10 Spring Wines and the Perfect Lipsticks to Wear While Sipping

Lipstick: We’ve discussed it before (namely, the best shades to last through a makeout sesh, and the colors you need to get through winter holiday drinks)…But with a new season, comes a new conversation. With the spring comes a new color palette…and as the temperatures rise, we’re celebrating with lighter, brighter lipstick shades. We’re not just looking for pretty pinks here — oh no — we made sure to pair wine with a host of the season’s best shades that also just happen to last through a glass or two. We consulted wine experts, and husband-and-wife team, Josh and Becca Shapiro, of Flatiron Wines, for their expert opinion on the wine side of things.

1. Sonia Kashuk Ultra Luxe Lip Gloss in Sparkling Sugar pairs nicely with prosecco. Keep things balanced: with sugar on your lips, stick with crisp, dry bubbles in your glass. Drink With: Sommariva Prosecco di Conegliano Brut, NV

sonia kashuk2. Sephora Collection Luster Matte Long-Wear Lip Color in Nude Pink pairs well with rosé. All day drinking requires all day lip wear! We recommend this classic french rosé, the perfect choice for sipping straight into sunset. Drink With: Commanderie de Peyrassol, Cotes de Provence Rose, 2014

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3. Marc Jacobs Beauty, Le Marc Lip Crème, Boy Gorgeous pairs well with rosé. A full-bodied, one-of-a-kind rosé is the perfect match for Marc Jacobs’s luxurious, ultra-hydrating and indulgent longlasting lip wear. Both are vibrant, dramatic, and opulent. Drink With: Chateau Simone, Palette Rose, 2013

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4. 100% Pure, Fruit Pigmented Pomegranate Oil Anti Aging Lipstick, Magnolia pairs with champagne. The purest form of sparkling wine–Champagne of course! This elegant and defined Grand Reserve will help any lady feel young. Drink With: NV Clouet Grand Reserve

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5. Nars Sheer Lipstick in Liguria pairs with prosecco. A bone-dry, Italian sparkling from a Ligurian producer pairs perfectly with this translucent and sophisticated lip color. Sheer, lightweight, and ultra-fresh. Drink With: Bisson, Vino Frizzante Trevigiana “Glera”, 2011

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6. Sephora Collection Luster Matte Long-Wear Lip Color, Lilac Pairs with Sauvignon Blanc. Bright, fresh, and ready for spring! This pop of color on the lip is perfect with this zippy white. Drink With: Shinn Estate Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc, “First Fruit”, 2014

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7. Gucci Lip Luxurious Moisture-Rich Lipstick, Exposure pairs with champagne. If you’re wearing Gucci on your lips, you better pair it with vintage Champagne. Expose your palate to an elegant wine with richness and elegance. Drink With: 2008 Andre Clouet

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8. TopShop Lips in Infrared pairs with a cool red. Chill those hot, infrared lips down with a cool red wine. Best served with a slight chill, this earthy wine with a hint of tobacco will keep you cool even when you’re looking smokin’ hot. Drink With: DeForville, Dolcetto d’Alba, 2013

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9. By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Nude Hydra-Balm Lipstick – Flush Contour pairs with red. Even on a warm day you can stay chic in this deeply tinted, moisturizing balm while sipping on this complex cru Beaujolais. This red wine is best served at cellar temp–or 55 degrees. Drink with: Jean-Paul Thevenet, Morgon “Vieilles Vignes”, 2013

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10. Butter London, Teddy Boy Lippy Tinted Balm pairs with white. This bright color is perfect to throw on as you head out to meet friends for springtime brunch. Try it with this lightly effervescent white that has just enough sparkle to get your day started. Drink With: Ameztoi, Txakolina, 2013

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Where To Sip What Wine In NYC: Three Wine Bars To Know

Photo: Courtesy of Corkbuzz

What could be better than ending the day with a light, springy wine? Even if it’s not feeling much like spring, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go about our April business as intended. Three top NYC wine bars lent us their sommeliers to let us in on their seasonal faves. Not that we needed any encouragement to indulge, but custom recommendations will serve.


Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011 and 13 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003



CB_CM_Banquettes_WEBPhotos: Courtesy of Corkbuzz

Corkbuzz’s master sommelier Laura Maniec’s shares her picks for three rosés featured in Corkbuzz’s new “Spring into Rosé” tasting.

Christophe Lepage Pinot Gris Rosé ’12, Côtes Saint Jacques, Burgundy, France “This is the lightest of the three Rosés on this list. It’s got more of a dry, French style. It’s pale pink in color, and is an easy-drinking Rosé. What’s interesting about this wine is that it’s made from a white grape, which is a super rare style of Rosé,” Maniec notes.

Arnot-Roberts ‘Luchsinger Vineyard’ Touriga Nacional Rosé ’14, Clear Lake, California “Arnot-Roberts is a boutique California producer. It’s a limited production Rosé that is sure to sell out before Spring even gets started,” Maniec says. “We managed to get our hands on just a few cases. It’s a slightly richer wine with notes of strawberries and hibiscus,” Maniec notes–you might want to hurry over to try this one sooner than later.

Altura ‘Chiaretto’ Sangiovese Rosé ’10, Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, Italy “This is one of my personal favorite Rosés of the moment. It actually looks like a light red. This wine is from an island just off the coast of Tuscany. It has a little more tannins than most Rosés. It’s perfect for meat dishes like a grilled hanger steak salad or something with pork. It’s got a ripe, refreshing acidity that also lends itself to pasta dishes,” Maniec says.

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

249 Centre Street, New Yok, NY 10013

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels - New York, NY

compagnie de vins surnaturels - new york, nyPhotos: ©Noah Fecks

The wine selection at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is curated by Fabien Suquet and Caleb Ganzer.
Faugères Château de la Liquière, Les Amandiers 2013
“I chose this wine because when the almond (amandier) trees are in bloom, it’s a sign in the south of France that spring has arrived and winter is on its way out,” Suquet tells BlackBook. “This wine was born on schist soil perfect for the season, from grape varieties of carignan, grenache, syrah and mourvedre.  This wine, created by winemakers Sophie and Laurent Dumoulin, accompanies beautiful days with sips of red fruits and sweet spice for good balance. It’s fresh and crispy and goes well with lighter foods like salads, and even BBQ.” Suquet says. 
Goisot, Sauvignon de Saint Bris, Burgundy 2013
“A favorite wine of mine that works perfectly with the Spring weather, and the Spring mindset, is Goisot, Sauvignon de Saint Bris, Burgundy, France 2013. It’s on our list at $43 and completely over-delivers. Yes, this is Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, this is Burgundy. Despite what we are normally taught, the two are not entirely mutually exclusive,” Ganzer explains. “Saint Bris is located nearly equidistant from Sancerre, Chablis & Champagne, thus you have this great confluence of temperate growing climates which keep the fruit flavors of Sauvignon Blanc in check along with chalky limestone soils with fossilized oyster shells which lend a ton of fresh minerality to the finish. It’s the perfect wine for a spring pea & scallop risotto or roasted asparagus & chèvre,” Ganzer suggests. 
Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Rouge Frais Impérial, Corsica, 2013 “Red wine is not usually the first thing one thinks of when Spring is mentioned, however this light rouge has enough bright, crisp fruit flavors to provide as much refreshment as any good white: Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Rouge Frais Impérial, Corsica, France 2013. Made with the local Sciacarellu (sha-kuh-RELL-oo) grape, this wine has a deft, feminine touch of cranberry & pomegranate fruit notes with a slight smokey, granite underpinning of mineral flavor. I like it with a slight chill to help make the fruit notes pop. A great wine for lamb carpaccio!” Ganzer says, making a case for reds in spring. 

Vin Sur Vingt

1140 Broadway, New York, NY 10001 and 201 West 11th Street, New York, NY 10014, and The Plaza Food Hall at 1 West 59th Street | New York, NY 10019

VSV NoMad Back_ChariniPhoto: Charini H.

VSV NoMad Bar Relf_Sean JPhoto: Sean Jones

VSV NoMad Front_BW_ChariniPhoto: Charini H.

