A semi-brief technical matter before the entertainment, kids: some of you may have noticed that I have discontinued use of screwcap closures and have been using agglomerate corks of various shades and decorations as closures for the past few years, but not so-called 'natural' one-piece corks (except in one special circumstance which is immaterial to this discussion of materials). I am still supportive of screwcaps despite their physical vulnerability to a 'rim strike' on the bottle, but my mobile bottler has five lines with varying schedules, and only one has a machine that applies screwcaps.
The producers of agglomerate corks have made tremendous progress over the last decade, after some false starts and one persistently flawed product, the "1+1" - identifiable by the relatively large (2-6mm) and irregular cork chunks that make up the bulk of the cork cylinder, and the thin disc of 1-piece cork at either end. The modern agglomerates, on the other hand, consist of small and relatively uniform cork pieces (under 2 mm) that have been carefully washed and purged of TCA and other contaminants. They may look cheap, but they can cost 2-5 times as much as a one piece 'natural' cork. (Of course, there are some very expensive "natural" corks available, and some producers of $100+ wines use them, but as there's no way to wash, purge, or reliably test one piece corks, they're playing Moldy Lotto.) My quality control method is simple - I get a sample bag from a producer whose website says the right things about the specifics of their production technology, and then I bite a cork in half. Sniff. Repeat until I get a bad one, or the bag's empty.
Something to drink while the King sweats? Chapoutier Tavel Rose, $12. Puligny Montrachet, $22. Two Cold Ducks! Printed only two years before his death; it's a shame he didn't ask a lovely young thing in the front row for one of these.
"Hey Charlie, get me one bottle of everything on this list, and I'll see what I like best. These damn pills are killin' me."