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Louis Riel, Caribou, fair trade and Flat Rock

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IN case you were wondering what is and isn't open tomorrow (February 21, Louis Riel Day), Manitoba's Liquor Marts are not - I repeat, NOT - open. Winnipeg's private wine stores, however, can open; I'm assuming many will, with  Sunday/holiday hours. Same with beer vendors - most will choose to open, but some may stay closed. DO yourself a favour if you're heading to a private wine store or beer vendor tomorrow - call ahead.

Alternately, if you want to try an interesting new drink in the brisk outdoors, head down to the Festival du Voyageur and try some Caribou. Devoid of any actual animal products (at least to my knowledge), the drink consists of wine, whisky and either maple syrup or sugar. I popped by last night to try some, and while I didn't get it in an ice glass at the ice bar, it still helped warm me up.

For $4.50, you get a couple of ounces (could have been two, maybe three) of Caribou. It clocks in at 22.9 per cent alcohol, so it's more potent than port but looks like plain old red wine. Flavour-wise, it's actually quite similar to sangria - imagine you were at a party and someone snuck over to the sangria bowl and spiked the living daylights out of it. Voila - Caribou.

If you want to try some but don't feel like heading down to the Festival du Voyageur (party pooper), you can pick up a bottle at Liquor Marts - it'll run you $19.70 plus taxes. Beware - I'd bet that only select Liquor Marts carry the stuff and, as mentioned above, they're closed tomorrow.

Now, a couple of tastings coming up to tell you about right off the hop...

- Check out the Fair Trade Wine Tasting on Thursday, February 24 at Champa Bistro (696 Osborne Street South). Presented by Engineers Without Borders Canada (Winnipeg Professional Chapter), the event goes from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., and will be a great opportunity to taste some wines from companies ensuring their workers are treated well. There'll be food, prizes, and more, with proceeds going towards "sponsoring an overseas volunteer as part of an ongoing effort to help alleviate extreme poverty in rural Africa." Tickets are available here .

- Fusion Grill will be playing host to Niagara winemaker Ross Wise of Flat Rock Cellars on Wednesday, March 2. Two Flat Rock wines (the Twisted white and the Pinot Noir) were recently listed by Manitoba's Liquor Marts, but there'll also be a handful of other Flat Rock wines on hand for the dinner. Take a peek at the menu here (PDF)  - it looks incredible. I've tasted through most of Flat Rock's portfolio at the Canadian Wine Awards - they're some of Ontario's best. The event starts at 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 7:00 - tickets are $99 (plus taxes and gratuity) and are available by calling Fusion Grill at 489-6963.

I've got more to come this week, including a look at some surprising stats on Canadian wine production and consumption... in the meantime follow me on Twitter for more.









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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.


Blogs that Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson follows:

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