"If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking Merlot." So says wine-snob Miles in the critically acclaimed movie Sideways. And those two sentences have reverberated throughout the wine making (and drinking) world.

Many oenophiles have turned up their noses since the mid-1990s, when "a glass of Merlot" became synonymous, for casual drinkers, with a glass of red wine. But sales never stopped rising, and Merlot passed Cabernet as America's best-selling red wine in 2000, according to the Wine Institute.

Napa Valley met Hollywood and the impact is noticeable. Not only has the sales of Merlot started to show some signs of slipping, now it's more than just wine-aficionados who are turning their backs on Merlots. Miles' favorite varietal is Pinot Noir and a positive impact has been felt in the valleys as well.

Pinot noir sales reached 370,000 cases for the 12 weeks ending Jan. 15, up nearly 16 percent from the same period a year ago, according to an ACNielsen analysis released Monday.

Let's pause before we toss Merlots into the same heap as White Zin, Everclear, and the other guilty pleasures those of us whose thirst for a buzz occasionally overide our thirst for status. Let's remember this gentle, but firm, and always versatile wine. What are your favorite merlots? And for those of you who have turned your back on the "cashmere sweater" of wines (even those of you who did so before Sideways) share with us your favorite flavor of grape.


Thank you for all the kind words. I haven't neccisarily gone the way of Andrew Sullivan, or have succumbed to the sachirine. There will be more coming here soon, thank you all for your patientce.

Speaking of bloggers navel gazing, Justin Hall is stepping down.

"What if intimacy happens in quiet moments?" he said. "I think the Web makes me not alone and I feed it my intimacies, and the Web is my constant connection to something larger than myself ... but what if something you do, something you practice like religion as a dialogue with the divine, drives people away from you?"

I'll see you all soon.
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

Hunter S. Thompson is dead. The father of Gonzo-Journalism, and best selling author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shot and killed himself at his home just outside of Aspen.

Whether writing about the depravity that sucked away the soul of America, or the latest line on a big football game, Thompson connected to his readers in indelible ways, for better or for worse.