VSV NoMad Full Bar ChariniPhoto: Charini H.

VSV Wine SelectionPhoto: Courtesy of Vin Sur Vingt

The experts at Vin Sur Vingt suggest the following two wines as their top picks for a visit to their bar for spring.

Touraine Chenonceaux, Domaine Vieil Orme 2012 “The vines used for these wines are between 25-35 years old. It’s a 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Domaine Vieil Orme is a traditional artisanal producer practicing sustainable farming since 2009. The aromas include passion fruit, pear, and almonds.”

Côte de Duras, Domaine Mouthes le Bihan 2011 “This is a 50-plus year old vine (certified organic). The grapes include Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.  The aromas include citrus and white peaches, with squashed fresh grapes.  This wine offers good structure and fat on the palate.”

Check out our guide to spring wines and the best wine bars in San Francisco here. 



Toasting Spring: Five Wine Bars to Check Out in San Francisco

Photo: Press Club

We’re putting a cork (literally) in deep reds of the colder seasons and raising an expertly-curated glass to sunshine, a nice breeze, and the end of a long day’s work. We chatted with the sommeliers at some of our favorite wine bars in the whole U.S. of A. (see San Francisco here, and check back later for guides to Los Angeles and New York City) and have here, their exclusive picks for your springtime orders right here.


320 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102


ENOCharcuteriePhotos: ENO

Joel Kampfe, Certified Sommelier, and ENO Brand Wine Director makes the following recommendations for spring sipping:

Floral whites such as Viognier, especially 2013 Kivelstadt Viognier, Roussanne blend from Lake County, Ca.

Light, bright and aromatic reds like Nebbiolo, such as 2007 La Castellina Valtalina Nebbiolo.


216 Townsend Street at 3rd. San Francisco, CA, 94107

districtPhoto: Caterina Mirabelli

District San Francisco 1 high res Dec 2014Photo: District

District’s sommelier and wine director Caterina Mirabelli recommends the following picks for spring:

County Line Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Napa, CA 2014. Of this pick, Mirabelli says, “It is a 100% Pinot Noir Rosé from the producers of Radio Coteau. It has notes of raspberry, key lime, lemon zest, lemon verbena an a touch of cherry on the nose and palate. It’s crisp and fresh with a bright acidity and a lively, dry finish.”

Tournage Riant, Grolleau Noir Blend, Touraine, France 2013 “This wine is your traditional, provence-style rosé, blended with malbec, cabernet franc and gamay. It has notes of sour cherry, lemon curd, cherry liqueur, and lemon zest on both the nose and palate. For a rose, it’s somewhat full bodied, with a mild acidityand a long, lingering and dry finish,” says Mirabelli.

IdleWild winery is home to the only Grenache Gris in the states. It has 110 year old vines. “Their Grenache Gris, Mendocino County, CA 2013 is not a red wine and yet, not quite a rosé–it pushes rosé to the brink of being a light red wine. A truly esoteric glass, it has intense notes of orange spiced tea, cinnamon sticks, blood orange, raspberry tart, and cherry cordial are found on both the nose and palate. It’s medium bodied with a refreshing acidity and a long, spicy finish,” Mirabelli notes.

The Hidden Vine

408 Merchant Street, San Francisco, CA, 94111



fireplace2hiddenvinePhotos: The Hidden Vine

The Hidden Vine’s sommelier, Jessica Jamison, makes the following wine recommendations for spring:

Alex Kaufman Riesling, Central Otago, New Zealand 2013. “This crisp and dry Riesling has aromas of gardenia, honeydew, and green apples. A perfect pairing with sunshine and a friendly game of bocce,” says Jamison.

Triennes Rose (Cinsault), Provence, France 2013, “Nothing says Spring like Rose! Light bodied and dry with hints of unripe strawberries and orange peel. This wine pairs perfectly with pulled pork sliders,” Jamison says.

Press Club

20 Yerba Buena Ln, San Francisco, CA, 94103

Taste-PressClub-Food 130(1)

Photos: Press Club

The head sommelier at Press Club, Mauro Cirilli, notes that every spring their menu focuses on fresh green ingredients from local farmers and the wines are chosen to match.

