Hold on to your most radical of hats, bros and broettes, firmly by the brim, and make that red sucker turn a three-sixty, then another 120 degree turn, COUNTER clockwise! Yeah, that’s right, screw time! That’s a concept we won’t be needing where we’re going, which is NOW.
And NOW is the 40th anniversary of the drinkingest wine event in town, and this year it is more than just a wine event. As the importance of our food scene grows and every casino has billboards of their crowds of celebrity chefs huddled around each other like the cast of Friends, our food events change in this same direction. Gone are the days when it was a few studious Oenophiles pining over the latest releases from Napa, and then the days where college kids had to sweep the piles of Sommes out the door at 1am. In recent years with the addition of their Bubbles event, and now with food-focused things, UNLVino is seeing itself become more competitive with the Uncork’d and Food&Wine events, less a carbon copy of Lee’s experiences (which I still enjoy, just in a different way).
These events, you ask? Here they are, CHRONOLOGICALLY (yeah, I know I said screw time, but it is really useful in this situation).
“Sip & Savor” at Spago, April 9th ($275-$225)
At this fancy dinner/award ceremony, they will be giving the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence to a prolific rapper chef, naturally Wolfgang Puck. You may have heard of him, he has a few restaurants here, doncha’ know? Six to be exact, including the Eating Las Vegas 2013 Top-Ten winner CUT, which yours truly has opined on in the past. So while he gets another accolade to shovel into his giant award-fueled spaceship, YOU get to dig on dishes from all six Vegas restaurants that bear his name. Sure to be a ritzy event, this is where you hardcore wine-lovers will find some truly neat stuff. The ticket price goes not only towards the fancy digs, but is part of a fundraising event to help keep this Love Boat that is UNLV culinary a sailing.
“BAR-b-q” at the Caesars Palace “Garden of the Gods” Pool, April 10th ($100)
Yeahhhh MIXOLOGY, that’s what I’m talking about. That is my jam right then and there. The food is going to be “twists” on barbecue classics, so sayeth the people in charge, and I’m interested in what those “twists” will end up being. Cocktails are being sourced by Southern Wine and Spirits and marshaled by Mr. Francesco Lafranconi, a totally cool dude who, when I stand next to him, makes me look like Danny DeVito.
Honestly, for danged good cocktails and probably good BBQ, I’m sure I could rack up $100 paying retail to barely be full and buzzed. For a $100 all-you-can-eat and all-you-should-drink-responsibly, I know I can get my money’s worth. I know my share of Mixologists, and the team they pulled for this is going to be a selection of the best in the city.
“Bubble-licious” at The Venetian Doge Palace, April 11th ($125)
For you lovers of champagne, sparkling, or any wine that second-ferments and gets bubbles all up ins, this is the event. This town goes through champagne like no other, unless you are at some European party thrown by a totally normal innocent banking family. Pop artist Romero Britto (his piece of Jerry Vallen and Larry Ruvo above) is being honored by the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence, whose art really reminds me of Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein, who I happen to really like.
“Founder’s Grand Tasting” at Keep Memory Alive center, April 12th ($125)
This is the wine event of wine events, the one that’s been going on for four decades. In the very obviously Frank Gehry created building downtown, they’ll be pulling out all the stops for this one. Whites, reds, you name it… Ok, I don’t know that much about wine, but I do know about events Larry Ruvo and the Southern Wine team puts together in general. This is not one to miss; their 40th is something they have put a ton into, so much more than previous years. Like I said, I don’t know a ton about wine, but this will be a little crash course for me, emphasis on crash (don’t drink and drive, kids!). There will be UNLViNO-substitutions! Ha, nailed it.