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Unfiltered: World Records Broken for Wine Glass Holding and Cork Mosaic

Plus, California vandals joyride on a grape harvester, a London meal fit for South Pole explorers, a poet paid in Sherry, furniture made of barrels and bottles made of wood

Posted: October 1, 2008

• It's been a big week for world records related to wine. First, Reymond Adina of the Philippines was entered into the Guinness World Records book for carrying 39 wineglasses at once, in one hand, which must have made cleaning up after her victory party quite easy. Meanwhile, in Tirana, Albania, 42-year-old Saimir Strati was entered into the book for creating the world's largest mosaic made entirely of wine corks—a total of 229,764 corks of different shapes and colors. The mosaic, which took Strati around 14 hours per day for 28 days to complete, depicts a young man wearing a crown of grapes while playing guitar, and measures approximately 39 by 21 feet. We're hoping that Strati comes back next year with an oversized artwork created entirely from screw caps.

• Vandals in Tracy, Calif., had an expensive thrill ride last weekend, stealing two grape harvesters from a vineyard and driving them more than a mile before abandoning one in a field and leaving another teetering on the edge of a canal. As reported yesterday by Eric Firpo in the Tracy Press, police are still looking for the culprits, whose prank resulted in $30,000 to $40,000 worth of damage to the machines, according to Matt Manna of Manna Ranch, which owns the machines. The stolen harvesters had been rented by vineyard owner Jeff Brown, who sustained another $10,000 in damage to his vines and trellises. It took Brown and his crew three days to get the machines repaired and back into service. In trying to understand the at-large suspects' motivates, Brown told the Press, "I think they were just playing around, having the time of their life. … You got to know what you're doing just to keep these [machines] from falling over. It was just pure, mean-spirited vandalism." Given their obvious disrespect for grapes and the winemaking process, Unfiltered thinks that authorities can at least rule out wine lovers on their list of suspects.

• It's not an all-you-can-eat special, but it may as well be: London's Green Door Bar and Grill is offering a four-course meal that delivers more than 6,000 calories in one sitting. The menu is part of a charitable drive to raise money for the Shackleton Foundation, which supports leadership initiatives for children and adults. Named for intrepid Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who 100 years ago set out on an unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole, the menu aims to recreate what he and his men ate every day. Of course, it's not a completely accurate re-creation. Manager Renato Abeu explains that the Green Door wasn't able to get their hands on penguin, the original main ingredient of hoosh, a stew of meat, oats and potatoes boiled in goose fat. "Some [customers] eat the entire meal for their lunch hour, which is an achievement in itself," says Abeu of the special, which also includes pork rinds (known as scratchings in the UK), a 20-ounce rib eye steak, cauliflower gratin, French fries and a coconut ice cream milkshake—but only, Unfiltered was dismayed to note, a single glass of a Tempranillo/Malbec blend from Argentina. Which, in reality, is probably more than Shackleton and his men enjoyed on a nightly basis, anyway.

• In other news from England, 'tis trying to be a poet. Even those laboring under the title "poet laureate" aren't given their due, says current laureate Andrew Motion. According to the London Times, Motion recently told an audience at London's Ealing Arts Festival that "... the job has been incredibly difficult and entirely thankless [and] very, very damaging to my writing," adding that he does not get much feedback from the Queen and is only paid about £5,000 per year, though he also noted that he is given an annual barrel of Sherry, equivalent to 700 bottles. The use of Sherry as a form of payment was started more than 400 years ago by John Dryden, the first poet laureate, and Unfiltered would like to think that it more than makes up for the terrible hardship that Motion has endured.

• First, someone developed a rotating compost heap as a way to reuse wine barrels. Now Ohio-based furniture maker Chris Deffenbaugh of the Oak Barrel Co. is turning old barrels into furniture designs of all sorts. Some of his products include benches, tables, a mini wine cellar inside the cavity of a barrel, which he then outfits with wheels, "to give the party mobility," and a hat rack made from a repurposed barrel stave and a few golf club heads. Deffenbaugh is currently looking for alternative barrel providers, and anything goes, including bourbon, whiskey and vinegar casks. Well, Unfiltered thinks that opening an old wine barrel and finding bottles of wine inside would certainly be preferable to what you'd find inside a rotating compost heap.

• Wine comes in every possible container these days, from glass to Tetra Pak containers, tin cans, paint cans, tubes and cartons. So we barely batted an eye when we heard about wooden bottles as the latest new vessel. Marco Oliver is the founder of Wooden Bottle, a company that makes, well, wooden wine bottles, which he says, because they're made from a directly renewable resource, are more environmentally friendly than glass. Don't think of a wooden bottle as a mini barrel—instead of oak, the bottle is made from ash and is coated with a nontoxic wood preservative that acts as a barrier between the wine and the bottle, so the bottle doesn't impart any additional taste. So far, only Temecula, Calif.'s Bella Vista Wines are using the bottles, and no splinters have been reported.

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