• What has purple windowsills and a purple-clad owner? No, not Barney's playhouse. We're talking about The Grape--pop singer Usher's new 3,100-square-foot wine bar in Atlanta's Inman Park neighborhood. "I had been playing with the idea of getting into the restaurant business for about three years and had been presented with many concepts," said the pop singer, who greeted reporters at the opening of his new franchise wearing a plum-hued velvet blazer with a shirt to match. "None meshed well with my persona except for The Grape. The wine bar emits a sexy and sleek image--a perfect fit." Usher's is one of 21 separate locations (The Grape is a franchise chain operating throughout the southern United States), though he's hoping to open three more of his own in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The Grape sells 120 wines by the glass (from $7 to $13), half-bottle and bottle, including a magnum of de Venoge Blanc de Blancs 1978--the same year Usher was born--for $1,000. Guests can sip their wine around a cozy outdoor fireplace and try out a new papaya dessert, in a nod to the singer's favorite fruit. Purple attire optional.
• Sure, Champagnes are now often seen in mini-bottles, but what about wines for today's light-beer drinker? Enter the Bordeaux-based company Lir, which announced last year that it had figured out a way to remove half the alcohol in wine without hurting the flavor. The company has now unveiled Ensô, a half-alcohol, effervescent white wine in a beer bottle. "Ensô is a drink that's easy to consume like a beer, but with all the advantages of wine, such as natural aromas, low levels of sugar and calories, but with the health benefits of the grape," said Audrey Hantiu, who headed the project. OK, but wouldn't it have been easier to convince people to just drink half as much regular wine?
|Dave Martin's curbed his enthusiasm for cooking for celebrities such as Cheryl Hines.|
• Cloudy Bay head winemaker Kevin Judd stopped by New York recently to show off his new Marlborough 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, but the visit turned out to be a bit better than the usual handshake, swirl, sip, spit, adios. Judd is a well-known photographer, and lining the walls of parent company Moët Hennessey's New York office were vineyard and winery photographs of Judd's, now on sale to benefit two charities. So far about $10,000 has been raised for the Larkin Street youth services in San Francisco and the Friends of the Highline historic preservation project in New York. The photos are on sale at http://www.mhusa.net/cloudybay.
|Beckham's spent so much on wine he can't afford shirts anymore.|
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