His top three picks for spring include:

2014 Turnbull Sauvignon Blanc of which he notes that, “the acidity brings out the fresh flavors of the springtime ingredients.”

Ampelos Viognieror or the red Italian Parpiniello Monica di Sardegna have “aromatic, fruity, and floral components,” Cirilli notes.

Stoller Pinot Noir from Oregon is “smooth and elegant and won’t overpower even the most delicate of spring dishes,” says Cirilli.


301 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA, 94105

RN74 bar lounge high rez

RN74 bar high rez(1)Photos: RN74

David Castleberry, Lead Sommelier at RN74, makes the following wine recommendations for the season:

2014 Arnot Roberts Touriga Nacional Rose from Clear Lake, CA. “It’s bright, red fruited and delicious,” he says. “The kind of wine that screams to be drunk on spring afternoons.”

2011 Chablis from Moreau-Naudet “A 100% Chardonnay coming from Burgundy in France and a nice departure from the oaky-buttery interpretations of the grape,” Castleberry notes. “It’s got loads of citrus and fresh apple, stony minerality and more acid than Burning Man. Oysters? Yes please!”

Check out our guide to what to sip where in NYC here.


How to Drink Red Wine This Summer

We know who you are. You are the sick and the tired of being served insufferably precious Mason Jar cocktails by some ostensible reject from a Civil War reenactment troupe (who is, in fact, a reject from NYU Film School). And you are the equally tired of being told that some amber-ish liquid brewed by a guy named Zack up in the Catskills is the next great craft beer sensation.

Pish-posh, you say! You’ve just spent your springtime in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, after spending your winter by the fire with Rimbaud and a good glass of Bordeaux. But it’s the heart of summer now, and BlackBook would love nothing more than to linger over a bottle (or two) of vin magnifique avec vous.

And so just for you, we have consulted some of NYC’s most eminent gods and goddesses of the grape to bring you BlackBook’s truly transcendent summer red wine list (yes, RED wine)—and our suggestions for some of the most fashionable hotspots to imbibe them.

À votre santé!

The soigne new public space restaurant:


Pavilion restaurant image 8

Europeans do them very well: grand dining spaces in very public places. New York mostly doesn’t get it right. But Union Square’s new Pavilion has a breezy classicism about it–as if it were airlifted straight from Vienna’s Stadtpark.

It’s best described as a European market café, serving up classic beef carpaccio, duck rillet sausage and salmon pot au feu, along with our favorite feature, the lively street theater just outside.

Sommelier Vladimir Kolotyan’s summer red wine recommendations:

Barbera d’Asti Superiore, “Le Orme,” Michele Chiarlo, Piedmont, Italy 2011 $48

A light to medium bodied red, with crunchy raspberry fruit and a blood orange note. Enjoy with cold cuts or soft cheeses while having a picnic at the park and don’t forget to slightly chill the bottle.

Hermann J. Wiemer Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes, NY 2011 $42

Another classic example from this staple producer. Light to medium bodied, vibrant wild strawberry and violets, with hints of pencil shavings. Perfect with grilled white meat on a breezy summer night.


The new-generation-oenophile mecca:


Corkbuzz image

The name may come off a bit lofty, but it’s actually quite an apt description. Tucked away on a quiet WVill block (a new outpost has just opened in Chelsea Market), Corkbuzz is a stylish and inviting wine bar with a learned manifesto: to reeducate your cocktail ravaged palate. To wit, on offer are a series of classes, tastings and food pairing events, with the intention of molding you into the sophisticate you’ve always meant to be.

When not upholding such venerable ideals, its low-key glam provides the perfect atmosphere for impressing a special date with your epicurean panache.

Sommelier Laura Maniec’s summer red wine recommendations:

Giuseppe Mascarello Toetto Freisa ’09- Langhe Italy $20

Made by one of my favorite Barolo producers, this is an indigenous grape whose name translates as strawberry. Flavors are light and tart red fruit, smoky with softer tannins and a medium body that is perfect for grilling burgers and hotdogs

Domaine des Lises Syrah ’12- Crozes- Hermitage, France $25

Full bodied red wine from the Rhone Valley that has flavors of bacon, olives, lavender and wild herbs. It is a great summer red wine for long evenings but will also be good towards the end of the summer when the nights cool down leading into fall.


