The embattled wine industry in the former Soviet state of Georgia was looking to get some star power to help bolster its image. So the Georgian government offered actress, singer and fashion designer Jennifer Lopez a cool half-million to perform in Tbilisi for Independence Day celebrations on May 26 and to promote the wines produced in this Caucasus country, according to the Guardian. But, the paper said, it was a no-go for J. Lo, who reportedly wanted more money, along with other perks. The rejection comes as another blow to the administration of President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has been keen on promoting exports of Georgian wines. Russia's recent ban on Georgian wines has already damaged that goal by eliminating the country's largest export market, and now that Saakashvili's political rivals have found out that he planned to pay Lopez with taxpayer money, things are getting even more uncomfortable for the president.
|Jamie Foxx likes to party, but he prefers his Champagne dry.|
To the Portuguese cork industry, it's a knife in the back: A winery in the Douro Valley is switching to screw caps. But to Quinta do Côtto owner Miguel Champalimaud, it makes perfect sense. By putting caps on both his 2005 white and rosé Paço de Teixeiró, Champalimaud told Reuters, he'll save 25 cents a bottle. The country's $1.23 billion-a-year cork industry, the world's largest, sees the move as treason. Already feeling threatened by alternative closures that promise to eliminate the threat of cork taint and oxidation, the Portuguese Cork Association has begun an ad campaign featuring Portuguese native José Mourinho, manager of the Chelsea Football Club in England. They'd better buy more ad space--Quinta do Côtto refused to rule out topping its vintage Port with the cap in the future.
|The latest Italian fashion: Screw-capped wine.|
With immigrants on the march around the country, the plight of vineyard and farm workers is on the mind of many Americans these days. It's fortuitous, then, that a new wine called Mano Tinta is being released on Saturday by a group of Central California Coast wineries, vineyards and businesses, and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit local agriculture workers. The inaugural release of Mano Tinta--"red hand" in Spanish--comes from the 2004 vintage and is a robust blend of Syrah, Tempranillo and Petite Sirah. Five hundred cases of the wine were produced entirely from donated grapes, goods and services, and contributors included Talley Vineyards and Laetitia Vineyard. Brian Talley, president of his family's winery in Arroyo Grande, near San Luis Obispo, said the idea was to give back to the region's hardworking field hands. The 2004 Mano Tinta sells for $18, and the goal is to raise $50,000 for the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers. The name Mano Tinta, by the way, was inspired by a photograph that showed the red-stained hands of a worker picking grapes.
Wine lovers and reality TV fans, let's be honest. We were a little bit glad when Stephen Asprinio got the boot last week from Bravo's Top Chef show. Certainly, he's talented--at 24, one of the youngest sommeliers out there, with a lot of knowledge and passion to share. But he was a snob, pure and simple. And wine snobs portrayed on television make Unfiltered wince more than just a little. Seems like Asprinio got booted a week too early--today's episode was taped at Copia in Napa, and the remaining chefs are challenged to create a dish that pairs with the Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select 2001. Wine-country chefs Philippe Jeanty, Greg Cole and John Ash, along with vintner John Shafer, are guest judges. You'll have to tune in to find out who will be asked to pack up their knives and leave. But Unfiltered already knows what goes best with Hillside Select--a big glass and none of your friends hovering around.
Kids these days, with their Escada evening gowns and Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2005. Younger drinkers may be trading cocktail glasses for wine stems, but not all of them are embracing irreverent labels such as Smashed Grapes over more classic ones. At the inaugural Taste of Hope fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in New York City, youthful socialites sipped wines such as Vionta Albarino 2004 from Spain and Penfold's Koonunga Hill Cabernet-Shiraz 2002 while sampling small dishes from restaurants like Megu and SushiSamba--which is known as much for its food as its turn on HBO's Sex and the City. As Escada-clad models strutted between the food tables, sommelier Jason Miller of Picholine recommended a white Rioja to pair with his restaurant's smoked duck breast, and a young woman with a glass of wine in her hand confessed to her friends, "I had a cocktail, but I gave it to my mom."
Anyone who needed a good reason to go out for dinner this past Sunday could do so for a good cause. On April 30, more than 100 restaurants in several states (most were in New York) participated in Dining For Darfur, a program through which restaurants donated 5 percent of sales to the International Rescue Committee's humanitarian relief efforts in Sudan. So far, organization has received $13,000 from the event. Some restaurants had a few reservations for large parties passionate about the tragedy unfolding abroad, while others had massive surges in bookings. "We had one of our busiest Sunday nights ever!" wrote Mani Dawes, co-owner of popular Manhattan dining spot Tia Pol, in an e-mail. Others, such as The Stanton Social, reported more than 250 reservations on a night they'd normally have fewer than 10. Alain Ducasse got in on the act too, the following night, since his restaurant is closed on Sundays. Those who couldn't go out contributed through the Dining For Darfur Web site, which pulled in more than $5,000. While Unfiltered thinks the group would have been even better off if diners just wrote out checks the size of their Ducasse bill, we raise a glass to the organization for getting regular restaurant-goers to sit down and take notice of a tough situation.
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