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Sunday, November 15, 1998

The grapevine is buzzing: 1998 will be a very good year for the taste buds.Everything you need to know about wine appreciation-from expert picks of the best choices for your money to the easiest corkscrew

"When I was a kid, wine meant a gallon jug of Gallo or Blue Nun," says actor Kyle Maclachlan. "It wasn't something you drank every day. It was for special occasions."

Kyle Maclachlan, at Capo restaurant in Santa Monica, samples chef-owner Bruce Marder's wine-friendly dishes with vintner Ann Colgin.

Not anymore. The 39-year-old star of Twin Peaks and the recent One Night Stand first devel-oped an appreciation for fine wine "when [director] David Lynch gave me a bottle of Lynch-Bages, a French Bordeaux, during the auditioning process for Dune." Maclachlan got the part-and a taste for the good life. When he bought a house in the Hollywood Hills several years ago, he installed a wine cellar; now he cracks open a favorite vintage from his 750-bottle collection on a regular basis. "I like everything about it," he says. "It's a pleasure to get something and hold on to it, knowing it's getting better. And when there's a special occasion you have it there in the cellar. I love the whole am-bience: the idea of people together enjoying wine, food and conversation."

Maclachlan is only one of a new breed of wine lover. "The market is definitely getting more so-phisticated," says vintner Ann Colgin, whose tiny Napa Valley winery recently set a world record for California wine when a case of its ‘94 Colgin cab-ernet (which went for $50 a bottle in 1997) was auctioned for $16,ioo at Christie's Los Angeles. But Colgin, who also runs the wine department at Sotheby's auction house in Beverly Hills, agrees that the best part about wine is the camaraderie it creates. "Every bottle," she says, "is a unique experience."

 By Mark Morrison