June’s Best Reads on Drinks and Drinking

Welcome to The PUNCHbowl, a monthly installment where we share our favorite long reads on all things drinks and nightlife. This month: a vineyard growing in a cemetery, the case of the disappearing pint glass, Georgia's tradition of drunken speeches, and more.

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In a measure to conserve water and cut costs, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland planted grape vines instead of grass at a cemetery outside of San Francisco. Unexpectedly, award-winning wines resulted. The New York Times on how the vines have turned the cemetery into a destination for both spiritual devotees and wine lovers, and the relationship of wine to the church. [New York Times]

Georgians advertise themselves as the world’s most profligate tributary drinkers: Legend holds that the sword brandished by Mother Georgia herself is meant to implore onlookers to finish the wine she offers in her other hand. In Lucky Peach, Gideon Lewis-Kraus investigates the nation’s penchant for ritual feasts and their drunken speeches. [Lucky Peach]

Antwerp’s so-called “brown cafés,” Belgium’s answer to America’s dive bars, are an integral part of the city’s fabric. In Saveur, Michael Snyder takes a look at the complex question of what characterizes these ancient fixtures of the city. [Saveur]

From kottbusser to grisette, craft brewers are reviving once-obscure beer styles by revamping historic recipes and reintroducing bygone techniques, in addition to using old-fashioned trial and error. Imbibe delves into the new wave of old beers. [Imbibe]

A barroom fixture since the early 20th century, the pint glass is under threat as many craft beers require smaller pours and alternate glassware that emphasize aroma, head retention or, simply, brand identity. The Washington Post discovers that the new shapes and smaller glasses are becoming favored at bars where they create the illusion of lower priced beer—a clever conceit in a market where beer prices have steadily increased. [Washington Post]

Born an heir to Napa Valley royalty, Joe Wagner split from his family’s company to forge his own wine brand, Copper Cane Wine & Provisions, which stakes its success on visibility and distribution over short-term trends. His leaving represents not just a departure from his family but from the romantic notion of California wine as valuing tradition and legacy. [San Francisco Chronicle]

In Japan, craft beer makes up less than one percent of the domestic market. But a dedicated faction of brewers hopes to change that. Japanese brewers are experimenting with native ingredients such as yuzu, sake yeast, sweet potatoes and plums to create award-winning beers that provide further evidence Japan’s craft beer scene is picking up speed. [Japan Times]

Owner of the legendary Chateau Haut-Brion, Prince Robert of Luxembourg, never intended to join the family firm. Originally pursuing a career in Hollywood, the prince has since taken a savvy approach to the family wine business, expanding their repertoire by adding estates and a negociant house to his portfolio of businesses. Bloomberg wine critic Elin McCoy talks with the prince about his vision. [Bloomberg]

Over the course of a decade Ravi DeRossi has built an empire of food and drink establishments in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Despite boasting a portfolio of over 15 of the city’s most coveted spots, DeRossi maintains a low-profile while still operating under a hands-on approach. In the New York Times Jeff Gordinier profiles the stealth restaurateur. [New York Times]

In FiveThirtyEight, Oliver Roeder combs through the data on 140,000 wines sold at auction from 10,000 producers in 33 countries, and their prices. The results? A high-end wine market marked by years of history, geography, economics—and “a detectable aroma of bullshit.” [FiveThirtyEight]

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