Valentine’s Day Champagne Shortage?

As we reported in November, Moët Hennessy CEO Philippe Schaus got the attention of many wine lovers when he suggested that stocks of LVMH Champagnes (Veuve Cliquot, Krug, Moët, etc.) were running dangerously low in the lead up to Christmas and New Years. Now the Champagne trade group—CIVC—is announcing that there may be a shortage of Champagne available for Valentine’s Day. This well might be more than your faithful correspondent can bear. Please be on the lookout for our list of The Top Eight Rosé Champagnes you should get your hands on. (It’s coming next week). Last year, by the way, 326 million bottles of Champagne were sold, the second highest number since 2007. Nearly 60% of Champagne is exported.


StarSip App

A Silicon Valley-based company has developed StarSip, an app that makes wine recommendations based on your zodiac sign and horoscope. Based on an interdisciplinary approach the company calls Biodynamic Astrology, the app’s algorithm aligns solar and lunar cycles in both viticulture and cosmology. StarSip subscribers enter their signs and are then sent a list of wines that possess the most “harmonic convergence” for the month. (Ok, we made this up. But have you noticed that several magazines are doing Wine Horoscopes these days? Pix is a good example.)


Jalapeños and Rosé

In the Hot Pink department: it seems there’s a “trend” (if that’s the right word) among some rosé drinkers to plop sliced-up raw jalapeños into their glasses of rosé. (Gag). Why not just throw in the whole enchilada? I mean if you want to ruin a good glass of wine…


Um, I’ll Have Vanilla, Thanks

Portland-based Salt & Straw Ice Cream Shop (with 27 locations in the US) has begun selling Fried Chicken Ice Cream according to a report by NPR. Combine it with a scoop of Salt & Straw’s Deviled Egg Ice Cream, and you’ve got yourself a cold summer picnic on a waffle cone. (This is a definite candidate for the American College of Cardiology’s “Don’t” list.)


Oyster Infused Vodka?

Oh, yes! As reported in Food & Wine magazine, a distillery in Rhode Island is now making oyster vodka—the first in the world. Named Ostreida, the spirit is made by distilling local oysters along with a neutral corn-based spirit. Manya Rubinstein, the distillery’s co-founder and CEO, states that the spirit, “reads like a dirty martini.” The idea of pairing something sealike with vodka is, of course, not new. As a pairing, vodka and caviar pairing go back thousands of years.


Is someone kidding? Vodka as a skin toner?

Recent claims maintain that vodka could be good for one’s complexion, thanks to its toning qualities. It’s true, that many skincare products contain alcohol, but there’s a huge difference between the type of alcohol you drink and the type you put on your skin.  Skincare products have very low levels of denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol is not for drinking; in fact, it can be poisonous. But it won’t dry out your skin. Straight vodka will. Better to save your face by saving that vodka for a martini glass.


In the Name of Bubbles


According to Meininger’s Wine Business International, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now requiring Russian- made sparkling wines to carry the name “Champagne.” Wines actually imported from the Champagne region of France with the name Champagne on the label will no longer be allowed to be sold in Russia.


Love Makes People Do Strange Things

The Kraft Company is giving away 1,000 boxes of pink Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese for Valentine’s Day, in order “To show you how much we love you,” according to their website. All one need do for a chance to “Feel the Love” is submit a contest entry form on the Kraft website by February 8.  Winners will receive a box of the classic macaroni and cheese along with a candy flavor packet that turns the pasta pink and adds a “hint of sweetness.” Speaking personally, the only thing pink I want to enjoy on Valentine’s Day is Rosé Champagne.


Doing His Level Best

From Garçon Wines, an online wine club in the U.K., comes a new wine bottle that not only fits through a standard U.K. mailbox slot, it won’t shatter when it lands.  Made from 100% recycled PET plastic, the 750ml bottle weighs 2 ounces (63 grams), ⁠is environmentally friendly, and FLAT! Garçon CEO Santiago Navarro created the bottle (or, as we call it, the flottle) in a bid to engage more young consumers. Flottles are more space efficient than round bottles because they can be stacked, fitting more wine in shipping containers and on retail shelves. A hit in the Netherlands and Sweden as well as the U.K., the flat bottles may soon arrive in the U.S. Since last April, Garçon has been in talks with West Coast wine producers to use the new packaging.



Johnny McFadden, the landlord of the Star Inn in St Just, Cornwall, England, has installed an electric fence at the bar to help people adhere to social distancing: “Before the fence, people were doing as they pleased.” McFadden claims the fence is usually switched off but could be turned on as and when it was needed.


How’s Your French?

Here are some tips on pronouncing some (often mispronounced) Champagne brand names.

Moët et Chandon—Mo-ETTE ay Shan-DON. The “t” in Moët is indeed pronounced.

Pol Roger—Paul Roe-ZHAY. Winston Churchill reportedly drank a glass of this every morning.

Nicolas Feuillatte—NEE-co-la FOY-yat. Easy to say and easy to drink.

Taittinger—TET-taun-zhay. Although the British fondly pronounce it TAT-in-jer.

Mumm—MOOM. Not your mum; more like the sound a cow makes.

Pierre Gimonnet—Pee-AIR ZHEE-mon-ay. Known for their lacy fresh blanc de blancs. 

Perrier-Jouët—Pear-ee-AY zhoo-ETTE. Like Moët, the “t” is pronounced.

Billecart Salmon—BEE-ya-car Sal-MON. No “t” sound. Their rosé is especially well-known.

Marc Hébrart—Mark Hey-BRA. One of our favorite Grower Champagne wines for their consistently delicious wines.

Ruinart—Rue-NAR. Often mistakenly pronounced RUE-in-art.

Heidsieck—ED-seek. This French brand, whose name is German in origin, is not pronounced the German way.

Collet—COH-lay. No “t” sound we’re afraid.

Veuve Clicquot – Vuhv klee-KOH. Not pronounced “voov,” the word means “widow” in French.


Fake It ‘Till You Make It

As restaurants slowly reopen, owners are attempting to balance safety guidelines with hospitality, in a half-empty dining room. There are plans for masked servers, disposable menus, and transparent partitions made from shower curtains. But several enterprises have found an ingenious way to fill every seat while still meeting social-distancing requirements. The Inn at Little Washington, the D.C. area’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, is placing 1940s-costumed mannequins at tables throughout the dining room. Chef Patrick O’Connell, a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award Winner said, “We’re all craving to gather and see other people. They don’t all necessarily need to be real people.” And in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, neighborhood bistros and boutiques have teamed up to showcase and promote the talents of local brands and fashion designers, by dressing mannequins to sit at the outdoor tables that would otherwise remain empty (think: tank tops at the ten-top). Disturbing or inspired?