Published Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | 4:32 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | 5:42 p.m.
So many toasts. So little time.
UNLVino is upon us, and never have so many drank so much for … well, so many. The event is a benefit for UNLV’s William F. Harrah School of Hotel Administration, which has been the recipient of money raised from the wine-tasting event since it was uncorked back in 1974.
“The first event was at Southern Wine and Spirits’ warehouse on Wynn Road,” Michael Severino, an executive with Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada and an organizer of UNLVino, said during a recent episode of my radio talker ”Our Metropolis” on KUNV 91.5-FM. “Robert Mondavi spoke, (while standing) on a case of wines.”
Such makeshift staging is unnecessary today, as the accommodations for UNLVino are a bit more refined. The event spans three Las Vegas resorts. Some are old faves, improving with time like a bottle of Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Others are being served for the first time this year.
The event starts with Bubble-Licious at Neptune Pool in the Caesars Palace Garden of the Gods, set for 7-10 p.m. Thursday. Sake Fever, a celebration of rice wines featuring 50 Japanese tojis (masters in the art) at Palms Pool & Bungalows from 7-10 p.m. Friday. Saturday it’s the Grand Tasting, running from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. at Bally’s Grand Events Center. That event is expected to draw 6,000 attendees who will sample among 2,900 bottle of wine from more than 750 wineries. About 700-800 guests are anticipated to take part in the Bubble-Licious and Sake Fever showcases (for ticket information, go to UNLVino.com).
As always, a variety of Vegas-connected newsmakers and culinary industry hotshots will be honored with Dom Perignon Awards of Excellence. During the Bubble-Licious event, that award will be doled to renowned pastry chef Francois Payard. Golden Gaming Chief Executive Officer Blake Sartini is honored at Sake Fever, and Aria Chief Operating Officer Bill McBeath is honored during the Grand Tasting. Sartini and McBeath are UNLV grads, as the event strives to recognize those who have achieved after graduating from the school (Sartini with a degree in business administration, McBeath with a degree in hotel administration).
Millions have been raised in the 36 years since UNLVino was born, money infused into the very UNLV program that helps keep the Vegas resort industry moving.
“For the students working the event, this is an accredited course,” Severino noted. “They’re brought in to work in the kitchens.”
It seems to many longtime Las Vegans that the well-regarded Severino has been in Las Vegas since he was a college-aged kid, but it’s not quite so. He moved out from New York about four decades ago and met Southern Wine & Sprits head and UNLVino founder Larry Ruvo when Severino ran the food and beverage department at the Frontier. The late Stuart Alman, the first F&B manager at Caesars Palace, introduced the two men.
“Stu, who left us too soon, said we should know each other,” said Severino, who has helped organize UNLVino for 14 years. “He was right.”
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.