The new sybaritic downtown hotspot: 


Bacchanal image 3

Chef Scott Bryan boasts Apiary and Veritas on his CV, so this new Bowery restaurant surely ain’t no disco. But Bacchus was the God of the Grape, after all–so do come prepared to party like it’s 1300 BC. Amidst the Arcadian-industrial-chic surrounds, one can indulge in chitarra pasta and grilled Spanish octopus.

Slightly intimidatingly, the wine list count soars past 400, which could tend to produce apoplexy in all but the most confident oenophiles. They can help.

Wine director Ivan Mitankin’s summer red wine recommendation: 

Domaine du Pelican, ‘Cuvée Trois Cepages’, Marquis D’Angerville, Arbois, Jura, France 2012 $45

The first vintage of this gem is outstanding. Blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau & Poulsard – the wine has a bright & red berry nose, earthy & well-balanced – great match for fish, chicken & meat dishes.


The progressive wine retailer:


The venerated Tribeca purveyors have just celebrated 20 years of elevating our palates, with a passionate emphasis on organic wines and spirits. T. Edward were early supporters of many small, artisan producers, and remain so two decades later. They are also ardent advocates of the cycling lifestyle, as can be found on their blog.

Karen Ulrich of T.E.W.’S summer red wine recommendations:

Pascal Pibaleau Gamay 2013  $18

From the Loire, certified biodynamic, the property is run by Pascal and his wife Christine who bottle their Gamay at 11.6%. Fresh on the nose with cherry blossom aromas and tart red fruit, there are accompanying mid-palate hints of crushed granite and clay, with cascading acidity.

Hofstaetter Alto Adige “Mezcan” Pinot Nero 2012 $26

From Alto Adige, where Italy borders Germany, offering savory aromas atop a bed of purple flowers, Hofstaetter’s cherry fruit is fresh and light, with acidity that’s gentle and bright.

17 Reasons to Make Wölffer Your Winestination for Getting Sideways in the Hamptons

1. It’s real romantic (see above)
You best believe that after a bubbly breakfast and scores of selfies, we were very much in the mood to watch A Walk In the Clouds on Amazon Prime.

2. It’s barrels of fun
gif1Dare we say, Champagne-fully fun.

3. And barrels of pun.
“The Grapes of Roth” is punfully amusing because Wölffer’s master winemaker is this total boss named Roman Roth. And John Steinbeck had a house in Sag Harbor.

4. Winemaker Roman Roth Is The Man
As you can see, we got all starstruck and asked to take a picture with him like the creepy fans we are. Because, quite honestly, he makes that Dos Equis dude seem comparatively uninteresting. He’s the first person we’ve ever met whom we both believe should be the subject of a Wes Anderson movie.

He grew up in a family of winemakers near the Black Forest of Germany. Family Motto: “A day without a good glass of wine is a day without sunshine.” Sunshine.

And his own proverbial wisdom flows as freely as his wine — he’s constantly spouting all sorts of casually profound stuff like:

“Some wines you blend for power; some you blend for balance.”

“Anyone can make good wine in a great year, but to make a great wine in a bad year is the true measure of a master winemaker.”

“What grows together, grows together.”

And that’s when it hit us — after like two bottles — he’s not just talking about wine: he’s using wine and winemaking as a metaphor for life!  #DionysianWisdom

And, oh yeah, forgot to mention that “he can be heard singing in an enviable tenor voice amid the barrels in the winery cellar.” That’s from the Wölffer website. You can’t make that up, people. Does that Dos Equis dude even sing?

5. “The Grape Whisperer” Helps Grapes With People Problems

This is Richard Pisacano. People call him “The Grape Whisper.” Again, #NotAJoke. It’s in his actual bio.

