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Belgian Beer Makes the Cut for UNESCO's Cultural Heritage List

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If you've ever visited Belgium, a large portion of your travel time was likely devoted to eating and drinking. The small European country is famous for its culinary offerings (frites, waffles, and chocolate, anyone?), but even more so for its beer culture. Now, The Guardian reports, Belgium's storied suds have been officially added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Launched in 2006, the list identifies traditional occurrences, observances, and social activities around the world that help define citizens' national identity.

According to Reuters, the Belgian Brewers trade association petitioned the specialized United Nations agency to add beer drinking and brewing to the list. This past week, UNESCO's Intergovernmental for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage met in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, to debate whether beer (and other proposed cultural additions, including Indian yoga and Czech and Slovak puppetry) should make the cut.

Beer production and consumption might not sound high-brow enough to warrant a vaunted status, but Belgium takes both activities pretty seriously. The country is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Maryland, yet it boasts nearly 200 breweries and 1500 varieties of beer, according to the Belgian Brewers. Not surprisingly, beer is even one of the nation's national dishes.

Plus, the trade organization argues, beer helps the local economy, promotes camaraderie among citizens, and is historic, to boot. Rudi Vervoort, a mayor and member of the Brussels Parliament, agrees: Earlier this week, he commented to The Guardian that the beverage "has been a part of our society since time immemorial." We'll toast to that.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing
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Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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Richard Brendon
This $56 Glass Is Perfectly Suited to All Styles of Wine
Richard Brendon
Richard Brendon

People who take their wine seriously tend to own different glasses for different types of wine. Decor website Home Stratosphere, for instance, identified 18 wine glasses—each shaped differently to complement the unique flavors and fragrances of a Bordeaux, a Burgundy, and other kinds of red, white, and dessert wines.

If you don’t want to spare the expense or the cupboard space for all those glasses, you may want to check out Richard Brendon’s $56 wine glass, which is said to be suited to all types of wine. As spotted by Fast Company, the “1 Wine Glass” is the result of a collaboration between Brendon, a London-based product designer, and wine critic Jancis Robinson.

Robinson said that when Brendon asked her to help design a range of wine glasses, she was “insistent” that they design one single glass. “I love white wine as much as red and have never understood why white wine glasses are routinely smaller than those designed for red wine,” Robinson said in a statement, adding that white wines can be just as complex as reds. “It just seems so obvious and sensible to have one single wine glass for all three colors of wine—especially when so many of us are short of storage space.”

To get it just right, they toiled with the thinness of the glass, the length of the stem, the curvature, the opening, and the overall practicality (Robinson said it had to be dishwasher safe, and indeed, the finished result is). The result is a 125ml handcrafted glass that can be used for all types of wine, including champagne, port, and sherry. The duo also designed a stemless water glass and two decanters. The items can be purchased on Richard Brendon's website.

[h/t Fast Company]

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