Welcome to Distilled—our weekly look at booze news from the Globe and beyond. 

You had to be there. And now you can. Sort of. Wine educator Patricia Gastaud-Gallagher, English aficionado Steven Spurrier, and French wine editor Odette Kahn at the Judgment of Paris tasting, 1976.

Our “Gift Guide” coverage—we’re calling it What to Get for the Hard to Get For—featured this piece on a truly over-the-top extravaganza: something silly, contrived, utterly fun, utterly wonderful, and which we by-golly really want to do. For May, a luxury experience company has put together a simulacrum of the Judgment of Paris tasting of 1976. There’s a movie about this, Bottle Shock, as you probably know, with Severus Snape, a U.S. president, and a sort of stoned Captain Kirk, among other notables. Here’s a great radio story from WFDD Public Radio in the NC Piedmont area from May 2016, the event’s 40th anniversary.

Virtual Reality IS Reality. At Least for a Bit Longer.

Most of the online tastings we’ve experienced have been with wine, but spirits makers are developing programs as well. On a new-to-us site, spitbucket.net, writer Amber LeBeau dishes on three lessons she’s learned from hosting seven months of virtual events. There’s data, and some amusing stuff about how tricky time zones can get (I recently did a tasting with a West Coast maker that got going at 9 pm…). At the Globe, we’re just trying to make the best of it. That was our conclusion last week, in any case.  “It’s not a perfect solution,” writes wine critic Renee Wilmeth (@feedmedrinkme), “but maybe it can hold us over.” Must… hang on… just … a little longer.

Speaking of Which, the Situation with Restaurants Is a Hot Mess

It seems clear that no one really thinks dining is the most dangerous activity out there; it’s just one of the few things the government can successfully control. But we sure wish someone could come up with some better ideas. A month ago, Time Out New York published a list of five dozen places that have closed permanently; needless to say, things aren’t getting any better. Tempers are flaring, as this piece on the legendary White Horse Tavern demonstrates. And in California, among other places, there’s a feeling that liquor control boards are, well, a little power-drunk. 

AND—here we thought we’d had our Last (Restaurant) Supper in March. Sigh.

 Some News Just Jumps Out at You For Some Reason

Last week the NY Post had this little item about something a health minister in Russia said, right out loud apparently. And suddenly the glow of the possible end of the pandemic dimmed for a moment. No drinking, said this odious functionary, for two months after vaccination. We are all in favor of breaks, but in the name of Jack Daniels! The Providence Journal came out with an expose. Fake news, apparently. Russian hoax. We’ll stay vigilant.

More End-of-the-Year Lists 

Which are always fun to read. If you can tamp down the jealousy. Here’s Bloomberg’s Top 1o, with a Krug and a DRC. Critic Mark Squires, a stalwart presence at RobertParker.com, went with his favorite discoveries. Spectator did a slow reveal on its top 10 (as we touched on last week) and then released its indefatigable Top 100.

Sometimes You Want What You Haven’t Got

Also in our holiday coverage,  a positive take on Peanut Butter Whiskey. It’s from Hard Truth Distillery in Nashville, Indiana, in that state’s beautiful Brown County. The latest intel is that it is easiest to find in Indiana. But a good friend recently acquired a bottle in a Costco in New Jersey, so it’s findable. Hang on for a Christmas miracle.