The latest episode of Glee brought viewers yet another tearfest: Quinn quivering tearfully when boyfriend Sam breaks up with her; Sue blinking away tears while singing “This Little Light of Mine” to hospitalized children; Rachel tearing up after a compliment from ex-boyfriend Finn; and a Justin Bieber serenade driving some glee club members into an emotional, teary frenzy.

 

It was enough to make a person wonder: Do tears serve a purpose beyond the obvious expression of emotion?

A study published recently in Science takes us a little ways toward an answer. Investigators found that the smell of tears triggered neither sadness nor empathy in men, but it did make them feel less attracted to women. Men exposed to the scent of fresh emotional tears experienced decreased testosterone levels and less activity in brain areas involved… More…

 

 

I recently purchased a kit called “Le Nez Du Vin” that professes to teach me how to identify various aromas in a glass of wine. The kit, which is imported from France, comes in a dictionary-sized case covered in red fabric so that it resembles an old book. Inside are a dozen tiny glass vials, each of which is redolent of a specific, essential red-wine scent when uncapped. These vials are cosseted in crushed velvet (or likely velour). It was purchased at Williams-Sonoma. It cost $130.

Go ahead: Roll your eyes; chuckle derisively; whatever you have to do. I’ll wait until you finish. OK, finished?

The “Le Nez Du Vin” kit contains two slim manuals both written by Jean Lenoir, a French wine critic who over 25 years ago developed this method of wine education by way… More…

Today’s oenophiles have to consider the possibility that their valuable wine bottles may be corked, oxidized, “maderized” (ruined due to over-heating), re-fermented (gone fizzy in the bottle), or sullied by a contaminant. Things were much easier in 16th-century Italy: You could just blame the witches. It was commonly believed that after their satanic midnight Sabbath parties, witches had the nasty habit of invading a village’s wine cellars and sullying the vats with their urine or excrement. This, needless to say, did nothing for a wine’s bouquet. Thousands of European women were being burned at the stake for their evil powers, but somehow the problem could not be controlled.

The situation was better if you happened to live in northern Italy’s alpine province of Friuli on the border with Austria (still a fine wine-producing region), because there dwelt a team of occult heroes: the benandanti, or Good Walkers, a revered group… More…