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The Best of the Web

Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd. Wine Knowledge Quiz
Are you ready to test your wine knowledge? I hope you have a little time on your hands because the Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd. Wine Knowledge Quiz has the potential to keep you at your keyboard for a while. It's a quick, enjoyable and surprisingly challenging way to assess your command of wine facts and trivia at your choice of easy, medium or difficult levels. The quiz is fast and fun, and will add to your basic wine knowledge. You are presented with a random list of 10 wine-appreciation questions at the intermediate level. You can dive right in or ask for an easier or more difficult set. Click your preference from four choices for each question - the editors say each test should take less than a minute, although the tougher levels might challenge that - and when you're through, the system will give you your score, highlight the correct answers, and offer links for more information on each one. Want to try it again? You can keep going as long as you like ... or until you exhaust the system's pool of 400 questions. http://www.bbr.com/wine-knowledge/quiz.lml

Dunbar Fine Wines
We have listed Dunbar Fine Winesunder our Retail Wine heading, but were so impressed with the passion and commitment for wine evidenced by the owner that we have made a second entry. Judge for yourself: "[My site] is a labour of love which causes the site to evolve. I adore wine as do you, so I suppose a bit of passion shows through. One thing that takes up some time is trying to sort out problems of people who have purchased wine unwisely. One of the biggest problems that we have in the UK are companies who sell wine to people at inflated prices. ... [list of wines and prices] These wines were purchased by a lady, having been pressurised and pestered over the phone. She was promised that they would deliver huge returns by a bunch of thieves and scoundrels.She contacted me for an an assessment and I am working with her, but I am approached regularly by people like her. Could you please mention my interest in helping such people sort out their problems." I am happy to do as Soorat asks. http://dunbarfinewine.co.uk/

Fun with Grapes
For the child in all of us, Fun with Grapes presents a classic Case Study written in 1994 by Patrick R. Michaud. Abstract: Using only cheap, readily-available equipment, you can create a spectacular lightshow in the comfort of your very own kitchen, providing hours (minutes?) of fun and excitement for your family, friends, and pets! Ordinary grapes, when properly prepared and microwaved, spark impressively in an extremely entertaining manner.

Grape Picture Square Games
Lisa Shea on About.com has come up with winning puzzles at Grape Picture Square Games. Beautiful wineries from around the world are featured. http://wine.about.com/library/games/bl_gm_square.htm

How can you make a wine glass sing?
Marshall Brain's How Stuff Works makes fascinating reading, and its online supplement deals with a series of off beat questions; for example: How can you make a wine glass sing?. Did you know Mozart actually wrote a sonata for "Glass Harmonica," a row of wine glasses with varying levels of liquid? Played by an expert, there's a really eerie beauty to it. Happy playing. http://www.howstuffworks.com/question603.htm

Liquid Assets
Princeton University Prof. Orley Ashenfelter is somewhat controversial in the wine world - and seems to glory in it. His Liquid Assets: The International Guide to Fine Wine is used by many collectors and investors (and even some consumers) to predict the quality of various vintages of wine. Controversial though he may be, there is a lot of content and tasting information on his website.

Lynn Anderson
Lynn Anderson is an "Editor, Writer, Engish Teacher Extraordinaire!" She is fluent in Danish, English, Italian and French, and her website provides a fascinating insight into the preparation of one of Robert Parker's books. She describes in detail why Parker's first draft contains so many errors, describes her techniques for discovering hundreds of errors in his set of Italian tasting notes, and lists the errors she discovered, all with the kudos from Parker for her thoroughness. To find this article, click on one of the language flags, click on RÉSUMÉ, page down to the book list and click. Her work on the Parker wine guide is described about halfway down the page. http://www.lynnanderson.com/

Molecular Expressions
At Molecular Expressions you will find a series of remarkable photographs of how different types of wines look under an optical microscope. From the home page, search the site using the word "wine". The results are quite spectactular. (And, one can get lost exploring the non-vinous riches here as well.) http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/micro/gallery/wine/wine.html

