With the Winnipeg Wine Festival just a month away, it's time to start planning which events you'll be attending leading up to the weekend's main public tastings.
This year, ancillary tastings (dubbed Wine Down events) get going April 23. Gone is the media grape stomp, replaced by the Hollywood Premiere Event at the Metropolitan Event Centre and sponsored by Wines of California. Local celebs will be "dressed to the nines" for this red-carpet event, which will feature California wines front and centre as well as a screening of Casablanca. The event starts at 6; tickets are $40.
The pace picks up the Sunday before the following weekend's public tastings. World of Wine kicks off the week; taking place April 27 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Niakwa Golf and Country Club, it features wines from all corners of the globe. Tickets are $75.This event is sold out.
Wine lovers have two choices on April 28. The Keg on Garry Street hosts the Penfolds Luxury Wine Dinner starting at 6 p.m., and will feature six courses paired with some of the Aussie winery's best wines, including a few back vintages. Tickets are $100. This event is sold out.
Feeling more like a taste of La Dolce Vita? Head to Bellissimo Restaurant on Waverley Street for the always-popular Joe's Italian Wine Night. Joe Aiello of 102.3 Clear FM plays host to a night of Italian food and wine pairings spread throughout the restaurant. Things get underway at 6:30 p.m.; tickets are $60.
Tuesday tastings get underway with a taste of wines from closer to home. The Wines of Canada VQA tasting runs from 5-7 p.m. at the Met, featuring wineries from both B.C. and Ontario. Meet folks from both of Canada's main wine regions -- Sandhill's Howard Soon, for example, is almost always on-hand to pour and talk wine. Tickets are $40.
Hop over to Blaze Bistro at the Delta Winnipeg afterwards for the Bubbles in Blaze event, which gets going at 7 p.m. Sparkling wines from around the globe will be paired with hors d'oeuvres; tickets are $40.
Winnipeg winos will have to choose between a sit-down dinner and a walkabout tasting on April 30. The former will feature wines from Wayne Gretzky Okanagan Estate, and gets underway at 6 p.m. at the Exchange Restaurant and Beer Market at the MTS Centre. No, the Great One won't likely be in attendance, and yes, tickets are $99.
Prefer something more casual? Check out the Party's Outback event at the Qualico Family Centre in Assiniboine Park. Sponsored by Wine Australia, this event gets underway at 7 p.m., and gives attendees a sneak peek at a bunch of wines from Down Under, some of which will be poured at the weekend tastings (at which Australia is the theme region). Tickets are $40.
Visit www.winnipegwinefestival.com for details or to buy tickets. Proceeds from all Winnipeg Wine Festival events benefit Special Olympics Manitoba.
SUMAC RIDGE ESTATE WINERY 2012 GEWURZTRAMINER
(Okanagan Valley, B.C. -- $14.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
This stalwart B.C. white wine continues to be one of the benchmarks for the grape in our province. Spice notes (think clove) are pronounced on the nose, with apricot, lychee, and mandarin orange aromas in there as well. It's medium-bodied and fairly viscous, with spice and ripe marmalade-ish orange fruit flavours working well together. While technically a dry wine, a hint of sweetness works well with the splash of acidity. Highly drinkable on its own, but will stand up to mild to medium Thai or curry dishes. Four stars out of five
CAVE DE LUGNY NV BRUT ROSÉ
(Crémant de Bourgogne, France -- around $22, private wine stores)
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes, this bubbly is a pretty pinkish orange in colour, with crisp strawberry notes on the nose as well as red-apple skin, peach and slight toastiness. Dry, light-bodied and fresh, the Cave de Lugny delivers strawberry and raspberry flavours as well as that light toasty note and a hint of creaminess on the palate. Made in the traditional "Champagne" method in the south of Burgundy, it's a solid bubbly for the price on its own or with shellfish, light cheeses or salads. 3-½ stars out of five
BROTHERHOOD 2011 PINOT NOIR
(New York State -- $18.75, Liquor Marts and beyond)
New York State is a wine-producing region that's quite under-represented in our province. Like Ontario's Niagara Peninsula, they do well with cooler-climate varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, etc. Very pale in colour, the Brotherhood is very light and delicate, with red-berry aromas as well as white pepper, plum and some savoury spice. This very light, fairly complex Pinot brings raspberry tea, cherry, graphite, blueberry and plum flavours, with light, soft tannins. A wine for milder seafood dishes, pork tenderloin or medium cheeses. Three stars out of five