After kickin’ it with Richie, we can confirm that he is the only person on earth who says the word “bud” more than Snoop Dogg. Here he is discussing “Vertical Shoot Positioning,” a growing technique that facilitates bud uniformity. Notwithstanding that undeniably fascinating topic, his audience is standing off to the side, ripping a selfie.

And this was interesting: every single Wölffer grape is planted and picked by hand. Machines are for Smuckers.

6. They’ve Got a Winebrary
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThat’s right. It’s a wine library. So bring a study buddy who drinks or a drinking buddy who studies, ya dig?
7. And a Wine Thief

It’s a top secret instrument– hence the blurry, sneak style snap. All we can say is that it’s a part ladle, part syphon, all glass contraption that enables the sucking of wine straight from the barrel. Transgressive, right?

The Wine Thief is how we scored some Wölffer Merlot from Deux Mille Treize, which means 2013 in French, and that’s the language we’ve chosen to state the vintage because, according to just about everybody, 2013 on Long Island was the best year for wine since 1945 in Burgundy! #WineMindBlown

8. It’s a Family Affair
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Bro and sis Marc & Joey Wölffer run the show with Joey’s husband Max, and they’re all so cute that we just couldn’t stop snapping pictures of all their adorable related faces.
And they have a way of making you feel like you could totally be a distant cousin.
9. They Grow Their Own Veggies
Warning: Getting turned up, and then eating a freshy fresh turnip may cause you to think it’s extremely funny to loudly start singing of “Turnip for What?” And then get quite salty with anyone who doesn’t happen to know the Lil’ Jon song you’re referencing or, heavens forbid, appreciate your wit.
10. That Main House is Pure Class
PIC 10
Think “Under the Tuscan Sun.”
11. The Wine Stand is Legit
PIC 11

Think Surf Lodge Meets Sunset Beach (before they got all crowded and unchill).
12. A Placid Swan
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Fact: Natalie Portman is from Long Island. And that’s relevant because “Black Swan.”
13. A Judgmental Horse
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Wölffer Estates is home to Wölffer Stables. This guy is totally trying to “Horse Tag” #DontDrinkAndRide
14. Truckloads of Cider
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So, when they pulled up this cider truck, we got all like, “what business are you in? Are you in the apple business?” And when no one knew what the heck we were talking about, we treated them to a dramatic reenactment of that fight scene in the “Cider House Rules” where Homer Wells and Arthur Rose…and, nevermind, because #crickets.

But the cider’s real good.

15. Fun with Umlauts

As any Möttley Crüe fan will tell ü, nöthing’s müre fün than gratüitioüs ümlaüting. We take every ümlaütportünity.

Protip: You can make all sorts of fün accents by holding down on the relevant letter when typing on your phone (some folks call it a “long tap”).

16. A Very Nice Dog Named Rose
PIC 16It’s definitely Rose, and not Rosé. We asked. Repeatedly.

Oh, and that’s Max Rohn, Wölffer GM, nonchalantly photobombing Rose.

17. Summer in a Bottle

Speaking of Rosé. This is Wölffer’s latest. And it tastes like #YOLO. Yup, it’s that good. It’s the embottlement of carpe diem.

And if you’re having trouble wrapping your head around liquid synesthesia, bear in mind the words of Wölffer’s ever-quotable wine boss, “One must never overthink a Rosé”.

Scientist Scrapes Bowls for Resin, Upends French Wine World

Just days after I wrote about the rock-star status of booze archaeologist Patrick McGovern, he’s back in the news with an iconoclastic discovery. The discovery is that, contrary to established lore, France didn’t pioneer winemaking. They were, in fact, taught how to do it by the friendly, share-and-share-alike Italians, who brought their grapes and winemaking techniques over to France some time around 500 B.C. How does McGovern know this? Science, of course. Like so many college kids, he scrapes the bowls he finds lying around for resin. In his case, however, the resin he found in ancient wine containers in the south of France was pine resin, which was likely added to pots of imported Etruscan wine to keep it fresh as they schooled the Gauls in the art they’d one day perfect. Given the not-always-friendly rivalry between Italy and France, this has to sting a bit. But not as much as another French wine fact you don’t hear about very often: French wine grapes actually grow from roots imported from America, after a blight of aphids wiped out French vineyards in the mid 19th Century. In other words, Italy invented French wine, and America saved it. I think the word you’re looking for is merci

It was called the Great French Wine Blight, and I first learned about it from Tom Standage’s awesome book A History of the World in 6 Glasses. All these nasty little aphids started chomping on French grapevines, sending winemakers into a tizzy about what to do about it. They tried everything, even setting toads underneath each plant to slurp them all up. The only thing that would save the French wine industry turned out to be grafting French vines to aphid-resistant rootstock imported from spunky upstart country America.

