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Tyra Banks holds wine to look cool, how to get your wine on an HBO hit show, Cake Spectator and an empty bottle that gets you a date

Posted: June 6, 2007

• Remember how in high school the only reason anyone smoked cigarettes--or just stuck one behind an ear--was to look cool? It turns out that supermodel-turned-talk-show-host Tyra Banks, 33, feels the same way about wine. "I'll only take two sips, but I'll keep holding the glass 'cause it makes me feel sexy," she explained on her website. Banks' sipping strategy isn't about counting calories or following Pink's diet plan. Rather, the Top Model host says she thinks wine "tastes kind of nasty," and that she's "not really an 'alcohol girl.'" But despite her aversion to the grape, Banks recently traveled to Napa, according to her website post. "I learned how to pair wines with certain tastes, how red wine tastes good with salt and bitter things like lemon." Sounds like somebody wasn't paying attention in class.

• If you're a big soft-drink, fast-food or auto company, you'll pay big bucks to get your product featured prominently in popular films and TV shows. If you're a small-scale California winemaker, however, it's all about serendipity. Kimberly Jackson of Jax Vineyards (formerly known as Jackson Ridge) told Unfiltered how she got her wines "placed" on an episode of HBO's hit show Entourage just by making a routine sales call to the Dakota restaurant in Los Angeles. "When I got there, the whole restaurant was gated off … after waiting about 45 minutes, they let me in. I walked up the stairs and into the entire cast and crew of Entourage, including about 400 extras. They were filming a dining scene. I set my wines up at the bar and waited to be seen, and after about 10 minutes the director said to me, 'Hey, I love your wines! Can we put them in this scene?'" He even gave Jackson a walk-on role in the episode. But the showbiz novice explained, "I thought I was supposed to talk, but you're actually supposed to stay quiet and act like you're talking. They ended up cutting that scene." Here's a piece of advice, Kimberly: Always let the wines do the talking.

Tastier, but probably less nutritious, than eating the actual magazine.
• Cake isn't the easiest pairing when it comes to wine, but all cakes are not created equal. Unfiltered thinks the cake commissioned for the cellar-warming (that phrase really doesn't sound right ...) party of Stamford, Conn., investment analyst Tim Rankin must have tasted great, though. Of course, we will admit to a bit of bias when it comes to this cake in particular, commissioned to celebrate the completion of Rankin's new 4,500-bottle cellar in a former one-car garage. The cake, designed to look like a mock cover for Wine Spectator, was made at Scarsdale, N.Y., bakery Lulu Cake Boutique, and hopefully didn't take as long to make as Rankin's cellar, which was a seven-month project. After checking out Lulu's website, though, we have to admit, we're even more impressed by some of the other creations, such as a cake in the shape of a golf bag (complete with clubs) and even one that looks like Paris Hilton's purse (pastry Chihuahua included). Maybe for the one-year anniversary of the cellar, Rankin can have the bakery make a cake that's an upright, life-size nebuchadnezzar of Château d'Yquem. And he can open a bottle of the real thing to go with it.

• Single wine lover ISO others who recycle? French singles may be able to find both romance and a tasty quaff thanks to a Bordeaux wine merchant OMNIVINS, which recently launched a new wine brand and online dating service called Soif de Coeur. The name literally translates to "thirsty hearts," as the service aims to serve those parched for both love and wine. Those in need can purchase one of 350,000 bottles of Soif de Coeur, which sells for a little over $4 in French supermarkets. The varieties available are a Sauvignon-Sémillon white, a rosé of Merlot and Cabernet and a Merlot-Cabernet blend. If you're a girl, grab a bottle with a pink label (blue for boys), and the empty bottle will reveal a secret code on the back label, which you then plug into the Soif de Coeur website. Voila! You're instantly part of a wine dating community in which you will be linked up for a chance encounter with another person who shares your language, background and love of cheap wine. For those outside of France hoping for their own chance to drink in the love, Soif de Coeur marketing manager Pauline Lacombe said the company is looking to expand the concept to the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia.

Dogs on wine labels look just as nice as the real thing, only they don't eat your shoes.
• Woof. The Dog Lovers Wine Club wants you to raise a glass of wine to your best friend, and in doing so, support the Humane Society. Every month, a new California wine will be released by Buellton, Calif.-based Carivintâs Winery, featuring a different dog on the label. Already there's a Merlot Santa Barbara County 2004 called Brotherly Love, which features 5-year-old Boston terriers Bucky and Rusty. Another bottling named Dozer and Shooter is a Dolcetto Napa Valley 2004, named after a 10-year-old pit bull mix (who just recently passed away) and his buddy golden retriever puppy. "Most of the dogs on our labels have been rescued, and all have added a great deal to the pet owners' quality of life," said winery cofounders Matt Hahn and Fleet Hamilton. Funds from the wine sales go to Humane Society's Pets for Life program as well as shelters across the country. If birds are more your thing, though, Carivintâs also has a Nature's Wine Club that supports the National Wildlife Federation, and plans are in the works for feline and equestrian wine clubs as well. The canine wines are available online at dogloverswineclub.com, where they range from $24 to $40 a bottle. Though the wines are currently only available online Carivintâs hopes to expand the distribution to retail shelves nationwide. Perhaps at the local Petco?

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