This could be the hottest dish you'll ever read. The 1996 "Marilyn Merlot" has just been released, with the dishy blond on the label. A different picture from the star's estate adorns the bottle every year, and there are actually oenophiles who refuse to buy the wine because of the glitzy label, but most customers who buy "Marilyn Merlot" don't usually buy wine. Only 2,000 or so cases are made a year, so "Marilyn" is a real collector's item, and because the winemaker had no idea how popular the wine would be, it kept no old vintages. Wisely, Jasper Russo at Marty's put back two cases of last year's "Marilyn" (which are now for sale). "Marilyn Merlot" is available in only a few markets, and Marty's gets calls for the wine--which Russo calls "a good wine packaged provocatively"--from all over the country. OK, the bottle is good-looking, but how good is the wine? "Better than it has to be," according to Russo.
--Mary Brown Malouf
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In Dallas, you can only get it at Marty's for $23.50 a bottle, with a discounted case price.