Park and Orchard
One of the best wine friendly restaurants in Northern New Jersey -- some say in the New York Metropolitan area -- is Park and Orchard, located in East Rutherford. The food is vegetarian and adequate, but the wine list is superb and available online. There are over 1900 entries and each choice on the vast list is followed by a 2-3 sentence description. Buddy, one of the owners, is especially knowledgeable about Burgundy. http://www.parkandorchard.com/wines.html

Rent a Vine/Adopt a Barrel
From time to time, I'm asked about opportunities to rent a vine or a adopt a barrel, usually to give as a present to a friend or relative who loves wine. In Europe these plans are usually called Rent a Vine; in the US they are usually called Adopt a Barrel. In any of them, the rental or adoption entitles you to a certain amount of wine, sometimes at an additional cost. I've never actually tried any of these plans, but if you are interested, here are a few possibilities:

Kahn Winery (US)
Merritt Estate Winery (US)
Woodbury Vineyards (US)
Something Special (UK/France)
Chateau Latuc (France)
Own a Vine (New Zealand)

Silly Tasting Notes Generator
GREG, LAUREL & BRADY'S PLACE is the personal Website of a Seattle couple (and their infant son) who like technology and wine, and who were inspired by a Sonoma wine-country trip to create what has to be the world's first Silly Tasting Notes Generator. I've written a much fuller review which you can find in THE 30 SECOND WINE ADVISOR for Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003, but if you like a bit of silliness along with your wine, check out this site for yourself. http://www.gmon.com/

SommelierJobs.com is the Web's first and only job board for sommeliers. Along with job-related listings, this content-heavy site features links and resources for sommeliers, including supplies and beverage information, sommelier instructional materials and certifying organizations.

Vineyard Challenge
Vineyard Challenge gives you the chance to run a virtual vineyard, starting today or five years ago. "Before you lies a prime plot of land in one of the great wine regions of California. Your challenge: to nurture a crop of grapes worthy of the finest vintners in the land. Along the way, you'll have to make some tough choices and weather the whims of nature and the marketplace. We'll start you out with enough money to cultivate one tract of land for a five-year span. The game will last for thirty years, until your retirement. You can turn to a futurist for advice if you need a helping hand -- but in the end, the vineyard's success rests on your shoulders. Plant wisely!" Fun and educational.

Wine Room
The Wine Room aims to be an information and educational resource for the Irish wine consumer, whether expert or novice. There many nice features here, including a chat room and a fortnightly newsletter. One of the best is an excellent wine quiz, new every two months; doing well may win you a case of wine. (And going to Ireland to collect it would be a wonderful adventure in its own right.) Progressively more difficult; email registration required to play. http://www.thewineroom.ie/

Wine Spirit
Wine Spirit describes itself as "a Community of People attracted to Wine and its Spiritual Dimension who recognize wine as a catalyst to connecting to our own nature; value taking the time to connect with self and others; cherish balance in the many facets of our lives; and respect the magic and mystery of wine, a partnership of nature and people." The site contains a number of essays by the Executive Director, David White, along the lines of: "We spend so much time living our lives, we forget to notice what a wonder and a blessing it is to be alive. Days and years flow on by, and we wonder where it all has gone. Lucky for us we have built-in opportunities to savor the moment and toast the times. Every time we pop the cork of a bottle of wine is such a moment. We slow ourselves down, which is blessing enough. We breathe in the fragrance of the moment, and we taste of one of life's little miracles. From soil to vine to fruit to fermentation … from color to texture to aroma to taste … the experience of pausing with a friend to share a glass of wine is a moment in which to stop and recall the good times. It is its own precious moment, a memory in the making, of our lives." http://www.winespirit.org/

Winemega.com is devoted to "the best known “Grand Crus”, “Crus Classés” and “Crus Bourgeois” of Bordeaux." The "base principle is to achieve a mathematical mean for all the tasting results of each wine." Alain Brigolf, the site master, has reviewed the ratings of about 20 different experts, and converted their mathematical ratings to a 100 point system. For example, a 4 star wine is given a 91 point score, and ratings based on a 20 point system are multiplied by 5 and then inflated by a small percentage. The final point score is averaged and set forth in a number of tables: the 50 top wines, the top region, and the top QPR wines. Whether you like point scoring or not, this is an intriguing method of attempting to summarize the ratings of the wines of Bordeaux. French, English, German and Spanish versions.

