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Battles, bottles and beyond

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Well, things seem to have cooled down enough 'round these parts since my last post. Unbelievable - forty comments!

A week ago I checked out Centrex - a trade show for restaurants, hotels and the like - as a judge for two preliminary rounds and one semi-final in the Iron Chef competition they hold every year (Free Press food fiend Bartley Kives judged a round or two as well). Rather than re-hash everything that went down, I'll direct you to the stellar coverage provided by Savour Winnipeg, who attended all rounds. Pictures, summaries, etc. all a-plenty in his little corner of the Internet. Good work, and great cooking by all involved.

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News this week that alcohol sales in Manitoba rose 4.5 per cent to nearly $613 million, with wine now making up 29 per cent of those sales. Maybe I'll try and use this info as leverage for a raise from the paper. Good job, Winnipeg - get out there and try some new wines!

And where might one try some new wines, you might ask? Why, the Winnipeg Wine Festival, of course. From the plethora of ancillary events throughout the week to the main weekend tastings, there's plenty of wine to be sampled in fun, relaxed environments. Check out the website for event info and tickets. Of note: the Tango for your Taste Buds dinner (Argentina-themed, at Hermanos) and Escape to Italy! (at the Food Studio) events are both sold out, with others not far from capacity. You'd better hustle if you want tickets.

I'll be blogging (in this space) and tweeting regularly next week from the Winnipeg Wine Festival.

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I'll be a guest at Kelly Hughes Live! at downtown Winnipeg's fabulous Aqua Books on June 4. Other guests include Red River College Culinary Arts instructor Jeff Gill and the Falafel Place chef/co-owner Ami Hassan, with musical guests Jackpine. With the theme being "Hell's Kitchen," maybe I can enlighten the crowd with stories of working for two and a half years as a dishwasher at the Canadiana Buffet in the Bay's Unicity outlet. If that doesn't work, I'll regale those in attendance with tales of hosting at the nearby Pizza Hut in high school.

Don't come for me - I'm sure Ami Hassan will be an absolute riot. If you've eaten at the Falafel Place, you'll know what I'm talking about.

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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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