Letting the corks fly

The Four Seasons' outdoor courtyard at the Fifty-Two 80 Bistro and Bar was transformed into a wine lover's battleground on Tuesday evening, as eight Whistler sommeliers threw down during the first ever Whistler Sommelier Challenge.

As one of five judges of the event who witnessed the action first-hand, I can safely say that there are many ambitious and informed sommeliers in our midst. The competition started off with a round of Wine Jeopardy, which was designed to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their wine knowledge, with categories like "Regions" and "Grapes." Our very own Alex Trebek (read: Mark Davidson, a well known wine educator) charmed the audience with his conversational hosting style during this portion of the event. And once competitors finally got the hang of keeping their flags down until the question was read, everything ran smoothly, with David Foran from La Rúa blowing the rest of the competition away.

Next, we were off to the blind tasting category, which is where things get very tricky (or as Davidson put it, the part where competitors would start "soiling their pants"). Contestants were given a selection of 10 wines - sparkling, whites and reds - and given 40 minutes to accurately describe and identify each glass, if they could. Not an easy feat, by any stretch of the imagination. Out of a possible 400 points, one participant got a particularly impressive score: Riley Krieger-Mercer of the Four Seasons snagged an outstanding 326 points. I think I know who I'll be letting select my wine the next time I dine at the Fifty-Two 80!

Finally, competitors were allowed to let their personalities shine through during the last round of the event: sabrage, which judged each participant on their accuracy and distance. They came decked out in crazy costumes - a skier, golfer, snowboarder, construction worker, sheik, and even Don Johnson. But it was Marie Antoinette (Joanne DiGeso from the Four Seasons) who took the cake in this category for her costume, while La Rúa's Foran won for creative sabrage tool: a hand saw.

It turned out to be quite a close race, but at the end of the day Foran came out on top, receiving a one-night stay for two at the Four Seasons and dinner for two at the Fifty-Two 80.

Cheers to the Four Seasons for hosting this fun and informative event for guests and local sommeliers!

Break out the dog dishes...

Whistler's biggest fundraiser for our beloved furry friends is just around the corner.

On Saturday, Aug. 22, Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) and the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa are joining forces to host the seventh annual K9 Wine & Dine dinner.

Dogs will be treated to a gourmet three-course meal from Three Dog Bakery, served on fine dinnerware with a bowl of vintage "Pinot Growlio," of course. Human companions will enjoy a fresh B.C.-inspired menu designed by the executive chef of the Hilton Resort & Spa. MC Chris Quinlan will host the evening and G Willy will provide entertainment.

The major sponsors of this year's dinner include The Hilton Resort & Spa, Three Dog Bakery, Peller Estates, See Ya Later Ranch, Toad Hall Studios, PSAV and G Willy. Also, donations of silent and live auction items by many local businesses will contribute to the overall goal of raising $15,000.

"This is a fabulous event, enjoyed by both humans and their canine companions," Carol Coffey, WAG's Executive Director, said in a recent press release. "Outstanding food for all guests, the fun atmosphere, and the participation of many different businesses really brings the community together... K9 Wine and Dine also helps us reach people who may have otherwise been unaware of WAG and its importance in this community as the only shelter between Squamish and Lillooet."

WAG supports lost, abandoned, and harmed animals in the Sea to Sky corridor, ensuring that all animals are treated humanely and with respect. The funds raised through the K9 Wine & Dine event will help maintain WAG's facility, provide high quality care to animals in need, support WAG's Second Chances program that provides emergency care to special cases, and go towards their Financial Assistance for Neuter and Spay (FANS) program for low income residents.

"We are proud to host this event for the fourth year in a row," Andrew Glass, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa, said in a recent release. "As a hotel that welcomes dogs, we are happy to extend our support to WAG and the tremendous work it does to help animals in need."

The dinner starts at 6 p.m. Human tickets are $55, dog tickets are $20, and both are available through WAG at 604-935-8364 or at www.thewagway.com .


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