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The Grape Nut goes back to school/a cure for what ale's ya

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Fall is in the air, our football team's in the basement, and the kids are heading back to school... and so am I!That's right - starting on the 15th, I'll be taking Wine Fundamentals I offered by the International Sommelier Guild (via Banville and Jones). It's the first level of a three-level series of courses geared towards those who want to enhance their wine knowledge. La Boutique del Vino also offers the ISG courses for those who are interested.I feel like I have a pretty good knowledge of wine in general, both through my general interest in wine as well as my having worked in the local biz for ten years. But there's endless amounts to be learned in the world of wine, and I feel going back to school, so to speak, will be both a benefit and a pleasure. Maybe I'll even get to buy school supplies!It's worth checking around at Liquor Marts and private wine stores to see what's being offered in terms of wine/wine-and-food/beer or spirits courses. Chances are you'll find an area of interest worthy of your time. Plus the, uh, 'research' and 'homework' is a lot more fun.I'll have more on wine education in a couple weeks' time in the dead-tree edition of the paper, and will keep you posted on how things are going via this blog.***Be sure to check out the Flatlander's Beer Festival on September 18 and 19 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. The list of featured products is now available - tickets are $27.95 plus any additional fees, and are available from Liquor Marts and Ticketmaster. Entry includes five sampling tickets; additional sampling tickets are available for purchase on-site - it's $3 for 5. Proceeds benefit the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation.There's also the Flatlander's beer dinner on Wednesday, September 17 at the Exchange Restaurant at the MTS Centre. Various courses are paired with different beers; I've gone each of the last two years and am always blown away by how well the beer and food works together. Tickets for the dinner are $125, and are available by contacting the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation at 926-5524.Look for more on beer in next week's dead-tree column.

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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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