Sake, celebrities and sober embarrassment at UNLVino

UNLVino poured up a memorable weekend—for those who can actually remember it.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

The most embarrassing part of this story is that it happened before I drank anything at the 2012 UNLVino “Take a Sip for Scholarship” sake tasting last Friday night. I’m walking around the Mirage pool, and I see this guy. He’s standing somewhere between Robin Leach and the UNLV Rebel cheerleading squad. (Like the Black & White Party, UNLVino is one of Vegas’ “anyone who’s anyone” events.)

Anyway, the guy is famous—I know that. I just don’t know what he’s famous for.

Is he an actor, a game show host?

“You’re sure he’s not some local celebrity?” my girlfriend asks.

I tell her that I’m sure; this guy is national.

Waiting in line for Kabuki Japanese Restaurant hand rolls, I run into my old boss, Bruce.

“Who is that guy?” I ask, indicating the celebrity. “He’s a game show host, right?”

“Him?” Bruce says. “He’s not a game show host; he’s a doctor.”

That’s when I realize: He’s my doctor.

I bury my head in embarrassment and then skulk off to down shots of Ambhar Tequila and mini-cups of Asahi Beer. Before I leave, I try over 20 sakes (Dreyfus Ashby, TY KU), yet I still can’t tell you whether I prefer filtered or unfiltered, calm or bold. I just know the ones that come out of the smaller bottles tend to be more expensive.

The following night, I head to Bally’s for UNLVino’s main event: the 38th annual Grand Tasting. Three times as many people, four times as much alcohol, only the sake has been replaced with wine, hard alcohol, cheese plates and veggies.

As Zowie Bowie takes the stage, I manage to embarrass myself yet again, dumping leftover red wine into a pitcher of water that was meant for drinking, rather than tossing it into the dump bucket nearby.

But the night takes a turn for the better: I sample wild hibiscus flowers in syrup and snap a photo with Lee (from Lee’s Liquor!) So, all in all, I’d say the weekend was equal parts humiliating and delicious.


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