PUNCH’s Most Popular Stories of 2014

From nude French wine harvesters to discussions of gender, True Detective, wine tonging, Wall Street drinking and the all-important history of jungle juice, here's a look back at the 15 most popular stories on PUNCH this year.

nude wine calendar lapierre

What can we learn from the most popular stories we published this year? We like nudity. So, basically, we all learned nothing new about ourselves this year. Kidding. With many of the most popular stories on the site it’s often easy to explain why they’ve touched a wide audience (nudity), but the success of other stories is less obvious. Below is a mix of the obvious and the surprising, from a calendar of nude French wine harvesters to discussions of gender, drinking alone, the bar behind True Detective, wine tonging, Wall Street’s drinking habits and the all-important history of jungle juice.

  • 1

    Behold a Calendar of Nude French Wine Harvesters

    Posted on the walls of select Parisian wine bars is the wine world's version of a pin-up calendar—12+ months of harvesters and the winemaker posing nude at legendary natural producer Domaine Lapierre. Aaron Ayscough peels back the pages of Mathieu Lapierre's calendar.

  • 2

    The Myth of Sommelier Certification, Debunked

    Despite common belief, "sommelier" is not a certification. It's a job. Carson Demmond explores what it means to be a sommelier and why an exam has nothing to do with it.

  • 3

    The Art of Drinking Alone

    For most, the thought of drinking alone at bars is fraught with anxiety. But for Brad Thomas Parsons, it's become a routine that has not only taught him the virtue of familiarity, but continues to connect him to the memory of his father.

  • 4

    Is Wine "Tonging" the New Sabering?

    At Eleven Madison Park in New York City, wine director Dustin Wilson has resurrected tonging on a nightly basis. And it doesn’t just apply to port: Wilson uses tongs to open regular bottles of vintage wine as well. It’s all conducted tableside with subtle spectacle on a deco service cart tricked out with an open flame, hot silver wax, an ice bath and big metal tongs. What’s not to like? Have a look.

  • 5

    What's Behind the Cocktail World's Obsession with Fireball?

    To the surprise of purists, Fireball is beginning to wriggle out of its bro-shot shackles and into unexpected territory: the craft cocktail bar. Drew Lazor on what's behind the highbrow embrace of one of the country's most notorious lowbrow spirits.

  • 6

    Sex, Sexism and the Natural Wine Label

    Images of naked women and references to everything from ejaculation to getting a woman drunk and into bed have become increasingly common on French natural wine labels. Why? Rémy Charest on what's behind the trend.

  • 7

    What Does It Mean to Drink Like a Woman?

    Decades of etiquette and marketing about spirits, cocktails and bartending have established stereotypes about how women like to and should drink. Shanna Farrell explores the history of women behind—and in front of—the bar, as well as her own relationship with drinking.

  • 8

    The Wines of Wall Street

    In the '90s and early aughts, wines of a certain type became intrinsic to the Wall Street lifestyle, acting as a liquid corollary of the finance industry's own hedonistic tendencies. But have things changed? Christopher Ross examines the evolution of Wall Street wine culture.

  • 9

    What Does Mise en Place Mean in Cocktail Bars?

    Increasingly complicated cocktails require increasingly complicated preparation behind the bar. Carey Jones takes a look at how bartenders have borrowed the concept of mise en place from chefs and clubs to speed things up—and keep them in place.

  • 10

    The True Bar Behind True Detective

    Bayou Gauche is a small fishing village at the end of America—a place that seems to telegraph a sort of primordial southernness. The only bar in town, Fisherman's Wharf, has recently caught the attention of Hollywood, becoming the centerpiece of HBO's True Detective. Christopher Ross explores the bar behind the bar.

  • 11

    The Twisted History of Jungle Juice

    Jungle juice has many names, but only one common language: extreme intoxication. Kenzi Wilbur digs into the crooked oral tradition that has led America's firewater from the jungles of the Southwest Pacific during WWII to college trashcans around the country.

  • 12

    Diary of a 24-Hour Dive Bar

    What does a 24-hour bar look like at 7 a.m.? Sarah Baird pulls up a round-the-clock barstool at NOLA's Brothers III to experience the full lifecycle of nightlife's greatest cultural intersection—the dive bar.

  • 13

    Op-Ed: In Defense of Sommelier Certification

    In response to an article posted on PUNCH late last month, Dustin Wilson—Master Sommelier and Wine Director at New York's Eleven Madison Park—makes his case for the merit and influence of sommelier certification.

  • 14

    Coupe d'État: The Rise and Fall of the Champagne Flute

    What the evolution of Champagne's drinking vessel—from coupe to flute to wine glass—says, not only about how the wine has changed, but how we, the drinkers, have changed.

  • 15

    Crowd Control: A History of Bar Etiquette

    Drinking in bars often requires a code of conduct to keep inebriation in balance with hospitality. Dan Saltzstein takes a look at bar etiquette and its role throughout the ages, from the days of saloon spittoons to the era of faux-speakeasy house rules.