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Drink up! Additions and corrections

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While I'm still trying to figure out what kind of a piece/pieces I can generate from my whirlwind trip to Toronto to judge at the Canadian Wine Awards (as well as a less-than-24-hours jaunt to the Niagara Peninsula), here are a couple of things that need talking about...

- One event I missed in my recent column about upcoming events ("Booze Buzz") was SAVOUR: A Wine and Food Experience. It's an event taking place this Saturday (September 12) at The Fairmont Winnipeg. SAVOUR is a wine and food tasting event hosted by the HSC Foundation and Manitoba's Liquor Marts, with all proceeds supporting the Health Sciences Centre. There will be food sampling stations and educational sessions in a fun, elegant environment, with music by the Danny Kramer Dance Band following the live auction at 10:00 p.m. (reception opens at 7:00, wine and food experience at 8:00).

Tickets for SAVOUR are $200 per person (with a $100 tax receipt), and are available by calling 787-2022.

- I just noticed an ancillary event has been added to the Flatlanders Beer Festival. On Tuesday, September 15 beer lovers can check out The World Beer Tour at Luxalune Gastropub (734 Osborne Street South) from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. The event promises nearly two dozen brews as well as a chance to "mingle with the people that make your favourite beers". Tickets are $20 and are available by calling the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation office at 926-5524.

- Finally, in my column on Manitobans in the wine industry ("Wine Arts") I made a sweeping generalization that requires an apology and clarification. I opened the piece with the following:

"Manitoba is flat, cold for much of the year and has relatively fertile soil -- in other words, it's no place to grow grapes. We make some fruit wine, but pretty much anything beyond that is a stretch."

Well, it didn't take long for me to be taken to task for what was meant to simply be a clever intro to Manitobans working elsewhere in the wine industry. Murray Dudgeon contacted me and informed/reminded me that there are dozens of grape varieties grown in Manitoba. He went on to note:

"Grapes will grow or die with the weather, the ‘terroir’ and the care we can give them. Manitoba may not produce any commercial grape wine at this time but there are a surprising number of people who grow ‘a few grapes’ and make some jelly, juice or a small batch of wine."

Quite right, Murray, and apologies to grape growers across Manitoba. When I wrote that opening snippet I was thinking of vitis vinifera grapes - those that make nearly all commercial wines - and not vitis labrusca or other indigenous North American grape varieties/families.

Here are some links Murray provided, for your reading pleasure:

- Grape Growing on Manitoba and the Prairies - The name says it all. Man, am I a blockhead.
- Minnesota Grape Growers Association - You can get more of an idea of what grapes are grown in our neck of the woods.

More soon on the 400ish wines I tried last week...

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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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