Many happy returns: Spaced-out wines, collector’s shady stash

January 23, 2021

Due to a plethora of breaking news for winos, Port will keep aging until next week. Twelve bottles of Bordeaux flown into space Nov. 19, 2019, and more than 100 vine cuttings sent in March 2020 have returned. These were transported to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Cargo Dragon, primarily to study agricultural science and the effects of a lack of gravity, according to the news release. Splashdown was Jan. 13. Space Cargo Unlimited, which chartered the cargo space, claims the bottles will remain intact until February, when one or two will be opened, then evaluated by some of France’s top connoisseurs and experts. I’m guessing better business heads would open two more bottles and sell 50 pours of 30 ml for $10K each to help pay for the ride. If they charged the experts, attendance might be sparse. Maybe Rudi Kurniawan can promote the event. Maybe I’m being petulant because I haven’t been invited.

The wine was launched from Wallops Island, Va. Wallops is “down ta Chinktink area where ponies swim and local salt ahrsters are nearly extinct.” A visit is well worth the short two-hour ride. It is only 77 miles to Chincoteague thru Ocean City, Md., but I take the double bridges cut off to Bishopville. Mapquest, Alexa or Siri will direct you. Be careful in Virginia; there are a lot of speed changes with eager policemen on patrol along the way, especially this time of year.

Did you know the acronym for the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport, the commercial space launch facility on the southern end of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (established in 1945 when NASA was known as NACA) is MARS? Yeah, me neither. The acronyms are indicative of the times and innovation differences between NACA, NASA and modern private industry. Those who wish to can access the facility website prior to visiting for a ton of info including launch schedules and videos. After you have read the entire paper, ads and all, go here:

Do you cellar? There has been a rash of wine burglaries around the world. One story was quixotic. The burglars stole $6 million worth of wine from a famous Bordeaux hotel. After inadvertently tripping the fire alarm and fleeing, they avoided arrest by throwing bottles worth thousands of dollars at the pursuing police car, which made its occupants quit the chase. The iconic French Laundry in Napa, with three Michelin stars, was hit for $300K; and Maison Rostang, two Michelin stars, $677K. Sad to report the French Laundry wine was found in a North Carolina collector’s cellar. Longtimers may recall my admonition. Always check provenance on older or high-end wine bought at auction or from private placements. Receiving stolen goods is a serious charge. Even if innocent, you will lose the monies paid, and the product will be returned. Modern high-end producers use lasers and digital tech devices to enable authentication. 

Sheetz convenience stores, collaborating with Wicked Weed Brewing, produced Happy Hole-idayz small batch craft beer. Brewed with the brand’s popular vanilla doughnut holes, it is described as a pale ale “with notes of fresh-baked donuts, vanilla frosting, graham crackers, honey and malted barley.” I learned that Wicked Weed was originally a self-distributing brewery. They only made a limited run of this ale and, sadly or happily, I haven’t found any. If any readers are near a Sheetz store and wish to send me a six-pack, I will happily reimburse cost plus shipping and a finder’s fee. I love the innovative marketing and, like most, a good humor break is needed.

Molson Coors’ Miller High Life Champagne bottles were rolled out again this year, but those looking for a fun idea to toast their honeys should have purchased the limited-edition coupe glasses. They cost about $20 for a frequency-paired set of two. These work via Wi-Fi to light up with a red, gold, white and blue pattern when in use. The promo piece claims these work “even if you are miles apart.” The release sold out in 3 minutes. The news article did not disclose how many were sold. I’m guessing we’ll see this promotion again, maybe for Valentine’s Day. Check for promos here:

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