Nineteen years ago, when I was writing a monthly column on food and wine for the Los Angeles Times, I had the good fortune to be invited to the Four Season's Restaurant in New York City for a very special dinner event. It was to honor the formation of the Nickel & Nickel Winery in Oakville (Napa Valley), an extension of the Far Niente winery, and to launch their amazing dessert wine: named Dolce--a clever riff on the Italian phrase "dolce far niente" which literally translates as "sweet for nothing" but actually means "pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness." Each person who attended the event was given a bottle of this golden blissful liquid to take home. We were also encouraged to take an empty magnum of the Far Niente chardonnay that was served at dinner to keep as a souvenir. My companion thought he would give his to his daughter to use as a "piggy bank," but after several months had passed I was inspired to fill mine with corks. My husband Elliott and I went to Home Depot to pick out an appropriate shade and wiring device and Elliott transformed the bottle into a lamp. The crowning grace was when he topped it with a champagne cork. It's a great reading lamp and is now my favorite place to sit in the living room.
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