Radio Gaga

Maybe he got tired of inhaling corks. Or maybe his liver joined a union and went on strike as he went from a sniff to a sip. At any rate, Dallas sommelier hotshot Daryl Beeson has cut back his involvement with Voltaire, a restaurant that has enough expensive wine to marinate a whole platoon of livers and still have enough left for the Joint Chiefs. But not only is Beeson cutting back on his Voltaire duties, he has exited the KLRD Restaurant Show with Jim White (Sundays from noon to 2 p.m.), where he was producer and resident wine expert. Beeson says the job conflicted with the other tippler tattle he does for the Dining Around Show on KGO in San Francisco as well as the Gabby Gourmet show on KHOW in Denver. Both the San Francisco and Denver stations are ABC affiliates, and KLRD is tethered to CBS, an apparent conflict. Beeson, who was producer of the KLRD restaurant show for some five years, says his mounting writing gigs (D magazine, Cowboys and Indians and the Underground Wine Journal) also contributed to his professional shuffle.

Holiday Inns are no longer reserved exclusively for cutting-edge home decorating ideas or vulcanized scrambled eggs. Now you can actually find decent food there. The Holiday Inn Select in Richardson, with a little help from DMC Hospitality, has just opened Austin's Grill, an upscale casual restaurant featuring prime rib, steaks, pork chops, chicken and a little seafood. Not only that, but it has a Sunday brunch for $11.95 and a Friday night seafood buffet for $13.95. Holiday Inn may spread Austin's to other hotels nationwide...eccolo Ristorante and encoteca has officially opened. And the press verbiage dispersed to mark the event notes that eccolo owner Alvin Granoff is not only owner of the restaurant, he is a graduate of the Southern Methodist University Law School and a onetime Texas legislator (1982-95) who brings 20 years of law practice "to the table." Which means if you eat and drink there often, you'll not only keep him out of practice, you'll feel doubly good knowing you'll be keeping him out of office...The Wine Institute recently reported that California wine sales dipped 1 percent last year compared with 1999. But the carnage occurred in value-priced sizes (bag-in-the-box and those bottles that look like moonshine jugs). According to supermarket sales data, chardonnay is the leader in varietal sales with 19 percent of the total, followed by white zinfandel with 13 percent and merlot with 11 percent. The report notes that red wine sales have surged some 124 percent since 1991, with the fastest varietal growth shown among pinot noir, zinfandel and syrah.

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz