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If You Read Anything This Week: Wine News 2.17.2017

Reconsidering the first taste: Using New York’s Italienne as an example, Eric Asimov considers whether the ritual of offering a first taste of wine to the guest should continue in restaurants where the sommelier also tastes the wine before serving. , wine director at Italienne, made the choice to eliminate the taste after reflecting on uncomfortable moments with guests. [NYT]

US wine export report: In 2016, American wine exports were down 10.5% from 2015 but reached a record high revenue due to the strong dollar. California’s wine accounted for 90% of that total, with the UK remaining its largest overseas market. Exports to both the EU and China rose in value and volume. [Decanter]

Mikkeller partners with Rick Astley: Mikkeller is collaborating with British singer Rick Astley on an English-style lager, a partnership better understood upon learning that Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is an Astley fan, and Astley’s wife is Danish. Astley isn’t a craft beer fanatic, so the lager is a more straightforward offering than many from Mikkeller. [Lucky Peach]

Airlines offer cocktails: Airlines are now getting into craft cocktails. Virgin Atlantic is partnering with local bars for the cocktails at its lounges in five cities, and United Airlines offers over 20 cocktails created by well-known mixologists in its new United Polaris lounges. United, Delta, Emirates, JetBlue, and Air France offer inflight cocktails. [NYT]

Walmart’s craft brew attacked: A class-action lawsuit accuses Walmart of deceiving customers with its new beer. Though Walmart stated it is “collaborating” with Trouble Brewing, there’s no brewery by this name in the US, and the brewery actually making the beer is too large to be a craft brewer as defined by the Brewers Association. [Grub Street]

The early cocktail renaissance: Cocktails were redefined in the 1990s and early 2000s by bartenders who reintroduced forgotten flavor profiles. They called on familiar names for context, as with the Breakfast Martini and Porn Star Martini, and used well-known formulas as templates, for example, riffing on the Mojito to create the Old Cuban. [PUNCH]

What do you think?

Do you think the ritual of offering guests a taste of their wine after you've already tasted it for faults still holds value? We had a related discussion earlier this week. How might this revised format for service affect the situation we discussed there? Where do you draw the line between meaningful tradition and empty ritual?

What are your favorite beer collaborations?

Which would be your airline preference: wine, beer, spirits, or cocktails?

What do you think the term "craft" means to most consumers? Does Walmart's labeling of its beer go against that general understanding?

Which cocktails of the last few decades do you think were most important to the cocktail renaissance?

What else have you been reading this week?