"… two French wine growers proposed that the European vines be grafted to the resistant American rootstock that were not susceptible to the Phylloxera. While many of the French wine growers disliked this idea, many found themselves with no other option. The method proved to be an effective remedy. The following "Reconstitution" (as it was termed) of the many vineyards that had been lost was a slow process, but eventually the wine industry in France was able to return to relative normality."

And so the takeaway here is that French wine, still undisputedly the finest on the planet, has historical roots in Italy and biological roots in America. Of course this wouldn’t be a big deal if the French didn’t take such pleasure in dissing wines from both Italy and America, but since they do, I think the two nations can take a polite little bow today and utter those precious little words, "You’re welcome."

[Related: Cheers to Science, and Beer, and Using Science to Justify Your Beer-Drinking; More by Victor Ozols; Follow Me on Twitter]

Waiters and Sommeliers Really Need to Learn the Devil Horns Trick

I caught an interesting news item today that made me think about how things ought to be done in restaurants. A California couple was upset with Zibibbo, a pan-Mediterranean restaurant in Palo Alto, over a bottle of wine. During a recent dinner, the husband pointed to a bottle on the wine list, thinking he was ordering a 2009 Barbera D’Alba from Piedmont, Italy, which cost $52. The waitress apparently thought he was pointing to a different bottle, a 1996 Ornellaia Masseto Tenuta Dell Merlot, which goes for a much stiffer $400. She brought the pricey merlot to the table, the man eyeballed it casually, as many non-oenophiles do, and gave the go-ahead. The waitress opened the bottle and poured. When the bill came, the couple was shocked to see a $400 bottle of wine that they didn’t order. They complained to management, which declined (at the time) to reduce or remove the charge. After all, they had approved it. But was the waitress right to bring the expensive bottle without making sure it’s what they really wanted? Didn’t she have a kernel of doubt that the couple really wanted a $400 bottle? There’s no way to know without giving her a truth serum, which is why every waiter and sommelier needs to learn the devil horns trick. 

Let me explain. I learned the devil horns trick from Gianni Cavicchi, sommelier at Café D’Alsace in New York (and named it myself ©). The devil horns trick involves going down the wine list with your hand in the devil-horns position, with the index finger pointing out the vineyard while the pinkie shows the price. "Oh, you like that vineyard? Excellent choice, sir." That way the name of the bottle and the price are always connected, yet you’re not calling the diner out for being cheap if he goes for an affordable bottle. It makes both parties clearly recognize the order, thus avoiding the confusion that this couple found themselves in. 

Of course, another way would be for the waiter/sommelier to repeat the name, number, and year of the bottle to the diner before proceeding, instead of just agreeing to what’s being pointed at. We all know how the game of telephone works. When you repeat the message back to the speaker before spreading it, it all but eliminates purple-monkey-butt kind of communication errors. 

As for Zibibbo, they did what I think is the right thing. They refunded a portion of the couple’s money and charged them $150 for the bottle, which was its original price. In the future, I’m sure both the diners and the restaurant will be very clear on what’s being ordered. Using the devil horns trick can help. 

[Related: BlackBook San Francisco Guide; More by Victor Ozols]

Texas Is the Reason Release Complete Discography

Thursday is coming up for all you lovers and singletons out there. I have no plans because I am alone-that’s a choice and I love myself! There’s only one thing I need—it’s tangible and will last FOREVER. Single or attached, the ’90s are back in a big way with Texas is the Reason’s entire discography, now available through Revelation Records. Do You Know Who You Are? The Complete Collection is the right amount of love you can give your ear buds this Valentine’s Day.

