Sip pinot don’t swallow

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Well-heeled wine folk will sip an estimated 19,000 tipples of wine over Queenstown’s three-day Central Otago pinot noir celebration.

Opening tonight at the Millennium Hotel and ending on Saturday, the $1100-a-ticket event highlights Central Otago pinot to wine lovers from all over the world, says organising committee member Catherine Badrak.

Tomorrow will be when most wine is poured – about 16,000 samples – during the “grand Central Otago tasting” at the Millennium and various places in town.

Badrak says each of the 260 attendees at Saturday’s grand dinner at Skyline has been asked to bring a bottle of local pinot noir they think is a bit special.

They’ll also be rubbing shoulders with invited guest Prime Minister John Key.

Each of the 40 Central Otago pinot noir wineries involved will present their 2007 vintages – plus one other earlier vintage – at the dinner.

“The greater majority of the wine is just tasted for evaluation and then promptly spat out…it is not a booze-fest,” says Badrak.