DRINKS: GOING SCREWY

Wine openers may soon be a thing of the past, as vintners replace their corks with screw caps. Blame "cork taint." As much as 10 percent of all wine with a cork falls victim to a mold known as TCA, which causes wine to develop a musty "soggy dog" taste.

ROAD TEST: HONDA ODYSSEY

You've heard of a sports car and a sports sedan, but a sports van? Honda's latest iteration of its Odyssey minivan is so quick and handles so well, it just might be the world's first one.

FAMILY: MISSED MANNERS

If your little angel is more like a devil, sign him up for a crash course in gentility. These hotels offer one-day classes on everything from table manners to the waltz.Hotel Bel-Air, Los AngelesChildren 6 to 12 learn the art of introduction, phone manners and protocol for eating such dishes as caviar, shrimp and asparagus.

ROAD TEST: PORSCHE 911 CARRERA

As if the last Carrera model weren't exhilarating enough, Porsche's 2005 redesign of this classic coupe is even better. With a slimmer silhouette, the new Carrera looks more serious and even sexier than before.

ROAD TEST: JAGUAR S-TYPE R

Jaguar purists still lament Ford's purchase of the venerable British company, but I say the brand still has plenty of panache. The tweaked redesign of the 2005 S-Type has long, curvaceous lines that nod to the badge's halcyon days and little updates that pull the S-Type R edition into the 21st century.

At A Crossroads

I stared at the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee and saw a hint of minivan. "No," my friend said, "it has Hummer lines, it's more buff." I could see that, too.

ROAD TEST | TOYOTA SCION TC

Why should kids have all the fun? Though Toyota asked its youngest designers to build a line of cars they themselves would want to drive, this newest Scion, the tC, appeals to my short-on-cash but want-it-all-anyway inner teen.

Bring Me An Island

Peter Palmisano is a jet-setter. No, the Napa Valley resort owner doesn't wear open shirts and gold chains, but he is a member of Abercrombie & Kent, one of about 15 destination clubs, a travel service modeled on country clubs that first appeared about five years ago.

It's Camp Chardonnay

It's fall harvest in Napa Valley. Workers slice ripe, heavy grape clusters off the vines. They taste a grape or two, pronounce them sweet, wield the knife and toss the cluster over their heads into a bucket strapped onto a backpack.

ROAD TEST: FORD GT

Test driving Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bentleys, one expects lookie-loos. But with a Ford? Clearly, this is no ordinary Ford. With a warplike 205mph top speed, the GT is one of the most anticipated sports cars to come out of Detroit in years.

Perfect Weekend: The Hamlet By The Sea

Sausalito, the postage-stamp-size waterfront village just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, has a colorful past. Decades ago its mayor was a convicted madam.

Road Test | Subaru Outback

I'm a West Coast woman but I can't help but feel like a New Englander in Subaru's redesigned Outback L.L. Bean edition. It has so many practical features that Northeastern folks covet, yet it's also loaded with town-and-country luxuries like thick Berber floor mats, matte (OK, simulated) wood and chrome interior accents, a leather-wrapped and lacquered mahogany steering wheel and an enormous panoramic sunroof that extends deep into the back seat.On the practical side, there is ample...

TIPSHEET

Eugenio Perazza just wanted a desk for his 2-year-old granddaughter, Anna, a budding artist. But Perazza, the owner of the Italian furniture-design firm Magis, couldn't find any well-made, modern kids' pieces that he liked.

ROAD TEST | VOLKSWAGEN R32

Some cars, like the R32, look like they were designed for teenagers. But this compact hatchback, whose exterior resembles an ordinary GTI model with some extra sport cladding, is really a beast in bunny-rabbit clothing--and far too much car for a child.

ROAD TEST | FORD FOCUS

Who would have guessed that the Focus, long popular for its low price and not much else, would emerge in a 2005 redesign as a true driver's car? The ZX4 ST sedan, which comes only in 5-speed manual, satisfied all my pragmatic demands, plus my need for speed.

TRAVEL: IT'S DOUBLE OR NOTHING

Trey Taylor thought he had frequent-flier miles all figured out. The Atlanta-based Internet executive flies Delta exclusively, shops with a SkyMiles credit card and pays his mortgage online through a program with a Delta tie-in.

NO ROSE GARDEN

We all know you go to Sonoma to taste good wine, but now gardeners seeking inspiration can look beyond the local grape. The Cornerstone Festival of Gardens (cornerstonegardens.com), the nation's first permanent folly garden, opened last month and showcases the best in cutting-edge international landscape design.

ROAD TEST: MAZDA MPV

Face it, no one buys a minivan to be fashionable. But the Mazda MPV, while not a standout in the looks department, has charms to make any parent smile, not the least of which is its low price.

FOOD: WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Adam Tihany had one caveat before agreeing to design Cravings, the Mirage hotel's new $12 million buffet that opened late last month in Las Vegas: don't call it a buffet.

GUYS PICKUP ON THIS

Single women, take note. Chevy's new SSR pickup is a guy magnet. Driving my shockingly yellow tester, I was hooted at no fewer than five times. A guy in a passing Lexus even pressed his nose against his car window to take a look.

Road Test: Mustang: A Real Stallion

The valet parking attendant outside an L.A. restaurant opened my car door and gushed, "Mucho macho." I beg your pardon? I may not be a Barbie doll, but no one's ever called me macho before.

Tip Sheet

Travel: Fly Business--For LessFlying "business" used to entitle employees not just to unlimited wine and legroom but also to pampered, restriction-free travel.

A Toy Story

Everything about Mazda's fancy new Miata reminds me of the old roadsters from the atomic age. Remember those charming Triumphs, MGs and Datsuns from the early 1960s?

Road Test: Gmc Envoy Xuv

I picked up a set of birch trees for my yard last week and hauled them home all by myself. I'm not bragging--or going into the landscape biz. It's just that I was driving around town, testing out GMC's new Envoy XUV, when I passed a nursery and thought, "Why not?" The Envoy XUV has a power-sliding roof that retracts, turning this SUV into a pickup truck at the touch of button.

Drive Like A Rebel

In the 1950s, James Dean looked hot in his white tee and blue jeans. But he looked even hotter leaning against his sleek silver Porsche 550 Spyder. If you can overlook the horrible end Dean met in his car, you can't help but be fond of the roadster's charming looks.

Topless Fun

You might as well call that little black Sport button on the 645Ci's center console the car's very own jet pack. And when I pushed it, it felt like afterburners on the Batmobile kicked in; I was thrust back.

ROAD TEST: FORD ESCAPE

Call it the trickle-down effect. Ford's newly redesigned small SUV, the Escape, has the same luxe goodies as the carmaker's more expensive models. The best part?

PUT ON THE RITZ

The civilized way to cinch a business deal in London is over a glass of Grandes Marques champagne. But where can you find tete de cuvee champagnes by the glass?

ROAD TEST: MERCURY MONTEREY

It wasn't a conventional test for a minivan, but I knew it would be telling. I took Mercury's new family ferry for a run on twisty Mulholland Drive. While most minivans can carry a Little League team or grown-ups on a triple date, I've long griped that they're lousy road handlers.

ROAD TEST | CHEVY MALIBU

My thoughts on the Chevy Malibu were always clear. With its unimaginative, plasticky looks, it was the perfect rental car--just not something you'd ever want to own.

Pages