• Country singer LeAnn Rimes is the latest celebrity to embrace her love of wine. But rather than purchasing a vineyard or investing in a winery, the star did what country singers do best—she put her favorite "happy hour" beverage into song. This week, Rimes released the music video for the second single off her 2007 album Family, entitled "Good Friend and a Glass of Wine". Monterey's Estancia winery joined forces with Rimes to become the official wine sponsor of her upcoming tour, and its their wines that are featured in the music video. The video, which looks something like a three-minute lovechild of a Sex and the City clip and a Noxzema commercial, features Rimes and several girlfriends unwinding after a long day of work—with glasses of wine, of course. In the song, Rimes proclaims that she finds a wine-filled happy hour and time with her girlfriends more relaxing than a vacation. Unfiltered would prefer the vacation, thanks ... and we'll take the wine, too. The friends can stay home.
• For Protestants taking communion wine in northern England, the ritual is getting a bit more of a feel-good sense to it. The Diocese of Manchester has announced plans to start using a Fairtrade brand of wine from Chile during its Sunday services. Fairtrade products are those that meet several international standards, such as labor and environmental friendliness. According to diocese spokesman David Marshall, the switch is in line with a trend across England's places of Christian worship, as "congregations across the UK are testing and deciding" whether or not to use Fairtrade wines, he said. The reasoning is two-fold, he explained. The first is that most of the tea and coffee served as refreshments at the churches are already Fairtrade. And secondly, "The use of Fairtrade wine, which offers a more just life for producers, fits in with many of the teachings of Jesus," said Marshall. Amen to that!
|Wine knowledge counts as foreign policy, right?|
• If last night's election results are any indication, Sen. Barack Obama controls the urban wine-drinker vote, while Sen. Hillary Clinton is strongest among the beer-drinking crowd. But both candidates are known to indulge in the occasional glass of wine as well as a frosty mug of beer. On "Hill Force One" recently, Clinton was photographed sipping a glass of red wine while speaking to reporters about her favorite beer (Blue Moon with a lemon wedge). Obama, on the other hand, has a 1,000-bottle wine cellar in his home on Chicago's South Side. At an Obama campaign rally last year, one of his supporters provided white Zinfandel with an Obama logo on it, and at another fund-raiser in San Francisco, boutique beers were served with Obama's face on the label. If there's no clear swing in the delegate count anytime soon, we've come up with an easy way to settle it: Whoever scores higher on our wine quiz gets the nomination.
|All baby, no bottle.|
• Thirty-million people don't tune in to the Oscars to watch three hours of awards given to movies that few people bothered to go see. You watch the Oscars so that for the following week when you hear, "I can't believe that [insert actress here] did [insert action here]," you'll know what people are talking about. And this year, Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman stirred up interest when the cameras weren't on her. According to New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, the pregnant actress asked for white wine while she was backstage. An outraged publicist for Kidman fired back, calling Adams an "idiot," and lashed out at celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who also ran the report. According to her publicist, Kidman's beverage of choice backstage this year was Lemon Zinger tea. Unfiltered thinks that may have caused the confusion: Perhaps when Adams heard the words "lemon" and "zinger," she assumed they were taste descriptors for a zesty Sauvignon Blanc. Easy mistake.
• There's no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen when they're all some of the best chefs in Napa Valley. At Domaine Chandon's Étoile Restaurant this past Friday, seven Napa chefs joined forces on the Mustard Festival Grand Dinner, where Étoile chef Christopher Manning hosted Robert Curry of Auberge du Soleil, Todd Humphries of the Martini House, La Toque's Ken Frank, Jeff Jake of Farm at Carneros Inn, Vincent Nattress of Silverado Resort and pastry chef Stephen Durfee from the Culinary Institute at Greystone. The Mustard Festival is a nearly three-month celebration of the quiet time for wine country—January, February and March—when the valley is carpeted by brilliant yellow wild mustard flowers. There are food and wine tastings, contests and exhibitions. But few events match the culinary excitement of the Grand Dinner, and we caught up with chef Manning as he showed us around the kitchen and introduced us to all the chefs and spoke about the dish he prepared. It's a shame we haven't yet figured out smell-o-vision:
• Seems there's one at every dinner table—someone who cannot stand the smell and flavor of coriander (also known as cilantro). It's a plant whose leaves and seeds are used in Mexican cooking and southeast Asian cuisines, and it has a distinctive—some say "soapy"—taste that tends to elicit stronger-than-normal reactions in those who don't care for it. Well, as they say, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To counter what he sees as a growing anti-coriander movement, chef Kyo Satani has recently opened the world's first all-coriander restaurant in Tokyo. At Paxi House (whose name is a nod to phakchi, the Japanese word for coriander), every item on the menu includes coriander. The chef told local media that his goal was to provide a place where "hidden phakchi lovers can finally come out in the open." No word on when he'll open establishments focusing on Lambrusco, durian and century eggs.
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