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Padma Asks, Are You a Good Wine Host?

Plus, an Argentinean winery gets behind an effort to save mountain communities from climate change, and a new gateway wine (?)

Posted: September 15, 2011

• Do you know exactly what wine your guests are hankering for without having to ask? Got an arsenal of bite-size wine-friendly finger food recipes? Are you a master tablescaper? Unfiltered's favorite Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi (sorry Tom Colicchio!) and Napa Valley's Sterling Vineyards want to know. And if you turn out to be one of the top four wine hosts in America, Sterling will fly you to New York for a Top Chef Restaurant Wars-style Ultimate Host challenge. The winner comes away with $40,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Napa. So how does it work? Check out facebook.com/SterlingVineyards beginning today and watch for each of four challenges to be announced—"Entertaining on a Dime," "Wine and Foodie Movie," "Date Night" and "Evening with Friends: Host's Choice." Sterling and judge Lakshmi will be looking for video submissions as well as photos and written suggestions. The four challenge winners will face off in a head-to-head-to-head-to-head competition in New York in which they'll convert an empty event space into the ultimate wine party. "Hosting gatherings and serving great food and wines are two things I enjoy," said Lakshmi. "And I can't wait to see the interesting and creative twists people put on the challenges." Unfiltered wishes everyone the best of luck, and hope you don't end up hearing a variation of Padma's Top Chef catchphrase: "Please pack your wines and go."

• Faithful Unfiltered readers know that we love to stir the pot around here—and like all aging American males, we can also talk about the weather for hours on end … cool front coming through Manhattan as we type!—and the good folks at Argentina's Alamos Wines have given us yet another opportunity to do both. So, Unfiltered readers, how 'bout that climate? Think it's changing? Alamos does, and they're teaming up with Protect Our Winters (POW), an environmental arm of the winter sports community dedicated to reducing climate change's effects on mountain communities around the globe. "Our grapes come from mountain vineyards with elevations of 3,000 to 5,000 feet," said Alamos winemaker Felipe Stahlschmidt, and Alamos relies on Andes Mountains snowmelt to irrigate its vineyards. With that in mind, Alamos has donated $25,000 to POW and will be co-hosting three free events with them (just rsvp ahead of time at www.AlamosPOW.eventbrite.com) at Patagonia stores in New York, Denver and San Francisco, where guests can mingle with professional snowboarders while sipping Alamos wines. Radical.

• Last week, Unfiltered reported that soon-to-be former Russian president Dmitri Medvedev had discovered a new cure for alcoholism: more wine. The challenge he now faces is one of implementation, as unfortunately, most Russians highly prefer their native vodkas. Not to fear! Pernod Ricard has a solution in their new transitional beverage, Absolut Tune. The drink is a fusion, in the sense that Jeff Goldblum and a fly were a fusion—Unfiltered doesn't expect it to end well. The blend is 60 percent vodka and 40 percent Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and also, heck, it's bubbly, because, why not. Mysteriously, the alcohol level is only 14 percent. For now, you can only drink Absolut Tune at three bars in Australia, where it is undergoing a trial run, but the good news is you can make it yourself at home to serve at parties! Just take three parts white wine, four parts vodka and one part tonic water. Stir gently. Congratulations, you've just made a Sober Russian! (Note, this version comes out to considerably more than 14 percent alcohol.)

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