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Osama bin Laden and the $10,000 Bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870

Osama bin Laden was the world's most wanted terrorist, with a $25-million bounty on his head. Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870 is one of the world's most celebrated wines, costing $10,000 a bottle and more. What did the two have in common? CIA director Leon Panetta was promised that if he killed the first, he'd get a bit of the second.

Read more: Osama bin Laden and the $10,000 Bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870

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Not all wines benefit form herbaceous flavors, especially when they come from insects rather than plant material. Alkyl-methoxypyrazines create a problem for wines when they build up too much from both the grapes that made the wines as well as ladybugs caught in the grapes when crushed — thus the name "ladybug taint." Since the problem is created before the wine is even bottled, how can it be prevented? One solution is to change the packaging.

Read more: New Use for Boxed Wines

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Biodynamic Wine Tasting
Biodynamic Wines for Sale
Photo © deege@
There are a lot of different things that can affect how a wine tastes, but would you believe that the phases of the moon and the stars can affect it as well? I don't, and neither should you — as ridiculous as "mainstream" astrology may be, it's got nothing on the ridiculousness that can be found in the field of "biodynamics" — especially as it relates to wine.

Some people think that wine grapes grow better and produce better wine when they are grown biodynamically. I thought that was a low point until I read about how some UK retailers are now trying to serve wine according to biodynamic principles — specifically, only serving wines for taste tests during certain evenings when the wine is supposed to taste better.

Read more: Biodynamic Wine Tasting

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Wine & Alcohol in Muslim Morocco
Wines in Marrakech, Morocco
Photo © Ta7za
Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, but it doesn't technically forbid the production of alcohol — just so long as it is sold among non-Muslims. This technicality and a tolerant society have combined to help make Morocco the biggest producer of wine in the Muslim world. In fact, Morocco's government is the biggest owner of the nation's vineyards! Does the involvement of a Muslim government with wine production and the production of alcohol create problems with Islamists, though?

Morocco produces today nearly 35 million bottles of wine, all of which is supposed to be sold to non-Muslims. Despite this, Moroccans consume, on average, one liter of wine every year. That might not sound like a lot to western wine drinkers, but it's an amazing amount for a nation where alcohol consumption is forbidden. Most Moroccans probably don't drink any wine, so those who do drink probably drink a fair amount. There is strong support in Morocco for Islamist politicians, but there also appears to be strong, traditional support for tolerance of un-Islamic behavior.

Read more: Wine & Alcohol in Muslim Morocco

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Got Riedel? Wine Glasses Matter
Cabernet in a Glass
Photo © feverblue

One of the most interesting topics of disagreement among wine drinkers is the question of whether wine glasses really, truly make a difference when it comes to how a wine smells, how a wine tastes, and the overall wine experience. On the face of things, it hardly seems possible — perhaps a half-way decent wine glass is better than a plastic cup, but how can an expensive glass made by a company like Riedel (supposedly for a particular variety of wine) be better than good, all-purpose red or white wine glass?

In every place where I've read someone describing their experiences comparing wine in the appropriate Riedel glasses with other glasses and even other Riedel glasses, they've reported that it does make a difference — sometimes a dramatic difference. It's little wonder that Riedel hosts tasting events all over the country to demonstrate that, yes, their glasses make a difference. That sounds very compelling, doesn't it?

Read more: Got Riedel? Wine Glasses Matter

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It's only to be expected that tough economic times will alter people's behavior and this, in turn, forces businesses to change theirs. When people have less money and/or are concerned about their jobs, they will eat out at restaurants less and, when they do eat at restaurants, they are less likely to order wine. What can restaurants do about this? One interesting idea is to make it easier for people to bring their own bottles of wine — BYOB to encourage people to come in and order food.

Read more: BYOB: Bringing Wine to Restaurants Grows in Popularity

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Bacon Sandwiches Cure Hangovers
Sizzling Bacon
Photo © rick

Is there anything bacon can't do? I'm not sure anymore because apparently bacon can cure hangovers. That's right, if you wake up in the morning with a headache and feeling a bit unwell after the previous night's festivities — kegger, wine tasting, whatever — then a nice bacon sandwich may be just what you need. That's assuming you can bring yourself to make one. Or if you have someone who will take pity on you and make one for you.

How can bacon — or to be specific, bacon sandwiches — cure hangovers? According to Elin Roberts, of Newcastle University's Centre for Life, any food will speed up your metabolism and thus help you deal with hangovers. Bacon sandwiches, though, are special...

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There's a difference between being a wine snob and a wine connoisseur. A wine snob is showy about what they know, sometimes even using showy flourishes to mask how little they know. Insofar as they are genuinely knowledgeable, a wine snob uses that knowledge in ways to make other feel inferior. Being a wine connoisseur — or even just knowledgeable about wine — entails using what you know for your benefit and the benefit of others.

The difference between being a snob and not being a snob thus lies primarily with how and why you use your knowledge. It's appropriate to be disparaging of wine snobbery because it does no one any a good and, moreover, can actually give wine culture and appreciation a bad name. Taking disparagement to such an extreme degree that it also encompasses any display of wine knowledge and appreciation, though, is ridiculous.

Read more: Wine Snobs: Ordering Wine in Restaurants

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Is it an example of being a nanny state, or of the government protecting the long-term interests of citizens, if the government regulates the size of wine glasses which bars are allowed to use? There are good arguments on both sides and while my first inclination frankly is to go with the first, I have to say that my sympathies have gradually shifted towards the latter.

In Great Britain, Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland — MP for Leeds North West — is proposing that Parliament reinstate the traditional 125ml wine drinking glass because the current wine glasses have gotten so large that customers are no longer "aware of how many units of alcohol they are drinking." Larger glasses are being offered as a better "value," but they are so large that customers end up drinking massive amounts of wine.

Read more: Should Britain Mandate Smaller Wine Glass Sizes?

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