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Blogging has been light. Okay, non-existent. Lots of life changes, shifting priorities, moving parts . . . whatever. I'm in a transition area, with a pretty firm idea of projects I hope to launch next year, but I need to finish this year's priorities first.

But regardless, I miss posting the Brews You Can Use column, so I'm going to try to keep that going until a new direction is firmly in place. Here are a few stories now . . . with plans for another post on the glorious Black Wednesday.

In case you're looking for the newest way to be above the crowd: Natural Wines:

The winery was just a shipping container and a mesh tent, and the work was non-stop. Rozman had grown up in a health-conscious family that nonetheless “had to be reminded that food was farmed,” he said; being in daily contact with plants felt revelatory. Some of the vines had been planted centuries earlier, by conquistadores and missionaries. The grapes were País, a varietal that had fallen out of favor as winemakers turned to popular ones like Cabernet Sauvignon. The methods were traditional, too–the fruit was picked by hand, destemmed with a bamboo implement called a zaranda, then fermented in clay pots. The finished product was startling, in a good way. “At that time in Argentina, Malbec was king,” Rozman told me. The country made lots of homogeneous, high-alcohol wines aged in oak barrels, catering to international appetites . . .

Artisanal wines had already found a following in European and Japanese cities, and were beginning to win converts in the United States, too. Their novelty lay precisely in the makers' veneration of tradition, their rejection of the high-tech methods that many conventional vintners relied on. The wines were typically made with organic grapes, using no added yeast, no filtration, no chemical additives, no new oak barrels, no mechanical manipulations. The wines were variously described as low-intervention, naked, or raw; the term that eventually stuck was “natural.”

And here's a piece if you're looking for the perfect virgin cocktail . . . and have a cabinet full of weird mixers: Bartenders Share Their Buzziest Booze-Free Holiday Cocktails For The Sober-Curious Partygoer.  Some of the mixers you'll need, depending on what drink you make:

Plum ginger shrub
Fee Brothers' Cardamom Bitters
Honey cinnamon syrup
Coriander”“star anise shrub
Grove 42 Seedlip
Recess Blackberry Chai
Masala chai
Kale juice
El Guapo sweet potato spiced syrup

I have to get out my dictionary and find the word for, "Too much fuss."

One more thing: Drinking cocktails without alcohol is like playing poker for funsies.