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White
Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Blanca 2003 (Spain) $8

Veramente Chardonnay Casablanca Valley 2003 (Chile) $9

Ngatawara Glazebrook Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (New Zealand) $13.99

Sauvignon Republic Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (New Zealand) $17

Red
Salentein Mendoza Syrah 2002 (Argentina) $18

Valdubon Ribera del Duero Reserva 1999 (Spain) $21

Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Gran Reserva 1996 (Spain) $23

Marquis Philips Shiraz 2003 (Australia) $40

Beaulieu Vineyards George de la Tour Private Reserve 2001 (USA) $85
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THIS WEEK'S FEATURED ARTICLE

Prize Fighting
Saturday January 8th, 2005

Please excuse the departure from wine, but a more pressing matter has arisen: I need a prize. January is deadline time for newspaper and book awards. I'm scrambling around gathering columns, filling out forms and sending in books and entry fees. You may think real authors stay above all this, calmly going about their creative, patched-elbow business while editors and publishers carry out these tawdry tasks. If the man of letters should win, it's a pleasant enough surprise, but it's not as if his artistic soul craves this sort of materialistic hoo-ha.

Mine does. I lust for a foil medallion embossed on my cover. I ache to be an "acclaimed author." I could act cool, but the reality is that we freelancers must stoop to shameless levels of promotion if we want to be recognized.

I'm entering every contest I can find. If I still don't win, hey, it's a game of odds; it was merely the wrong year, the wrong judge, in fact nothing personal at all, I'll tell myself as I lie down on the train tracks.

The words Pulitzer and Nobel have a nice ring, but I'm not picky, any prize will do. I'd accept a highly academic medal like "Distinguished Scholar of Obtuse Œnology" although it wouldn't sell as many books as a punchier citation would. For instance there's actually an award for bad sex writing. Who wouldn't want to read that?

Anyway, I don't have much choice. There are far more prizes for food writers than wine scribes. And committees get awfully particular. No sooner do I find a contest I'm eligible for than it turns out to be only for redheads, or people who don't have a birthmark on their right thigh. There are prizes for whippersnappers and geezers, for Eskimos, amputees and residents of the British Commonwealth but not for me.

Length, depth and import appear to count heavily. So I search my past:

Have I overcome great odds? (My hard-drive crashed, once.) Did I affect the human condition this year? I'm not even sure what condition the human is in.

They want serious…strife-ridden… achingly poignant. How about a prize for frivolity? For taking the mind off the human condition for a few minutes?

Who are these people who die and endow prizes, anyway? Like serial killers, they always seem to have three names: The Dorothy Holdt Lindquist Award for Distinguished Service to Centipedes. The Dromley Coates Norville Prize for Ethics in War-Torn Preschools.

A perusal of winning entries from years past is dismaying. I can't help thinking, "They chose…that?" They might as well endow an N. V. Greenwith Award for Writers Who Don't Deserve It as Much as You Do.

I think I need to change my name to Meryl, or Beryl, and write something so inscrutably literary that even I don't understand it. A folio filled with pathos and post-modern deconstructionism: The Ship-Builder's Daughter, by Beryl Sands. "Touches hearts and souls,…hauntingly unforgettable,…makes us reflect on what sort of a people we are, that we actually use phrases like a people."

I go through this every year. I've yet to win, but last year I was a runner-up for World's Best Drinks Writer, a title that reeks of the preposterous chutzpah of those companies that "officially" name stars after you. How I wanted it!! Though I congratulated the winner, excellent writer and friend Natalie MacLean, my sporting attitude was marred by a fantasy where she chokes on her martini olive and I'm forced to don the swimsuit, high-heels and tiara and take her place gliding down the runway at glamorous openings, and speaking earnestly to children about their future.

Surely there exists a contest so lame, so unknown, so badly publicized that even I could win. If not, I could invent my own. Come to think of it, why bother? Why not just start referring to myself as "Award-Winning Author?" One of my mentors says that's not lying, it's anticipating.

By esteemed author of the celebrated masterpiece “Waiter, There's a Horse in My Wine,” Jennifer "Liar-Liar-Pants-on-Fire" Rosen.

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