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Advanced Wine Robot Drinks Your Champagne; Sweetbitter's Unicorn Wine Surprises

Author/producer Stephanie Danler clued us in to bottles to watch for on the show. Plus, lottery winners celebrate with Champagne, giant Champagne lawn design
Sommeliers <i>hate</i> him!
Photo by: University of Limerick
Sommeliers hate him!

Posted: May 10, 2018

The robots have reached an important milestone on their journey to feel love: One of their own, a friendly Taurus/marine energy facility maintenance vehicle named Étaín (who loves traveling but hates drama), has learned to uncork and savor a bottle of Champagne.

The performance served as Étaín's christening before heading under the waves, validating Unfiltered's prediction that christening would become the next hot wine trick, since the marine vessels are christening themselves now. Dr. Daniel Toal, director of the Center for Robotics & Intelligent Systems at Ireland's University of Limerick, thought up the idea of having the bot caress a bottle of Louis De Custine Brut Champagne in its pincers, uncork it, and guzzle a splash before bidding farewell to the human world; Étaín's life, love and lady is the sea, where it will inspect and operate renewable marine energy facilities.

“We made several rehearsals to make sure the bottle [was] opened nicely for the official launch,” research assistant Oriana Baric told Unfiltered via email, adding that the free-spirited, yet remotely-operated, robot's name means "sun rider" in Old Gaelic.

University of Limerick
The robot is waterproof, so this is fine.

Unfiltered asked the Limerick team if any of their Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) might someday cross paths in a vineyard with the likes of a Ted or VineScout. Alas: “Unfortunately, there is an apparent lack of vineyards below the sea surface, where we mainly operate the ROVs, and as such, we didn’t get a chance to work within the vineyard-management field.”


'Sweetbitter' Author Included Grower Champagne, Jura Wine in Show as Easter Eggs for Wine Lovers

Author Stephanie Danler knows you've probably heard some version of "wide-eyed twentysomething navigates the chaotic booze- and hookup-fueled restaurant scene in the big city," so she wanted Sweetbitter, her 2016 novel loosely based on her experiences working in New York City restaurants like Union Square Café, to offer a fresh perspective. “We see the same side of the industry over and over again,” Danler told Unfiltered. “I thought I could show something more feminine and wine-based and sensual, maybe more delicate, because that was the world that I lived in.”

So when Danler's novel was set to be adapted for the screen in the new Starz series of the same name that premiered on Sunday, she was particular about catering to her wine-savvy fans. The premiere, “Salt”—the first of six half-hour episodes—shows protagonist Tess’ move to New York, her foray into one of the city’s best restaurants in Union Square (wink) and her first, rather tumultuous, day on the job. The wine labels start appearing in the background soon after. Episode 2, said Danler, features Alsace darling Albert Boxler Riesling, and by episode 4, we see somm-celebrated Champagne grower-producer Marie-Noëlle Ledru and Jura unicorns from Jacques Puffeney.

"When I sent the [wine] list to the prop guys from the scripts after our production meetings, they would laugh at me and say, ‘There’s three of these bottles in New York City,’" said Danler. "I’d be like, ‘Yep, I would love that one, thank you.’ Even though the name [of the wine] is never said out loud, it’s something that I thought people in the wine industry would really appreciate."


UK Lottery Winners Celebrate with Champagne, Giant Champagne Lawn Design, in Their Backyard

Unfiltered spends a lot of time daydreaming about the prospects of striking it rich. (A lifetime supply of canned wine! Frosé machines in every room!) But the wild wine fantasy carried out by a pair of British Champagne-loving lottery winners is a cut above.

Drawing by Christopher Naylor
You can't just start mowing and expect it to come out well.

In 2016, care worker Susan Richards picked up a UK National Lottery scratch-off ticket on her way home from working the night shift and ended up winning more than $4 million. Two years later, she and her partner, Barry Maddox, are still celebrating, in the best way lovers of both Champagne and whimsical lawn designs know how: They called up artist Christopher Naylor, known to connoisseurs as "Mr. Lawn," to design a very large-format Champagne-popping scene to be mowed into their yard.

Courtesy of the National Lottery
Barry Maddox (L) and Susan Richards. Please share in the comments what you would draw on your lawn if you won the lottery.

Naylor, whose past work includes a skyline of London made from sugar cubes, a painting of Mick Jagger's face on a scone, and grass portraits of the Mona Lisa, the Queen of England and a giant penguin, told Unfiltered no single Champagne bottle was his muse for this piece. "In the early stages I toyed with a Dom Pérignon–style shield-shape label, but in the end the square label was a bit easier," he said. The bubbly grass design took three and a half days—plus weeks of prep time—to create.

"Barry is usually very fastidious and keeps [his lawn] pristine, with Wimbledon-style stripes, so it was hard for him to leave it alone for five weeks while the grass grew!" said Naylor. Once the grass was nice and unruly, Naylor mapped out the design and used a variety of lawn tools, a pair of kitchen scissors and a drone to execute it. The whole thing cost more than $4,700 to make (living the dream!), and will last pretty much as long as a normal lawn job lasts.


Disney Magics Millennial Pink Bubbly

One of Walt Disney World's newest attractions is bound to delight the 21-and-up crowd of Disney devotees and dubious drinks-trend aficionados. Amorette's Patisserie—the same booze-friendly bakery that brought wine slushies to Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla.—has worked its magic yet again with its newest menu item, the Millennial Pink Celebration Toast.

Courtesy of Disney
Pink chocolate and a sparkling cocktail? Oh, boy!

Though it sounds more like an overpriced brunch item topped with avocado, the "toast" is actually a Disney-fied version of pink sparkling wine. But don't call it a rosé! The bubbly is Iron Horse Vineyards' Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvée (a California sparkling wine); it's mixed with Chambord and hibiscus syrup (and perhaps a dash of pixie dust) to get its rosy hue. For the full Instagram-friendly drinking experience, the glass comes topped with a set of miniature pink chocolate Mickey (or Minnie?) ears. Dreams really do come true.


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