• Fans of the much-beloved HBO series The Sopranos would love to see the show come back, if only to find out what happened to Tony and his family in that diner. Until such time, Unfiltered is taking solace in the next-best thing: Sopranos wines. Produced under a licensing agreement between HBO and the Vesuvio Wine Import Company (named for Artie Buco's restaurant in the TV series), each wine comes from one of three family-run wineries in Italy (two in Tuscany and one in Veneto). Of course, the Sopranos and their associates are no strangers to the wine business. Actress Lorraine Bracco, who played Dr. Jennifer Melfi on the series, launched her Bracco Wines in 2006, and Federico Castellucio, who portrayed hitman Furio Giunta, talked with us about the wine his father makes back in 2004. As for the Sopranos wines, Unfiltered recommends serving them with the Italian cold cut capicola—better known as "gabbagoul," when pronounced in the Neapolitan dialect favored by Tony and his crew.
In this context, being a heartbreaker could be a costly endeavor indeed.
• On paper, drinking wine (especially red) from an anatomically-inspired heart-shaped glass seems a bit creepy. But Etienne Meneau's new limited-edition line of wineglasses, comprised of glass tubes that are meant to evoke the main arteries in the heart, are actually elegant and quite pretty. In keeping with the Bordeaux-based designer's other projects, such as his sculptural carafe that resembles a deer's inverted antlers, the Petit Coeur glasses are more form than function; there's no room to swirl or aerate the wine, and they must be impossible to clean. They're not for the clumsy either, as they also come with a hefty price tag: Each 7-inch glass costs over $2,000. We'd rather save our money for wine, which would actually be good for our heart, instead of having to worry about breaking it all night.
Inventor Casey Jones and his wine-aging bucket.
• Typically, a bottle of wine goes into an ice bucket in order to make it colder. Not so for British inventor Casey Jones, who developed an electronic ice bucket to make wine older. Jones claims that his Quantum Ultrasonic wine and spirit ager mimics the effects of years of wine aging, using ultrasound technology. Jones told the London Daily Telegraph that in 30 minutes, "This machine can take your run-of-the-mill £3.99 [around $7] bottle of plonk and turn it into the finest bottle of vintage [wine], tasting like it costs hundreds," further claiming, "Even a bottle of paint stripper whisky can taste like an 8-year-aged single malt." Jones even claims that the device also pulls hangover-causing properties out of wine. Unfiltered remains deeply skeptical, not the least because "run-of-the-mill-plonk" is not made to age well, no matter how old (or artificially old) it gets, but if someone proves that this device actually works, we'd like to give it a try on some brand-new savings bonds, too.
• This is the time of year that pumpkin pushers are out in full force, infiltrating our cocktail hour with everything from pumpkin pie vodka to the more than 100 pumpkin ales now on the market. So it's hardly shocking that judges at last month's inaugural Chicago & Midwest Wine Show named Prairie State Winery's Prairie Pumpkin wine "best in show" in the specialty category. Made from 100 percent Illinois pumpkin, the wine's rich texture and brown baking-spice aromas apparently make it just like a slice of Thanksgiving dessert in a glass. While we doubt this will replace cranberry wine as a seasonal favorite at Midwestern wineries—Unfiltered's diligent search efforts turned up only a scant few other pumpkin wines—we'll consider making room for it on our table, alongside wine made with another fall favorite: grapes.
• Mothers are fond of saying, "It's what's on the inside that counts," which has always made Unfiltered think that the appearance-conscious hordes of Los Angeles were raised by fathers, wolves, or servants—but then we stumbled across the LA-based Accidental Wine Company, which is helping wine lovers find inner beauty, at a discounted price to boot. The online company only stocks wine bottles with stained, retired or otherwise undesirable labels that regular retailers have refused. Since the selection is in constant flux, shoppers pick wines by matching their palates and budgets against those of company staff, rather than by a particular producer or region. While one staffer is parsimonious, practical and prefers wines in the $16 to $24 range, another favors wines fine Bordeaux, at a slightly higher price point. From there, customers choose a quantity (3, 6 or 12 bottles) and color (red, white or both). To remove a bit of the mystery, the company also offers a newsletter, alerting customers to specific producers, vintages and some A-list finds—because even in the realm of wine bottles with damaged labels, there's always an A-list in L.A.
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