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Unfiltered: Wine Lovers Put President-Elect Barack Obama in Office

Plus, a dentist visit to look forward to; making Champagne the centerpiece, literally; a thief with good taste and bad planning; good news and bad for Michigan wine lovers

Posted: November 20, 2008

• The presidential election is over, and President-Elect Barack Obama is busy interviewing potential cabinet members, but political experts will spend the next four years analyzing the election returns. A popular technique among political consultants in the past two races is microtargeting—looking for likely supporters by analyzing what they eat, what cars they drive, where they shop, even what magazines they subscribe to. But one factor they may want to be looking at is, which voters drink wine? Unfiltered's crack election team has crunched the numbers, and it's clear that states that like wine voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers. Nine of the top 10 wine-consuming states voted for Obama—only Texas broke rank and voted for Sen. John McCain. Looking further down the list, 20 of the top 25 wine-consuming states went for the President-to-be. In fact, the District of Columbia and the 28 states that voted for Obama drank 79.7 percent of the 300 million cases of wine consumed in the U.S. in 2007. (Wine consumption numbers by state come from the recently-released The U.S. Wine Market: Impact Databank Review and Forecast, 2008 edition, published by Wine Spectator's parent company.)

Yes we can elect a president who knows his wine.

• As for the incoming President's wine-and-food tastes, Unfiltered has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what Obama keeps in the 1,000-bottle wine cellar in his Hyde Park, Chicago, home. We do know he likes several popular Chicago restaurants, including chef Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican eatery Topolobampo—the staff told reporters that the President-Elect enjoys both wine and margaritas. Obama and his wife, Michelle, celebrated his victory the weekend after the election at Spiaggia, an Italian Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner. Obama has told reporters his favorite food to cook at home is chili. And when he visits his childhood home state of Hawaii, he opts for local comfort food, grabbing the plate lunch at Rainbow Drive-In in Honolulu.

• First there was the magazine-stacked coffee table, then the aquarium … Unfiltered has keenly followed man's quest to build a better waiting room, and we think we've seen the future at Kiss Dental in Manchester, England. Kiss clients are asked to arrive 20 minutes before their appointments in order to have time to relax with a nice drink. "Some dentists will offer medication to help a patient relax before painkillers and surgery," says Dr. Prav Solanki, who runs the practice with his brother, "whereas we believe a glass of wine can work equally as well." Solanki says the bar upstairs offers popular brands such as Hardys Chardonnay, Sémillion and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Faustino Rioja, but their biggest success comes from putting sparkling-wine lovers at ease. Kiss Dental serves Lanson Brut Rosé and Veuve-Cliquot by the glass. Solanki adds that the wine is only part of the escapist service they offer—Indian head massages with aromatherapy candles are a common choice, as are the DVD goggles that mute outside sound. "Who likes to hear the drill, or the dentist talking to the assistant?" Solanki asks. "We understand that people hate [going to] the dentist, and that little extra, that glass of wine, ensures business keeps booming." Unfiltered is already working on excuses to fly to London when we're due for our next check up.

Dutch artist Maarten Baas channels Salvador Dalí in Champagne.

• Art and wine lovers will be mingling at the Maison Ruinart Champagne lounge at next month's annual Art Basel Miami Beach art show. Internationally acclaimed Dutch furniture designer and artist Maarten Baas will be selling one of his latest works of art—a "melting" centerpiece that turns any room into a Salvador Dalí painting!—during the festival, and attendees can stop by the lounge to meet Baas, have a glass of Dom Ruinart 1996 and view the massive sculpture, expected to sell for $100,000. Constructed from Murano glass, silver and bottles of Ruinart Champagne, Bouquet de Champagne de Dom Ruinart is inspired by an 18th century Venetian chandelier and is designed to appear as if the chandelier has fallen and is melting into the table. Now that's a conversation starter.

• If Unfiltered were going to write a wine-theft caper, we think we'd go for an Ocean's 11-style plot in which our crack team of enophiles knocked over the Krug cellars, but a Denver man was apparently attempting to pull off The Usual Suspects' Keyser Söze "no one suspects the gimp" routine recently, walking into wine stores with a fake back brace in which he was stashing top-shelf vino. After purchasing a cheap bottle or two, he and his boutique-bottle-laden back brace walked out and put the wines up for sale on the Internet. Not so Söze-like, the back brace bandit wasn't smart enough to avoid the security cameras: An eagle-eyed manager at Littleton, Colo., wine store Tilly's noticed pricey bottles missing from display cases and, upon reviewing camera footage, found that the thief had been slipping bottles into the brace under his coat and replacing them with bottles he'd brought in. When police finally caught up with the shoplifter by staging a purchase of one of the lifted bottles on the Internet, they found an estimated $21,000 worth of hot high-end wine at his home, including a bottle of 1995 Pétrus. Unfiltered raises a glass to the law for bringing the thief's crime spree to an end, and also suggests they keep the evidence room locked up tight … and chilled to 55° F.

• There's good news and bad news for the wine lovers of Michigan this week. First, the bad: Not only has an appeal been filed of the federal ruling granting out-of-state retailers the right to ship wine directly to Michigan residents, but a new bill has passed in the state's House Regulatory Reform Committee that will require all wine shipments to residents—be they from in-state or out—to go through the state suppliers and wholesalers. If passed in the state senate and signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, it would not only severely hinder out-of-state retailers, but dozens of in-state retailers would lose the right to ship to residents as well. Unfiltered likes to finish on a positive note, however, and there is some good news. There are out-of-state retailers shipping to Michigan residents these days, and one of the largest just made receiving wine shipments a little easier, in Michigan and every other state that allows direct shipping: Wine.com announced yesterday that the retailer will now offer, evening, Saturday and even by-appointment delivery of wine. Wine lovers can breathe a little easier knowing that their prized purchases won't be sitting in the back of a truck all day going back and forth from home to warehouse until someone is home to sign for them.

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