By Stef Schwalb
With the weather getting colder and colder, one of the best ways to stay warm is to indulge in fabulous food and wine, which is easy to do if you just head towards the sun – Mohegan Sun, that is. Because the last weekend of January (25th, 26th, and 27th) is bound to be a sumptuous scorcher during their 10th annual WineFest, held at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center.
There are several hot happenings taking place during this time. Friday kicks off with Bourbon Tasting (from 6-9 p.m.), an evening celebrating its history with Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Plan B Burger Bar, and AVO Cigars, which features Plan B’s bourbon-inspired menu paired with a range of fine bourbons as well as a premium cigar sampling from AVO Cigars taking place right after. Saturday begins with Sun WineFest Grand Tasting, the weekend’s main event. It occurs that day and Sunday (from 12-5:00 p.m.) and encompasses 1,000 brands of beer, wine, and specialty spirits tastings. There will also be samplings of signature dishes from the area’s most highly rated restaurants (for nominal fee; a portion of which benefits Channel 3 Kids Camp), as well as cool contests taking place on the Main Culinary Stage.
Other Saturday events include…the seminar Venice is Calling: How to Craft the Famous Bellini with Lorenzo Canella (from 12:30-1:30 p.m.); the seminar Argentina and Malbec: The Perfect Pairing with Jimena Turner, Alamos Winery’s director of wine education (from 2:30-3:30 p.m.); and Elite Cru Tasting, which highlights the world’s “best-of-the-best” vintages, offers a meet and greet with the winemakers as well as a raw bar hosted by Island Creek Oysters, shrimp from Mazzetta Company, and specialty cheeses from http://www.igourmet.com (from 3-5 p.m.). Also taking place is Mohegan Sun WineFest Grape Stomp Presented by Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka, where 16 teams will stomp their hearts out for an array of awesome prizes to benefit the UCONN Foundation, Inc.’s Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk (from 4-4:45 p.m.). Last but certainly not least is the Celebrity Chef Dine Around, where globally renowned chefs, including Todd English, Elizabeth Falkner, Bobby Flay, and Robert Irvine, make delectable dishes at live cooking stations as attendees enjoy a pairing of premium wine or beer with each selection (from 8-11 p.m.).
In addition to the Grand Tasting, Sunday events include All Things Food With Bobby Flay, a cooking demo from the foodie fave, followed by a question and answer session (from 11:00 a.m.-12 p.m.); the seminar Shared Terroir in Beer & Cheese – Smutty Style!, presented by David Yarrington, Smuttynose Brewing Company’s director of brewing operations (from 12:30-1:30 p.m.); and the 9th Annual Mohegan Sun Oyster Open Presented by Bud Light Lime, the ultimate shucker showdown where contestants compete for a $5000 prize (from 4:15- 5:15 p.m.). To top off the festivities, the weekend concludes with Bubbles & Bon Bons, where everyone enjoys decadent desserts, champagne, entertainment and an opportunity to mingle among some of the chefs featured in the weekend’s events (from 6:00-9:00 p.m.).
For more information on Mohegan Sun WineFest 2013 events, ticket details and offerings, featured personalities, hours and area hotel information, visit http://www.mohegansun.com/sitelet/winefest/. Tickets may be purchased from that site or at http://www.ticketmaster.com; via phone at (800) 745-3000; or in-person at Mohegan Sun’s box office.