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Vodka is a clear, high-strength alcoholic beverage made from two base ingredients; ethanol and water. The purity of the ethanol and the quality of the water are essentially the only factors governing the mouth-feel and flavor of the finished product.

The name vodka is derived from the Slavic word voda, which means 'water'. As the additional 'k' puts the word into its diminutive form, vodka can be translated as 'little water'.

A traditional vodka glass

Vodka has been produced for well over a thousand years, with the earliest documented production dating back to 9th-century Russia. It is thought that the vodka-producing tradition then moved westwards, reaching Poland by the 11th Century. Some vodka brands we know today have their origins in the 16th and 17th centuries, Zubrowka and Goldwasser among them. Smirnoff and Stolichnaya, perhaps the world's two most famous vodka brands, are relatively new by comparison, dating back to the late 19th and mid 20th centuries respectively.

Vodka can be distilled from any number of a broad range of raw ingredients, as long as there is a high content of starchy sugars. While the majority of modern-day vodka is based on such cereals as corn, sorghum, rye and wheat (the latter two typically produce the finest quality vodkas) the base alcohol can also be produced from potatoes, rice, sugar beet and soy beans. In theory molasses and grapes can also be used, but this raises the question of how to distinguish such vodkas from rum and brandy, which are made from molasses and grapes respectively. Worth noting is that the only distinction between rye whisky and rye vodka is that the former is distilled just once, and only to the alcohol purity at which it will be sold, while the latter is distilled to 95% purity and then cut with water.

The number of distillations through which a vodka is put before bottling is a significant factor in its quality. Double-distillation is usual, but some producers make a point of using triple distillation. Anything beyond this and the quality/quantity ratio of finished vodka falls below the point of economic viability. Filtrants such as activated charcoal are sometimes introduced into the still to purify the spirit further, although this practise is generally limited to larger-scale producers who require a homogenized product.

It is often the specific combination of impurities that distinguishes one vodka from another; to filter these out is to remove whatever separates a particular vodka from simple ethanol. As is the case for whisky, the water used to dilute the spirit down to its final strength is of equal importance, particularly as it comprises almost one half of the bottled product. However pure and distinctive the uncut spirit, diluting it with water of low quality will result in a low-quality product.

Vodka is often consumed straight, particularly in Slavic cultures, but as its popularity has increased around the world, it is increasingly used as a reliable base alcohol for various mixed drinks and cocktails. Its most common non-alcoholic blending partners are cola, orange, lime, cranberry and soda/tonic water, and it lends itself particularly well to more complex cocktails due to its lack of obvious flavor.

Modern consumer trends have enabled the vodka market to expand dramatically over the past few decades, with diverse flavorings such as honey, mango, lime, blackcurrant, chocolate, coffee and chilli being used to spice up vodkas, significantly increasing the breadth of their appeal, particularly to younger consumers.

European Union legislation defines vodka as "a spirit drink produced by either rectifying ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin, or filtering it through activated charcoal, possibly followed by straightforward distillation or an equivalent treatment, so that the organoleptic characteristics of the raw materials are selectively reduced".

Food matches for vodka:
Europe: Penne alla vodka (pasta with sauce); salad Olivier (Russian salad)
Asia: Do chua (pickled carrot and daikon); salmon sashimi
Americas: Caviar; scallop ceviche; chocolate, vodka and raspberry cupcakes (sweet)
Australasia/Oceania: Smoked trout canapés; sticky vodka, orange and chili cake (sweet)

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(Wines are selected by quality/price ratios)
Available in: USA The World
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We found 1,924 matches for Vodka, only the first 500 will be shown.
Wine Name
GTV Grand Touring Vodka, USA USA $28 574
Beluga Noble Russian Vodka, Russia Russia $40 931
Grey Goose Original Vodka, France France $40 1095
Tito's Handmade Vodka, USA USA $20 1824
Beluga Gold Line Vodka, Russia Russia $146 1858
Absolut Vodka, Sweden Sweden $23 1881
Belvedere Vodka, Poland Poland $40 2183
Russian Standard Original Vodka, Russia Russia $20 2270
Stolichnaya Elit Vodka, Russia Russia $60 2379
Voli Lyte Light Vodka, France France $20 2667
Zubrowka ZU Bison Grass Vodka, Poland Poland $25 2834
Smirnoff No.21 Red Label Triple Distilled Vodka Rest of World $16 2942
Red Eye Louis' Vodquila Vodka and Tequila, USA USA $21 2999
Ciroc Snap Frost Grape Vodka, France France $38 3134
Smirnoff Gold Collection Cinnamon Flavoured Vodka Rest of World $30 3208
Crystal Head Vodka, Newfoundland, Canada Newfoundland and Labrador $57 3555
Grey Goose 'Cherry Noir' Cherry Flavored Vodka, France France $31 3702
Snow Queen Vodka, Kazakhstan Kazakhstan $42 3749
Nemiroff Original Vodka, Ukraine Ukraine $15 3781
Blavod Drinks Black Vodka, UK UK $23 3804
Putinka Vodka, Russia Russia $13 3849
Absolut Miami Limited Edition Vodka, Sweden Sweden $43 3945
Reyka Vodka, Iceland Iceland $21 4077
Absolut Elyx Vodka, Sweden Sweden $48 4180
Eristoff Black Wild Berry Flavored Vodka, Georgian Republic Georgian Republic $13 4728
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