Friday, 29 February 2008

The World's Most Expensive Cognac

The world's most expensive cognac is Henri IV Dudognon Heritage which has been produced since 1776 and is aged in barrels for more than 100 years. The price tag will make you faint – it's £1 million!

The bottle is dipped in 24k gold and platinum and decorated with 6,500 certified brilliant cut diamonds. With an approximate weight of 8 Kilograms, it is filled with 100 cl. of Dudognon Heritage Cognac Grande Champagne that contains an alcohol content of 41%. This jewelled packing was master crafted by the well known jeweller Jose Davalos.

The name Henri IV honours the French King (1553-1610) who is a direct ancestor of Claudine Dudognon–Buraud, heiress to Maison Dudognon, which is located in the centre of the smallest area of France's Cognac Grande Champagne region. I

If you fancy something a little cheaper then you can always go for the £9,000 bottle dipped in gold and silver instead!

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Thursday, 28 February 2008

Barry Manilow Pinot Grigio is a Hit

Palm Desert fans of Barry Manilow apparently appreciate his new wine as much as his singing. Manilow 2006 Pinot Grigio Terre Di Chieti has flown off the shelves of Jensen's in Palm Desert.

Barry Manilow has record sales exceeding 65 million world-wide and a Grammy, two Emmys, several Tony Awards and an Oscar nomination to his credit. Will wine making be another success story for him or will it only appeal to his fans?

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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Marion Cotillard Wins Oscar

Marion Cotillard looked every inch the chique, ebullient, young French actress that she is when she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. I must admit that she is one my favourites ever since since played Fanny in the wine movie A Good Year alongside Russell Crowe. She won the Oscar for her performance as Edith Piaf (affectionately known as “the sparrow”) in La Vie en Rose and last year's Best Actor, Forest Whittaker, presented the award.

Her gown was absolutely stunning – it was the “Mermaid Dress” designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. Gaultier had showcased the dress in his Spring/Summer 2008 couture collection which had an “under the sea” theme and his designs have gone down a storm on the catwalks this season.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Boozy Bra

This is not made up – honest! The Wine Rack is a sports bra for women with a secret pouch installed which you can fill up with wine and sip surreptitiously. It's hit both the UK press and media in a big way – even being shown on Richard and Judy.

It's jaw droppingly daft but apparently it's so popular that one size has sold out already! My question is “who to?” - I can't think of anyone who'd be dumb enough to get this.

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Sangria Sound System

The wine company Carlo Rossi has created a Sangria Sound System using old sangria jugs and parts 'borrowed' from another audio system to bring you surround sound with the 'subtle, fruity waft of Sangria in the air'.

It uses 4-5 litre Rossi jugs with various sized holes, with the jugs apparently resonating at a frequency that brings people to the dance floor.

I'm rather impressed with their recycling endeavours – they also offer a Cabernet Couch, Rhine Reading Lamp, Burgundy Bookshelf, Chardonnay Chandelier, Paisano Plasma TV Stand!

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Peanut Cream Spirit

This is the first time I have heard of a liqueur made from peanuts but apparently they have been around a while – including others made from Walnut, Almond, Macadimia, Hazelnut and Pecan.

Castries Cream is a new peanut flavoured cream spirit made on St. Lucia with aged St Lucian rum. The spirit also uses peanuts which are grown in the volcanic soil of the St Lucian villages of Laborie and Choiseul, and are roasted on site. There are a host of cocktail recipes on their site to whet your appetite.

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Monday, 25 February 2008

Calories In Wine

The Press Democrat has reported that the federal government in the USA are proposing new labelling rules aimed at helping consumers know exactly how much alcohol, calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein are in wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Wine is a foodstuff after all and I am all for labelling so that you know exactly what is in your bottle and where it was made but sometimes this Nanny attitude goes over the top. Two of the four required statistics – fat and protein – will always be zero!

There is more than meets the eye to this as smaller wine makers will be hit by the expensive laboratory tests needed to calculate the exact amounts in the wines. The tests cost around $250 each. The Wine Institute has suggested that estimates of typical nutritional values could be put on the labels as a way around this problem.

Here is a rough guide to the calories in drinks - it can vary as it depends on the product and the volume of alcohol. 25ml is the smallest shot for spirits and 125ml is a small glass of wine.

