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Liquor Mart set for Safeway store Express line

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There's plenty on the horizon in the city and beyond when it comes to wine tastings and news.

Remember how there were supposed to be Liquor Mart express outlets destined for select grocery stores? Well, one has been confirmed -- the Safeway at Pembina Highway and Chancellor Drive is the first contract signed between Liquor Marts and a grocery store; it's scheduled to open in late December. Two more locations are expected to be confirmed in the next few days -- I'll update my blog, The Grape Nut, on the Free Press website when they are. Hint: Brandonites and west Winnipeggers should be excited.

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The Forks Market plays host to the 21st International Wine Festival of Manitoba, Oct. 12-14. Over 100 wineries will be represented at the three-day walk-about tasting, co-sponsored by The Forks Market and Fenton's Wine Merchants.

Admission is free, with sampling tickets costing 50 cents each. Proceeds from the festival, which also includes a cheese booth, go to Winnipeg Harvest.

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Rural Manitoba, get ready for the annual wine festival circuit. Mid-October sees wine reps hit the road, pouring reds, whites, bubblies and stickies in all corners of the province. Tickets for all events below are available in the respective community's Liquor Mart.

-- Russell -- Thursday, Oct, 18: The Russell Regional Multiplex will host a tasting from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Over 50 wines will be poured from 14 suppliers. Tickets are $20-- the event is a fundraising initiative of the Russell & District Recreational Centre.

-- Brandon -- Friday, Oct. 19: It's the return of the Westman Wine Festival. Twenty-six suppliers will be on hand pouring over 100 wines between 7 p.m and 10 p.m. at the Brandon Victoria Inn. Tickets are $29.99 -- the event is a fundraising initiative of the Brandon Rotary Club, with proceeds going to the Eslpeth Reid Family Resource Centre.

-- Dauphin -- Friday, Oct. 26: -- Seventeen suppliers will be pouring over 60 wines between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at the Parklands Recreational Complex as a fundraising initiative of the Dauphin Rotary Club. Tickets are $25.

-- Neepawa -- Saturday, Oct. 26: The Viscount Cultural Centre hosts the tasting (eight suppliers, 30-ish wines), which runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $25, with proceeds supporting the Arts Centre.

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Winnipeg whisky lovers, circle Feb. 22 on your calendar -- that's the date the Fairmont will play host to the inaugural Winnipeg Whisky Festival, in support of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

There'll be a pile of premium Scotch, Irish and Canadian whiskies, as well as some tasty American bourbon poured, and everyone will go home with a commemorative glass. In addition to the dozens of premium whiskies, there will be a live/silent auction, lots of food and an educational component as well.

Ticket info is forthcoming, but rest assured, they'll be in the triple digits; this will be a premium event.

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If you've been to the Grant Park Liquor Mart recently, you'll know renovations are still far from being finished. Earlier this summer I was told it would open late July, with a grand opening in September.

As with many Winnipeg construction projects, there have been delays. Some issues with the floor in the 16,000-ish square-foot space have contributed to progress being slower than had been expected. As such, the Grant Park Liquor Mart should look almost done come mid-October, and a grand opening is now tentatively slated for November -- although there's no firm date beyond that.

The boutique section of the Grant Park Liquor Mart will feature some rare premium wines as well as exclusive, high-end spirits. Fifty-year-old Appleton Rum, anyone? You'll find it there, for the modest price of around $5,000 a bottle.

In addition to the high-end stuff, the store will also bring a selection of one-time-only deals and special purchases heading into the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the Bottle & Cork facility currently at the Madison Square Liquor Mart is still slated to move to the Kenaston Crossing location-- the move is estimated to take place in late October.

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ZINTHESIS 2011 OLD VINE

ZINFANDEL

(Lodi, California -- around $17, private wine stores)

Zinfandel puns abound in the world of wine in the same way hops puns are everywhere in the beer world -- they make me cringe. But I digress. Raspberry, raisin, black cherry and vanilla notes on the nose are textbook California Zinfandel. It's full-bodied, soft and fleshy, with big cherry and raisin notes and a hint of spice. 87/100

BANROCK STATION 2011 SHIRAZ (South Eastern Australia -- $13.49, Liquor Marts and beyond)

White pepper, cherry, raspberry and floral notes show well on this stalwart entry-level Aussie Shiraz. It's medium-plus bodied and juicy, with raspberry, cherry and vanilla notes that avoid becoming overly cloying and sweet. It showed well when tasted against its peers at the Wine Access International Value Wine Awards. 88/100

uncorked@mts.net Twitter: @bensigurdson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 29, 2012 E4

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