Tinted beer and wine: another way to bleed purple

January 27, 2001|By Rob Kasper

IF THE RAVENS win tomorrow, all home repairs will go on hold for several days of major hootin' and tootin'. But if the Ravens lose to the Giants, a funk will settle over this town, and domestic productivity will really suffer. Faucets will continue to drip. Doors will still rub. Walls will go unpainted. Weekend chores will be ignored.

That is my Super Bowl prediction, that the outcome of the game will influence the amount of repairs completed on the home front. After a Ravens win, we townsfolk will be Delirious Maximus for a couple of days but then will get back to our normal work habits. We will do our weekend duties, whistling as we work, finally painting that closet, or refinishing that cabinet, or maybe even taking down the Christmas decorations.

But if the Ravens lose, gloom will rule. Oh, we will wander into our basements and pick up our power tools, but instead of drilling or sanding, we will find ourselves staring in- to space, replaying the game in our minds, and asking "how" and "why." We will be paralyzed by the post-game what-ifs.

That is what happened to me back in 1979 after the Orioles lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Long after the loss, I couldn't putty around a window frame or unclog a stopped drain without stopping in mid-task and remembering that bounding ball, up the middle in the seventh inning of Game Six.

It grazed the tip of pitcher Jim Palmer's glove before skidding past shortstop Kiko Garcia. If the ball had missed Palmer's glove, it probably would have been an inning-killing double-play ball. Instead it was an infield hit that started a rally, which enabled the Pirates to win that game, 4-0. The next night, the Pirates won the Series. That winter, memories of that bounding ball meant that normally quick jobs, like changing the air filter on the furnace, took me two hours to complete.

The possibility of a post-Super Bowl slump in home repair takes on added importance when you consider that in the past two weeks, virtually nothing been accomplished on the home front. Most household tasks have been postponed until more pressing matters have been attended to.

Among those urgent duties have been buying Ravens paraphernalia, listening to far too much sports talk radio (yesterday Sports Illustrated senior writer Rick Reilly called the Ravens the least likable team in Super Bowl history but picked them to win 13-6) and mastering the art of turning beer purple.

This bit of alchemy is performed by mixing five drops of red food coloring with two drops of blue for each 12 ounces of beer. Thursday night I experimented with this formula, which was provided, as a public service (and a way to sell food coloring, of course) by the folks at McCormick & Company Inc.

I used two local beers, Chesapeake Gold Ale from Clipper City Brewing and DeGroen's Pils from Baltimore Brewing Company, pouring them into 12-ounce glasses.

I had trouble turning the Pils purple. Its head was so thick, that the foam blocked the red and blue drops from descending into the body of the beer. This produced a glass of two-tone, punk-looking brew, with a bright purple headband and an amber body.

I got smarter by the time I got to my second beer. I put the seven drops of food coloring in the bottom of the glass, then I poured in the beer. That way the foam did not end up blocking the dye and the Chesapeake Gold Ale turned a convincing, if not appetizing, shade of purple.

Having mastered the art of turning beer purple I tried to do the same to white wine. I couldn't get the ratio of red to blue quite right, so I called Mac Barrett, spokesman for McCormick, and asked if the spice maker knew how to turn Chardonnay purple.

I was given a sheet of information that told me how to turn lemon-lime soda purple (3 drops red, 2 drops blue for 8 ounces of soda), how to turn blue-cheese dressing purple (10 drops red, 12 drops blue for 1 cup of dressing) and how to make purple frosting (26 drops red, 30 drops blue for 16 ounces of frosting).

But I had trouble on the white wine front.

At first Barrett refused to align himself with such an undertaking, saying it presented the wrong image of the city. "Baltimore," he said, "is not a Chardonnay town."

But his colleague, Laurie Harrsen, spurred on by the inquiring press, conducted some quick research and late yesterday afternoon, had this to report: If you put 2 drops of red and 2 to 3 drops of blue food coloring into a four-ounce glass of Chardonnay or almost any white wine, it will turn purple.

Bottoms up -- let the game begin.

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