Friday, 29 January 2010

San Pellegrino Chino

San Pellegrino Chino
Made by: San Pellegrino SpA

Origin: Italy

Imported into the UK by: Nestle Waters UK Ltd

Chinotto is a sparkling Italian soft drink named after the small, bitter citrus fruit of the Myrtle-leaved orange tree. The tree is believed to have originated in China, hence the name. Today Chinotto fruit is mostly cultivated in Italy, where the peel extract is an essential ingredient in Italian Bitters ('Amari'); alcoholic liqueurs drunk either as a digestif or an aperitif. San Pellegrino claim to have formulated the first Chinotto soft drink in 1932, today marketed under the brand name of Chino.

Sparkling Chino is a dark chestnut brown colour, clear and intense. When poured out, fine pinhead bubbles can be observed rising from various points in the glass.

On the nose this is sweetly spiced and strikingly aromatic: Allspice, cloved orange, with rooty and woody scents all combining to create a spice cake impression.

Opening with a fruity caramel, cola flavour on the palate, a long and controlled progression of sweet to bitter follows. Flavours of spice cake and ginger at first, cassia and clove, then black cherry, fig and toffee. Subtle notes of liquorice and menthol emerge to add further points of interest along the gently bitter, persistent finish.

Chino is an absorbing taste experience, and a soft drink to really savour. If you like this or think this sounds appealing then look up our review of Bitter KAS.

Packaging claims: None

Ingredients: Water, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, carbon dioxide, colour E150d, aromas, acidifier citric acid, chinotto extract, acidity regulator sodium citrate, salt, antioxidant L-ascorbic acid

Price: Should be about £1.00 for a 330ml can, available from specialist outlets like italian foodstores and delicatessens

Monday, 11 January 2010

V-Fresh Lemongrass drink with Basil seed

V-Fresh Lemongrass Drink with Basil seedMade by: V. Thai Food Product Co Ltd

Origin: Thailand

Imported into the UK by: Manning Impex Ltd

The strain of lemongrass that is most readily consumed in food and drink today is believed to have originated in Malaysia. As well as being a component of soft drink recipes, it is also drunk as a tea. Citral, a chemical component of lemongrass, has been shown to have significant anti-cancer properties. Basil seeds are often added to drinks and desserts in Thailand to add texture, like tapioca. The seeds become gelatinous when added to liquids.

This drink is a bright lemon yellow colour, with a greenish tint. It is non-sparkling, and contains a large number of black basil seeds in suspension.

On the nose a warm, mellow aroma of barley sugar and lemon jelly is inviting. The combination brings to mind sugar-dusted lemon travel sweets. Beneath this there lies a woody, earthy note of lemongrass sticks.

What follows on the palate is broadly consistent, with soft, warm flavours of lemon jelly mix and barley sugar. There is a light oiliness and that earthy, now grassy note stays in the frame. The basil seeds add a light texture (like tapioca pearls), with a bite similar to eating a Kiwi fruit. The drink ends in a short finish.

Packaging claims: No presevatives

Ingredients: Water, lemongrass (15%), basil seed (12.5%), fructose syrup, sugar, colour E102 & E133

Price: Should be about £0.75 for a 290ml glass bottle, available from specialist retaliers , and in and around Chinatown