• The South Beach Food & Wine Festival isn’t just an occasion to rub shoulders with culinary celebrities from Bobby Flay to Rachael Ray while indulging in all things gourmet along the sunny Miami Beach oceanfront in February. The 10th annual fete, which attracted 58,000 attendees and was sponsored by Wine Spectator among many others, raised more than $2.2 million for the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Teaching Restaurant and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center, both at Florida International University. (FIU students also gain valuable work experience for careers in hospitality by helping to organize and volunteer at the festival.) Among the 41 events were a Perrier-Jouët BubbleQ tasting hosted by chef Flay, a Moët Hennessey “Let Them Eat Cake” party emceed by Emeril Lagasse, a tribute dinner for Alain Ducasse emceed by actress and vintner Carole Bouquet and, of course, Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best tasting of the world’s top wines at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. For those seeking a more intensive wine experience amid the festivities, Wine Spectator also hosted a dozen seminars over the course of the weekend. To date, the festival has raised more than $14 million in the service of education.
• Ontario’s state-run liquor stores have been infiltrated by counterfeiters! Recently, nearly 1,000 bottles of bogus Amarone were discovered when an employee of the store noticed a discrepancy in the packaging of 2006 Cantine Negar Amarone della Valpolicella. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) compared bottles and found many 2006s stood out as slightly different in height and packaging from the rest, most notably in the “unique” numbers on the DOCG tag, which were identical on all the fakes. The bottles were tested both by LCBO’s in-house lab and its tasting panel and were found to be both chemically different and markedly less tasty than the true product. LCBO spokesperson Chris Layton said they suspected the fake bottles came into the store via returns, in which the counterfeits were exchanged for other merchandise and refunds. An investigation by the York Regional Police is ongoing, as most of the false bottles were found in that district. To safeguard against future incidents, returns will now require two employees of the LCBO store to physically scrutinize the bottle in question before it will be accepted. The employees would be wise to pay special attention to spelling on labels, particularly if anyone offers a bottle of Aussie mega-brand Jacob’s Creek. Last week, hundreds of bottles of faux Jacob’s Creek were found across London, mainly in independent retail stores. The packaging was almost identical to the real bottles except for the small error of misspelling “Australia” on the back label. The fakes should also be easy to detect, according to the real winery, because the imitation wine “is of very low quality and substandard taste." Snap. Unfiltered encourages consumers everywhere to be vigilant when buying wine: double-check spelling, bring your tape-measure and mark any inconsistencies in red pen before bringing it up to the register to haggle a discount.
• Wine and music have paired well since the dawn of, well, wine and music. One 1960s disillusioned musician, Kermit Lynch gave the craft up to become one of America's most important wine merchants. Several years ago, wine-loving blues man Boz Scaggs heard some of Lynch's old tapes and convinced him to start recording again, and the two collaborated on an album in 2005, called Quicksand Blues. This past week, Lynch released his third album, titled Kitty Fur, featuring, among many other Nashville regulars, Fleetwood Mac guitarist Rick Vito. We can't say Kitty Fur particularly sounds like something we'd want to pair with wine, but considering Lynch's "track" record, we're willing to give it a try.
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