Log In / Join Now


Brandon Walsh grows up to become a winemaker, the wine world's version of a chastity belt, a new wine-and-chocolate pairing and a test of your cleverness

Posted: October 24, 2007

• Beverly Hills 902-wine-0? Jason Priestley, best-known for his portrayal of Brandon Walsh on the 1990s television series Beverly Hills 90210, is the latest to join the ranks of winemaking celebrities. The native Canadian has invested in British Columbia's Black Hills Estate Winery, whose top wine is a Cabernet blend called Nota Bene. Priestley is known to be an epicurean and wine lover—though, sadly, not as well known for the great film Love and Death on Long Island in which he mocks himself, playing a former teen B-movie actor—and is currently co-host of a wine-related travel show on Canadian television called Hollywood & Vines. Priestley joined the board of directors of Vinequest Wine Partners, an Alberta-based investment group created specifically to buy Black Hills. Black Hills cofounder Bob Tennant is happy that the star power of the transaction will help bring attention to the Okanagan wine community, but wondered how hands-on Priestley will be in the day-to-day operations. "My first comment when I heard [Jason Priestley] was involved was, 'Gee, I hope he knows how to prune.'"

After all this trouble, how much would it suck if the wine is corked?

• A fun game for everyone around the table? Or the most frustrating, annoying idea since the lock on the liquor cabinet? You decide. Family Games, Inc. has introduced Don't Break the Bottle puzzles which, as the name implies, make you work for your wine. The gizmos, which come in five unique designs, lock your favorite bottle of wine in a three-dimensional wood or wire puzzle that must be solved in order to release the bottle and allow you to open it. The puzzles, which cost about $20 to $30 online or at specialty game stores, also serve practical functions once solved, working as a corkscrew or wine caddy—or you can reuse the puzzles to stump your guests over and over (to prove to them just how much you never liked them anyway). "You don't need to break them to open them, although I'm sure some people want to," joked Grant Cunningham, who handles PR for Family Games. The puzzles are of medium-level difficulty, so you should be able to solve them eventually, but if you've already shared two or three bottles that weren't locked and are really stumped, the secret solutions are available online. If all else fails, we're sure your favorite bottle will make a lovely table decoration trapped in the puzzle. Just tell your guests it's modern art.

Chocolate-dipped sommeliers are just around the corner.

• Are you the type of person who can eat chocolate anytime, anyplace … or off of anything? Well, your chocolate obsession pales in comparison to that of Shari Fitzpatrick, founder of California-based gift shop the Berry Factory. With the help of Perry Creek Winery in Fair Play, Calif., Fitzpatrick has introduced a line of chocolate-dipped wines. As in, chocolate on the outside, wine on the inside … glass in the middle. The idea to dip the bottles in chocolate is not new for Fitzpatrick, who has been selling Champagne, wine and beer bottles dipped in chocolate for years (someone in her house better hide the TV remote from her), starting when a soon-to-be bride asked her if she could figure out a way to chocolate-dip some bottles for a wedding reception. Fitzpatrick's newest endeavor is the Berry Factory Zinfandel Sierra Foothills Shari's Grand Reserve 2005 ($42 chocolate-dipped, $32 undipped). Fitzpatrick chose a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, which she believes pairs well with chocolate. The finished bottles are shrink-wrapped—so the chocolate stays on the bottle and not on your hands—and come with a handy pull-tab for easy chocolate removal and consumption. The wines are available at BerryFactory.com and through Fitzpatrick's four retail shops in Sacramento. Now, if only there were wineglasses dipped in chocolate ....

"I'm picky...I don't just jump on top of any old wine that comes along."

• The New Yorker cartoon caption contest it's not—but that doesn't mean this is any easier. In a contest being held by Metrokane, the wine-gadgets manufacturer that makes, among other things, Rabbit corkscrews, you could win $1,000 if you can answer the question, "What did the Rabbit say to the wine bottle?" The five best answers will win $1,000 and 25 runners-up will each win a Rabbit corkscrew. The contest is a follow-up to last year's challenge to guess how many corks a Rabbit could pull out of a 16-gallon wine barrel. Winners for this year's contest, which has already received more than 8,000 entries since it began in September 2007, will be announced online in February 2008. The winning entries will be selected based on originality, said Metrokane president Riki Kane, who admitted, "Most of what you get is not fresh or original, but once in a while you find that gem." So it's a safe bet that the "Hare's lookin' at you kid," sorts of ideas won't make the final cut. Come up with something better and enter at www.metrokane.com.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.