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Wine club members pick the best wine for turkey, a really nice rack, a glass of bubbles at the station, a bottle of bubbles upside-down and finding a wine bargain in Umbria

Posted: November 21, 2007

• Preparing Thanksgiving dinner is, let's face it, stressful (certainly one good reason to serve plenty of wine). And anyone who's slaved over a turkey dinner with all the fixings can tell you that sometimes there's the odd slipup. That in mind, the California Wine Club, a Ventura, Calif.-based mail-order wine retailer, recently surveyed its members about their biggest Thanksgiving blunders. The No. 1 big blunder was, "Not thawing out the turkey completely," followed by, "Left the innards in the turkey." Yuck. Our favorite response, however, was, "Forgot to turn the oven on." (How does everyone feel about Thanksgiving dinner at IHOP?) California Wine Club also asked its members their wine of choice with the Thanksgiving meal, and Pinot Noir topped the list, followed by Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

• Looking for a more reliable way to sneak your favorite beverage into ballgames? First there was the Beerbelly ($35), a skin-conforming pouch worn under clothing, which holds 80 ounces of hot or cold liquid, or the equivalent of a six-pack of beer. Now, the company behind the Beerbelly has come up with a more flattering product for women: the Winerack. The Winerack, which you can purchase at thebeerbelly.com for $30, is a sports bra, Wonderbra and flask all in one since it can hold an entire 750ml bottle of wine—and make anyone who wears it look like they recently paid a visit to Dr. 90210. It was released in mid-November, just in time for the Thanksgiving football games—and Thanksgiving dinner itself, just in case you don't like the wines the host is serving and you want to sneak in your own selection. And ladies, there's no need to be concerned about your Winerack deflating once you begin drinking. You can blow air back in through the same tube you pour the wine from to maintain the illusion. Talk about having a glass half full.

Bottoms up!

• No one is better than Champagne makers at coming up with dubious, gimmicky ways to advance their brands. There was Veuve Clicquot's gold-and-leather outfit for its jeroboam. Before that, a temperature-controlled neoprene wetsuit for the bottles. And now, courtesy of Piper-Heidsieck comes a specially designed upside-down Champagne bottle. Designed by avant-garde Dutch fashion duo Viktor & Rolf, whose Milan boutique features chandeliers sprouting from the floor and chairs affixed to the ceiling, the bottle is filled with Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage NV, which the company insists has not been altered in any way for the inverted bottle. Naturally, Viktor & Rolf have also designed an inverted ice bucket and upside-down flutes to go along with the topsy-turvy wine. And if you look at the suggested retail price upside down, it's a bargain at $06.

• The Eurostar train service from London to Paris just got a little extra pop. The new terminal in central London, at St. Pancras Station, opened last week with a shortened travel time of 2 hours and 15 minutes from capital to capital. But for those who aren't in a big hurry, a new Champagne Bar is located smack dab next to where the trains alight. Promoted as "the longest Champagne bar in Europe," the spot is actually centered around a tiny kiosk, which carries the bar's inventory. The bar offers more than 20 different Champagnes, from Bruno Paillard to Pommery. The exchange rate makes things hard to swallow, however, as a bottle of Perrier-Jouët NV goes for £55, or nearly $114. But, if money is no object, the Champagne Bar also offers a bottle of 1949 Krug for £2,700 ($5,580). Those who are probably happiest, though, are the French, who can be pleased that their journey no longer ends at Waterloo (station).

Lisa Bell is a true bargain hunter.

• One loyal Wine Spectator reader is willing to travel a long way to find a bargain. Lisa Bell, who read our Wine Talk interview with actor Michael Tucker, was headed to Italy on vacation and remembered Tucker mentioning a winery he'd found in Montefalco where visitors can fill empty plastic jugs with Montefalco Rosso for 2 Euros per liter. "Of course, I had no idea where this very small winery was in Montefalco," wrote Bell in an e-mail to Unfiltered, "but [I] found a store there with a map of wineries and managed after several more stops of asking directions to find this very hard-to-find winery." Bell admitted, though, that it wouldn't have been so hard to find if she'd bothered to look up the winery's website, which has detailed driving directions. Nevertheless, Bell found the winery, found the "pistola" pump, and happily filled a bunch of empty plastic bottles with Montefalco Rosso for 2 Euros per liter. She neglected to tell us how the wine tasted, but we can only hope it was worth the effort.

• The people behind Grateful Palate and Mollydooker settled their long-running acrimonious lawsuit last week without having to go to trial. U.S. importer Dan Philips sued Australian winemakers Sparky and Sarah Marquis in 2005, accusing them of appropriating wine for themselves and failing to live up to a contract to produce wine for the Marquis Philips label they shared. The Aussies countersued, alleging failure to pay. Last year, Philips officially withdrew most of the allegations, and on Nov. 14 the two sides agreed on a settlement. No details were released and both sides signed confidentiality agreements, but Sparky Marquis wrote in an email, "We are very happy with the outcome." The Marquises' Mollydooker 2006 Shiraz Carnival of Love earned the No. 8 spot in this year's Wine Spectator Top 100. Philips still owns the Marquis Philips brand and continues to make the wines with Australian winemaker Chris Ringland.

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