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Wonder wine

Paris, Nov. 20 (Reuters): It may cost more, but that did not prevent Parisians from descending in droves on bars and bistros to down a wineglass or more of Beaujolais Nouveau 2003 today, worldwide release day.

“It tastes good this year, with a slight note of raspberry to it,” said bank employee Jean-Michel Genevois. He seemed unperturbed by higher prices as he sipped through his first glass and read the morning newspapers in a downtown cafe. “I’m always going to buy it.”

Hundreds of thousands of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau were being uncorked across the globe as the clock struck midnight yesterday, in a neatly orchestrated release of what is arguably the world’s best marketed wine. “Clients notice that it’s more expensive,” Laurent Veron, a wine store manager in the French capital, said, noting that his prices were about 10 per cent higher than last year. He hoped to sell about 250 bottles, compared with what he says would be about three bottles of normal Beaujolais wine on any other day of the year.

Vodka norm

Helsinki (Reuters): Finland’s teetotal Prime Minister defied diplomatic etiquette and Finnish culture this week by serving his Russian counterpart apple juice instead of vodka with dinner. “Finnish culture stipulates as a norm that guests of this calibre are served alcoholic beverages,” Maisa Moijanen from the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce said. “Vodka is an integral part of the dinner setting in Russia... Wine can be skipped. Vodka can’t!” But when Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and his wife dined at the home of Finland’s Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen this week, they had to wash down their elk steak with water and apple juice. “I do not want to give my children the example that alcohol consumption is part of a meal,” Vanhanen said when quizzed about his choice of tipple.

Divorce deal

Brussels (Reuters): A Belgian furniture shop is offering special packages for divorced men who hate shopping in a country where half of all marriages end in a divorce after five years. The packages, sold at 2,290 euros ($2,729) a piece, include a living room, a complete bedroom, a dining room and a television set, including a DVD player. “I always tell them: ‘You have to put an end to this part of your life and start a new one’,” Paul Dierckx, the owner of the shop, who is twice divorced, said. The shop sells at least 10 kits a week.

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