If you've ever ordered wine at a restaurant in Winnipeg, chances are Gary Hewitt played a part in your experience. Hewitt is the cornerstone of Banville & Jones' Wine Institute, the private wine store's education program; in addition to being a senior buyer at the St. Vital store, he has played a key role in teaching International Sommelier Guild and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses to servers, sommeliers, sales reps and restauranteurs for years.
Heck, if you've ever picked up a wine based on this column, Hewitt has played a role, as I've been lucky enough to take courses taught by him (as well as judge wine with him at the Wine Access International Value Wine Awards).
Never one to rest on his laurels when it comes to learning more about wine, Hewitt is a passionate yet humble, down-to-earth wine enthusiast whose knowledge is pretty much second to none in this town.
Hewitt completed the Diploma in Wines and Spirits from WSET a couple of months back, and was among five international graduates (and the only Canadian) to receive the Wines of Australia Scholarship. In March, Hewitt and the other winners will head Down Under to learn more about the country's grapes, wineries and regions first-hand.
Hewitt will be teaching WSET courses through Red River College, a role that will expand as Red River College's Hospitality and Tourism Management program moves downtown to the Exchange District's Paterson GlobalFoods Institute this fall. In the meantime, it looks like the WSET Level 1 Foundation Certificate is being offered on April 7 -- for more information visit tinyurl.com/wsetrrc or contact Banville & Jones.
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Are you a passionate foodie (or wine lover) who's been itching to wax poetic/vent/etc. about good eats? If you like food and blog about it online (or have thought about starting a food/wine-related blog), mark Wednesday, Feb. 29 on your calendar. The folks that run the Manitoba Food Bloggers Facebook page are presenting a fun little get-together at Elements (599 Portage Ave.) from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be some bites to be had, as well as beer samples from Half Pints and wine courtesy of Tipsy Thief imports.
Photographer Ian McCausland will be doing a quick demo on how to take pictures of food, you'll be able to try the new OMG's candy, and much more.
Food bloggers (and probably the odd wine writer or two, yours truly included) will be out in full force, so take the opportunity to mingle and ask questions. There'll be prizes, gift bags, and much more to. To register, visit tinyurl.com/mbfoodblogger.
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If you can't make the Manitoba Food Bloggers event, the next night might also be of interest to you. Bothwell Cheese and The Winehouse are presenting the 7th Annual Fundraising Cheese and Wine Evening, an event in support of Osteoporosis Canada, Manitoba Chapter. The event will take place Thursday at Niakwa Country Club with a 6:30 p.m. reception, and will be hosted by Jim Ingebrigtsen, host of Great Tastes of Manitoba. Tickets are $80, with a $25 tax receipt to be issued, and are available by calling 772-3498 or emailing email@example.com.
Donna Danna 2010 Rias Baixas
(Rias Baixas, Spain -- $17.60, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Deep gold in colour, this Spanish white (made from the Albari±o grape) is decidedly Old World, with an almost sherry-like nuttiness as well as tangerine, light spice, and a touch of peach on the nose. It's a fresh, crisp, light-bodied white, with citrus and green apple flavours jumping out on the palate and bringing tartness and acidity -- you get a mouth-watering effect from this wine. There's just the slightest hint of sweetness here; try with Greek fare, milder Vietnamese dishes or salads. 87/100
Three Winds 2010 Viognier
(Pays D'Oc, France -- $13.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Pale gold in colour, the Three Winds shows perfume, mineral, tangerine, peach and light spice on the nose. It's medium-bodied, with some richness wrapped up in the ripe stone fruit, tangerine and honey notes and some complexity thanks to the light acidity and spice. It's a good bang for your buck, and would stand up to oilier fish dishes, light cheeses or most finger foods. 86/100
Marisco 2011 The Ned Pinot Gris
(Marlborough, New Zealand -- around $15, The Winehouse)
Mineral, chalk, red apple seeds, pear and floral aromas are attractive on the nose of the, uh, Ned. It shows great intensity on the palate, bringing ripe red apple, peach, lemon and tangerine forward without any great amount of sweetness. Light acidity keeps things fresh and vibrant -- I'm impressed. Available exclusively at The Winehouse. 89/100