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American Gold Medal Wines 2005 compiles the top wines from 20 influential wine competitions in the United States. The directory lists wines first by varietal and then by price, which reflects the way many consumers shop for wines. American Gold Medal Wines is $11.95 and available in bookstores or online at


Looking to get in the spirits for a Super Bowl party or other gathering? Click on for drink and food ideas. Besides lots of recipes for yummy cocktails, some even nonalcoholic, and appetizers, you'll find a glossary of wine terms and information about wineries around the world. One recipe that caught out attention is the Florida Pumpkin Patch, which despite its curiously autumnal name would be a good year-round drink. To make one, mix in a shaker: 1{ ounces coconut rum, 1{ ounces white creme de menthe, 1 ounce each grapefruit and orange juice. Shake all ingredients and strain over ice in a highball glass. We're not sure what it has to do with pumpkins, but we like the way it sounds.


If you promised yourself to cut calories in 2005, you might want to consider reaching for a Beck's Premier Light. The new featherweight beer has only 64 calories, about 80 calories less than a regular Beck's. Premier Light has 3.9 carb grams. The brewer began shipping the beer to retail markets this month, and it is expected to be widely available in March. It will come in 12-ounce bottles for about $6 a six-pack.


Bordeaux wine producers announced more depressing export figures last week, with sales to the United States down by more than a third in a year. Exports from the historic wine region in southwest France to the United States fell by 35 percent in volume and 59 percent in value for the first three quarters of 2004 compared with the same period in 2003, according to the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine. The only good news was an increase in sales to Russia and the Asian market. French winemakers are going through their worst crisis in decades, thanks to competition from new producer countries and falling domestic consumption.


The Bonjour Wine Cube from Sur La Table offers a handsome, compact way to store wine. The 16-inch cube holds two standing bottles and nine others in metal racks. There are eight temperature choices and a convection cooling system that circulates air evenly to cool wine without noise and vibrations. Cost is $199.95. Click on or call toll-free 1-800-243-0852.

_ Compiled by JANET K. KEELER from staff and wire reports