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First off, best wishes and speedy recovery to WFP columnist Lindor Reynolds, the Grape Nut's fallen comrade who was stricken (or struck) by a rogue Segway whilst wheeling about the Twin Cities. Read about it here. When I think of Segways, I can't help but think of Will Arnett's character (G.O.B.) from the too-quickly-canceled Fox series Arrested Development. I'd prescribe a big, ripe Aussie Shiraz for the aches and pains, but don't call me in the morning.I'm heading out to Calgary this afternoon for two days of non-stop tasting in conjunction with Wine Access' International Value Wine Awards. The goal is to find the best wines under $25; the wines are tasted in flights (groups) of about 15-18, and are tasted blind by the judging panels. This means we don't know who the producers are or what country the wines are from, ensuring some form of objectivity (taste is obviously subjective, but at least craftsmanship and the like can be judged pretty fairly).So tomorrow and Thursday I'll be tasting (and spitting) about 100 wines per day. I participated last year, and found it was an extremely valuable (and fun) experience as a taster. Frankly, I'm looking forward to tasting anything other than Riesling - it seems like I've had very little else since returning from Germany.Anyway, once the judging is over, we're given all our tasting notes and scores (out of 100), and the wines we tasted are revealed. Seeing the nearly 1,000 bottles lined up in various groups is something else (I've remembered to pack my camera this time, and will be sure to try and capture the magnitude of the event). I'm hoping to get in a bit of wine shopping in while I'm there, but since I'm only bringing carry-on luggage, my options are somewhat limited. Besides, after picking up a box full of German wines after my last trip and finding three of them broken, I'm not encouraged to travel with wine at present.

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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