Beers and Cider
Bitter 1 pint 182
Stout 1 pint 210
Pale Ale 1 pint 182
Lager 1 pint 170
Sweet Cider 1 pint 220
Dry Cider 1 pint 190

Spirits
Whiskey 25ml 55
Gin 25ml 55
Brandy 25ml 55
Rum 25ml 55
Vodka 25ml 55
Pernod 25ml 35
Tia Maria 25ml 39
Bacardi 25ml 55
Malibu 25ml 51
Baileys 25ml 87
Drambuie 25ml 46
Martini 25ml 44
Port 25ml 40
Southern Comfort 25ml 46

Sherry
Dry Sherry 25ml 28
Medium Sherry 25ml 30
Sweet Sherry 25ml 35

Wine and Champagne

Champagne 125ml 95
Sparkling Wine 125ml 95
Red Wine 125ml 85
Rosé 125ml 89
Dry White Wine 125ml 83
Medium White Wine 125ml 94
Sweet White Wine 125ml 118

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Sunday, 24 February 2008

New Spanish Low Calorie Wine

A new low calorie wine has been produced in Spain as a result of the drought there. A vineyard in Jumilla, Murcia has come up with what it is calling ‘vino light’.

Altos de la Ermita has 6.5º of alcohol, half the normal amount for traditional wine and has, as a consequence, fewer calories. The 2006 Crianza is made from Monastrell, Tempranillo and Verdot grapes and the vine is starved of water for several hours a day when the grapes are maturing, to get the lower alcohol content.

The new light wine comes thanks to help in the research from the Murcia and Cartagena University and the Technological Development Centre which is part of the Ministry for Industry. 2.5 million € has been invested in the project and the first bottles go on sale in April.

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Saturday, 23 February 2008

Castel, Wine and Condoms?

Castel, one of France's largest wine companies, have marketed a wine inspired by Valentines Day called Saint Amour. “Why not?”, you might think. However you will think twice when you realise what comes with it.

It's a Beaujolais wine that will be served along with a Durex Easy On condom in restaurants throughout France. Nine thousand bottles of the red wine have been produced — sporting a devil on the label complete with an accompanying condom. The novelty will be marketed with the tagline, "Where there is no wine, there is no love," attributed to the Greek poet Euripides (480–06 BC). I have to agree with Wine Spectator who have commented: “He is probably spinning in his grave”.

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www.flickr.com

Friday, 22 February 2008

Motorcycle Wine

Last Spring Nick blogged about V-Twin Zin – a wine started by passionate motorcycle riders at the V-Twin Vineyards in Sonoma County, California. The wines are inspired by Harley-Davidson motorbikes. The front label is black and red, with skulls and a flaming v-twin engine emblazoned on it.

The company has also established an online wine community called, "Easy Rider Wine Club", that allows members to post photos of their bikes, share news and information. The company also have a member gallery on its website for biker pictures. They have now released 2 new wines the 05 Bike Week Merlot and 05 Poker Run Zin. Perfect for any bikers BBQ!

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Thursday, 21 February 2008

Fine Wine Cures Simply Red Star Mick Hucknall

Former Simply Red star Mick Hucknall bought a vineyard and became a wine producer in order to curb the wild drinking of his youth. He explained:

"Ironically, I did it (reduced his alcohol consumption) by getting into wine . . . My logic was I would drink less if the drink was better. So I became obsessed with fine wines. I noticed I was drinking less because of that."

Hucknall now owns a vineyard at his 18th century Italian estate at St Alfio on the slopes of Mount Etna and produces Il Cantante (The Singer) - a red blend between Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Filming Begins on The Vintner's Luck

Filming has started on director Niki Caro's new movie project, the film adaptation of The Vintner's Luck by New Zealand author Elizabeth Knox. It will star Oscar-nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes, who came to worldwide attention in Caro's Whale Rider. Niki Caro's last film was the drama North County. The Vintner's Luck is about a peasant wine maker who endeavours to make the perfect vintage and is set in 19th Century France who is visited by the angel, Xas.

Hughes will play Xas, who falls in love (and lust) with Earthly delights and particularly with Sobran (Jeremie Renier). In addition to her main stars, Caro has also recruited Gaspard Ulliel (Young Hannibal) and Vera Farmiga (The Departed).

Filming began at an Auckland vineyard and the cast and crew will then relocate in March to the Burgundy region of France and on to Belgium.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Jewelled Gin

Luxist.com has reported that Bombay Sapphire Gin has produced Bombay Sapphire Revelation which is described as a "collaboration between the drinks, crystal, art and design worlds," Bombay Sapphire Revelation is a collection of 5 bottles shaped like enormous jewels, all the same except for their caps – each of which is decorated with diamonds and sapphires.

