sugars, volatile organics, and ethanol to simulate the fermentation and aging that are the hallmarks of the real thing.

Chua wrote a detailed post on Medium if you’re interested in a deeper dive on the methodology, but basically, Ava Winery aims to “turn water into wine” by combining the same compounds that are in a traditionally crafted bottle (or box, no judgments here). As expected, it’s been a work in progress, with techniques like gas chromatography mass spectrometry now in place to determine the chemical building blocks in say, a rosé or Malbec.

You can currently purchase Ava Winery’s take on the 1992 Dom Pérignon Champagne for just $50 (it would cost you upwards of $150 for the real deal), but the synthetic wine reportedly still has a ways to go to before becoming a convincing mimic. New Scientist did a blind taste test and let’s just say the words “cleaning alcohol” and “plastic bag” were used to describe the faux vino, though one tester did offer that it “tastes better than it smells.”

Time will tell if consumers are interested in hopping on the grape-less wine bandwagon, and critics are of course skeptical about how far it can really go, especially when much of wine’s cachet is related to the land itself and geographical location. But who knows, someday we might be putting a premium on a 2016 pinot from a lab in northern California.

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New Pop Chart Lab Poster Is a Boozy Blueprint For Making Classic Cocktails
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Pop Chart Lab's posters combine design with data, and their latest offering—a full breakdown of the ingredients in 60 classic cocktails—is no exception. From the exact ratio of gin and tonic that should go into a G & T (2 ounces and 4 ounces, respectively) to the garnishes you'll need to make a proper Tom Collins (a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist), the 3-foot-by-2-foot "Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" artwork teaches mixology basics you'd typically learn in bartending school, sans tuition fee.

In addition to mainstays like the Negroni and the Whiskey Sour, the poster also includes relatively obscure drinks (ever heard of the Golden Dawn, or the Journalist?), which you can attempt after drinking your way through your favorite concoctions. Before you know it, you'll be explaining to your friends the intricacies of why you should stir martinis instead of shaking them (sorry, James Bond), or the difference between a highball and a Collins glass. Bottoms up!

"Constitutions of Classic Cocktails" costs $37, and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins on Friday, October 20, 2017. (To see the poster's details up close, visit Pop Chart Lab's website and click on the diagram.)

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Attention Beer Lovers: A London Brewery Is Hiring a Professional Taste-Tester
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Beer lovers aren’t given many chances to discuss their passion for imbibing at job interviews. But a new open position at London's Meantime Brewing Company lists that expertise as one of the top qualifications. As Fortune reports, the brewery is seeking a professional beer taster to help improve its products.

The brewery’s part-time employee will “join the panel brewers as they taste, discuss, and pass opinion on a range of different beers,” according to the job listing on LinkedIn. On top of steady access to free booze three hours a week, the taster will receive a competitive salary “with beer benefits.” As the description reads: “Yes, this could just be the best job in the world.”

Meantime isn’t just considering any casual beer drinker for the role. Their ideal candidate will have a precise palate that can distinguish “chocolate malt from dark malt” and “Fuggles from Cascade hops.” They will also have an understanding of global consumer markets, a functioning knowledge of English, and an extensive beer vocabulary. The brewery is located in the London borough of Greenwich, so applicants who aren’t local should be willing to relocate.

Founded in 1999, the Meantime Brewing Company made its name on the beer scene with signature beverages like their London Lager, London Pale Ale, and Yakima Red. If you’re interested in joining the team, post 30 words on your LinkedIn profile explaining why you deserve the gig, along with any photos or videos that may help your case, with the hashtag #pickmemeantime. The company will narrow down the pool to three candidates for an in-person beer tasting before deciding their top pick. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the job by brushing up on your beer facts.

[h/t Fortune]

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