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The Grape Nut catches up

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First off, a quick rounding up of my time in the Okanagan...The four days I spent judging at the Canadian Wine Awards were valuable ones, to say the least. Let me just say that the state of Canadian wine is good - very good. There were many stellar reds, whites, pink wines, sweet wines, fruit wines and bubblies being made in Canada, and crowning the best of the bunch was a hard-fought battle whose results should prove interesting. Gold, silver and bronze medal winners will be detailed in the December 2008January 2009 issue of Wine Access.The Okanagan Valley was a gorgeous venue for the awards - and no worries about regional bias... all the wines are tasted blind - and local wineries/winemakers were more than hospitable at functions I attended in the evenings.Next year's awards will likely be in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula region, which I'm very much looking forward to exploring as well.Also, I was interviewed by Terry David Mulligan - yes, the one that used to interview rock stars, etc. - for his wine radio show The Tasting Room. Judging by his site, I'll be on this coming Saturday... I think you can listen online. As a former university radio programmer at CKUW 95.9 FM, I've long thought about trying to get my own wine-related radio show up and running, but I'm waiting until someone adds about three or four hours to the average day so I'll have time...Back at home, I've been swamped with wine-related emails and events, and am doing my best to stay on top of everything. On top of that, I had my first class of the International Sommelier Guild's Wine Fundamentals I course, so I've got some studying to do - both text- and tasting-wise. No complaints here, especially on the latter.The rest of the week is devoted to beer - namely, the Flatlander's Beer Festival this Thursday and Friday. Check Ticketmaster for details as to whether tickets are still available - chances are at least one of the nights will sell out.Lots of other stuff happening in the wine world:-Amazon, the website best known for selling books, CDs and DVDs, is looking to get into the business of selling American wine in the US in the coming months. The Wall Street Journal is doing the same - see their website here.-My Globe and Mail colleague Beppi Crosariol has waded into the election foray by asking whether any party is willing to strike down the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, which prevents wineries to ship directly to customers (rather than going through provincial liquor boards). Direct-to-home shipments had been offered by some wineries, but the Manitoba and Ontario liquor boards recently reminded a few of them that interprovincial shipping of wine is illegal unless done through those boards. I haven't done enough research about the subject to form an opinion one way or the other, but I'm definitely going to look into what the issue is all about.-On a non wine-related note, I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of author David Foster Wallace at the age of 46. Wallace had long been one of my favourite writers - both of essays and fiction - but was clearly troubled, and ended his life over the past weekend. A quick internet search will turn up many moving tributes. To get a taste of Wallace's style (and his incredible skill), check out his piece on Roger Federer he wrote for the New York Times - it's a brilliant, moving piece of sports writing that is among some of the best I've ever read. His opus novel Infinite Jest is among my favourites. RIP, DFW.

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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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