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Three wine events worth planning for

This the season for wine events galore. But you’ve got to make up your mind quickly: Tickets to the most coveted events go fast. Here are a few to consider:

Champagne fiends, here’s the tasting for you: Wally’s 21st Annual Grande Marque Champagne Tasting on Sunday, June 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s held at Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica.

Fifty Champagnes will be poured, including Jay Gatsby’s fave, Moët & Chandon (as seen in Baz Luhrmann’s film of the novel), which you’ll be able to compare against Dom Perignon, Krug, Cristal, Salon, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot, Billecart-Salmon, J. Lassalle, Laurent-Perrier and a slew more. Of course, there will be some nibbles, too, from Café del Rey and a number of local restaurants.

Advance admission is $150. You’ll pay $50 more at the door. It’s not just sheer indulgence: The event raises money for several local charities.

LA WineFest 2013 is the weekend of June 8-9 at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. The 8th annual event features more than 500 wines, beers and spirits from around the world, plus chef demos, food trucks and more. Full details aren’t in yet; keep checking the website. I do know that Rosenthal Estate Winery from Malibu will be there, Herzog Wine Cellars from Ventura, and Ventura Limoncello Co. Could be a fun afternoon in the sun.

The price of a single ticket for either Saturday or Sunday is $20 for a "designated driver" (you pledge not to consume any alcohol) and $85 for permission to drink any and all beverages. A couple's ticket goes for $155.

Tickets also are on sale  for the 7th annual Rhone Rangers Los Angeles Wine Tasting at St. Vibiana on June 23. If you love Rhone varietals, don’t miss the chance to taste more than 200 wines from fifty wineries. This year the event also includes a seminar on lesser known Rhone varietals led by wine educator Shelby Ledgerwood from 1 to 6 p.m.

Note that there are actually 22 grape varieties approved for the Rhone. Ever heard of Cinsault? Or Counoise? Better study up. Click here for a printable PDF of red Rhone varietals and here for on white varietals.

VIP ticket holders are invited to have lunch with the winemakers from noon to 1 p.m. with food provided by food trucks. The walk-around afternoon tasting goes from 1 to 6 p.m., though the first two hours are reserved for VIPS and members of the wine trade and media. Tickets are available at VIP passes cost $95; general admission is $45 in advance, $50 at the door.


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