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Technology at your table/fall fests

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Does the future of the wine list reside in the iPad? Some restaurants think so - they have been working at converting their wine lists to electronic format, then handing the customer a pre-loaded version of the touchscreen device for their perusal. While the above-linked article doesn't look so favourably upon the whole experience, it does point out some of the benefits of digitized wine lists. In addition to considering the aesthetics and functionality of an iPad-based wine list, for example, inventory could automatically be updated as a customer picks a wine.

Personally, I think ordering wine in a restaurant still needs the human touch in many cases. Someone with advanced wine and food knowledge might feel comfortable choosing a wine without some help from an actual human. I definitely think there's a place for such technology at the table, but what shape and combination of server/sommelier/iPad will work on the frontlines remains to be seen. So what restaurant in Winnipeg will be the first to bring an iPad to your table?

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I managed to get a sneak peek at the Flatlander's Beer Festival Dinner, happening on Wednesday, September 8 at Bergmann's on Lombard (620-167 Lombard Avenue). Once again, it looks as though Chef David Bergmann has put together a winning menu that's as thoughtful as it is mouth-watering. I don't want to give any of the dishes away, but from what I can tell this menu is probably his most ambitious yet. There's a beer to be paired with each course, and guests can take the glasses home at the end of the night.

Tickets for the Flatlanders Beer Dinner are $125 per person and are available by calling The Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation at 926-5524. As of this morning (Monday), Manitoba Liquor Marts Events Coordinator Peter Wilk let me know there were exactly nine tickets left. Proceeds go toward the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation.

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The end of September of last year brought a new wine festival to town - Wine Stage Manitoba. Produced by the Independent Specialty Wine Stores of Manitoba (ISWS), the intimate, two-day event was held at (and in support of Manitoba Theatre Centre). I had been wondering whether or not the event was going to be happening again this year.

Well, last week I spoke with Mo Razik, Spokesperson for the Independent Specialty Wine Stores of Manitoba (and Producer/Manager for next weekend's Taste of Downtown Winnipeg, about which I was calling - more on this in the weekend edition of the paper).

According to Mo, "We’re in the middle of deliberating with Manitoba Theatre Centre as to how we can make a spring schedule. The intention is to move it to the spring, but nothing has been finalized. Both us and MTC are working on scheduling."

There you go - stay tuned!

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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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