The crystal is Baccarat, Garrard is the jeweller, and Karim Rashid is the bottle designer. The entire collection is worth $1 million, but each bottle (priced at $200,000) will be displayed separately at one of 5 airports around the world (New York, London, Dubai, Sydney, and Singapore) starting around the end of March with proceeds to benefit The Smile Train charity. And along with the beautiful Revelation bottle the new owners will also receive a years supply of Bombay Sapphire gin.

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Monday, 18 February 2008

Glasses Made of Ice?

A company in the UK have come up with a novel way to keep your drink cold without the ice cubes melting and diluting it. Icydrink UK is actually an ice cone or moulded ice sleeve which sits inside a special, custom-made, non-drip 100ml glass – the ice slowly melts downwards, dripping into a space at the bottom of the glass. These sleeves are created by a machine which can fit on the bar top. However, the company is also able to provide any pub or bar with bulk supplies of the sleeves, should they be needed.

Pete Reynolds, managing director of Icydrink UK, told The Publican: “Thanks to its size the Icydrink glass is particularly good for champagne and cocktails. However, we have also found that if you want to serve something like iced coffees then it is perfect for that too.”

Indeed, last summer New York magazine named Icydrink as the best way of drinking iced coffee. The company says it has had a lot of success across Europe and has been a big hit in bars and hotels in cities ranging from Rome to Barcelona, Paris to Budapest.

A new sister product is also due to be launched - an ice shot glass. These are made using a different machine to the icy glass, but will undoubtedly be popular with pubs and bars that have a big spirits trade.

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Harrods Create Champagne Bar

Harrods has opened a ground-floor bar in its London department store selling champagne for as much as £250 a glass. If that doesn’t tempt you, the model Claudia Schiffer is scheduled to show up for a drink. Schiffer, who stars in a video by the designer Karl Lagerfeld for Dom Perignon Oenotheque, is scheduled to visit the store on February 26. Two days later, Dom Perignon’s cellar master, Richard Geoffrey, will hold a tasting. The bar will close on March 3rd.

The Dom Perignon Oenotheque bar offers two vintages by the glass: the 1995 at £65 and the 1975 at £250. The most expensive option available at the Champagne Bar at St. Pancras Station is Dom Perignon 1999, at £25 a glass.

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Saturday, 16 February 2008

Wines For Women

Decanter.com has reported that a French wine merchant has developed a new range of wines aimed at women – who it says make up Britain's largest wine market. The company, WineSight, has nearly 30 wines sourced from around France under the label Sublimelle - which has no connection to the French lingerie label of the same name.

The company is also targeting British women as ideal customers, on the basis that they have more say in wine-buying decisions. I agree with that – however I am not too sure that I like the idea of having wines tailored for me. It's a little patronising don't you think?

WineSight says that 'numerous studies' show that women's taste buds react differently to wines. The company quotes the Gault Millau guide, 'which found that women prefer supple wines' rather than wines with a lot of body.

The range is a “selection of silky and harmonious wines combining delicacy and a lot of nuances of aromas and flavours; wines that tend to reflect the image of the women and their contribution towards a more peaceful, balanced, elaborated and tolerant society.”

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Friday, 15 February 2008

Elephant Wine

Harry made history at the Knysna Elephant Park in South Africa when he became the first elephant in the world to stamp grapes, an age-old tradition practised by wine-makers for thousands of years. The owner of Boplaas wineries in Calitzdorp, Karel Nel, and his good friend Ian Withers, who owns the elephant park, came up with the idea one day in the Karoo.

“We were talking and after a few glasses of wine, as is usually the case, the best ideas started to flow. We thought it would be a good idea. A percentage of the proceeds from the wine sales will be used for conservation,” he said.

The wines, to be marketed as Boplaas Elephant Rosé, Boplaas Elephant Chardonnay and later Boplaas Elephant Cabernet, will have a label depicting an elephant stomping grapes. The first chardonnays should be in the shops within eight weeks.

Harry was the first elephant on the reserve, which opened its doors in 1994. He is 22 years old, stands 3,2m tall and weighs four tons. He was allowed to taste the grapes before the stomping commenced.

