Mohegan Sun Festival Spotlights Wine, Spirits, Celebrity Chefs and Food Pairings

The Sun Winefest at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, CT, has morphed into a beer, spirits and food-centric event. The 14th annual conference, now known as the Sun Wine and Food fest took place Jan. 27-29, with a host of celebrity chefs including Mario Batali (shown above), Rocco DiSpirito, Brian Duffy, Todd English and Aarón Sánchez.

Aaron Sanchez toasting onstage

Aaron Sanchez leading a toast.

The weekend kicked off with a bourbon tasting that included selections from Beam such as Basil Hayden’s Maker’s 44, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Knob Creek Rye, Baker’s Bourbon and Jim Beam Black. Aarón Sánchez later hosted a special Mexican Night Market event with traditional and popular Mexican dishes as well as specialty tequila, blackberry (and regular) Margaritas and Mexican lager.

The main event on Saturday afternoon featured a tasting 1,000 varieties of wine and beer, plus some specialty spirits along with signature dishes from the region’s highly Sun drinksrated restaurants. Absolut vodka debuted its new lime flavor with a booth offering samples of the product in cocktails. The brand also did photo shoots of guests done up in lime-green accessories.

Saturday night was the Celebrity Chef Dine Around, with pairings of fine wine or premium beer to match each signature Sun Wine & Food - pourdish. Just a few of the pairings included Michele Ragussis’s Stranglepretti (spinach cheese dumplings) paired with Mionetto’s gran rosé; William Kovel’s Crispy Pork Dumpling with Black Vinegar glaze, Glass Noodle Salad and Scallion Puree, paired with Chacewater Riesling Betty Fraser’s Fancy Fish and Chips with Halibut and Green Salt, paired with Gloria Ferrer’s blanc de Noirs. Many of the dishes were paired with sparklers.

The last event was a special Sunday brunch hosted by Mario Batali. In addition to Mimosas and Bloody Marys and numerous stations offering every type of brunch far, guests watched as Batali did a live demonstration of how to prepare his Fried Grouper Sandwich from his new Great American Cookbook. Batali also did a Q&A session with the Sun Winefest brunch audience.

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