The band, who notoriously broke up after the release of their first full length album, are putting a stamp on leaving the past in the past. The entire collection is jam packed with the band’s self-titled EP, Do you Know Who You Are?, and two, yup, two totally brand new songs. Once you have done yourself the favor of acquiring this gem, head on home—fast. Don’t turn on the lights though; keep it dark like the bottomless pit that is your heart. Remember that you are a top shelf human being and that’s exactly how you should be picking your alcohol. If you read the label and it says Chateau Diana, you are in rough shape.

Slip into something comfortable. I would lend you my pair of red velvet pajama pants from Christmas 2002, but my body will be occupying them. Don’t hold back on how many popcorn kernels you pour into that pan, you will eat all of them. Make sure you vacuumed your carpet because that is where you will be lying for the next 24 hours. Get ready because when you hear singer Garrett Klahn serenading you into oblivion with opening track "Johnny on the Spot”, he will likely strike a well covered nerve with, "You’re allowed to stay for a while, I’m going to need your time to slow down and waste some time again."

Your brain will likely explode upon hearing "Every Girls Dream" and "When Rock and Roll Was Just a Baby," the collections two new songs written in 1997 but recorded last year. While you are deeply immersed in this perfect gift you have given yourself, thumb through the pages of the booklet and look back on unreleased photos, a complete show history, as well as all the lyrics that you can then pen in your journal, because only Texas Is the Reason can comfort you as you battle your way through Valentines day. "This is only fun for me; this is only fun for me." Your mind has been entranced in a meditative state and with the stereo system on in the background you have been transported back to 1996 one guitar riff at a time—life was simpler back then, no?

If you need to give your heart a deeper experience with Texas Is The Reason, catch them as they play their final final shows this winter, they mean it. Dates HERE.

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Two-Buck Chuck Now More-Expensive Chuck

The beautiful thing about Trader Joe’s is not the frozen foods and the gross produce that everyone but me seems to go completely bonkers for. The real magic within those wacky walls (Trader Joe’s, by the way, looks like what would happen if your dad listened to "A Pirate Looks at 40" too many times and decided to quit his day-job to deliver off-brand foods to his friends in a charming and warm environment) is the wine. Ohhhh, the wine. (I’ve been practicing Drynuary, where I do not drink in January, and OH THE WINE I COULD BE DRINKING RIGHT NOW!) The glorious Charles Shaw, who decided one day to sell his wine for next-to-nothing, as if we live in Europe or something, has broken hearts. Two-buck Chuck is no more. It’s now more expensive!

The news comes from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (via HuffPo), and the paper reveals why the inflation is taking place:

The Charles Shaw brand was able to maintain such low prices for so long in part because its parent company, Bronco Wine Co., owns 45,000 acres of vineyard land, said Harvey Posert, spokesman for Bronco. That helps the company ride out wild fluctuations in grape prices like those the industry has seen in recent years.

"If there’s one grape too many, the price dips," Posert said. "If there’s one grape too few, the price zips up. In the sense of being the largest grape grower, Bronco can ride many of these ups and downs.

"But there were bad crops in 2010 and 2011, and that certainly impacted the industry," he said.

Even so, the retail price is set by Trader Joe’s, Posert said. A display case in the store’s wine aisle labels Charles Shaw as Trader Joe’s best-selling wine. The brand sold about 5 million cases last year, Posert said.

"In general, our retail prices change only when our costs change," Alison Mochizuki, director of public relations for Trader Joe’s, said in an email. "We’ve held a $1.99 retail price for 11 years. Quite a bit has happened during those years and the move to $2.49 allows us to offer the same quality that has made the wine famous the world over."

Of course, if you live in a larger metropolitan area, you might already be used to Three-Buck Chuck. That’s at least what I called it when I bought the stuff while living in Chicago, and I can’t imagine it’s any cheaper here in New York. Obviously the biggest challege will be what to call the wine now. One Santa Rosa resident suggested "Upchuck," but I don’t like the connotations of that. It hits just too close to home.

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