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Thursday, 14 February 2008

Valentine's Day Diamond Cocktails

N D Wines of India have come up with a romantic cocktail for Valentine's Day – Cupid's Love Punch with a diamond ring in it, tailor made for two soul mates in love. The cocktail’s key ingredient is Sauvignon Blanc, with Peach Schnapps and the essence of orange juice, and of course to top it all . . . very special diamond ring served in an Italian crystal glass. If this appeals to you then you'll have to book your flight as it's only available at the Bonsai Restobar, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

N D Grapes are the sole supplier of grapes to UK supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Mark’s & Spencer’s. N. D. Wines was the first winery in India to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc and have also mastered the art of growing Shiraz and Chenin Blanc in Nasik at their vineyard nestling at the feet of the Sahyadri Hills.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Blue Roses for Valentine's Day?

Blue over at If Only, If Only I'd . . . has spotted that a Japanese Whisky company has created Blue Roses. It took them 14 years to make and Suntory Ltd (more famous as the distiller of the Yamazaki brand of whisky) is already growing test batches of the new blooms in the USA and anticipates big sales and premium prices when they launch them next year in Japan.

Blue roses are such a rare commodity because no blue pigment naturally exists in roses, which means serious genetic modification had to happen even to get this pretty shade of purple. They were able to create the flower's distinctive colour by identifying the gene that leads to the synthesis of the blue pigment Delphinidin in pansies and irises, and transplanting that into a rose.

There is a blue rose that has been around for a while called Blue Moon which was propagated naturally – however it is more a soft lilac than a true blue.

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Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Paul Newman Wine

Actor Paul Newman has added wine to his Newman's Own brand of food products. The Westport-based food company, which donates all after-tax profits and royalties to charity, has announced a partnership with the Rebel Wine Co. to create a California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes come from coastal California.

The labels feature Newman's face as well as drawings of two hats that Newman wore as Butch in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." A cowboy hat is on the Chardonnay label and there is a bowler hat on the Cabernet label.

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Diddy Hoards Super Bowl Chanpagne

Thanks to rap star Sean “ P Diddy” Combs the Super Bowl could not get its hands on any Cristal champagne. Diddy spent thousands of dollars on a spectuacular pre Super Bowl champagne party and wine suppliers in Arizona complained that the mogul has bought the state's entire stock. At £400 a bottle he certainly splashed out!

Diddy' party - at which he also performed - took place across an entire city block outside Phoenix's Axis/Radius nightclub. VIP tickets cost $1,100.

Incidentally that wasn't the only upset at the Super Bowl – the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots by the score of 17 – 14.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Advertises Wine

We've already seen him advertising California but now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is heading a cast of California food and wine celebrities in a new tourism ad campaign.

The campaign focuses on a new web site, www.landofwineandfood.com, and stems from a partnership between the California Wine Institute and the California Travel and Tourism Commission.

The TV ad features a number of food and wine stars, including top chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley and vintner Andrew Firestone, who also appeared on ABC's "The Bachelor."

The ads include both Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, sitting at a restaurant overlooking the coast.

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Will Smith To Make Wine Film

Variety is reporting that Will Smith has bought into the rights for the book soon to be published on the scandal surrounding Thomas Jefferson's fake wine.

In 1985 Bill Koch paid $156,000 for a bottle of 1787 Château Lafite Bordeaux, said to be from a collection of wine Jefferson stored in France. Koch had the wine tested and it was found to be fake and he sued the seller, Hardy Rodenstock. The book on the debacle, by Benjamin Wallace is called The Billionaire's Vinegar.

Will Smith and the producers who brought us The Pursuit of Happyness (as well as the upcoming Seven Pounds) have now bought the rights to the book – but there is no word so far on whether he will be starring in it.

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Godzilla Advertises Wine

Advertising in the drinks industry is getting more and more competitive. We had the most expensive vodka advert ever made by Smirnoff and now we have a giant lizard getting in on the act.

Yellow Tail Chardonnay have an advert out starring Godzilla no less! He shambles across the screen destroying Japanese pagodas and temples in his path, waving his – you've guessed it – yellow tail behind him. Click here to see the video.

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Wine for Dogs

Bark Vineyards has produced a wine for dogs – it's non alcoholic and is more of a liquid mixer for dry dog foods, containing beef and chicken broth.

The range comes in cleverly labelled bottles such as, Barkundy, and White Sniff-n-Tail, Sauvignon Bark, Pinot Leasheo as well with your bottle you get a personalized “Licker Licence”.

There is also Meowlot for your feline friends!

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Ice Swine?

You may have heard of Wagyu or Kobe Beef where the cattle are fed on a diet laced with red wine to create a succulent – and very expensive – steak. Well now Berkshire pigs are being fed ice wine to achieve a similar gastronomic delight.

