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On Premise Advice: The Season of Beverage Festivals

By January 1, 2014Rhode Island, Top News

By Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant

Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant

Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Mohegan Sun BrewFest for the first time, and in a few weeks I’ll head to the 2014 Mohegan Sun WineFest taking place January 24 – 26. Now, I am not a gambling man, but I feel that both of these events are sure bets. Why, you ask? In my role as consultant to restaurants, caterers and hotels, it is important to taste products and stay current. It is equally as important that operators attend these types of events for the very same reason.

In our business we meet a lot of salespeople, but getting to know our suppliers and developing a meaningful relationship with them is critical. Talking to suppliers opens up doors that you just don’t necessarily get with your salesperson. Whether it is wearable goods, wine keys, bottle openers or trips to breweries, distilleries and wineries, they can help you out more than you think.

Going to where the product is made is a worthwhile trip, and there are many vendors at this event who can truly assist you in that endeavor. The beer world is moving at light speed offering consumers so many choices with more coming. They keep experimenting with all types of flavors and have taken seasonal brews to places I never thought possible. Similarly, the spirits world keeps on flavoring everything; it’s mind-boggling. And, now the wine world is starting to experiment with flavoring wines, beyond sangria. It’s enough to make you want to drink!

The Mohegan Sun WineFest and BrewFest are both done very well. They are highly organized and set up in an incredibly spacious location, which makes it easier to roam around and learn amidst thousands of people. The upcoming WineFest has a lot to offer. Being in the trade, one gets to peruse the exhibitors prior to the general public which gives you time to really talk
to the suppliers.

Besides walking the floor, there are several events scheduled in addition to the Grand Tasting. For separate admissions, there are some really great wine and culinary events and there are also a series of beer and wine seminars held throughout the site at no charge, where you can meet winemakers, brewers and their principals. Unlike many of these wine or beer shows held elsewhere, you are at Mohegan Sun, where you can create an entire weekend experience around the event.

It is, after all, a resort, and there is plenty to do there besides attend WineFest. The plush, on-site hotel makes it easier and safer to consume alcohol and is just a short indoor stroll away from the festivities.Obviously, there is gambling all around you,  but there is also a myriad of great restaurants to dine in, as well as a luxury spa and a whole world of shopping in case rolling the dice is not quite your thing.

I truly feel that increasing your personal knowledge of the adult beverage industry is very important. Things move faster than you can imagine and unless you go to beverage events and shows, you will fall behind quickly! Our guests are always looking for operators who are current, on trend and working behind the scenes to make their dining and beverage experience top notch.

Happy customers want return and repeat business is the backbone of what we do. Consider attending this event and make a  weekend of it. For more information go to This event always sells out, so get your
tickets early. Hope to see you there!

Len Panaggio’s career in food and wine spans more than three decades as an owner and as a beverage director at some of the top restaurants in Rhode Island. Currently a hospitality consultant, Len is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and has attended the Culinary Institute of America Master Sommelier program and the Sterling School of Service and Hospitality.

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