Skiing the Good Life

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It's been said that skiing is one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on. Some would also say that great brews, great wines, and good eating rank right up there with snow, sun, and steeps on the pleasure meter. Lucky for you, there's not a month of the ski season when you can't find special events in ski towns showcasing fine food, finer wines, and the finest beers. What could be better than skiing by day, making like Bacchus at night, and starting all over again the next morning (except possibly combining skiing and indulgence during an on-snow tasting)? Beer rules!


BREWMASTERS' FESTIVAL
December 9
Taos, New Mexico

For a $15 cover, you get a tasting glass and all-you-can-drink privileges from 4 to 6:30 (plenty of time to get your money's worth). The fest is located at the base of Al's Run and brings together specialty brews from all over New Mexico.
Info: 505-776-2291.

WORLD'S GREATEST POTLUCK DINNER
December 10
Manchester, Vermont

This annual holiday-season kickoff doesn't feature Aunt Fannie's cornflake-topped casserole, but it does showcase specialties from top southern-Vermont restaurants. The upscale potluck is held at the elegant Equinox Inn (near Stratton and Bromley), so don't show up drunk.
Info: 802-362-2100.

ICE WINE FESTIVAL
January 18-21
Sun Peaks, British Columbia

North America's only showcase for ice wine, a rare north-country wine produced in the nearby Okanagan Valley that's rumored to get you pretty schnockered. Tastings (or guzzlings, if you prefer) take place throughout the pedestrian village and at winemaker dinners.
Info: 800-807-3257.

BEAVER CREEK INTERNATIONAL CULINARY CLASSIC
February 2-4
Beaver Creek, Colorado

Yeah, it's gonna be upscale. So borrow your uncle's Bogner one-piece, excise the words "American cheese" from your vocabulary, and indulge in wine tastings and food samplings by top chefs from around the world.
Info: 970-845-9090.

MARDI GRAS
March 2-4
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

A taste of steamy New Orleans in nippy northern New Hampshire. Complete with masquerade ball and Creole and Cajun specialties, all served up in the classy main dining room of the Mount Washington Hotel-a helluva place to drink, considering it housed a 1920s speakeasy.
Info: 603-278-1000.

TASTE OF VAIL
April 5-7
Vail, Colorado

One of ski country's biggest food fests, featuring fine cuisine from some three dozen Vail Valley restaurants and vintages from 50 wineries. Events include wine tastings, wine seminars, winemaker dinners, and a spectacular mountaintop picnic. Also included is Vail Village, one of the best drunken stumbling grounds in all of skidom.
Info: 888-331-5665.

HUDSON VALLEY BEER & FOOD FESTIVAL
April 21-22
Hunter Mountain, New York

Regional breweries' and brewpubs' best ales, stouts, and lagers accompany menu items from popular restaurants and pubs, one of which is selected at the event as the "Best Brewery in the Hudson Valley." The festival could well coincide with the end of the ski season, which was April 21 last year.
Info: 518-263-4223.

WINEMAKER DINNERS
Once A Month (Dates TBA)
Northstar-At-Tahoe, California

This is really, really good eating. Timbercreek restaurant executive chef Christopher Banovich creates five-course feasts in conjunction with a different winery each month, with the dinners specifically prepared to match each wine. Your task: saying "excellent bouquet" with a clenched jaw.
Info: 530-562-3577.