• The holidays begin next week, and there are no doubt a few people on your list that you've yet to find a gift for. Wine geeks can be particularly difficult to shop for, but this year you can give them something previously only available to the likes of Madonna, Kanye West, Nicole Kidman and other A-list celebs. Moët & Chandon has often handed out personalized Swarovski crystal-studded bottles of Champagne to VIPs with something to celebrate, and now they're offering the service to everyone. At myMoët.com, you can personalize Swarovski-studded bottles for everyone on your list … or buy some for yourself and "bling" in the New Year.
|Sirio Maccioni and Le Cirque are the subjects of an upcoming HBO documentary.|
• A new documentary tells the story of Sirio Maccioni, restaurateur to stars, royalty, society and power brokers at New York's Le Cirque for decades. But Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven is not about the Trumps and their ilk. The real hook is the American dream, and its passing to the next generation. Maccioni came to the U.S. from Italy working as a waiter on a ship. By dint of wit, tenacity, great charm and good looks—all displayed in this movie—he soon became the restaurateur to know. Some years later, as Le Cirque is forced to relocate, he finds himself starting over again, with all of the accompanying excitement and terror. Among the funniest scenes in the film find him asking Henry Kissinger for advice on where to put the new restaurant, and shepherding an extremely agoraphobic Woody Allen to safety at its opening. But the best moments hit harder. The family—Sirio, his wife, and three male heirs apparent—are all fully invested in the business, and while Sirio says he wants to be able to pass something of value to his sons, he also has a very difficult time giving it up. Inevitably, the next generation advocates change and adaptation, while the previous seems always to be hoping Nancy Reagan will show up. There are harrowing moments, and moments of joy. The culmination comes when Le Cirque regains their third star from the New York Times, and the great lion is moved to tears. Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven airs Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. on HBO.
|Enlightening new eco-friendly wine packaging from Spain.|
• From Swarovski crystal-studded Moët bottles to silver bullet-shaped wine cases to gold-foiled Champagne necks, Unfiltered has seen our fair share of over-the-top, and sometimes upside-down, sparkling wine designs, usually with unbridled extravagance as their theme. So we were pleasantly surprised by another new development in wine packaging: eco-friendly, sustainability-inspired wine boxes that turn into lamps. Called Cavallum, the wine-lamp is part ecological design, part art, and was created by Ciclus, a sustainable design studio in Barcelona, Spain. Brazilian designer Tati Guimarães, Ciclus' founder, originally designed the Cavallum as a corporate gift for a Spanish waste and resource management company. The box was designed to hold a bottle of cava, a traditional holiday gift in Spain, and is constructed from recycled cardboard and wood from controlled reforestation projects. The wood covering acts as the lamp "shade" while an interior box holds the wine. The bottom portion of the box contains a light bulb and hardware to convert the Cavallum into a lamp. It should go perfect on the cork end table next to the Cabernet barrel stave rocking chair.
• Wine is typically comprised of about 85 percent water, 12 percent alcohol and 3 percent acids, sugars and whatever else made it past the sorting table, give or take a few percentage points here and there. And while "balance" is the sacred word that usually absolves extreme deviations from that ratio, one winery recently went a little too far. A bottling of 2007 Gaetano D'Aquino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie was made up of 100 percent water—tap water, to be exact. (The unnamed employee who reportedly accidentally hooked the bottling line up to the tap might have been saved the embarrassment had this happened at this year's Sagra dell'Uva harvest festival in Italy.) The Liquor Control Board in Ontario recalled the 1.5-liter bottles, citing a bottling error at the winery and kick-starting the vice president of the board's second career in stand up comedy: "I guess someone was waiting for Jesus to turn it into wine," George Soleas told the Toronto Star. Unfiltered will now duck while amateur wine snobs around the world hurl their "I always said Pinot Grigio tasted like water" jokes.
• It seems like everyone is asking for a bailout these days—financial institutions, auto manufacturers, New York City Transit … However, there's at least one enterprise that's rolling with the punches, or punch-downs, rather. Crushpad, San Francisco's innovative do-it-yourself winery, is offering a "bailout" on a high-end 2007 Napa Cab. They are offering futures on Bailout Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, made from Oakville, Mt. Veeder and Pritchard Hill fruit and currently aging in French oak barrels. Here's how it works: You pay $39 per bottle now, Crushpad records the closing value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the day of your purchase, and when the wine is bottled in August 2009, you'll get $2 back for every 100 points the Dow has dropped from your starting average. For instance, if the Dow falls 1,500 points between the time of purchase and the time of bottling, Crushpad will cut you a check for $30 per bottle purchased (it won't be more than that though because the winery must legally charge at least $9 per bottle). And no, if the Dow rises over that same time, you don't have to shell out any extra cash for your order. For anyone pondering the wine's motto—"Dude, where's my 401k?"—this wine-stained optimism might just take the edge off. "One day we'll all look back at this and laugh," said Crushpad founder Michael Brill. "We hope."
|Woo! Relive your youth to the max.|
• A new Manhattan bistro is going all out when it comes to helping patrons regain a bit of their youth, though they may have overreached. Jacques Ouari's La Cave des Fondus opened this past Wednesday to a house packed with curious customers who had come to eat fondue and drink wine … from baby bottles. Ouari was inspired by La Refuge des Fondus in Paris' Montmartre district where wine is served in baby bottles, allegedly to avoid the tax on wine served in glasses. Ouari figured the idea might go over well in New York, so as of last week he began serving two types of savory fondue (Savoyarde and Bourguignon), two types of sweet fondue (Valrhona chocolate with choux a la crème patissier or seasonal fruit) and baby bottles filled with wine. The drink list is simple: Pinot Noir, Bordeaux or Côtes du Rhône for reds; Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc for whites; Stella Artois, Kronenbourg and Leffe Blonde on tap. A spokeswoman for the bistro told Unfiltered that "you can get anything you want in the baby bottles—beer, wine or simple cocktails." … presumably, even milk.
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