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Stimulate the economy ... drink wine

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OK, so maybe drinking wine won't kick-start the economy back into action, but that won't keep me from trying. Here are some sales, dinners, and other worthy events for your perusal...

  • Last week's inaugural Flatlander's Spirit Festival appears to have been a rousing success. All 500+ tickets were sold (meaning lots of money was raised for the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation), and everyone seemed very well-behaved (at least while I was there). I had the chance to try quite a few nice cocktails - everything from spicy Caesars to spiked smoothies.
     
  • If you're looking to try a variety of wines with your sweetie this weekend, why not do so in the comfort of ... a mall? The Independent Specialty Wine Stores of Manitoba present "For the Love of Grapes," an event taking place today (Thursday) and tomorrow (1 - 7:30 p.m.) and Saturday afternoon (1 - 4 p.m.) at St. Vital Centre's Centre Court. The six stand-alone private wine stores will have experts on hand sampling products, suggesting food and wine pairing, and more. Admission is free but sample tickets can be bought on site, with proceeds going to Winnipeg Harvest.
     
  • In addition to being involved in the aforementioned festival, Pembina Fine Wines is cleaning house. I recently received a Facebook invitation to an event called "Pembina Fine Wines Warehouse Sale." In preparation for their move to Kenaston Commons (and name change to The Winehouse), they're clearing out some higher-volume product so they don't have to move it. The sale runs until Sunday at 6 p.m. - as is the case with most sales of this type, the sooner you get there the better the selection.
     
  • It seems Pembina Fine Wines isn't the only wine store changing names. I recently received the February 2009 e-newsletter from George Andrews, proprietor of the store formerly known as Stephen and Andrews. The Academy food and wine shop is now called G.J. Andrews Food and Wine Shoppe. Changing their name isn't all they've been doing - they've got a nice-looking wine and food dinner scheduled for Wednesday, April 29 at the Western Canadian Aviation Museum. Tickets are $75 - call 487-7300 or email stephen_andrews@mts.net for details.
     
  • Manitoba's Liquor Marts continue to blow through some of their more sluggish products that they have discontinued. Look for those yellow and red "sale" signs hanging in the stores and check out what's left. Pickings are getting slimmer, but you should still be able to save a few bucks on some choice bottles. Out with the old means in with the new, so check out new product starting to appear on the shelves regularly.
     
  • The Manitoba chapter of Osteoporosis Canada is holding its fourth annual Cheese & Wine Evening on Thursday, March 5 at the St. Boniface Golf Club. The event is hosted by Banville & Jones Wine Co. and Bothwell Cheese Ltd., and features wines from various regions paired with Manitoba-made cheeses. There will also be guest speakers, draws and a silent auction. Tickets are $65, with a $25 tax receipt provided. Call Osteoporosis Canada at 772-3498 for tickets.

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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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