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Wine Advisor Express:
Beat the heat with a Framboise spritzer

A moist blanket of steamy heat holds much of the U.S. in its grip this week, prompting even the most dedicated wine lover to think about something more cooling and refreshing than the iciest glass of bubbly or chilled rose wine.

How about a spritzer to take the edge off the heat?

Ahh, here's a dessert-size bottle of a Framboise that I had been eager to try anyway. Perfect!

This tasty item from California's Bonny Doon Vineyard - not a grape wine but an "infusion" of fresh raspberries in "neutral grape spirits" - is intensely sweet and loaded with rich, natural raspberry aromas and flavors. It's heavy, almost thick, sticky and strong, at 17 percent alcohol approaching the power of Port. A taste of it is appealing after dinner, but it's not really the thing when the thermometer tops 90F (32C) and the humidity is up there to match.

So, with the explicit advice of Bonny Doon's website (the link is below), I headed for the refrigerator, got out the club soda, and had myself a long, tall spritzer. Mixed with sparkling water in a glass over ice, the Framboise turns from a drink best suited for a winter night and a crackling fire to a delicious hot-weather cooler that's relatively light on alcohol.

First I tried mixing Framboise and soda in equal portions, but the result remained winey and strong. Experimentation produced a surprising result: A ratio of 6 parts soda to 1 part Framboise seemed just right. At that point the mix is light, crisp and refreshing, yet plenty of appealing raspberry flavor remains. A wedge of lime or lemon heightens the berry fruit and balances the wine's sweetness, which is still quite apparent even at this level of dilution.

Here's my report on the wine in undiluted form:

Framboise Bonny Doon 1997 Framboise Raspberry Wine With Grape Neutral Spirits ($14.99)
An impressive scent of ripe, juicy raspberries emerges from the bottle as soon as the cork is pulled. It's the same in the glass, only more so; smelling this cherry-red wine is like burying your nose in a basket of perfectly ripe, just-picked berries. On the palate, it's as thick as raspberry syrup and tastes quite similar, juicy and very sweet, with tantalizing acidity and a hint of the warmth of alcohol to signal that this is a drink for adults. Ripe raspberries and a fresh lemon-squirt of acidity last for minutes in an extremely long finish. At 17 percent alcohol, you really don't want to gulp this stuff; but it's so sweet and deliciously fruity that it is hard not to do so. (Aug. 8, 2001)

WINERY WEBSITE: http://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/fram97.html is the winery's information page for Framboise. It includes links to three recipes using it as an ingredient: Fresh Strawberry Sorbet, Brownies/Framboise and Grilled Peaches with Raspberry Puree.

Express Notes:
Administrivia

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Thursday, Aug. 9, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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