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Wine Stage Manitoba wrap up

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I spent Friday night and almost all day Saturday at MTC for the Independent Specialty Wine Stores of Manitoba's inaugural Wine Stage Manitoba, the new wine festival in town. By all accounts the event was a great success - lots of people through the doors, no incidents to speak of, and a whack of change raised for the theatre company.

The set-up worked out well despite a last-minute change that led to visiting wineries placed in the foyer instead of on the stage itself. In fact, all the booths were in the foyer/lobby area that surrounds the theatre itself, which kept a bustling, buzz-y vibe about the whole thing. In total there were around 180 wines sampled, of which I'd say I tried about 100. I haven't had a chance to peruse my chicken-scratch notes yet, but each table (arranged by whites and reds and further by private wine store) had its share of winners.

Speaking of winners, the third annual Wine List Awards were presented on Saturday afternoon to restaurants that had entered their lists, menu and overall mandate for judging. Restaurants were not judged against each other, but rather on their mandate relative to the menu and wine list - the type of program they claimed to believe in and the actual execution of that mandate. The seven-person judging panel (myself included) were apparently pretty consistent in our scores, and we all agreed that the lists presented this year were generally of better quality than the previous two years (which were presented at the Winnipeg Wine Festival). Congratulations to all the entrants - the list of award winners (and the other judges) is here.

Kudos as well to the ISWSM group for organizing what seemed from the outside to be a very well-organized event. In fact, those organizers I spoke with were thrilled at the turnout. I look forward to seeing what they've got in store next year.

I'll root through my notes and compile a "best of the fest" list for a future blog. Coming in my next blog - why I've decided to adopt the (sometimes contentious) 100-point scoring system used by many wine critics...

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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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