Mean Girls, the seminal 2004 high-school comedy, was many things, including, it turns out, an incubator for future wine and dining talent. "Grown-up" stars Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Ana Gasteyer would go on to capture 2019's definitive portrayal of women who wine in the upcoming Netflix feature Wine Country. Lizzy Caplan graduated to send up the chichi catering world as a server in Party Down. Lindsay Lohan herself plays a successful restaurateur, of sorts, on MTV.
But it would fall to Jonathan Bennett, who acted as main crush and non-girl Aaron Samuels in the movie, to finally create a Mean Girls line of wines for the movie's now-long–of-age fans. And the winemaker is fellow thirtysomething and Sonoma savant Scot Bilbro of Marietta Cellars. Sold through wine club Nocking Point Wines, the lineup so far includes Wednesday Rosé, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Zinfandel (that would be a hat tip to the movie clique's directive, "on Wednesdays, we wear pink"), and I'm a Red … Duh!, a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and another line from the movie.
"Everyone loves Mean Girls, and I wanted to make [wines] that everyone was going to love," Bennett told Unfiltered. "What really inspired me was just the idea of what Mean Girls is and the experience that comes with the movie. Getting your girlfriends together and having brunch and having dinner, and just having a fun weekend moment with the wine."
Speaking of brunch, Bennett also recently published The Burn Cookbook, with chef Nikki Martin, which features recipes inspired by scenes in the film. "We have the 'fetch'-uccine Alfredo—it's amazing, it goes really well both of the wines," he said. If you need any of that explained, this whole item probably wasn't for you.
Science Watch! A New Tool to Sniff Out Cork Taint?
Science! What can't it do? It's given us modern medicine. It's helped us figure out electricity. But until now, it wasn't all that great at identifying wine corks that smell bad sometimes. But this month comes word that researchers from Switzerland's University of Fribourg and France's University of Bordeaux may have made a breakthrough in cork-taint detection with a new tool to determine whether a wine has been affected by TCA, among other substances.
TCA contamination can give off a musty or dirty character, sometimes downright ruining a wine; the compound can taint corks, barrels and other winery equipment and often doesn't reveal itself until it's too late. But in a recently published study in the journal Inorganic Chemistry, the researchers say they have developed a "supramolecular network" that can detect TCA molecules by "capturing" them. Basically, they've created a chemical cocktail they can apply to test strips that interacts with TCA molecules. The formula usually appears to "gleam" fluorescent; when TCA is present, it dims.
The chemical sensor can also detect certain pesticides and herbicides that are banned in Switzerland, according to the researchers, which could be helpful in testing agricultural products. It's even said to react to explosives, meaning it might one day be as common on a winery bottling line as it is in an airport security one.
Sure, it's not as cute to watch at work as four-legged friends frolicking through Chilean wineries to sniff out wine flaws, but whatever gets the job done, right?
Inaugural Orlando Wine Fest Raises $700K with Help from Orlando Magic, Thomas Keller, Disney World, Super Bowl
From wine-country detours on the road to teammate-to-teammate Montepulciano moments, it's no secret that wine is widely enjoyed among NBA players, even beyond your LeBrons and D-Wades. So when the Orlando Magic were casting about for fundraiser ideas, the team decided to take a page from wine-charity events in Napa Valley, Naples, Fla., and beyond, and host a weekend of vintners dinners, tastings and auctions at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. At last month's inaugural Orlando Wine Festival & Auction, wine and sports lovers, Orlando players and coaches, more than 50 wineries (mostly Napa), and 13 chefs posted up to support the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, a charity that helps at-risk kids in central Florida.
"We have several players, like our All-Star Nick Vučević and one of our other starters, Evan Fournier, who are very interested in wine, so it was something that they could connect with and really support," Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins told Unfiltered; also in attendance were Chef-Stars like Masaharu Morimoto and Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano. The event has raised more than $730,000 so far, with the highlights being live-auction lots that mixed sports, wine and travel. The top lot, which sold for $40,000, included two tickets to the 2020 Super Bowl and dinner at Thomas Keller's new Miami-area Surf Club Restaurant. Another top-earning lot, for a three-day wine trip to Bordeaux, sold for $38,000.
"Because we're in sports and entertainment, we have a great opportunity to take the wine auction to a different level in incorporating a lot of these sports and entertainment experiences along with the wine and travel," said Martins.
A final raffle item that's still open for bids—a stay at Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World—will determine the total haul from the event. "It certainly looks like we're going to surpass the $1 million mark," said Martins. "Our intent is to continue to grow [the event]."
Springtime for Winecrime: Theft and Fraud in Planes and Automobiles
Spring is a joyous time of year for the world's police: Shorts 'n' Segways season is here! With a little extra pep in their steps and frisson in their batons, the polizei, gendarmes, carabinieri and mounties are having a banner week in winecrime.
In Limoges, France, cops wrapped an 18-month winecrime investigation ("vinfraction," they call it) into a wine merchant company called Vinogusto. Back in 2017, winemakers who had sold bottles to Vinogusto started complaining about nonpayment, and now authorities have finally cracked the case and uncovered a complicated scheme in which three people allegedly ordered a bunch of wine and … just didn't pay for it. According to Le Populaire, the fake company managed to relieve 20 winemakers of 2,325 bottles worth around $22,000; police also found an ill-gotten stash of 203 jars of foie gras at the home of one of the accused. They'll have their day in court in August.
Up north near Champagne, authorities are on the lookout for a highwayman who struck a cargo truck last week, emptying it of 1,872 bottles of bubbly worth $33,000, reported L'Union. The driver was snoozing in the cab (parked) when the theft happened. That is the story, at any rate.
Meanwhile, in the sky, flight attendants on Cathay Pacific have been discreetly making off with in-flight Champagne, ice cream and even BREAD (emphasis the Daily Mail's), and six were caught in the act during a security screening in Hong Kong.
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