• Unfiltered has a sneaky suspicion that football players know grilling. That's probably why former New York Giants fullback Charles Way will judge "Turn Up the Heat," a contest hosted by St. Francis winery to name the "St. Francis Grill Master" and win an epicurean trip to Sonoma County. Now through Aug. 31, amateur grillers can show 'em what they got by submitting a short video of their favorite recipes, demonstrating how they maximize flavors and pairing the dish with a St. Francis wine. "The passion for grilling is like the passion for wine," said St. Francis President Christopher Silva, who will also be judging. "Both are relaxing, centered around good friends and good conversation. Both are ubiquitous to American life." Hint to those entering: Silva and Way both love a great steak (think a simply seasoned New York strip, served medium-rare and paired with the St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel).
• Last year, Markham Vineyards gave $25,000 through its Mark of Distinction program to both Long Island Sled Hockey, an organization that fosters teamwork among handicapped athletes, and the Paul Ruby Foundation, which raises money for Parkinson's Disease research. Now, the Napa Valley winery is looking for proposals for this year's grants. Mark of Distinction will accept proposals, which consist of an essay about the initiative, budgeting notes and how the funds will be used through Aug. 31. Begun in 2008, the program grants money to organizations working toward positive change in their communities and raises awareness for the charities by highlighting their missions on two single-vineyard, limited-production Estate Cabernet Sauvignon wines each year: The Philanthropist and The Altruist.
• Germany makes some of the world's most exquisite wines, particularly Riesling, but it can be a daunting section of the wine store for consumers (as anyone who has looked at a bottle of Domdechant Werner'sches Riesling Qualitätswein Trocken Gold Cap Rheingau Hochheimer Domdechaney Erstes Gewächs 2008 can attest). Newcomers to German wines might be best served by putting down their Deutsch dictionary and simply looking for an eagle clutching grapes on the label. Since 1910, the symbol of the Verband Deutscher Prädikats-und Qualitätsweingüter (VDP) has denoted a quality producer. The VDP is a private association of 200 producers who voluntarily adhere to a higher set of standards of viticulture and winemaking—members must have top vineyard sites, produce lower yields than required by law, practice environmentally sound methods and submit to regular inspections. Celebrating their centennial this year, VDP producers hope to increase recognition of what that eagle on the bottle means by hosting events throughout the year, including three wine auctions and a charity art-and-wine event in Berlin.
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