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Booze news you can use

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As the city starts to thaw out, the wine world starts to heat up with more tastings, wine dinners, wine education and more. So far, 2010 has been a very low-key year for me wine-wise, with very few winemakers, export managers, etc. stopping in town since Christmas.

By the time the end of April rolls around, however, things will be full throttle thanks to the ninth annual Winnipeg Wine Festival. While the week's worth of ancillary events has yet to be unveiled, you can bet Australia will be a major player leading up to the big weekend tastings - after all, they're the theme country for this year's event. Expect a plethora of Aussie winemakers and export managers to make the trek to the 'Peg for what has become one of the premiere wine events in Canada. In the meantime...

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Residents of Portage La Prairie! Are you ready for the Portage La Prairie Wine Tasting? As per usual, it's a fundraising initiative of the William Glesby Centre . It takes place Thursday, March 25 from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. at the William Glesby Centre. Tickets are $25 per person, and are available at the Portage La Prairie Liquor Mart.

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If you like wine and love travelling, there's a new wine magazine produced by an Ottawa-based couple that should tickle your oenological fancy. Brix combines wine and travel in a good-looking package. While there are Canadian mags dedicated to wine and others to travel, this is the first of its kind to really bring the two together with a truly international scope. Subscriptions are available through their website - I'll keep my eyes peeled and see if I can track down copies here in the 'Peg.

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A few weeks back I wrote about E and J Gallo's Red Bicyclette wine , and how they had been sold grapes labelled as 100 per cent Pinot Noir that were in fact cut with Syrah and Merlot.I received an email from one of the PR people that work with/for Gallo, with this statement from Gallo's US press room:

"We are deeply disappointed to learn today that our supplier Sieur d'Arques has been found guilty of selling falsely labeled French Pinot Noir. Based on the available information of the Pinot Noir that the French courts have investigated, Gallo imported less than 20% of the total and is no longer selling any of this wine to customers. We believe that the only French Pinot Noir that was potentially misrepresented to us would have been the 2006 vintage and prior. We will continue to work with the appropriate U.S. authorities to determine any next steps required for potentially mislabeled Pinot Noir in the marketplace."

This is one of those instances where staying out front and on message will help get Gallo through this - more of a David Letterman vs. Tiger Woods approach to their trouble. This incident is sure to produce a swath of lawsuits.

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If you're interested in working in the wine industry here in Winnipeg, the Winehouse out on Kenaston is hiring a Retail and Licensee Manager. The wine biz is fun, and people tend to be generally pretty laid back. For all the details, check out their website at http://www.ticoswinehouse.com

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Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/thegrapenut

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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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