WineRelease.com is Neil Monnen's collection of the planned release dates of popular and collectible wines from scores of West Coast wineries. Also available by email at addmnews@winereleasedate.com.

The Rest of the Web

Alex Rychlewski
My friend Alex Rychlewski lives in Bordeaux and provides professional translation services through his company Aquitaine Traduction. Although this is his business, Alex has been known to help wine lovers decipher difficult wine terms purely as a favor. http://www.aquitrad.com/hten/

Edison Electric Lamp
Good wine cellars don't just preserve wine. This Edison Electric Lamp, "a carbon filament lamp [was] removed from the residence of Cornellius Vanderbilt, 57th St. & Fifth Ave. on December 1, 1926. This lamp was located in the wine cellar and had been in use since the building was erected in 1890." http://americanhistory.si.edu/scienceservice/025073.htm

Giant Bottles.com
Giant Bottles.com is a commercial site, a wine seller specializing in large bottles sold to hotels and restaurants, but the site has excellent information about wines in large bottles. Worth a visit if you are interested in bottles you can barely lift! http://www.giantbottles.com/

Invest Drinks
Invest Drinks is Jim Budd's UK site dedicated to showing the dangers of drinks investment. Fascinating articles about the risks (and sometimes rewards) of investing in wines. Thoughtful and controversial. http://www.investdrinks.org/

Julian Curry
You probably know Julian Curry from seeing him on television or stage. He is perhaps best known as Claude Erskine-Brown on the BBC/PBS series Rumpole of the Bailey, and has appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in many shows in London's West End. He performs Hic, his lighthearted history of wine and winemaking, with a wealth of anecdote and quotation from wine lovers both real and ficticious.

Kendall Jackson Images
Although there is a focus on media and Kendall Jackson, Kendall Jackson Images is a useful site for anyone wishing to add images to their websites or posts on message boards. The link will take you to a site used by KJ to update its sales force so it is quite current. Click on the Media button at the top. You'll find a variety of images that might be useful, in both high resolution and low resolution formats: advertising, labels, logos, maps of appellations, ranches or wine-growing regions, point of sale material, product shots, vineyards, winemakers, winery and a catch-all category with images from the Wine Country. http://www.kjsales.com/media/

Sydney International Wine Competition
The Sydney International Wine Competition records an internationally recognized, Australian-based event that takes the somewhat controversial but certainly arguable supposition that fine table wines are best judged not in isolation but accompanied with appropriate foods.

WARPA! is a free, non-commercial service that provides a place to keep personal wine notes, wine ratings, wine cellar inventories and wine labels. There is also an online forum. http://www.warpa.com

Western Carriers
Moving your wine collection? Western Carriers, a reputable firm with a long track record, bills itself as "a wine and spirits transportation and storage company located in northern New Jersey and the Napa Valley. We provide a full range of services to importers, wholesalers and retailers. ... We are a safe and reliable alternative to a moving company for individual collectors who are changing residences, and we also provide temperature and humidity-controlled secure storage for private collectors." Their Website is stylish, easy to navigate, and also includes a clear and thoughtful set of links featuring mini-reviews of hobby and commercial sites.

Wine Country Jobs
Wine Country Jobs says it is a "one-stop job hunting source for winery and hospitality recruiting site for the US and Canada." It's not a huge database, but a recent visit showed listings by a couple of dozen employers, including wineries, hotels and restaurants in the wine country. The promise to relaunch soon with a much larger database. Free to job seekers.

Wine Television
Wine Television is a Canadian based television program. This stylish site summarizes the episodes and gives listings in various countries. Excellent photography, a good list of links, especially strong in Canada, and some interesting general articles on wine.

Winefex is a specialized wine futures market specializing in top Bordeaux wines. All commodity markets are complex and designed to serve the needs of professionals; this one is not only complex but highly controversial. If you are curious, or if you are a wine-industry professional, financial investor, or large wine industry player -- the site's list of possible investors -- you may find the site interesting. http://www.winefex.com/

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