Has wine become a drink for sissies?

For years, unaffiliated loudmouths like me have been screaming that it's become almost unbearable for the average person to order wine in restaurants, what with the worn-out, pretentious serving rituals and high prices. And now no less an authority than The New York Times agrees. In a recent article, the Times revealed that more restaurant goers are forsaking wine with their meals in favor of cocktails. Why? Because they're damn scared to order wine, afraid to look stupid in front of dates and clients, unwilling to pay the high prices. Cocktails are easy. And cheap. OK, restaurants, I've warned you before: Cut the bullshit before it's too late. A white wine confession A lot of the letters I receive are about my personal wine preferences. If you must know, I almost never drink white wine at any time other than summer, when many reds feel too heavy. A good choice for cooling down is Hedges tasty 1998 Fume-Chardonnay blend. Crisp, fruity, and dry, it delivers jasmine and lemon aromas plus honeydew and pineapple flavors, with a kiss of vanilla. And since it's only $9 a bottle, you can afford to quit serving swill to your friends. In fact, I'd recommend getting new friends entirely. Dear Dennis, How do they put the bubbles in champagne? CONFUSED, FALL CITY Dear Confused, One at a time. Actually, they don't put bubbles in champagne. The champagne puts them in itself. When wine ferments, it produces alcohol, carbon dioxide (natural bubbles), and heat. In most wines, the heat and bubbles are allowed to escape. But in champagne, the carbon dioxide is trapped in the bottle. DENNIS Vino-mail: wine@seattleweekly.com

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