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Preview of the Mohegan Sun Winefest – January 24-26, 2014

January can be a major bummer, as the glow of the holidays fades, the snow piles up and the dreary New England winter marches on.  There are ways to get away from that, and one of our favorites is to beat the winter back with some good wine.  Throw in a few world class restaurants in a great venue, a gaggle of top rated chefs and, who knows, maybe win a little cash and you’ve got a great potential for escaping the winter blues for a bit.  That opportunity, which we highlight for your consideration, is the Mohegan Sun WineFest,  taking place Friday, January 24th through Sunday, January 26th at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT.   This is a place, and an event,  you should be able to have a good time at.image 1

As with all worthy wine festivals there is a charity that will benefit from our alcoholic investigations.  In this case it’s the Channel 3 Kids Camp, a year round facility in Andover, CT for kids aged 6-16 that makes it possible for all children to Kids Campattend camp without financial restrictions.  The Kids Camp is currently expanding facilities in anticipation of opening the ‘Camp for all Kids’ by 2014.  The new cabin named Ashley’s Place will accommodate children of varying abilities with a 24-hours nurse and health area. The Channel 3 Kids Camp is a sanctuary for children all year long regardless of economic, physical or developmental ability to come play, learn and grow without barriers.  This is a worthy cause.

Todd English

Chef Todd English

So we have an escape from the winter doldrums, a worthy charity and what else?  Wine and food of course!  There will be a series of events, including Grand Tastings on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  An Elite Cru tasting is also available Saturday afternoon, and sounds great with top shelf wines being accompanied by oysters, shrimp and cheese in a more intimate setting.  I can do that.  On Saturday evening, the main event (if you will) rolls out with the Celebrity Chef Dine Around.  Chefs Todd English, Robert Irvine and Jasper White are just a sampling of the world-class chefs hosting an evening of amazing cuisine, where you can stroll among the live cooking stations and watch these culinary masters in action, all the while enjoying the pairing of a premium wine, beer or crafted cocktail to complement each dish.  This is a great chance to sample what the experts see as the benefits of pairing the right wines and foods, something I frequently struggle with.  I believe this sells out pretty much every year, so if you’re interested you might want to get tickets soon.

If you have a hankering for some Bourbon, Friday night the event kicks off with an event crafted for people who like to indulge.  As described on the events webpage,  “The evening celebration centers on bourbon, America’s Native Spirit, where hosts Beam Inc., Plan B Burger Bar and Adonis Cigars bring bourbon history to modern times. Taste the artisan craft of hundreds of years of tradition through Plan B’s unique bourbon-inspired menu paired with a variety of fine bourbons, including Maker’s Mark, Booker’s, Knob Creek and Jim Beam. Savor them “neat” or enjoy a bourbon cocktail crafted by Plan B’s mixologists. Of course, no night of decadence is complete without a fine Davidoff cigar – The Adonis, created especially for Cigar of the Gods in Cromwell, Connecticut.”  If you like good bourbon and fine cigars, and better yet like them together, this is the event for you.  If my son was home from college we would definitely be at this.

I’ve had an early look at the wine lists for the Grand Tastings and Elite Cru event (courtesy of Vicky Cirilli at Cirilli Associates, who are planning and promoting the event – thanks Vicky!).  There are over 600 wines being poured at the Grand Tastings, with some names you’ll know such as Duckhorn, Ruffino, Antinori, William Hill, Charles Krug and Chimney Rock just to name a scant few.  There will undoubtedly be hundreds you don’t know, and that is the fun of a wine festival.  Who knows what new favorite you might run across?  In fact it was at this event about eight or nine years ago my wife and I found the 2001 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet, which started a crusade to always have a bottle of it in the cellar for a special occasion.  We still have one left.  At the Elite Cru tasting the list is still finalizing, but names like Terlato, Duckorn, Bravium and Signorello are there, and they should be bringing their good stuff!  This event sounds like two hours of pure enjoyment.

There’s also going to be a beer related seminar event on Friday night, and the details on that should be out on the website soon.

Now for a few particulars.  This is really a weekend event, much like many others.  We’ve looked into the hotel situation and have to say that, quite expectedly, the local hotels ratchet up the rates for that Saturday night, including the Mohegan Sun Hotel on premises.  Still, it’s great not having to drive a ways after a day or night, or both, of wine.  If you venture further afield you can get a nice room at a major hotel twenty minutes away.  Groton and Mystic are short hops.  Certainly you can enjoy any of the events singularly and have a great time, but if you have the option the weekend is also something to consider.  You can see a list of participating hotels and rates here.

The details are available at the events website,  We’ve copied the event list from the site below so you can see what’s offered.

We’ll be looking to escape the winter ourselves at that point, so maybe we’ll see you there.

Thanks again to Vicky Cirilli from Cirilli Associates for providing some inside information on the wines.

A votre santé!

Bourbon Tasting presented by Beam Inc.

Friday, January 24th
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Learn more »

Sun WineFest Grand Tasting

Saturday, January 25th
Convention Center
12:00pm – 5:00pm
$80 one-day pass
Learn more »

Sunday, January 26th
Convention Center
12:00pm – 5:00pm
$70 one-day pass
Learn more »

Saturday, January 25th & Sunday, January 26th
Convention Center
12:00pm – 5:00pm
$125 two-day pass
Learn more »

·  Elite Cru Tasting

Saturday, January 25th
The Cabaret Theatre
3:00pm – 5:00pm
$200 includes a Grand Tasting ticket
Learn more »

Celebrity Chef Dine Around

Saturday, January 25th
Uncas Ballroom
8:00pm – 11:00pm
Learn more »

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