Berkshire pigs were reared in Ontario for 40 days on a barley soy bean mixture doused in 200 millilitres of ice wine a day. Rare Berkshire pigs, which originated in Britain, have a reputation for taking longer to fatten, but produce juicy, flavourful meat. Starting in December, farmer Kevin Rivers religiously poured his young pampered pigs a serving of a 2006 Trius Vidal Ice Wine, which sells for £25.00 per 375 ml bottle.

They were served up at Niagara-on-the-Lake's Hillebrand Restaurant and the chef, Frank Dodd, reassured the press that the pigs were not force fed the golden nectar:

"You can't get a 300-pound pig to do anything it doesn't want to do," Dodd said.

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Friday, 1 February 2008

Italian Shoes, Napa Cabernets and Asian Elephants

Napa Valley vintners, Carolyn and Perry Butler fell in love with the resident elephant when they visited Four Seasons Tented Camp and were looking for ways to contribute to the Camp's charity project. The Tented Camp forms one part of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant foundation (GTAEF) which aims to rescue elephants off the streets of Thailand and provide them with a humane and natural environment in the jungles of the Golden Triangle.

Not satisfied with a straight forward donation, Perry decided to introduce a special Juslyn Vineyard 'Rescue' label in support of the Foundation. All of the proceeds of the 2001 Napa Blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend will benefit GTAEF. The wine comes in a specially created wooden 'Elephant Rescue' box for shipment and cellaring.

Carolyn took her idea literally a step further and persuaded Italian designer Cesare Casadei to create an exclusive design for a select female clientele. This sexy peep-toe patent leather d'orsay pump with a black and white animal print comes with a 3.5 inch red heel and is presented in a unique 'Elephant Rescue' box. Again, all proceeds are being donated to the GTAEF rescue mission: news.helpingelephants.org or contact John Roberts at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

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Fashion Accessories For Your Champagne

Veuve Clicquot has an opulent box made by French designer Andrée Putman has created a box for Veuve Clicquot. It is a yellow and black checkerboard box which is lined with mirrors and serves as its own ice bucket. The box along with a bottle of the champagne sells for around $500.

Pucci and Veuve Clicquot have partnered up on a bottle of 1996 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame wrapped up in a two-part ensemble.

For carrying, there is a drawstring bag that bears a typically ebullient Pucci print. Inside, the bottle is dressed is a black sleeve with a Pucci swirl that will keep the champers cool for another two hours.

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The Veuve Clicquot Love Seat

There is something about Champagne that makes designers go giddy – Karim Rashid has created the Clicquot Love Seat.

The Love Seat consists of two opposite facing chairs joined in the centre by a pedestal with an ice bucket in the classic Clicquot yellow creating an intimate place to share your bubbly. The loveseat sells for around $10,000.

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Designer Champagne Handbags

There is something about champagne that attracts designers like moths to the flame and Fashion Week Daily (www.fashionweekdaily.com) has spotted that Moët and Chandon have commissioned illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve to create a limited edition metallic gold tote.

The bag has a pink lining and comes with the necessary supplies for a picnic in the park, including a magnum of Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial, 4 tulip flutes, and 2 lacquered picnic boxes that feature delectable treats created by the executive chef of Fred's at Barneys New York. The Champagne-friendly snacks match the pink drink with mini lobster wraps, salmon mousse, pink chocolate-dipped strawberries and pink truffles on order. The package costs $1,500 at Barneys New York.

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Wine Totes

Wine and Champagne totes are in vogue at the moment and there are plenty to suit every pocket. www.thebaglady.tv is a great hangbag site and recommends Annasuzanna. They've taken the concept of the wine bag as functional brown paper carrier, and put a gorgeous spin on it. A range of different looks, from the simple, classic black to the bubbly 'Nouveau', will allow you to turn up to any party and be the most stylish person there before you even take off your coat. Some are even adorned with Swarovski crystals.! Now your only worry is making sure the wine goes with the bag.

If designer labels are your desire then there is always the Moet and Chandon Picnic Bag by Alice Temperley. Temperley's bag is a metallic canvas carryall with a detachable champagne carrier. The bag will cost around £950 and are available at Temperley London stores.

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Yoko Ono Designs A Wine Bottle

What do Yoko Ono and Prince Charles have in common? They have both created a wine label. Prince Charles has a painting on a Mouton Rothschild bottle and now Yoko Ono is the 25th artist to create a label for the Nittardi Winery.

The label is for a Chianti made from 97% Sangiovese grape and 3% local Canaiolo grape. Ono's design is a dotted ink drawing called "Imagine you," which depicts bottles and glasses.

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