In what’s become an ongoing exercise in futility, Unfiltered is yet again taking a crack at predicting what the wacky world of wine has in store for us this year. (Actually, in January 2009 we predicted that Scarlett Johansson would make her mark on the wine world, and lo and behold, she did!) Unfiltered’s pages were filled with all the wine world’s weird and wonderful in 2009, and Sir Sean Connery and Julia Child topped our list of the not so weird but no less wonderful wine stories of the year. Have fun reading our list of things to come in 2010, and here’s one prediction that we guarantee comes true: Sadly, this will be our last hokey end-of-the-year roundup feature until December 2010!
• Having closed the Brunello di Montalcino investigation and begun a new round of inquiry in Chianti, Italian financial police and agriculture officials decide to expand their probe to include truth in labeling throughout the whole of winemaking Italy. After months of impounding wine and questioning winemakers from Alto Adige to Sicily, officials conclude that Il Bastardo Sangiovese is in fact not made of bastards and there is no Spanish sparkling wine in Valdicava. In the same way they responded to the Brunello “scandal,” wine drinkers around the world will shrug their shoulders in indifference.
• The hot new gift for wine-and-fashion addicts this holiday season was Christian Louboutin’s crystal Champagne “flute,” imitating his line of towering stiletto heels. Inspired by the haute couture icon, high-fashion envelope pusher Lady Gaga arrives at the Grammy Awards dressed as a Champagne bottle, complete with cork hat and cage veil. She crashes a Kanye West acceptance speech to ridicule his taste for Moscato and announces she’s changed her name to Lady Gaja (ja ja ja ja ja …) in a bid for an invitation to perform at the 2010 Wine Spectator Wine Experience in Las Vegas. (Unfiltered’s crystal ball isn’t always clear, however—whether or not Angelo Gaja and family choose to embrace her is still murky.)
• This past August, the Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon from Hahn Family Wines was banished from Alabama stores because its label portraying a nude bicyclist had been deemed pornographic by legislators. Hahn's president was delighted: "The publicity from this is so much greater than any wine we'd ship to Alabama," he told Unfiltered. In 2010, expect some other winery to further capitalize on the demands of peeping enophiles by releasing a line of highly erotic labels provided and promoted by “adult” winemakers Laetitia Bleger and Savanna Samson. The wines will include Pinotage a Trois, Perviognier and Pinot Whoir; customers are delighted by the “full-bodied” wines.
• In October 2009, the Wine School of Philadelphia was served a cease and desist letter from Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) over the use of the event title "Sommelier Smackdown." Like any WWE combatant worth his folding chair, school founder Keith Wallace returned the threat with a taunt: "This is bogus, and the WWE doesn’t have a leg to stand on.” In 2010, expect this dispute to be settled once and for all … in the ring. Five wrestlers, five vintners, no rules: ENOMANIA 2010 (available for about the price of a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet on pay-per-view). Unfiltered’s money is on the Fred Franzia and Michel Rolland tag-team.
• International coffee chain Starbucks dipped its toes in the wine business in 2009, and McDonald's will follow suit in 2010, The Happy Meal Gang couldn’t be more excited about their revived roles. Mayor McCheese’s wine pairing class becomes a hit with soccer moms across the country while Officer Big Mac joins the fight against counterfeit wine. And America finally learns big, purple Grimace’s significance: He represents the face made the morning after consuming a SuperSize McMerlot.