I offered Professor Gump my observation that in comparing wines, the pictures on labels are of utmost importance. I mentioned that animals, for instance, sell very well — especially among females. (I'm not making this up. Studies have been done.) "One of the students designed the label," he replied, seemingly not all that impressed with my laborious research. "It uses 'FIU' as a combination of a corkscrew, a bottle, and a wine glass." Now I was the one who wasn't all that impressed; I am certain Knut the polar bear or my cute cat Yani would have been better. I withheld my opinion and moved onto the names. Said Gump: "For the red Merlot, I'm going to use 'Brilliante.' On the back label, we'll list the students in the class." The white will be called "Don Rose" — "a parody of rosé."
I don't think Mr. Gump would disagree with the assessment that there will be better wines to drink at the festival. The Grand Tasting Village on Saturday and Sunday offers more sampling than anyone can manage, and 40 of the world's top wineries will pour their finest reserves at the Best of the Best affair Friday evening at the American Airlines Arena (presumably there will be more room now that Shaq has left). Wine Spectator seminars at the Miami Beach Convention Center are also worthwhile for enophiles, and this year the convention center will be hosting a Gekkeikan Sake seminar as well as "Grappology: Getting to Grips with Grappa." Still, my picks for best bets are the vertical tastings of Dominus Estate and "7 Top Pomerol Wines," and "Opus One: Past, Present, and Future." From Amstel to Opus — gotta be fun.